If you ride a bike, you probably share the road with a lot of cars. Unfortunately, they don’t always share the road very well with you. [Mech Tools] took a helmet, a few Arduinos, and some wireless transceivers and made headgear that shows when you stop and also shows turn signals. We were a little surprised, though, that the bike in question looks like a motorcycle. In most countries, motorcycle helmets meet strict safety standards and modifying them is probably not a good idea. However, it wasn’t exactly clear how the extra gear attached to the helmet, so it is hard to say if the project is very practical or not.
In particular, it looks as though the first version had the electronics just stuck to the outside of the helmet. The final one had things mounted internally and almost certainly had cuts or holes made for the lights. We aren’t sure which of those would be more likely to be a problem in the case of an accident.
Continue reading “Smart Bike Helmet Is Wireless”
The 18650 cell has become a ubiquitous standard in the lithium battery world. From power drills to early Tesla vehicles, these compact cells power all manner of portable devices. A particularly common use is in laptop batteries, where they’re often built into a pack using the Smart Battery System. This creates a smart battery that can communicate and report on its own status. PackProbe is a software tool built to communicate with these batteries, and you might just find it comes in handy.
The code runs on the WiFi-enabled Arduino Yún by default, but can be easily modified to suit other Arduino platforms. Communicating over SMBus using the Arduino’s I2C hardware, it’s capable of working with the vast majority of laptop batteries out there which comply with the Smart Battery System. With that standard being minted in 1994, it’s spread far and wide these days.
It’s a great way to harvest not only the specifications and manufacturing details of your laptop battery pack, but also to check on the health of the battery. This can give a clear idea over whether the battery is still usable, as well as whether the cells are worth harvesting for those in the recycling business.
You’re not limited to just the Arduino, though. There’s a similar tool available for the ESP8266, too.
We’ve heard of beer pong, but we’re not sure we’ve heard of wine pong. And certainly never wine pong automated with a ping pong ball throwing robot like this one.
There’s not a huge amount of detail available in the video below, and no build log per se. But [Electron Dust] has a few shots in the video that explain what’s going on, as well as a brief description in a reddit thread about the device. The idea is to spin a ball up to a steady speed and release it the same way every time. The rig itself is made of wood and spun by plain brushed DC motors – [Electron Dust] explains that he chose them over PWM servos to simplify things and eliminate uncertainty in the release point. The ball is retained by a pair of arms, each controlled by a pair of hobby servos. An Arduino spins along with everything else and counts 50 revolutions before triggering the servos to retract and release the ball. A glass positioned at the landing spot captures the ball perfectly once everything is dialed in.
Here’s hoping that build details end up on his blog soon, as they did for this audio-feedback juggling machine. And while we certainly like this project, it might be cool if it could aim the ball into the glass. Or it could always reposition the target on the fly.
Continue reading “Trick Shot Bot Flings Balls Into Wine Glass Every Time”
At this point, you’ve almost certainly heard about the Atomic Pi. The diminutive board that once served as the guts of a failed robot now lives on as a powerful x86 SBC available at a fire sale price. How long you’ll be able to buy them and what happens when the initial stock runs out is another story entirely, but there’s no denying that folks are already out there doing interesting things with them.
One of them is [Jason Gin], who recently completed an epic quest to add a PCI Express (PCI-E) slot to his Atomic Pi. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan and the story arguably has more lows than highs, but in the end he emerged victorious. He doesn’t necessarily recommend you try the same modification on your own Atomic Pi, but he does think this sets the stage for the development of a more refined upgrade down the line.
[Jason] explains that the board’s Ethernet controller was already communicating with the Intel Atom x5-Z8350 SoC over PCI-E, so there was never a question about whether or not the modification was possible. In theory, all you needed to do was disable the Ethernet controller and tack on an external PCI-E socket so you could plug in whatever you want. The trick is pulling off the extremely fine-pitch soldering such a modification required, especially considering how picky the PCI Express standard is.
