Wearable Foxhunt Transmitter for Conventions

Amateur radio operator [KE4FOX] wanted to build his own 2M fox hunt transmitter for use at conventions. It would be contained in a 1020 Pelican micro case and attached to a person who would walk around transmitting a signal, leaving the hams to track down the fox. The project uses a DRA818 VHF/UHF transceiver plugged into a low-pass filter combined with a hardware DTMF decoder, all controlled by an ATmega328P and powered by a 11.2 mAh battery.

[KE4FOX] also etched his own PCB, using the PCB toner transfer method, folding a sheet of transfer paper around the board to align both layers. Then he etched the board using cupric chloride. When assembling the board he realized he had made a terrible error, assuming the transceiver module’s pins went in the top layer when in fact they should have gone in the bottom layer. He solved this by soldering in the module in upside down.

He dropped the project into the 1020 and installed an SMA antenna. After he assembled the project he found out that the level shifter he used on the Arduino’s 5 V data didn’t work as expected and it was stuck at a single frequency. Something to work on for V2!

We publish a large number of amateur radio posts here on Hackaday, including fox hunting with Raspberry Pi and how to make a TDOA directional antenna.

[thanks, that Kat!]

Open Source Barbot Needs Only Two Motors

Most drinkbots are complicated—some intentionally so, others seemingly by design necessity. If you have a bunch of bottles of booze you still need a way to get it out of the bottles in a controlled fashion, usually through motorized pouring or pumping. Sometimes all thoe tubes and motors and wires looks really cool and sci fi. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a really clean design.

[Lukas Šidlauskas’s] Open Source Barbot project uses only two motors to actuate nine bottles using only a NEMA-17 stepper to move the tray down along the length of the console and a high-torque servo to trigger the Beaumont Metrix SL spirit measures. These barman’s bottle toppers dispense 50 ml when the button is pressed, making them (along with gravity) the perfect way to elegantly manage so many bottles. Drink selection takes place on an app, connected via Bluetooth to the Arduino Mega running the show.

The Barbot is an Open Source project with project files available from [Lukas]’s GitHub repository
and discussions taking place in a Slack group.

If it’s barbots you’re after, check out this Synergizer 4-drink barbot and the web-connected barbot we published a while back.

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Fail Of The Week: Arduino Sand Matrix Printer

NYC beaches are where tropical beaches addicted to meth go to die. So says [Vije Miller] in his write-up for his Arduino sand matrix printer. It’s a clever idea, five servo-operated cardboard plungers that indent a pattern of dots in the sand as the device is pulled forward, resulting in something not unlike a dot matrix printer that can write messages in the sand.

He’s submitted it to us as a Fail Of The Week, because it doesn’t do a very good job of writing in the sand, and it’s burned out a servo. But we feel this isn’t entirely fair, because whether or not it has delivered the goods it’s still an excellent build. Cardboard isn’t a material we see much of here at Hackaday, but in this case he’s mastered it in a complex mechanism that while it may have proved a little too flexible for the job in hand is nevertheless a rather impressive piece of work.

You can see a brief video below the break showing it in action. He tells us his motivation has waned on this project, and expresses the hope that others will take up the baton and produce a more viable machine.

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XYZ Printing Unveils Inkjet-Based Filament Printer

XYZ Printing, makers of the popular da Vinci line of 3D printers, have just released one of the holy grails of desktop 3D printing. The da Vinci Color is a full-color, filament based printer. How does this work? A special filament (Color PLA, although this filament is white in color) is extruded through a nozzle like any other 3D printer. Color is then added layer by layer by a system of inkjets in the head of the printer. Yes, it’s a full-color 3D printer, and yes, people have been suggesting this type of setup for years. This is the first time it’s been made real.

The specs for this printer are about what you would expect from any other filament-based printer in 2017. The build volume is 200 x 200 x 150mmm, the print bed has auto-leveling (although strangely doesn’t have a heated bed), and the user interface is a 5-inch color LCD. The da Vinci Color is available for preorder right now for $2,999.

You can check out a few pics of samples printed on the da Vinci Color below:

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Hackaday Prize Entry: ESPMetric, a Simple and Easy Matrix

There’s a lot you can do with a bunch of LEDs connected to the Internet. You can display the time, the weather, the bus schedule, or any one of a number of important data points in your life. Custom matrices are a pain in the butt to set up, which is why we like to see one looking rather polished and clean. [Faire-soi-meme] prettied up an 8×32 NeoPixel matrix with some diffusers and a grid bezel. It’s the ESPMetric, and it’s also an entry for this year’s Hackaday Prize.

The NeoPixel matrix is controlled by a NodeMcu using elements from [squix78]’s ESP82666 weather station code as well as Adafruit’s NeoMatrix library. There is a photoresistor to control brightness as well as 3 buttons to control its various modes. Tapping the buttons brings you by various settings like the time, WiFi status, stock market, and so on.

If you parlez-vous français–or enjoy the Google Translate experience–[Faire-soi-meme] has detailed the build steps on his blog, though you can also download his code from his GitHub repository. There’s a great video of this build, you can check that out below.

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Review: Aneng LT-001 USB Soldering Iron

When it comes to soldering irons, most of us are likely to be in agreement that there is a level of quality below which we will not descend. To do a decent job requires a decent tool, and when it comes to soldering that means a good quality temperature controlled iron with a decent power level and a quality bit. Anything else just isn’t worth considering.

But what if you look at it from the opposite angle? When it comes to soldering, just how low can you go? In that case probably the ultimate scraping of the soldering barrel comes courtesy of USB soldering irons, taking their juice from a five volt phone charger socket and providing tiny power levels you’d expect to be barely enough to work at all. Surely these are toys, not irons! Continue reading “Review: Aneng LT-001 USB Soldering Iron”

Stunning Fake Polaroid Camera Performs Magic

It’s high time us Muggles got our hands on the hardware used to take Magical Photographs as seen in The Daily Prophet. The first pioneering step in that direction has been taken by [Abhishek] who built this moving picture taking polaroid-ish camera, which he’s calling the “Instagif NextStep”. It’s a camera that records a short, three second video, converts it to GIF and ejects a little cartridge which displays the animated photo.

This amazing piece of hardware has been painstakingly built, and the finished product looks great. The nice thing about building such projects, in [Abhishek]’s own words, is that “it involves a bunch of different skill sets and disciplines – hardware, software, 3D modeling, 3D printing, circuit design, mechanical/electrical engineering, design, fabrication etc that need to be integrated for it to work seamlessly.”
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