Automating a mechanical typewriter

typewriter-driven-by-automotive-door-lock-motors

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

guitar-eq-strobe-control

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

april-fools-siren-box

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

driving-24v-relays

[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.

Wireless fireworks controller includes several safety features

fireworks-controller

[Craig Turner] wrote in to tell us about the wireless fireworks controller he just finished building. It has eight total channels and offers the kind of safety features we like to see when working with explosives.

The image above details the launcher side of the project. The project box houses an Arduino which is powered by a 9V battery. To enable this base station the key lying on top of the project box must be inserted and turned to the on position. To the left is the 12V battery which is used to supply the igniters via a set of eight relays. In the demo video after the break [Craig] is using nichrome wire to demonstrate, but we’ve even see projects that actually burn up resistors to light the fireworks.

The system uses RF12 wireless modules to communicate with the control panel. That also has an Arduino, along with a number pad. After switching on the power the operator must enter a PIN code before the system will allow any of the fireworks to be launched.

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Humble beginnings of a home automation project

humble-beginnings-to-a-home-automation-project

This board is the start of [Steven Pearson's] quest to automate his home. The module will be used to prototype the rest of the project. Right now it uses an ATmega328 chip running the Arduino bootloader. This connects to one mechanical relay which we would wager is mains rated. The module will be controlled wirelessly via the wireless module seen in the foreground. That is a nRF24L01 board which he chose because of it’s bargain basement price tag of around $1.50.

There is much room for expansion in the system. You can see that a light-dependent resistor has been added to some of the microcontroller’s breakout pins. We would guess that [Steven] will use the hardware to develop for many different functions and will design more task-specific modules as the project progresses.

If you’re a fan of PCB milling and population you won’t want to miss the video after the break. [Steve] posted a fast-motion video of the entire process.

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Adding a timer feature to this desk lamp

timer-lamp

[Steven Mackaay] added a simple user interface that implements a shutoff timer for his desk lamp. His project log comes in two parts, the breadboarding and the actual implementation.

He wanted a few things out of the build. The first is an LED that would help him find the lamp in the dark. The second feature is a shutoff timer with different delay options. To get everything working he used a PIC microcontroller to drive a mechanical relay. That relay switches the mains power to the lamps. Now he uses one button to switch the lamp on and off. The other selects a shutoff timer of one, five, or thirty minutes. Power for the control circuitry is provided by the green wall wart PCB seen in the photo of the electronic guts.

This is a pretty general setup that could be applied to a lot of other mains switching applications. Just connect the logic hardware to some type of relay.