Low Cost Lab Frequency Reference

The internals of a home built 10 MHz frequency reference.

[Mark] wanted an accurate frequency reference for his electronics lab. He specified some requirements for the project, including portability, ability to work inside a building, and low cost. That ruled out GPS, cesium standard clocks, rubidium standard clocks, and left him looking for a low cost Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator (OCXO).

The Low Cost 10 MHz Frequency Reference is based around a Morion OCXO. These Russian oscillators are available from eBay second hand at about $40 a pop. With a stability well within the requirements, [Mark] order a few.

The next step was to stick all the components in a box. The two OCXOs in the box need about 3 amps to heat up, which is provided by a 12 V PSU. For portability, a sealed lead acid battery was added. The front panel shows the supply voltages, switches between mains and battery supplies, and provides connectivity to the OCXOs.

Since OCXOs work by heating a crystal to a specific temperature, they can use quite a bit of power in the heating element. To increase battery life, a neoprene foam insulator was wrapped around the OCXOs.

For less than $100, this portable tool will aid in calibrating equipment or creating very accurate clocks.

Soundwave Tunes Up Your Portable Workbench


[Tez_Gelmir] built an awesome portable workbench. Not satisfied with just mundane designs, he patterned his box after Soundwave from the classic Transformers: Generation 1 series. This portable bench keeps his tools organized and ready to roll out.

[Tez] has all the basic tool groups covered – screwdrivers small and large, pliers, crimpers, soldering iron, fume extractor, vice, and wire spool. He’s also got room for parts boxes to hold his components.

The basic box is built from a single sheet of 7mm plywood. The front work area is a smaller piece of 12mm plywood. Working with 7mm plywood did prove to be a challenge – [Tez] had to use some very small screws for his hinges.  The basic box construction was easy though – [Tez] used a pneumatic nailer and PVA (wood) glue.

[Tez] used a number of 3D printed parts in his design. He kept the Transformer theme going with a Decepticon logo built into his screwdriver holder. The fume extractor and lamp were also especially clever – [Tez] mounted them to drawer sliders, so they are there when he needs them, and out of the way when he doesn’t.

[Tez] spent quite a bit of time setting up his power system, and it shows. The inside of the box is framed with four power points. The main cord has its own “mouse door”, and everything tucks neatly away when not in use.

The Soundwave paint job is what sets this box apart – [Tez] spent quite a bit of time getting everything just right. It looks like Ravage is ready to spring out at any moment.

We really love this setup – Our only suggestion would be to add some sheet metal to protect the corners of the box while in transit.

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Beach Buddy is a Boombox, Phone Charger, and Sunburn Warner

The Beach Buddy

When you venture out onto the beach for a day in the sun, you’re probably not preoccupied with remembering the specifics about your sunscreen’s SPF rating—if you even remembered to apply any. [starwisher] suffered a nasty sunburn after baking in the sunlight beyond her sunscreen’s limits. To prevent future suffering, she developed The Beach Buddy: a portable stereo and phone charger with a handy sunburn calculator to warn you the next time the sun is turning you into barbecue.

After telling the Beach Buddy your skin type and your sunscreen’s SPF rating, a UV sensor takes a reading and an Arduino does a quick calculation that determines how long until you should reapply your sunscreen. Who wants to lug around a boring warning box, though?

[starwisher] went to the trouble of crafting a truly useful all-in-one device by modifying this stereo and this charger to fit together in a sleek custom acrylic enclosure. There’s a switch to activate each function—timer, charger, stereo—a slot on the side to house your phone, and an LCD with some accompanying buttons for setting up the UV timer. You can check out a demo of all the Beach Buddy’s features in a video below.

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Building A Home Made iPhone

iThing A few years ago, [Michele] built a mobile device with a touch screen, a relatively powerful processor, and a whole bunch of sensors. To be honest, the question of why he built this was never asked because it’s an impressive display of electronic design and fabrication. [Michele] calles it the iGruppio. Although it’s not a feature-packed cell phone, it’s still an impressive project that stands on its own merits.

