Rattle generator is a new type of dynamo for a bicycle


This project is in one of our favorite categories; the kind where asking “why?” is the wrong question. [Berto A.] built the device after observing some power generation by placing a large magnet next to a mechanical relay coil and quickly clicking the relay’s lever. From this humble beginning he built up the RattleGen, a bicycle spoke driven generator.

To get the most power possible he searched around for a massive relay and found one which was originally meant for telephone exchanges. He cut the case open and strapped a big bar magnet to the side of the coil. Next he fabricated an arm which will press against the relay’s lever. To that he added a small wheel which is pressed each time a spoke from the bicycle passes by it. This repeated clicking of the relay lever generates a current (and a rattling sound) that is harvested by the joule thief circuit built on some protoboard. An LED is illuminated, with excess current stored in the capacitor bank. Don’t miss the build and demonstration video after the break.

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Network-controlled fireworks launcher


[Thomas] and his friends wanted to ring in the new year by setting off some fireworks. To keep a safe distance and have a little fun they built this network controller launcher (translated).

the image on the left shows the build in its unused and pristine state. But by the end of the celebration it look a bit melted and burnt. Still, for the first revision of the system it ended up working pretty well.

We’ve seen several remote fireworks launchers that burn up resistors to light the fuses. But this system is much more reusable. The image on the right shows the heating elements which light the fuses. Younger readers might have no idea what they’re looking at, but every automobile used to come with at least one of these electric cigarette lighters. Just drive 12V through them and they get burning hot relatively quickly. That’s where the car battery on the base comes into play. It is connected to the lighters using some mechanical relays.

In the food container attached to the side of the launcher you’ll find a Raspberry Pi which provides the web connection for the system. [Thomas] wrote code which uses a webpage with some bomb icons as buttons. Check out the video after the break to see him demonstrate how fast one of these lighters will glow red after pressing a button on his smart phone.

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Horribly complicated electric guitar keyboard


Gutarist, hacker, and mustache enthusiast [David Neevel] brought together way too many pieces of hardware in order to use his electric guitar as a computer keyboard.

So let’s dig into the house of cards he built for the project. It starts off with the guitar which has been fitted with an additional pickup to interface with a Roland GR-33 synthesizer pedal. That outputs a MIDI signal, which many hackers would have connected to the computer and parsed with a simple script. But not [David], he connected it to an Arduino via an optisolator. Well that’s not too ridiculous, right? Don’t you think he’ll just parse the MIDI signals and push them to the computer via the Arduino’s USB port? Wrong! He translates the MIDI signals into combinations for a big relay board which is emulating the key matrix of an old USB keyboard. But as you can see in the demo video after the jump it works quite well.

If you’re more of the drumming sort there’s an electric drum set version of this hack too.

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Automating a mechanical typewriter


Check out all the work going on in the cabinet below this typewriter. The hack which automates a mechanical typewriter  is for an art installation, but wouldn’t it be fun to build one of these to use as a résumé printer? It really makes us wish we had an old typewriter sitting around.

It would have been much easier to patch into an electric typewriter, but we have seen the string trick used on those as well. In this case a loop of string attaches to the the bar under each key, allowing a pull from below to type the character. An automotive door lock actuator ([Harvey Moon] tells us they’re not solenoids) connects to the other end of the string for every key. But then you’ve got to have a way to drive the actuators and that’s where the protoboard full of forty relays seen to the right comes into play. That image, which was taken from the demo video after the break, shows the board being testing. We’d guess more wires are added later to multiplex the array as we can’t figure out how the Arduino manages to drive all forty of them as shown. One thing we are sure about, the completed project looks and sounds amazing!

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Guitar EQ levels trigger the stage lights


Even if your band hasn’t made it big yet it’s still a lot of fun to put on a great show. This hack will help you add lighting effects to performances without having to shell out for a lighting technician. [Phil] put together a hack that lets you trigger the lights by setting a volume threshold with a pedal switch.

After reading about the hack that adds an EQ display for a pedal board he got the idea to convert the concept as control hardware instead of just for feedback. Just like the visualization project he uses an MSGEQ7 chip which takes care of the audio analysis. He’s using this for electric guitar so he only monitors three or four of the outputs using an Arduino. He built the hardware into a foot pedal by mounting a momentary push button on the lid of the enclosure. Stepping on the button causes the Arduino to save the the current audio level. Whenever it reaches that threshold again it will switch on a mains relay to drive an outlet. In this case a strobe light turns on when he starts to rock out, which explains the bizarre image above. You can get a better feel for the theatrics by watching the clip after the break.

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April Fools’ project teaches coworkers not to touch your stuff


Take one look at the sticker on top of this project box and it’s pretty clear you’re not supposed to flip the switch protected by the piece of red plastic. But if your coworkers are anything like [The Timmy’s] there’s at least a few who will stop by and just can’t keep their hands off. He built this to teach those sorts a lesson. Flip the switch and a very loud siren starts blaring. The thing is, the 107db alarm can’t be turned off by the switch, you must have the key for the switch on the side.

The siren is a self-contained unit that just needs a power source between 6V and 15V. This makes the project quite simple, the only part that [The Timmy] really needed to think about was how to build a mechanical SR Latch (set-reset). The solution is to use a mechanical relay. The toggle switch connects the normally open connector to the common terminal to enable the relay. The key switch breaks the relay’s connection to ground, allowing the magnetic switch to open again.

If you need some help understanding how the relay connections work we’ve embedded an unrelated video after the break.

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24V relay driver circuit


[Glitch] got his hands on a slew of relays which are meant for use in industrial equipment. They are designed to operate at 24V. He wanted to use these with common microcontrollers and instead of buying a driver he designed and built his own.

There’s a few things to consider with a project like this. You need a power source, a way to level convert the driver pins, and some protection in case something goes wrong with the circuit. Looking at the board above should give you some idea of what’s going on. There’s a big transformer taking up half of the footprint. This steps down mains voltage to something a 7824 regulator can handle. That’s a 24V linear regulator which is fed by a bridge rectifier along with some smoothing capacitors. With the source taken care of [Glitch] uses an optoisolator for both protection and level conversion. After working the bugs out of the design he was able to control the relay using 3.3V, 5V, or 12V.