Monitoring a sick bird using the Raspberry Pi

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[Jorge Rancé] was nursing a sick bird back to health. He found it on the street with a broken leg, which required a mini plaster cast for it to heal correctly. But felt bad when leaving the house for long periods. He grabbed some simple hardware and put his mind at easy by building an Internet connected bird monitoring system. It’s really just an excuse to play around with his Raspberry Pi, but who can blame him?

A webcam adds video monitoring using the Linux software called “motion” to stream the video. This is the same package we use with our cats when we travel; it provides a continuous live stream but can also save recordings whenever motion is detected. He added a USB temperature sensor and attached a water level sensor to the GPIO header. These are automatically harvested — along with a still image from the webcam — and tweeted once per hour using a bash script. He just needs to work out automatic food and water dispensing and he never needs to return home! Bird seed shouldn’t be any harder to dish out than fish food, right?

Water tank level meter prevents overflow

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Most of the homes in the area where [Raikut] lives have tanks on the roof to hold water. Each is filled from a well using a pump, with gravity serving as a way to pressurize the home’s water supply. The system isn’t automatic and requires the home owner to manually switch the pump on and off. [Raikut] made this process a lot easier by designing an LED bar indicator to monitor the water level.

The sensor is very simple. Each LED is basically its own circuit controlled by a transistor and a few resistors. A 5V signal is fed from 7805 linear regulator into the tank. The base of each transitor is connected to an insulated wire, each extending different depths in the tank. As the water rises it completes the circuit, illuminating the LED.

[Raikut] is conservation minded and built a buzzer circuit which is activated by the LED indicating the highest water level. If someone walks away from the pump switch while it’s filling the alarm will sound as it gets to the top and they can turn it off before it wastes water.

[via Reddit]

Keurig hack now automatically fills the water reservoir

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This hack makes your Keurig experience fully automatic. For those that aren’t familiar with the hardware: this type of coffee maker includes a water reservoir. Coffee is brewed One cup at a time by drawing from that water, quickly heating it, then forcing it through disposable pods containing coffee grounds and a filter. This takes the user-friendly design one step further by automatically keeping the water full.

This goes beyond the last water reservoir hack we saw. That one routed a water line to the machine, but included a manually operated valve. [Eod_punk] added a solenoid valve and level sensor in this project. The level sensor is submerged in the tank and is monitored by a Basic Stamp microcontroller. When the level is low the BS1 drives the solenoid via a transistor, letting the water flow. This is all shown in the video below.

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Life meter gives a real life measure of video game health

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This hack makes the virtual real by displaying your video game character’s health meter as a column of illuminated water.

The build video, which you’ll find embedded after the break, is really quite remarkable. The column is a clear piece of pipe anchored at one end by hand-tightened plumbing drain fittings. This allows [Bfayer] to attach a flexible bladder which he constructed for the project. An actuator pushes a hinged board up against the bladder to raise and lower the water level in the tube.

Alone that’s pretty impressive, but [Bfayer] went the extra mile and then some. He uses a four-way fitting at the bottom of the meter. One fork connects to the bladder, another allows air to be injected using an aquarium pump. The bottom of the fitting has a clear window so that an RGB LED array can shine into the water which was doped with highlighter ink to pick up the colored glow. To pull the whole thing together he coded the custom control interface seen above.

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Jeep Wrangler gets pressurized water right out of the bumper

[Ed] got pretty creative with a hack that adds a pressurized water tap to his Jeep Wrangler. The tap on the rear passenger bumper now lets him hose off the vehicle after mudding, rinse his SCUBA gear after a dive, and just generally comes in handy.

If you want running water you’ve got to have a place to put it. This is actually what sparked the idea for the project. [Ed] noticed that the bumper was hollow and had some drain holes on the bottom. After plugging those and adding a fill hole to the top he found that he had a reservoir for about seven gallons. To get the water out he added a pump deigned to be used on an RV. It’s got features that make it work perfectly for this application: it runs off of battery voltage, it will turn on and off automatically when the tap is opened based on water pressure, and it will shut itself off if the reservoir runs dry. He designed a bezel to give the spigot a professional look. Just out of frame in the image above is an attachment for pressurized air. His next planned project for the Jeep is to add an air compressor.

After the break you can see a demo of the installed system, as well as a water pump test.

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Camera trick lets you see sound waves in falling water

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From this still image you’d think the hose dispensing the water is being moved back and forth. But watch the video after the break and you’ll see the hose is quite steady, as is the standing wave of water. It’s bizarre to be sure. Knowing how it works makes cognitive sense, but doesn’t really diminish the novelty of the demonstration.

This is the second time [Brasspup] has posted a video of this phenomenon. The newest version does a great job of showing several different patterns. But even the first segment from a year ago, which has over 4 million hits, shows the water moving against gravity. We also saw a similar rig in a links post a year ago.

We’d call it an optical illusion but it’s really more of a technological illusion. The water is falling past a sub-woofer speaker which is tuned to 24 Hz. At the same time, the camera filming the demonstration is capturing 24 frames per second. As was mentioned then, it’s much like flashing a light to freeze the water in mid-air. But the flashing of the frames is what causes this effect.

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Feedback for automated water and food pet dispensers

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[Enrico] figured out a way to fully automate his pet food and water. The system is in two parts, the water trough as seen on the left, and the food dispenser whose control hardware is shown on the right. The system is even hooked up to the network so that he can make sure it didn’t break down while he was away.

The water dispenser uses parts from a sprinkler system. Since it’s mounted outdoors it doesn’t matter if the water overflows a little bit. So [Enrico] set up the timer to run the water for three minutes every day. This acts as a backup system since the trough already has the ability to refill itself.

The food dispenser started as a commercial unit. To get feedback from the system he added a couple of magnets to the agitation motor and reads them with a hall effect sensor. In addition to an IP camera that monitors the area around the feeder (so [Enrico] can actually see his dog eating) there is a webcam which monitors the STM32 Discovery board which monitors the feeder. It tracks the number of times the dispenser has run.