[Eduardo] contacted us about his success at connecting a blood pressure monitor to the web. He pulled this off by locating the chip responsible for storing the blood pressure data after being measured. It was a simple I2C EEPROM from which he dumped the data a sniffed communications with a 4 bit logic analyzer. [Eduardo] published all of his findings on that communication scheme so check out his post for more on that. The gist of it is that he implemented his reverse engineered protocol using an ESP8266, the ubiquitous cheap WiFi board that has become a go-to for web-connected anything like power monitors and underpowered but awesome server farms. Check out the Hackaday Dictionary entry for more on this board.
[Eduardo] is not the first on the scene with such a device, you can see a Withings device and a blipcare device available on Amazon. What this hack from [Eduardo] does provide is evidence of a much cheaper route for connecting vital medical data from a geographically distant, and perhaps technophobic family member. Lets take a walk down hypothetical lane, shall we? Uncle Bob in Albuquerque who doesn’t have any local family might be a good candidate for such a hacked device, everyone knows it’s like pulling teeth to get elderly family members to report some health information to loved ones… but with [Eduardo’s] hack it’s simple. Embed the hardware (assuming you know the login creds ahead of time) into a new BPM, send it to him as a gift, and Bob’s your uncle.
During a recent trip to Bhutan, [electronut] wished for a device that would show the temperature and altitude at the various places he visited in the Kingdom. Back home after his trip, he built this simple Temperature, Altitude and Pressure Display Device using a few off the shelf parts.
Following a brief search, he zeroed in on the BMP 180 sensor which can measure temperature and pressure, and which is available in a break-out board format from many sources. He calculates altitude based on pressure. The main parts are an Arduino Pro Mini clone, a BMP180 sensor and a Nokia 5110 LCD module. A standard 9V battery supplies juice to the device. A push button interface allows him to read the current parameters when pressed, thus conserving battery life.
Standard libraries allow him to interface the LCD and sensor easily to the Arduino. He wrapped it all up by enclosing the hardware in a custom laser cut acrylic box. The result is bigger than he would like it to be, so maybe the next iteration would use a custom PCB and a LiPo battery to shrink it in size. While at it, we think it would be nice to add a RTC and some sort of logging capability to the device so it can store data for future analysis. The schematic, code and enclosure drawing are available via his Github repository.
While traditionally a project geared more toward the model rocket crowd, a lot of people are flying quadcopters these days, and knowing the altitude your RC aircraft reached is a nice thing to know. [Will] came up with a very nice, very small, and very lightweight altimeter that’s perfect for strapping to microquads, their bigger brothers, and of course model rockets. As a nice bonus, it also looks really cool with an exceedingly retro HP bubble display.
The components used in this tiny altimeter include a MEMS altitude and pressure sensor, HP bubble display featuring four seven-segment LEDs, an Arduino Pro Mini, and a tiny 40 mAh LiPo capable of powering the whole contraption for hours.
In the video below, [Will] shows off the functions of his altimeter, sending it aloft on a quadcopter to about 100 ft. There are settings for displaying the minimum, maximum, and delta altitudes, all accessed with a single button.
While it’s not the most feature packed altimeter out there, it’s still much better than commercial offerings available for the model rocket crowd.
[Sean] and his team at Adobe were asked to build “something new” for the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, so in several months they managed to build a digital/physical environment for kids called “Sense It”.
Part of this project involved designing and building a pressure-sensitive electronic floor which could detect if children were sitting, walking or running. As a camera based detection system couldn’t give them the type of precision they wanted, [Sean] decided to use pressure-sensitive resistors placed under MDF panels.
There are a total of twenty-one 2’x4′ tiles, each one including 8 pressure-sensitive resistors and an ATtiny84 based platform. All the microcontrollers digitize their 8 sensor signals and send their conversion results to a beaglebone over a shared i2c bus in a RJ45 CAT5 cable. As it is [Sean]’s first project, we will cut him some slack but several design mistakes have been made in our opinion:
Using i2c instead of RS485 / CAN for long distance data transmission
Digitizing the sensor voltages so far from them, as noise is added before the ADC
Sending the +5V required by the ATtiny in the RJ45 cable instead of a higher voltage (which would involve putting an LDO on the platforms)
Separating the digital and analog ground planes as the platform current consumption is low and transmission speeds slow
But the children who can now play with the complete system certainly won’t care. And you… what do you think of [Sean]’s work? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment section below.
[Lee] wanted an electric Melodeon to use with his band. A Melodeon is a chromatic accordion and there are people who already make electric versions but they are a little too expensive for him. Instead, he bought a toy accordion and added electronics to it.
After being thwarted by forgotten PIC skills of yore, he went with an Arduino as the controller. Two pressure sensors are used to detect the squeezing and pulling of the instrument’s bellows. His did some solid work. The video above uses 8-bit sounds like we’re used to from video games and the one after the break sources more traditional accordion sounds.
On rare occasion, the celestial bodies that control engineering and design awesomeness move into alignment and cast their blessed star dust upon a hacker. Today, we can witness the glorious outcome of such an alignment. Although almost unheard of, it’s a good omen that such a blessed hacker also be adorned with a wickedly furry face.
[Joel] wanted to up the ante for a yearly work gathering. He set out with the concept of Crushtoberfest, a test-your-strength game where a stake is hit with a mallet and the resulting force rings a bell. But bell ringing is for normal projects, [Joel’s] muse required LEDs and fire as a reward for success. In fact, Tom Selleck (god of all things mustache) becomes angry at successful contestants to the point that his eyes will flash red and flames shoot out of his ears.
The mechanical input is a clever design. The stake used as the target is a 6×6 block with some old tire tread affixed to the top of them. The stake rests on a piece of radiator hose that is sealed on one end and connected to a pressure sensor on the other. Radiator hose is resilient, so it takes quite a blow to cause much compression, which is then translated into a value by an Arduino via the pressure sensor. [Joel’s] gone to the effort of building gravitational deceleration into the progress tracker of the vertical string of LEDS. Too bad he didn’t have access to an addressable LED rope to make this easier, but he did pull it off nicely. He also goes into detail about prototyping and building some fireball modules.
Go now and read his blog (oldest at the top, newest at the bottom). We can call the experience nothing short of delightful.
Reader [Philippe] tipped us off about this video showing a set of subway steps being turned into a piano keyboard (english translation). The creators wanted to make taking the stairs rather than riding the escalator a bit more fun. They added pressure sensors to each step, then covered them with white and black keys to resemble a keyboard. When a passenger puts their weight on a step, the corresponding pitch is played out loud.
We may have lied in the title as this doesn’t really compare to hearing Josh Bell play for pocket change at your train stop. But coming across this setup on an otherwise mundane commute would really brighten up our day.