LED-ifying A Guitar

Say you have a guitar, an expensive guitar – one of only three like it. And say this guitar sounds great, but it’s missing something. It needs something, but something that won’t ruin the finish. Over at Sparkfun, [Englandsaurus] was asked to come up with a really cool looking mod to a three-of-a-kind guitar – covering the body with LED strips to create light patterns on the guitar.

In order not to damage or modify the guitar [Englandsaurus] sandwiched the body between two plexiglass sheets, connected together by 3D printed clips. The clips have a dual purpose – they hold the plexiglass pieces to the guitar and also act as conduits for a pair of fiber optic tubes that run around the edge of the body. In order that the color goes all the way around the guitar’s edge without a break in the light, the fiber optic cables are offset. At each clip light is fed into them. One cable runs between two clips, skipping one in between, and the second cable runs between the skipped clips. This allows light to flow around the guitar’s body.

At nearly 500W at full-white, these LEDs draw a lot of power, however, at full brightness they’re overpoweringly bright, so [Englandsaurus] used some WonderFlex, a moldable, diffuse plastic sheet, to cover them. Even with this, the LEDs aren’t run at full brightness. The fiber optic cables, though, need full brightness due to their covering.

Around 1600 LEDs went in to this mod and the guitar itself hasn’t been modified.  Everything is removable, and the guitar would go back to its original self if the strips were taken off. Take a look at Strumbot, another project where the original guitar wasn’t modified, or a really cool scrap metal guitar.

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A BCD Clock For Your Desk

We see so many clocks here at Hackaday, and among those we see our fair share of binary clocks. But to see one that at first sight looks as though it might be a commercial product when it is in fact a one-off project is something special. That’s just what [Tobi4sDE] has done though, with his desktop BCD binary LED clock.

The front panel is a black PCB on which sit the LEDs that form the binary display, and its back holds an ATMega328P microcontroller and DS3231 real-time clock. A smart desktop case is 3D-printed, and while the clock is USB-powered it features a CR2032 coin cell as a backup to hold the time while the USB is disconnected.

Unexpectedly he’s used a mini USB socket rather than the expected micro USB, but the rest of the clock is one we’d probably all have on our desks given the chance. We’d even go so far as to say we’d have this one as a kit if it were available.

Of course, regular readers will notice that this isn’t the only high-standard BCD timepiece you’ll have seen recently, though the other one was a wristwatch.

Talk To The Faucet

Your hands are filthy from working on your latest project and you need to run the water to wash them. But you don’t want to get the taps filthy too. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just tell them to turn on hot, or cold? Or if the water’s too cold, you could tell them to make it warmer. [Vije Miller] did just that, he added servo motors to his kitchen tap and enlisted an AI to interpret his voice commands.

Look closely at the photo and you can guess that he started with a single-lever type of tap, the kind which can be worked with an elbow, so this project was probably just for fun and judging by his video below, he does have a sense of humor. But the idea is practical for dual taps with rotating knobs. He did realize, however, that in future versions he should move the servo motor openings from the top plate to the bottom instead, to avoid any water getting in. A NodeMCU ESP8266 ESP-12E board serves for communicating with the speech recognition side but other than the name, JacobAI, he’s keeping the speech part to himself. We secretly suspect that he has a friend named Jacob.

However, we can think of a number of options for it such as DeepSpeech and Wit.ai which we covered when talking about natural language phone bots, and the ubiquitous Alexa as used here with another NodeMCU for turning on Christmas tree lights.

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You’ll Be Shocked At This Way To Improve Your Video Game High Score

What if you could play video games perfectly? Would you be one of the greats, raking in millions of dollars simply by playing competitive Fortnite? That’s what Twitch does. Twitch plays video games for you. The irony of this name should not be lost on you.

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Peter] built a device that shocks you into playing a computer game perfectly. These experiments began with a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS), or basically a device that makes you… twitch. This device, however, is connected to four buttons, representing up, down, left, and right. This is a video game controller, that will make your muscles contract automatically. See where this is going?

To play a video game perfectly, you need a video game. For that, [Peter] chose the classic Snake game. The computer runs the game, and figures out if the next move will be up, down, left, or right. This bit of information is then sent to the TENS device, forcing the player to move the snake up, down, left, or right. The computer can’t directly control the snake, it merely has the human in the loop. The human becomes part of the program.

We’re getting into weird cyberpunk territory here, and it’s awesome. Is the human directly responsible for winning the game? What are the philosophical ramifications? What episode of Star Trek was this from? It’s a great entry for the Hackaday Prize – cyberpunk and a neat video (available below) all wrapped up into one package.

