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.

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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!

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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.

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Under-bench timed outlets won’t let you leave the iron on

When we used to use firesticks (the pen style plug-in soldering irons) it was always a worry that we might leave them on. But now we use a base unit which has an indicator light to serve as a reminder. Still, [FoxxTexx] isn’t taking any chances and instead built this timer-based outlet which kills the power automatically.

The parts are all pretty common. The timer itself is the same form factor as a light switch and is commonly used for heat lamps or hot tub jets. It feeds the outlet next to it by way of the indicator switches to the right. We like the use of the switches but since mains voltage is still running through them we would suggest using a three-gang box and mounting them on the cover plate so that all the wiring is contained. If done this way you could just have the electrical box siting on your bench, but it is a nice touch to have it mounted this way.

We’ve long been proponents of a timer system. Back when we put together our Hacker’s Soldering Station we just used a plug-in timer unit.

Building a game clock for Go or Chess

[Matias] is just getting into hobby electronics and decided to push the limits of his skill by building this game clock. He comes from a software design background and that really shows through in the UI design seen in the video after the break. We enjoy the journey through his prototyping process which started with an Arduino and a breadboard, and ended with this standalone timer.

After building the first working prototype with four buttons and a character LCD, he migrated to a plastic ice cream container as an enclosure. This worked well enough, but the flimsy case needed an upgrade. As he looked toward the next version he decided to move to an Arduino Nano board to save on space. The rest of the components were soldered to some protoboard, with a pair of pin headers to receive the Nano. The finished board is the same length as the Nano and only about twice as wide.

The box was modeled on the computer (it looks like SketchUp to us be we could be wrong) then cut from pieces of Masonite. It hosts the character LCD with a pair of arcade buttons for each player to shift the time burden to his or her opponent. The middle button pauses the game, and there’s a trimpot on the back to adjust the screen contrast. [Matias] managed to include a surprising number of settings which will make this little box useful for a wide range of game types.

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Old timey UAV cameras

These brave birds are weapons of war. Well, not these actual birds… they’re just models used for this photograph courtesy of a taxidermist. But their living relatives were used to take spy photographs during World War I. [Dr. Julius Neurbronner] didn’t suddenly jump into the field of avian photography. He, like his father before him, used homing pigeons to deliver prescription drugs in loads of up to 75 grams. This makes us wonder if the birds are ever used in modern drug running?

The inspiration came when the doctor found out about subminiature cameras available at the turn of the twentieth century. Those cameras included a tiny roll of film, allowing for several images to be taken. He figured out a way to make a timer that used a pneumatic system to trigger the shutter in the camera. You can see a diagram of the timer mechanism here. The idea is that the birds will always be able to find their way home. So if you take them to a starting point that puts the enemy lines in between them and home base, they’ll fly over and get some juicy recon in the process.

That’s pretty old school. But we’re still tying things onto birds these days. Here’s some modern tech that uses sun-up/sun-down to track travel habits.

[Thanks F via The Atlantic]

Workout timer has its own fight bell

This workout timer turned out great. We think [Douglas] managed to end up with a professional look and a full range of features even though he was doing a lot of learning along the way.

He wanted a clock that was capable of counting up or down to time different segments of his workout. In order to be really useful it needed to have a remote control and a way to signal when time had run out. He grabbed an Arduino and started prototyping with an LED marquee at first, but after adding a second Arduino to deal with the display scanning issues he finally switched over to these LED segment displays.

The timer includes an IR receiver so that it can be controlled with a handheld remote. The large red bell to the side has a heck of a ding and is used to signal the start and end of timing. Perhaps the driver for that bell could be incorporated into the home automation project from Wednesday. Once the hardware decisions were finalized [Douglas] set out to build an enclosure that he could be proud of (mission accomplished!). Don’t miss the video after the break where he walks through all various aspects of the user interface. [Read more...]