Decades old TV gets sleep function thanks to 7400 family of chips

[Viktor] dredged up a hack he pulled off years ago. His grandfather likes to end the day in front of the TV, but he falls asleep soon after sitting down. Rather than tick away the electricity meter all night, [Viktor] built an automatic shutoff which is akin to a modern TV’s sleep feature.

At the time microcontrollers were not as easy to source as they are now. So [Viktor] used a circuit based on the 7400 family of logic chips. It uses a multivibrator to feed some binary counter chips. These are used to divide the oscillations to establish the desired timing. He tuned the system to be about 15 minutes, but that can be adjusted using a potentiometer built into the multivibrator. When time is about the run out an LED next to the TV comes on. This way if [Viktor's] grandfather is still awake he can press a button next to his chair to reset the counter. But if he’s already snoozing the counter will eventually switch off the television.

Quacking egg timer

[Tom] managed to build a geeky, quirky digital timer for the kitchen. Where most would have used a few seven segment displays along with some buttons and called it done, he found a way to make it a lot more fun. The plush addition on top is a yellow ducky with an orange beak. When time runs out the duck will quack, call you back to the kitchen.

As you can see in the video after the break, [Tom's] got his hands full with the family. This project was quick enough for him to fit it in during what dwindling free time he manages to hold onto. He used one of the chips that came with his MSP430 Launchpad. Since this family of processors offer extremely low-power modes when asleep they’re perfect for this type of battery-powered application. As for the duck, it’s a toy that had a couple of watch batteries and a small PCB inside. Some poking around led him to a pad that activates the quacking when grounded.

[Read more...]

Art Controller: relay board with switches for timing

Meet the Art Controller, a new dev board available over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. It provides a drop-in solution for switching higher voltage loads (but not mains). The thing we like most about it is the ability to alter a switching delay without reprogramming the firmware.

The board uses an ATtiny2313 for control. It’s fed regulated 5V power from the on-board 7805 linear regulator. The relay can handle a 24V DC or 40V AC load, which is targeted at an audience that needs electronic switching for art-related devices but doesn’t want the hassle of designing a circuit every time. This offers a single shot, or repeat action, with that bank of DIP switches selecting a delay from once every second, to every 31 hours. It can get its initial trigger from anything that can pull a pin low, like a button, or a coin acceptor.

Keep this in mind. The open source nature of the project means it could come in handy as a reference design.

Toothbrush timer

This toothbrush holder will make sure you’re brushing your pearly whites for an appropriate length of time. The three cups serves as tootbrush storage, and detect when one has been removed. Once you start brushing your teeth the lights on the front and bell in the back count down the process automatically.

The counting sequence starts when a weight sensor in the base detects a change caused by picking up a toothbrush. The ATmega328 — which is programmed with Arduino-style code – then turns on all of the incandescent lamps mounted on the front portion of the base. Each of these are switched with a 2N3904 transistor in order to sink enough current for the bulb. As a two-minute timer decrements, the bulbs are extinguished one by one. But there is also an auditory feedback mechanism. On the back of the base is a small bell. A hammer on a servo strikes the bell every 30 seconds to let you know how you’re doing. The entire thing is driven by an internal Li-ion battery which lasts about three weeks between charges. Don’t miss the demo video found after the break.

[Read more...]

Adding an auto-shutoff to the simplest of drip coffee makers

[Jerry Pommer] and his wife have relied on a percolating coffee pot for years. We have fond memories of camping trips with these things; they make great coffee which tastes even better on a cold morning in the back woods. But a recent package from the stork means that they no longer have time to sit and watch the coffee perk. After several days of boil-overs [Jerry] switched to this very basic drip coffee maker he salvaged from the trash pile. It has one switch that turns it on and off and nothing else. In order to make sure he doesn’t forget to turn it off, he hacked together his own shut-off timer for the device.

His write-up is all back story, but the 34 minute video embedded after the break takes us through the hack itself. We like it that he starts by discussing the different options that he could have chosen. Of course it might have been a microcontroller, or a 555 timer keeping time. But in the end he went with a simple resistor-capacitor timer. The carefully calculated component pair drives a Darlington transistor which keeps a relay closed. When the slowly draining capacitor lets the voltage drop past a certain threshold it also kills the power to the hot plate. In this case it will only stay on for about a half hour.

[Read more...]

F/stop printer for analog printing black and white photos

This beautifully crafted device is a timer used for getting the perfect exposure when making film prints of photos. But in addition to keeping time, it also does logarithmic calculations that are based on the f-stop values used for each exposure. It does this in 1/100th of a stop increments. While he was at it, [William] also decided to pack in a bunch of other features like dry down correction, and support for making test strips. This is a little hard to understand when discussed in the abstract, but just take a look at his video after the break where [William] walks us through an example exposure and all will become clear.

You can see from the construction page that the device is basically an Arduino shield. It provides a relay for controlling the exposure lamp, a keypad, rotary encoder, and character LCD. Slap it in a fancy case, connect it to the equipment you’re using, and you’ll be creating perfect prints in no time flat!

[Read more...]

Timer-based cooling helps your network survive the summer

Start your week off with a smile thanks to the video [Sammy] put together. It shows off the cooling rack he made for his network equipment. The project was developed out of necessity as the summer weather was causing his modem and router to heat up and at some point one of them would just shutdown and refuse to work again for hours. We haven’t run into this ourselves but it’s good to know that over-temperature safeguards have been built into the equipment.

His solution was to build a rack that offers fan cooling above and below the two pieces of equipment. As with most of his projects, we think making the video (embedded after the break) was half the fun. In addition to playing around with a turntable for some extra special camera effects he gives us a good view of the overall build. The base includes spacers and velcro strips to hold the equipment in place above a pair of exhaust fans. The standoffs at each corner of the rack suspend a second pair of fans above the equipment. But it wouldn’t look nearly as good without some custom LED effects thrown into the mix.

This is purely timer-drive. It’s a plug-in module that uses mechanical timing to switch mains. But some creative circuitry (or a small microcontroller) could implement temperature-based switching instead.

[Read more...]