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Kitchen timer makes Mario your Sous-chef

[Alan] was unimpressed by the cheap ticking egg timers that grace many of our kitchens. He decided this was an execllent opportunity to ply his skills with microcontrollers. He built this kitchen timer complete with an enclosure and audible alarm.

The device is Arduino based, which makes driving the graphic LCD quite easy thanks the libraries associated with that platform. As you can see above, his user interface makes use of virtual buttons – three tactile switches whose function is listed at the top of the display.

But we think the alarm sound really earns this a place in his kitchen. He used the same hardware as that that Super Mario Bros. Toilet project to play classic video game sounds when your soufflé needs come out of the oven. We haven’t come across them ourselves, but apparently there’s a line of key chains for sale in Japan (yes, we need to plan a trip there!) that have the tunes programmed into them. They’re easy to crack open and it beats dealing with a speaker and amp circuit.

Troubleshooting household light timers

timer-repair

When [Todd Harrison’s] Christmas lights stayed on well past the pre-defined shut off time, he knew there was something wrong with the timer. He took the device into his workshop and spent some time diagnosing and repairing the device, a process he recorded for all to see.

After busting the screw-less timer open with a hammer, he inspected the PCB for any apparent signs of damage. After seeing what looked like a damaged transistor, he desoldered it from the board for testing. After the transistor passed his tests with flying colors, [Todd] assumed that the fault had to be in the relay which the transistor was responsible for switching.

Sure enough, the relay had shorted out, and upon cutting it open he found that the contact points were fused together. He separated and sanded the contacts down, enabling him to get the timer working – at least for the time being.

Part of [Todd’s] goal with this video was to show off different methods of desoldering, including a manual solder sucker (my favorite), desoldering braid, and a purpose built desoldering iron. If you’re in the market for some desoldering tools, but don’t know what to buy, [Todd] is more than happy to offer his advice.

Continue reading to see a video of [Todd's] troubleshooting process.

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Tiny hardware-based DSLR intervalometer

diy_dslr_intervalometer

Most DSLR cameras have the ability to take pictures at set intervals, but sometimes the menu system can be clunky, and the options are often less than ideal. [Achim] is a big fan of time lapse photography and has been hard at work creating a hardware-based intervalometer to suit his needs. He has just finished the second revision of the controller which is just about small enough to fit inside the housing of a 2.5mm stereo plug. The timer is not 100% universal, but so far he has confirmed it works on Nikon, Canon, and Pentax cameras.

Based on a PIC10F222, the circuit’s operation is quite simple. Once the dongle is connected to your camera, you simply need to take two pictures anywhere from 0.4 seconds to 18 minutes apart. The intervalometer “watches” to see how long you waited between pictures, and proceeds to take shots at that interval until the battery dies or your memory card fills up.

As you can see in the video on his site, the timer works a treat. If you want to make one of your own, swing by his site to grab schematics and code – it’s all available for free.

*Whoops, it looks like we’ve actually covered this before. Our apologies.

You can keep your mints safe; we have the technology

After having his mints disappear for quite some time [Quinn Dunki] came up with an idea to get back a the fresh-breath thieves. A bit of circuit design, parts scavenging, and free-form construction led to the creation of his mint-tin burglar system.

Here’s how it works. Flip the on/off switch in the base of the mint tin before you head off for lunch or a coffee break. When the foul-mouthed pilferer hits up your stash they’ll get what they were looking for at first. But by opening the tin they tripped a timer circuit that will send the mints vibrating across the table soon after having been opened.

The breadboard above holds the prototype timer circuit, built around or friend the 555 timer. The vibration motor from a cellphone is a perfect choice for this hack as it’s very small and is just waiting to run from a low-voltage source. We especially liked the use of the cells from inside a 9V battery as a power source and the compact assembly that manages to fit inside the mint container.

Another Smarter Water Heater Timer

When notes stuck to the water heater failed [Ryan] decided to whip up “the world’s most expensive 240V relay” using a servo, a real time clock and of course an Arduino. All in an attempt to save a buck or two thanks to LA’s “Time-of-Use program”.

Using a protoshield Ryan soldered up a RTC module using the DS1307 chip. On board he added some LED’s and switches including a holiday switch keep the heater off, a next cycle button when you need some hot water and to hell with the expense, and a pulsing blue LED.. for no reason at all. The board flips the mechanical switch using a servo and piano wire, simple but effective. We wonder how many days/weeks it will take for it to offset its expense?

Keep Fun in Check With a Parental Count Down Timer

Gaming industry software engineer [Pedantite] writes in to let us know about his latest endeavor, an AVR based parental assistant timer: Good Times.   Looking for a new project that would be both useful and interesting, his wife suggested a “time out/ time’s up timer”. Like most of us [Pedantite]‘s children are well studied in the arts of procrastination and mischief.  In the kids’ case this leads to time outs and break time running amok. The solution, in this case, is pretty much an advanced DIY egg timer with fun sounds.

The timer sports all of your basic countdown-timer functions including a 4 digit 7-segment LED output display, stop light style LED indicators, and controls to start/pause and stop the count down. The count down time can be input via the +5 minute, +1 minute, and +15 second buttons. There is even a happy/sad button to toggle between “time out” and “break time” modes. Two Atmel micros power the device, an AT Tiny 2313V for the capacitive touch keypad and an AT Mega 644P for the display, audio, and time measurement.  There are a lot of excellent techniques used in the build, some which we have covered here:  Four 595 Shift registers for the display; A 4 bit r2r DAC for audio output.

[Pedantite] is still in the process of writing up the project in multiple posts, and would love to know what you all want to hear about. Check out his blog for details and a quick video of the timer in action! Also, if you are interested in capacitive buttons, check out part 2 of the writeup.

Wireless luge timer levels the playing field

wireless_luge_timer

In Colorado, amateur luge competitions are serious business.

Every winter, [Ryan's] friends dig a long luge track through the many feet of snow that occupies their yard, and have competitive sled races to see who can make it down the giant hill in the least time. They call it the Mario Cup, after one of the participants, not the Nintendo mascot, and they were in desperate need of some timing equipment.

You see, the luge track is several hundred feet long, and they decided that a human armed with a stopwatch is not a good enough means of picking a conclusive winner. A set of three Arduino sensors packed inside plastic food containers were used along with light sensors to track when the luger passed the start, midpoint, and finish lines of the race. XBee radios then transmitted the timing data back to the base station for recording.

The system worked quite well according to the participants, and they look forward to using the system again in the future. Of course, improvements have been planned, including dual timers at each checkpoint to gauge the luger’s speed, as well as a Christmas-tree starting signal like you see at drag races.

Continue reading to see a video below of the luger’s in action, as well as the timer system undergoing some tests.

[via Make]

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