In practice, it took several attempts with different types of wire before [Jason] was able to get the Atomic Pi to actually recognize something plugged into it. Along the way, he managed to destroy the Ethernet controller somehow, but that wasn’t such a great loss as he planned on disabling it anyway. The final winning combination was 40 gauge magnet wire going between the PCB and a thin SATA cable that is mechanically secured to the board with a piece of metal to keep anything from flexing.
At this point, [Jason] has tested enough external devices connected to his hacked-on port to know the modification has promise. But the way he’s gone about it is obviously a bit temperamental, and far too difficult for most people to accomplish on their own anyway. He’s thinking the way forward might be with a custom PCB that could be aligned over the Ethernet controller and soldered into place, though admits such a project is currently above his comfort level. Any readers interested in a collaboration?
Like most of you, we had high hopes for the Atomic Pi when we first heard about it. But since it became clear the board is the product of another company’s liquidation, there’s been some understandable trepidation in the community. Nobody knows for sure what the future looks like for the Atomic Pi, but that’s clearly not stopping hackers from diving in.
In every workshop ever, there’s a power tool that goes unnoticed. It’s the bench grinder. It’s useful when you need it, and completely invisible when you don’t. We take the bench grinder for granted, in part because we keep it over there with that box of oily rags, and partly because it’s so unassuming.
But you can really mess your hands up on a bench grinder. Words like ‘degloving’ are thrown around, and that doesn’t involve actual gloves. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Scott] is adding safety to the ubiquitous bench grinder. It’s called the Grinder Minder, and it aims to make the humble bench grinder a lot safer.
There are a few goals to the Grinder Minder, most importantly is DC injection braking. This stops the grinder from spinning, and if you’ve ever turned off a bench grinder and waited for it to spin down, you know there’s either a lot of energy in a grinder wheel. Grinder Minder also adds accidental restart protection and an actual ANSI-compliant emergency stop. All of this is designed so that’s it’s a direct drop-in electronics package for a standard off-the-shelf grinder.
The early prototypes for the Grinder Minder have the requisite MOSFETs and gigantic wire-wound resistors , but the team has recently hit an impasse. The current market research tells them the best way forward is designing a product for bigger, more powerful tools that use three-phase power. The team is currently researching what this means for their project, and we’re looking forward to seeing where that research lands them.
When designing a printed circuit board, there are certain rules. You should place decoupling capacitors near the power pins to each chip. Your ground planes should be one gigantic fill of copper; two ground planes connected by a single trace is better known as an antenna. Analog sections should be kept separate from digital sections, and if you’re dealing with high voltage, that section needs to be isolated.
One that I hear a lot is that you must never put a 90-degree angle on a trace. Some fear the mere sight of a 90-degree angle on a PCB tells everyone you don’t know what you’re doing. But is there is really no greater sin than a 90-degree trace on a circuit board?
This conventional wisdom of eschewing 90-degree traces is baked into everything we know about circuit board design. It is the first thing you’re taught, and it’s the first thing you’ll criticize when you find a board with 90-degree traces. Do square traces actually matter? The short answer is no, but there’s still a reason we don’t do it.
Continue reading “What’s The Deal With Square Traces On PCBs”
[Uri Tuchman] doesn’t always write with a dip pen. But when he does, he gets tired of re-inking it almost immediately. Now, convenience comes in many forms. He could make the switch to any number of modern writing instruments, sure. But that would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
[Uri] decided that old-timey problems call for old-timey solutions, and we couldn’t agree more. His machine is an amazingly well-crafted automaton that dips a handmade pen into ink and shakes off the excess with the turn of a crank and the nudging of cams. We love the hand-carved claw, which looks perfectly absurd as it moves about gracefully on custom brass hinges.
We were somewhat surprised that given all this work, [Uri] didn’t grind his own nib or make his own ink. But that would cut down on the time he has to write letters longhand in between waiting for a wet quill. Crank past the break to see [Uri]’s thoroughly entertaining build video for this awe-inspiring machine.
Mesmerized by automatons? This laser-cut water droplet wave should quench your thirst.
Continue reading “Ink-Dipping Machine Saves Iotas Of Time”