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Custom Coaxial Dust Collector Makes CNC Router a Clean Machine

Everyone loves firing up that CNC router for the first time. But if the first thing you cut is wood, chances are good that the second thing you cut will be parts for some kind of dust shroud. Babysitting the machine and chasing the spindle around with a shop vac hose probably isn’t why you got it in the first place, right?

Trouble is, most dust-management designs just don’t get the job done, or if they do, they obstruct your view of the tool with a brush or other flexible shroud. [Jeremy Cook] figured he could do better with this coaxial dust collector, and from the practically dust-free cuts at the end of the video below, we think he’s right. The design is a two-piece, 3D-printed affair, with a collar that attaches to the spindle and a separate piece containing the duct. The two pieces stick together with magnets, which also lets the shroud swivel around for optimal placement. The duct surrounds the collet and tool and has a shop vac hose connection. In use, the vacuum pulls a ton of air through small opening, resulting in zero dust. It also results in the occasional part sucked up from the bed, so watch out for that. [Jeremy] has published the STL files if you want to make your own.

We’re pretty impressed, but if you still feel the need for a physical shroud, check out this shaggy-dog design that seems to work well too. Or you could just throw the whole thing in an enclosure.

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Salvaging an Ancient, Dangerous Machine With Wood

What do you do when you have a gigantic old drum sander with a bent table? Scrapping it will give you a few cents per pound, but this machine is just too cool, and would be too useful to just throw away. That’s when inspiration strikes. To fix this old machine, [Frank Howarth] built a new bed for an old drum sander out of wood.

The machine in question is a Frank H. Clement Surface Sanding Machine from the early part of the 20th century. This machine is basically a 30 inch long, 14 inch diameter drum that’s wrapped in sandpaper. There are removable tables for this machine, and basically what we’re looking at here is a jointer that can handle 30-inch wide boards, only it’s a sander. [Frank] picked up this machine way back in 2015 from a friend for free, but everything has a cost. There’s a problem with this sander: one of the previous owners stored a heavy jointer on the table, and the hefty iron bed was bent down in the middle. This makes the vintage surface sanding machine absolutely useless for anything. A new bed would have to be constructed.

[Frank] is a master craftsman, though, and he has enough scrap wood sitting around to build just about anything. After taking some careful measurements of the frame of the sander, he cut and glued up a few large panels of a glueLam beam, salvaged from an earlier operation. This beam is tremendously strong, and resawing and gluing it up into a panel produced a very hefty board that’s perfect for the bed of a gigantic, ancient surface sanding machine.

The actual fabrication of the new bed happened on [Frank]’s CNC router. The bottom of the bed was easy enough to fit to the cast iron frame, but there was an issue: because these tables are meant to butt up against a spinning drum, [Frank] needed to cut away a cove underneath the table. A CNC router can easily do this, but apparently the glueLam beam couldn’t handle it — a bit of the edge split off. These panels are basically made of glue, though, and some quick action with a few clamps saved the project.

The bed for this sander is now done, and a change in the pulley brought the speed of the drum down to something reasonable. Of course, this is a woodworking machine from the early 1900s, and safety was a secondary concern. We’re not worried, though. [Frank] still has all his fingers. A guard for the belt is in the works, though.

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Talking Garbage Can Keeps Eye on Playground

Getting young kids excited about technology and engineering can be a challenge, and getting them interested in the environment isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. So any project that can get them simultaneously engaged in both is a considerable achievement, especially when they can do the work themselves and see how creating something can have a positive impact on their little corner of the world.

[Robert Hart] writes in to tell us about a project that challenged elementary school students to help make sure their peers put trash in its place. The kids came up with some predictably imaginative ideas like a robot to chase down litterers, but as us grown up hackers know all too well, budget and practicality often end up dictating the project’s final form. In the end, they came up with a talking trash can that gives words of encouragement to passerby.

The heart of the system is an Adafruit Audio FX sound board, which has been loaded up with audio clips recorded by the students. The buttons on the front of the can trigger different messages about why it’s important to make sure trash is disposed of properly, and an internal switch allows the can to thank the user for their deposit when the lid has been opened.

A PIR sensor on the front of the can detects when somebody gets close, and plays a message reminding them to make use of the trash cans provided on the playground. It’s not everyday that a child has a garbage can talk to them, so we think this is a fantastic idea for getting a kid’s attention. In keeping with the ecological friendly theme, the whole system is powered by a small solar panel which charges an internal 3.7V LiPo battery with the help of an Adafruit PowerBoost 500.

We’ve seen plenty of unusual projects here at Hackaday, but even for us, a talking garbage can is something of a rarity. Ironically though, we have seen a garbage can which can follow you around, so maybe the kids weren’t so far off with their original idea after all…

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