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Remote Servo-controlled Lightswitch

remoteServoLightSwitch

We frequently get home automation tips, many of which have simple circuit-based on/off control for lights. [Paulo Borges] has created something quite different, however, with his in-the-wall servo-controlled light switch. This build forgoes the need of any relay to switch mains power, and because it’s physically flipping your switch, provides a distinct advantage over other builds that require a phone or tablet interface: you can use your switches as you normally would.

[Paulo] picked up a rocker-type switch at the local hardware store and carefully pried off the large, flat switch plate to notch out a small hole at its fulcrum. He then carefully shaped a piece of 12 gauge wire to provide a pivot point for the servo. His choice to use wire here seems to be entirely to provide a sturdy yet bendable component that functions mechanically rather than electrically. A small 9G servo fits to the back of the switch’s housing, and the servo’s arm connects up to the previously attached 12 gauge wire. He pieced together the remote control feature with an RF link kit with an inexpensive 433mhz Code duplicator from eBay.

[Paulo] explains that his Instructable is simply an overview rather than a step-by-step guide, so if you’re eager to reproduce this hack you’ll have to work out the code and the remote control portion yourself. He also acknowledges the biggest remaining hurdle: finding space in the wall to shove all the microcontroller guts. Check out a couple of videos of the switch after the break, and remember, there’s always the option of doing away with all light switches.

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Twitter Knitter combines 40 year old hardware with modern social media

When presented with a vintage Empisal Knitmaster knitting machine, members of the TOG Dublin Hackerspace worked together to not only bring it back from the dead but to also add some custom hardware that allows for computer generated patterns.

At first the Knitmaster was in fairly bad shape requiring a few custom machined parts just to function.  It was originally designed to feed in special punch cards that mechanically directed the many moving parts of the machine (called “dibblers”) to knit patterns in yarn.  Using an Arduino, a number of servos, and a microswitch to detect when the knitting carriage is pulled across, this card-read system was replaced with a computer controlled mechanism that can direct the machine to print out images one row at a time.

Of course, you don’t get too many opportunities to name your project something as cute as “The Twitter Knitter”, so once the system was working, it was only a matter of writing some code to snatch tweets from the web and generate images out of the text.  Visitors of the Dublin Mini Maker Faire got to watch it in action as they posted tweets with a particular hashtag which the machine happily printed in yarn (as long as they weren’t too long).

Video demo after the jump.

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An elegant timepiece from paper and a fistful of servos

papercraftClock

Segments rise from a sheer white surface to reveal the time in this papercraft digital / analog clock build by [Jacky Mok].

New York-based designer [Alvin Aronson] is responsible for the original, titled “D/A Clock,” which he built as a student at RISD using Corian instead of paper. [Aronson]‘s design is also massive in comparison. It measures one meter wide by a half meter tall. Without access to either a 3D printer or to a laser cutter, [Jacky] instead reduces the scale of his interpretation and relies on cardstock as the primary construction material. His experience with papercraft typography leads to a design that anyone with an Exacto knife and a slice of patience should find manageable. [Jacky] ignores the Exacto option, however, and cuts his pieces with a tool we saw earlier this year: the Silhouette Portrait.

The clock’s electronics include an Arduino Uno, a servo motor controller, twenty-eight servos and an RTC breakout board that handles timekeeping. Each servo drives its own segment by sliding a paperclip forward or backward inside a small, hollow aluminum rod. Though we’re still holding out for a video of the finished papercraft build, you can watch a video of Aronson’s original clock after the break and see what inspired [Jacky's] design.

Need another clock to envy? Last month’s build by [ebrithil] uses twenty-two servos to individually spin the segments. If you prefer that your clocks light up, [Aaron's] o-scope transformation has you covered.

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Twenty two servos and an awesome clock

servo

We can never get enough interesting clock builds, and [ebrithil]‘s servo clock (Deutsche, Google translation) is up there with the best of them. There’s twenty-two servos in this clock, moving time forward with the mechanistic precision only an Arduino project can.

The digits in [ebrithil]‘s clock are constructed like seven-segment displays, only instead of lighting up LEDs, servos turn small bits of paper that are light on one side and dark on the other. Turing the servo 180 degrees changes each segment from one shade to the other, making for an electromechanical seven-segment display.

The servos are controlled by an Arduino Mega connected to a DS1302 real-time clock. One problem [ebrithil] had with this project is having the segments rotate slightly every time someone turned on a light attached to the same circuit. He solved this problem by running the circuit off a perpetually charging cell phone battery, allowing him to take this clock on the go without losing time.

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Hardware store robot hand

hardware-store-robot-hand

Here’s a robot hand which can be built using mostly hardware store items. It doesn’t have the strongest of grips, but it does have lifelike movement. The demonstration video shows it picking up small objects like a metal nut.

The image above shows the ring and pinky fingers of the hand beginning to flex. These are controlled by the servo motors mounted in the palm area. The skeletal structure of each digit begins with the links of a bicycle chain. The links are first separated by removing the friction fit rods. Each rod is replaced with a screw and a nut, which also allows the springs (which open the digits) to be anchored at each ‘knuckle’.

[Aaron Thomen] didn’t stop the design process once the hand was finished. He went on to build a controller which lets you pull some rings with your fingers to affect movement. This movement is measured by a set of potentiometers and translated into electrical signals to position the hand’s servo motors. The demo, as well as two how-to videos are embedded below.

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Vine app hack on iPhone makes time-lapse movies

time-lapse-with-smashed-iphone

The Vine app is all the rage these days. It lets you shoot six-second videos on your iPhone and easily post them on the Internet. The problem is that [Sean Hodgins] doesn’t find the time limit to be useful for traditional video. But you can cram a lot more info into a half-dozen seconds if you make it a time-lapse video. The rig above is his solution to making the Vine app act as a time-lapse recorder.

The trick is in how the app itself works. It only records video when you’re touching the screen. So you record one second of video, then remove your finger and it ‘pauses’ the recording until you’re ready for the next scene. [Sean] automated this by adding a servo motor and a stylus. An Arduino drives the servo, making quick taps on the screen to get as many different frames into the six seconds as possible. He had a bit of trouble registering quick taps at first. His solution was to inject 3.3V into the stylus he gutted for the project. Click through the link above to see some example videos, or watch this embedded video to see the hardware at work:

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Weather-O-Matic displays digital weather on an analog face

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

This clean-looking readout uses analog dials to display the weather. [Nuno Martins] calls it the Weather-O-Matic and after the jump he explains what went into the project.

The hardware is about as simple as it gets. Each hand has a servo motor attached to it. An MSP430 gets the weather via a serial connection to a computer (data is scraped by a Python script) and sets the dials accordingly. The microcontroller also takes user input in the form of a single button on the side of the frame. The words on the left side of the dial are Portuguese for Today, Tomorrow, and After (meaning the day after tomorrow). Pressing the button multiple times will scroll through these three words, followed by the forecast temperature high and low for that day being displayed.

The nice thing about this is that the servo motors will stay in place if you cut the power to them. We bet if he wanted to make this a permanent fixture in his house he could get it to run well on batteries by using the sleep function of the microcontroller and adding an RF transceiver to communicate with the server.

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