Very inexpensive RF module tutorial

Let’s say you need a way to make a project wireless, but don’t have the scratch for a ZigBee or its ilk. You could use IR, but that has a limited range and can only work within a line of sight of the receiver. [Camilo] sent in a project (Spanish, translation) to connect two devices via a wireless serial connection. As a small bonus, his wireless setup is cheap enough to create a wireless network of dozens of sensors.

[Camilo] used the TLP434A transmitter/receiver combination to get his wireless project off the ground. These small devices only cost about $5, but being so inexpensive means the hardware designer needs to whip up their own communications protocol.

For a microcontroller, [Camilo] chose a Freescale MC9S08QC, a pleasant refrain from the AVR or PIC we normally see. After making a small board for his transmitter, [Camilo] had a very small remote control, able to send button presses or other data to a remote receiver.

After the break, you can see a short demo video [Camilo] posted of his wireless transmitter turning on an LED attached to his receiver. Unfortunately, this video was filmed with a potato, but all the schematics and code is on his web site for your perusal.

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A perpetually powered wireless outpost

For [Justin], the topic of remotely powering electronics in the field comes up often. So often in fact he decided to put up a tutorial for powering electronics from solar power and batteries, as well as sending and retrieving data with the help of a cellular connection.

The electronics [Justin] chose for his remote wireless project include an AT&T 3G connection to the Internet provided by a Beaglebone, BeagleTouch display, and BeagleJuice battery pack. Of course an Arduino had to make it into this project, so a few light sensors were wired into a few Arduino Unos and connected to the Beaglebone.

After finding a few deep cycle boat batteries, [Justin] wired up a pair of solar panels that put out about 200 mA in full sun. This equates to about 2700 mAh a day, about 300 mAh more than his Beaglebone/Arduino/3G connection/WiFi setup needs per day.

As for what [Justin] can do with his wireless outpost, it makes setting up remote sensors for agriculture a breeze, and could easily be used to automagically send pictures from a game camera straight to a web page. Pretty neat, and very useful if you need to wire up sensors in the field to the Internet.

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Levitating lightbulb does it all with no wires

It would be really fun to do an entire hallway of these levitating wireless lights. This a project on which [Chris Rieger] has been working for about six months. It uses magnetic levitation and wireless power transfer to create a really neat LED oddity.

Levitation is managed by a permanent magnet on the light assembly and an electromagnetic coil hidden on the other side of the top panel for the enclosure. That coil uses 300 meters of 20 AWG wire. A hall effect sensor is used to provide feedback on the location of the light unit, allowing the current going to the coil to be adjusted in order to keep the light unit stationary. When working correctly this draws about 0.25A at 12V.

Wireless power transfer is facilitated by a single large hoop of wire driven with alternating current at 1 MHz. This part of the system pulls 0.5A at 12V, bringing the whole of the consumption in at around 9 Watts. Not too bad. Check out [Chris'] demo video embedded after the break.

A similar method of coupling levitation with power transfer was used to make this floating globe rotate.

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Raspberry Pi controlled tank goes deeper than you might think

This remote control tank now takes its orders from a Raspberry Pi board. Well, actually it’s taking orders from commands pushed to the RPi board via SSH. The control scheme works out quite well. Using a low-profile WiFi dongle the RPi automatically connects to the wireless network when it is powered on. This makes it a snap to SSH into the device, and a more user-friendly controller will put a nice front-end into play at some time in the future.

But the real meat and potatoes of the hack comes in getting the RPi to talk to the tank’s circuitry. Just getting the Heng Long Tiger I remote control tank apart proved to be a ton of work as the treads need to be removed to do so and there’s a lot of screws holding it together. Instead of just replacing all of the control circuitry [Ian] wanted to patch into the original controller. To do so he spent a bit of time analyzing the signals with an oscilloscope and discovered that commands were coming in a Manchester encoded format. He established what various packets were doing, used a transistor to protect the GPIO pin on his board, and now has full control of the Tank. The final part of the hardware alteration was to power the RPi from the Tank’s battery.

After the break you can catch a demo of the reassembled tank sporting its new wireless controller.

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Mini waterproof LED lanterns charge without wires


If you’re in search of a flashlight that can stand up to the elements, or simply looking for an easy way to spruce up your pool for those hot summer nights, check out these rechargeable PVC LED lights. Inspired by a post in Make: Magazine featuring Indestructible LED Lanterns, [John Duffy] decided to take the project one step further.

While he liked Make’s iteration of the waterproof lantern, he thought it would be best to permanently seal the lights for maximum durability. Not satisfied with a one-use light, he equipped the PVC lanterns with a single rechargeable AA battery, step-up circuitry to drive the LED, and an inductive charging coil.

His floating, waterproof lights sport a slightly bigger footprint than their predecessors to house the extra electronics, but we think that’s more than a fair trade off considering they can be charged wirelessly.

Place your Digikey/Mouser/Jameco orders now and check out [John’s] how-to video – you just might get some of these built in time for the weekend!

[via HackedGadgets]

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Shake phone to start scooter

This scooter starts right up with a shake of your Android device. This shake must be done from front-to-back, because a side-to-side shake is reserved for unlocking the saddle ([Brad] stores his helmet within).

Connectivity is facilitated over Bluetooth, with a rocker switch near the left handle bar to disable the receiver so that you don’t run down the battery. You can see the locking panel hanging open on the front portion of the scooter. Inside he installed the driver board which patches into the ignition system and drives a solenoid for the seat latch. It sounds like the latching mechanism used a bowden cable whose handle was inside that locking panel. By adding a solenoid and generously lubricating the cable he  managed to get it functioning from the driver board.

Check out the video after the break for a proper demonstration. The phone is running a Python script via SL4A, which takes care of the user interface.

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Using a router as a wireless embedded platform

If you’re going to make your next project wireless, you don’t need an XBee, WiFi shield, or even a Bluetooth module. Turning old hardware into a dev board is extremely easy, as [Taikson] shows us by adding an I2C bus to a Fonera router. (Spanish, here’s the Google translation)

To add an I2C bus, [Taikson] took two pins that originally went to a router status pin and soldered on a pair of wires. [Taikson]‘s router is running OpenWrt, so adding support for I2C devices is just a matter of changing a few kernel settings.

As for what you can do with a router development platform, the sky’s the limit. Last year, [Taikson] controlled a quadcopter from within a web browser with a similarly modified I2C-enabled router. It’s a clever hack, and with a little bit of work it should be possible to add a few sensors or even a camera to his quadcopter.