MakerFaire K.C.: Power Wheels Racing

This section of the MakerFaire almost deserves an entire event of its own. I know I would happily attend a monthly match of the power racing series in my home town. To compete, you must have a modded Power Wheel. Yes, those electric kids vehicles that go really slowly across your lawn, those power wheels. You tear it apart, soup it up, and race it.

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Wireless Bullduino belt buckle sets the stage for romance, schtick


As the Red Bull Creation Contest gets underway, we’re seeing a ton of great entries, including this one put together by [Team Instructables]. While we are pretty partial to our own spectacular Red Bull Cannon, it’s hard to deny that there is some stiff competition out there.

Instructables’ “Romance Pants” are a creation that would undoubtedly fit perfectly as a prop piece for any of the Naked Gun movies. The basic premise behind the pants is that when unzipped, the Bullduino belt buckle wirelessly signals the lights in the room to dim, the music to turn up, and candles to light – setting the mood for romance.

Some might argue that anyone wearing a Red Bull-themed Arduino as a belt buckle would have a snowball’s chance in hell of encountering a potential mate – We can’t really argue with you there. That said, their concept is pretty amusing.

Stick around to see the Romance Pants in action, as well as a behind the scenes look at how they work.

[Thanks, Bill!]

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[RobB’s] house has no light switches

So [RobB] wanted to take out all the light switches in his house. His plan was to replace them with a system that could be operated from his smart phone. But his wife insisted that there still must be some way to control the lighting directly — we have to agree with her on that one. The solution was to develop a system that switches the lights via a touch sensor or by Bluetooth.

The touch part of the project is pretty easy. He coated the back of a blank outlet plate with tin foil and hooked it to a microcontroller with a couple of resistors. He’s using an ATtiny85, which can be programmed using Arduino sketches, so the software side is made easy by the CapSense Library. The chip also uses the software serial library to communicate with a Bluetooth module. You can see the result of both in the demo video after the break.

Of course you need to throw a relay in there to switch mains, and find a way to power the uC and Bluetooth module. [RobB] went with a tiny plug-in USB power converter and managed to fit everything in a single-gang switch.

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The excitement of ice fishing now from anywhere in the world

Now you can experience the excitement felt for centuries by ice fisherman thanks to this cellular-capable tip-up.

For the uninitiated a little ice fishing primer may be in order. The majority of what you see above is a standard tip-up rig for ice fishing. Basically it lets you set many baited lines and just watch for a flag to pop up when one of them hooks a fish. Just drill a hole in the ice and drop the line through — the orange frame rests on the surface of the ice.

The add-on here is the grey box which is hiding an Xbee device. A magnet and reed switch (which can be found at the local hardware store) complete a circuit when the flag is down. But if the flag pops up the reed switch opens (or closes, we’re not sure which) and the Xbee sends an alert to a base station, which then converts that to a text message to push to your phone. As you guessed, there’s a video after the break.

Fun and convoluted. But not entirely useless. We’d suggest swapping the Xbee/cellular hardware for a cheap microcontroller/Bluetooth setup. This way you can knock back a few cold ones in the ice house while waiting for the wireless network to alert you via an SL4A script.

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Building a moat for your hackerspace; alligators, piranhas not included

There has to be something tainting the water supply over at the Louisville Hackerspace LVL1. They’re building a freaking moat in front of their building, ostensibly to keep the black knight and zombies at bay.

After digging a 14-foot deep trench in front of their building – a hazard mitigated by a few steel plates and orange cones generously donated by the Louisville city workers – the members of LVL1 started moving pipes around in preparation for their moat.

Officially, the Louisville city council thinks this project will be a fountain and reflecting pool. City hall seems very friendly; the Louisville chamber of commerce asked about including LVL1 in next year’s Derby tour.

The barely-zombie proof moat build is the latest in a series of builds to improve the security of LVL1. Previous builds included a robotic overlord guarding the building and a robotic arm to cajole members into doing its bidding. Like we said, there’s probably something in the water supply.