Inside the iGruppio is a Pic32mx microcontroller, a 240×320 TFT touchscreen, and enough sensors to implement a 10 DOF IMU. The software written for the iGruppio is heavily inspired by the iPhone and a completely homebrew project – all the software was written by [Michele] himself. While the first version of the iGruppio was a little clunky, the second revision (seen in the pic above) uses an old iPhone case to turn a bunch of boards and plugs into a surprisingly compact device.

No, there’s no cellular modem inside the latest version, but [Michele] has put all the sources up on Github, and anyone wanting to build a homebrew cell phone could do worse than to take a look at his work. Video demo below.

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THP Entry: TOME, The Portable 3D Printer

TOME Alright, 3D Printers exist. They’re machines you can simply buy for a few hundred dollars, set them on your desk, and have them start churning out plastic parts. A little pedestrian, isn’t it? How about something you can take into the field for a client, and print out some new parts right there? How about sending a printer to the latest humanitarian crisis? After all, all those humanitarian uses for 3D printers we’ve been hearing about won’t do any good without a 3D printer.

TOME is [Philip]‘s attempt at portabilizing a 3D printer and also his entry into The Hackaday Prize. The preliminary goals for TOME are the ability to print for four hours on a single battery, an auto leveling bed, and an accessible hot end that’s easy to replace.

Already the design for TOME is rather interesting. The astute printer aficionado will notice there is no stepper motor on the X carriage. The task of moving the head in the X axis is taken care of by a stepper in the base, with a square shaft and set of gears moving everything back and forth.

With this odd yet ingenious motor setup, the entire printer is able to collapse in on itself, allowing it to be installed in a waterproof plastic case. That’s something you’re going to need if you’re taking a printer on the road.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

The Homebrew XBox 360 And PS3 portable


For the past few years now, [Downing] has been working on the dream of all console modders – a console made in the last ten years made portable. He’s spend a lot of time on the effort, and now thanks to a commission, he’s finally done it. Not just one console, either: this thing makes both the Xbox 360 and PS3 a handheld, battery-powered device thanks to some awesome wireless tech and a great deal of skill.

A few months ago, [Downing] and friends [Hailrazer] and [RDC] started a Kickstarter for the Cross Plane, a portable device that uses a wireless HDMI transmitter to offload the heavy and hot parts of running a game to a console, while the display and controls are kept portable. That Kickstarter didn’t see the success [Downing] was looking for, but that didn’t stop one enthusiastic supporter from commissioning a piece.

The display in the Cross Plane is a 7″ HD display, and the latency on the WHDMI transmitter is just about 1ms – basically unnoticeable. The controls on the front of the portable are wired to ‘controller packs’ that plug into the back, one for Xbox and one for PS3. The build quality is immaculate, and if you’ve ever wanted to know how to expertly finish a 3D printed part so it looks like it came off an assembly line, you should probably check out the build log.

Video walkthrough below.

[Read more...]

Handheld Game System Powered by Arduino

DIY Handheld Game System

These days, it’s easy enough to play games on the go. If you have a smart phone, you are pretty much set. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun designing and building your own portable gaming system, though.

[randrews] did just that. He started out by purchasing a small memory LCD display from Adafruit. The screen he chose is low power as far as screens go, so it would be a good fit for this project. After testing the screen with a quick demo program, it was time to start designing the circuit board.

[randrews] used Eagle to design the circuit. He hand routed all of the traces to avoid any weird issues that the auto router can sometimes cause. He made an efficient use of the space on the board by mounting the screen over top of the ATMega chip and the other supporting components. The screen is designed to plug in and out of the socket, this way it can be removed to get to the chip. [randrews] needs to be able to reach the chip in order to reprogram it for different games.

Once the board design was finished, [randrews] used his Shapeoko CNC mill to cut it out of a copper clad board. He warns that you need to be careful doing this, since breathing fiberglass dust is detrimental to living a long and healthy life. Once the board was milled out, [randrews] used a small Dremel drill press to drill all of the holes.

The final piece of the puzzle was to figure out the power situation. [randrews] designed a second smaller PCB for this. The power board holds two 3V coin cell batteries. The Arduino expects 5V, so [randrews] had to use a voltage regulator. This power board also contains the power switch for the whole system.

The power board was milled and populated. Then it was time to do some measurements. [randrews] measured the current draw and calculates that he should be able to get around 15 hours of play time using the two 3V coin cell batteries. Not bad considering the size.

[via Reddit]


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