Clocks For Social Good

Over the past five days we’ve been challenging the Hackaday community to build a clock and show it off. This is to raise awareness for electronics design in everyday life and hopefully you found a non-hacker to join you on the project. The point is that our society — which has pretty much universally accepted everyday carry of complex electronics — has no idea what goes into electronic design. How are we supposed to get kids excited about engineering if they are never able to pull back that curtain and see it in action?

Build something simple that can be understood by everyone, and show it off in a way that invites the uninitiated to get excited. What’s simpler than a clock? I think of it as the impetus behind technology. Marking the passage of time goes back to our roots as primitive humans following migratory herds, and betting on the changing seasons for crop growth. Our modern lives are governed by time more than ever. These Clocks for Social Good prove that anyone can understand how this technology works. And everyone who wants to learn to build their own electronic gadget can discover how to do so at low-cost and with reasonable effort. This is how we grow the next generation of engineers, so let’s take a look at what we all came up with over the weekend.

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HC-SR04 Isn’t The Same As Parallax PING))) But It Can Pretend To Be!

“It’s only software!” A sentence that strikes terror in the heart of an embedded systems software developer. That sentence is often uttered when the software person finds a bug in the hardware and others assume it’s going to be easier for fix in software rather than spin a new hardware revision. No wonder software is always late.

[Clint Stevenson] is his own hardware and software guy, as are most of us. He wanted to use the less expensive HC-SR04 ultrasonic rangefinder in a prototype. Longer term he wanted to have the choice of either a Parallax PING or MaxBotix ultrasonic sensor for their better performance outdoors. His hardware hack of the SR04 made this a software problem which he also managed to solve!

[Clint] was working with the Arduino library, based on the Parallax PING, which uses a single pin for trigger and echo. The HC-SR04 uses separate pins. Originally he modified the Arduino library to accept the two pin approach. But with his long term goal in mind, he also modified the HC-SR04 sensor by removing the on-board pull-up resistor and adding a new one on the connector side to combine the signals. That gave him an SR04 that worked with the single-pin based library.

We’ve seen Parallax PING projects for sensing water depth and to generate music. These could be hacked to use the HC-SR04 using [Clint’s] techniques.

[Arduino and HC-SR04 photo from Blax Lab]

Quick Marty! We Have To Go Back, With The Golf Cart!

Talk about an awesome project. [Lucas Evanochko] was commissioned to build this totally rad Delorean style golf Cart for Red Deer College’s 30th annual Golf Tournament.

According to him, it’s been about 600 hours in the making – and they only started building it in July. This past week was its big unveiling, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive response so far!

They started with one of the club’s golf carts and modified it heavily, relying on the automotive expertise of [David Keykants] and [John Perrin] to turn it into the aw-worthy time machine it is today.  It has a 7” tablet built right into the dash to play music and use the Fluxy88 Time Circuits app. A big array of arcade buttons hooked up to an Adafruit Audio FX board play various sound bites from the movie, including the theme music!

All the accessories are powered off of a separate 12V system from the main 48V drive line. Oh and the Flux Capacitor? It’s controlled by a Trinket Pro. Check it out after the break. We love the detail that went into this!

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