Pick And Place At Home


[Erv’] wrote in to share a manual pick and place he recently constructed. He builds a lot of circuits using SMD parts, and after looking at commercial pick and place systems, he decided it would be far cheaper to build his own. Using some components he had sitting around the house, along with a few store-bought pieces, he put the pick and place together for about $50, which is pretty cheap when you think about it.

The base is made from wood he had left over from another project, which has a sliding rail and a movable arm rest built into it. A rotating TV stand is used to hold workpieces, allowing PCBs to be repositioned at will while parts are being laid out. A square furniture leg is used as a support arm, holding the pick and place vacuum pen in place at the end of a small accordion hinge. As in most DIY pick and place installations, a small aquarium pump has been used to provide the suction needed to pick up SMD parts.

It’s a great build with plenty of useful features, and comes in far cheaper than any commercial system you’ll find out there.

Ubuntu Laika – An Android Phone Pen Testing Platform


Once [Ruan] over at AndroidClone heard that Android devices were capable of running a full Linux environment, he started contemplating all of the things he might be able to do with a full Linux OS in his pocket.

He decided that a portable penetration testing platform would be great to have on hand, so he got busy installing Ubuntu 10.10 on his Lenovo LePhone. Once he had it up and running, he stripped out all of the unnecessary fluff and added some common tools such as Wireshark, Nmap, and Kismet, among others. He says it easily runs side by side with Android, allowing you to switch between the Ubuntu install and your standard Android applications with ease.

While this all started out as a proof of concept, he has continued to refine the project, releasing several new versions along the way. If you are interested in giving it a try, he has installation instructions available in the AndroidClone forums.

[thanks Stephen]

Gigantic Ball-manipulating Binary Computer

The folks at Evil Mad Scientist Labs just put up a post on the giant mechanical binary computer they brought to last month’s Maker Faire.

As a faithful reproduction of the Digi-Comp II from the 1960s, every operation is powered by balls falling onto levers. Unlike the original, the larger version is powered by billiard balls instead of half-inch marbles. The Digi-Comp II is able to count, add, subtract, multiply, divide, get the 1s or 2s complement and zero all of it’s bits. With a 7-bit accumulator, the Digi-Comp II is able to calculate anything where the result is less than 127, so we wouldn’t recommend doing your taxes on it. In the demo video, it took the Digi-Comp II about two minutes and twenty seconds to multiply 3 by 13. We’re not going to venture a guess on the equivalent seconds per cycle for an electronic calculator, but it’s an impressive build

The Digi-Comp II is a great way to show the process of binary arithmetic in a computer and we were wondering why there aren’t any educational toys like the Digi-Comp II out today. A site linked from the build page tells us there will be kits available this summer, we’re hoping the kit doesn’t fill the bed of a pickup truck.

Check out the video after the break for the multiplication demo.

Continue reading “Gigantic Ball-manipulating Binary Computer”

ISS Lamp Tells You When To Look Up

[Nathan Bergey] came up with a really neat desk lamp that provides a visualization of when the International Space Station is overhead.

The lamp uses a Teensy board to light a few LEDs on the edge of a piece of plexiglass. Because the orbit of the ISS decays over time, the time that overhead passes will occur is unpredictable after a few months. A stand-alone satellite tracking lamp will eventually lose it’s accuracy, so [Nathan] needed to parse tracking data the internet. Since he couldn’t find an API to track the ISS, [Nathan] wrote a Python script to parse the data he found on Heavens Above. Everything on the computer runs in the Gnome panel and is passed to the Teensy over the USB connection. [Nathan] posted all of the code is posted on github.

It’s a really great build that provides a reminder that there are people in space, and we think this would be a great way to provide some notification of upcoming Iridium flares, or when it’s most likely to pick up some APRS packets.

Check out [Nathan]’s demo of his ISS lamp after the break.

Continue reading “ISS Lamp Tells You When To Look Up”

Tablet-controlled Disco Droid


We have seen a few neat Google ADK projects pop up since its announcement a few weeks back, and this one is already on the list of our favorites.

YouTube user [chrisjrelliot] has put together a great hack demonstrating the ADK’s power and how easy it can be to control devices in real time with an Android-powered device.

He hacked apart an Android figure (naturally) and fitted it with some LED eyes as well as four servos. The servos are used to rotate the head, body, and arms of his Disco Droid, all of which can be controlled via his Android-powered tablet. As you can see in the video below, he is able to control the Droid’s actions in real time with a few simple swipes of his finger. One thing we did notice is that his tablet is not connected to anything via wires, so we are assuming that there’s a Bluetooth module hidden away somewhere in the mix.

While the video is a bit short on details, [Chris] promises that source code and build plans will be published in short order.


RFID Shower Time Logger

Paul, as he describes himself, is “a student without a big budget,” which might have been part of the inspiration for this hack .  Paul wanted to see how much time he was spending under the shower each day, so came up with this monitoring device using the ever-awesome Arduino processor and a RFID tag that many of you are certainly familiar with.  One simply waves the tag in front of the reader to start the timer, and waves it again to stop it.

One may not, however, be familiar with “thingspeak” and “weatherspark“, two other important elements of this hack.  Thingspeak is “an open application platform designed to enable meaningful connection between things and people,” and was used to interface the weather data on weatherspark with the shower monitor.  This was to help figure out if there was a connection between outside temperature and the length of showers taken.

The results of this experiment should be interesting, so hopefully some will be published soon!

[via hackedgadgets]

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?