Did you know weighing bee hives was even necessary? Of course it is. Monitoring hive weight can tell a beekeeper a lot about the size of the swarm, their harvesting habits, and the yield they are producing.
We had to cover this hack because it’s a fine piece of engineering. [Trearick] designed a bee hive scale that lifts one side of the hive to calculate weight. Using easy to find metal brackets, a hinge, a pulley, and some plywood he built a prying device. The three teeth slip in between the hive and its base and can be separated by squeezing together the plywood handles on the opposite side. This lifts one end of the hive, measuring the force needed to do so using a luggage scale. The readout should be roughly 1/2 the total hive weight. This measurement takes seconds to complete, uses a bulb level on the scale to help ensure consistency, and creates little or no disturbance to our flying friends.
It’s nice to see a Hymenoptera hack that helps in giving bees a healthy place to live, instead of killing wasps.
[Micah] was inspired by projects he had seen of people using the Wii balance board as an input. He realized the balance board was overkill, and pricey for many applications. Since it is basically just 4 weight sensors, he thought, why not just use a scale? Often, only one sensor is needed and they’re really cheap from big box stores. He picked up a digital scale and cracked it open. As he moved forward, he wanted to keep this pretty simple. There are other ways of getting the information from a scale, but they have been generally more complicated than what he had in mind. He ended up bypassing the internal unknown microcontroller and just connecting the analog sensors to his parallax setup. You can read all about the process an download some source code on his site.
This train layout is so small it nearly defies photography as much as it defies expectations. Built by model railroad enthusiast [David Smith], this is a model of a model: an N scale (1:160) layout inside a Z scale (1:220) world! For size reference, the entire layout is shown under a ballpoint pen tip in the photo above. And it actually runs!
Of course with this being Hack a Day you know there’s going to be some shenanigans involved. Pause the hi-def YouTube video at the 0:50 mark and see if you can puzzle it out first. The remainder of the video and [David’s] project page reveal how this all works, and it’s no less amazing even with the trick exposed. Check out his other ludicrously small mechanical wonders as well!
[Guus] screwed together this coffee table which doubles as a scale. No welding was required to put it together – just some bolts, pulleys, miscellaneous fittings, and an original design. The weight is indicated through the (unlabeled) position of the counterweight arm. Currently it is limited to measuring 10kg (22 pounds), but can easily be boosted by adding a heavier counterweight. It looks pretty robust, maintenance-free, and fitting for any living room workshop’s weighing needs. [Guus] is also the proud inventor of the rock radio, and he is working on creating Man-Y-Man: a modular play system allowing children to create up to 1520 unique creatures.
This is a classic example of a well done hack, simply for the sake of hacking. [Jorge] wanted to be able to chart his weight changes. His solution wasn’t to simply buy a scale that could be hooked to the computer. Those are available and aren’t really that expensive. He could have even used pencil and paper to chart it in a few seconds. Instead, [Jorge] started hacking. He took apart a digital scale he already had and installed his own circuit to display weight and write the values to a CSV. The CSV resides on a removable card which can then be put in his computer to chart the data in openoffice.
[John Peterson] created this postal scale device for a Renesas design contest. The Weasure not only calculates the package’s total weight but the dimensions as well. He built it using a SKP16C62P evaluation board that had an LCD, pushbuttons, and indicator LEDs. The original DigiWeigh parcel scale was modified to provide PWM output and tare control. He embedded photoresistors every inch along each axis. They were angle slightly upward and the surroundings were painted black to minimize reflection. The Weasure outputs everything via a serial connection so it can be used with shipping software to generate postage.
[David Steeman] sent us this project. He uses a consumer scale to measure rocket engine thrust. He wanted to be able to map the thrust curve of his homemade rocket motors to determine whether they are meeting the design goals. It does this by measuring the force applied by the rocket engine via a microcontroller that records it in a text file on a computer. He then analyzes this data in an Excel spreadsheet.
The sensors were harvested from a consumer scale while the rest of the electronics were built by hand. He’s using a PIC 18F2550 microcontroller which has a built in USB interface. He has breakdowns of each piece with detailed information on how it works as well as some nice pictures. There is also a list of future improvements that he would like to do such as increasing sample speed, integrating it with the ignition, and decreasing the physical size. Files for the schematic, firmware, and excel spreadsheet are available for download at the bottom of the page, so keep scrolling down.