So much of what we do relies on a certain societal structure that has been absent for a few months now. When the days run together, it’s hard to remember to do the things that must happen daily. You think you did something, and maybe you’re right, but it’s quite possible you’re thinking of yesterday.
Now when [Flameeyes] puts the pen away, he also triggers a Flic smart button mounted nearby. The Flic shares its status with a Feather M4 Express through a web app, and the Feather in turn changes the RGB LED inside of Pikachu’s base from red to yellow for the day. Pikachu sits in plain sight by the kettle, so there’s no guessing whether [Flameeyes] took his insulin.
Insulin is a critical commodity with a lot of DIY interest, which is probably starting to spike about now. Our own [Dan Maloney] wrote a great piece on the subject that brings up an insulin hack from around 80 years ago.
The hack consists of a mirror attached to a clothespeg with a flexible piece of wire. This simple device can then be clipped to the screen of a laptop, and the mirror adjusted to allow the webcam to view the user’s desk. By positioning it correctly, the user can both show their desk and their face together, in split screen. It’s a great way to explain something while giving viewers a clear shot of your face and your hands at the same time.
It’s not exactly complicated, but a nifty hack that could prove useful to anyone trying to teach without having to muck about with complicated digital handwriting setups or multiple webcams. There’s a shortage at the moment, anyway. If you’re looking for a way to chat with your less tech savvy relatives, consider repurposing an old Android tablet. Video after the break.
Gravity is a nice thing to have most of the time, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to ignore it for certain applications. Rock climbing, for example, would be much easier, as would performing bridge inspections in the way that a group of mechanical engineering cadets (students) at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, were tasked with doing. Frustrated with the amount of traffic backups that normal bridge inspections caused, they invented a robot that defies gravity, and won a $10k prize for their efforts.
The result is essentially an RC car with a drone built in, or looking at it another way it’s a drone with wheels. The car is able to drive on vertical surfaces to inspect the bridges by using its propellers to force itself onto the surface. The lack of complicated moving parts or machinery, like a cable suspension system or other contraption, makes this device exceptionally versatile for the task at hand, reduces the amount of time needed for inspections, and can do them more safely and without closing lanes of traffic. The group hopes to build a second prototype soon and present it to the Department of Transportation for approval for more widespread use.
The need for tools like these is in high demand now as well, especially in the United States where crumbling infrastructure is often not thought about, taken seriously, or prioritized. Even for bridges that aren’t major pieces of infrastructure, tools like these will prove to be very useful.
[Mukesh Sankhla] writes in to share this unique weather display that looks to be equal parts art and science. Rather than show the current conditions with something as pedestrian as numbers, this device communicates various weather conditions to the user with 25 WS2812B LEDs embedded into the 3D printed structure. It also doubles as a functional planter for your desk.
So how does this potted plant tell you if it’s time to get your umbrella? Using a NodeMCU ESP8266 development board, it connects to openweathermap.org and gets the current conditions for your location. Relative temperature is conveyed by changing the color of the pot itself; going from blue to red as things heat up. If there’s rain, the cloud over the plant will change color and flash to indicate thunder.
[Mukesh] has made all of the STL files for the printed components available, as well as the source code for the ESP8266. You’ll need to provide your own soil and plant though, there’s only so much you can send over the Internet. Incidentally, if the clever way he soldered these WS2812B modules together in the video catches your eye, you’ll really love his “RGB Goggles” project that we covered earlier.
A few weeks ago, [Shane Wighton] created a basketball backboard which made it impossible to miss a shot even remotely close to the hoop. As a passive device, though, the backboard had its limits. Shots with tremendous velocity wouldn’t go in, and (like most backboards) it was missing facial recognition software. So he got to work on a second version which solves those issues, and takes a more active role in the game.
This version is flat, and looks largely unassuming until a game begins. The flat backboard is mechanized and includes a camera, so incoming shots can be analyzed in real-time while the backboard is moved into a position to direct the ball into the net. Or, since it does include facial recognition, the backboard can always send the ball away from the hoop, ensuring that [Shane] always wins basketball games no matter how many shots his opponent takes.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the original, we featured that a while back, and it’s truly a wonder when you learn about how much analysis went into creating the shape. The new version is even more impressive, doing all of that math in real time, and we can’t wait to see what [Shane] comes up with next.
While the car world is obsessed with everything boosted these days, many still yearn for the smooth power delivery and sonorous tone of a naturally aspirated engine. Of course, everyone still wants to go fast, so here’s how you go about getting more power out of your car without bolting on a big turbo or whining supercharger.
Intakes: This Can Get Pretty Invovled
The intake is one of the first modifications made by many budding car enthusiasts. Throwing on a chromed intake pipe with a big pod filter was the mod to have back in the Fast and Furious era. Power gains can be had, though typically these are minor – on the order of 5-10 horsepower at most. It all depends on the car in question. A BMW M5 V10 was designed for high performance, with a highly advanced intake with individual throttle bodies from the factory. It’s unlikely any eBay parts are going to unlock horsepower that BMW’s engineers didn’t already find. Conversely, early Mazda Miatas are known to have a restrictive intake, largely due to the flap-type air flow meter. Replacing this with a freer-flowing setup has merit.
Desktop 3D printing technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, but they can still be finicky beasts. Part of this is because the consumer-level machines generally don’t offer much in the way of instrumentation. If the filament runs out or the hotend clogs up and stops extruding, the vast majority of printers will keep humming along with nothing to show for it.
Looking to prevent the heartache of a half-finished print, [Elite Worm] has been working on a very clever filament detector that can be retrofitted to your 3D printer with a minimum of fuss. The design, at least in its current form, doesn’t actually interface with the printer beyond latching onto the part cooling fan as a convenient source of DC power. Filament simply passes through it on the way to the extruder, and should it stop moving while the fan is still running (indicating that the machine should be printing), it will sound the alarm.
Inside the handy device is a Digispark ATtiny85 microcontroller, a 128 x 32 I2C OLED display, a buzzer, an LED, and a photoresistor. An ingenious 3D printed mechanism grabs the filament on its way through to the extruder, and uses this movement to alternately block and unblock the path between the LED and photoresistor. If the microcontroller doesn’t see the telltale pulse after a few minutes, it knows that something has gone wrong.
In the video after the break, [Elite Worm] fits the device to his Prusa i3 MK2, but it should work on essentially any 3D printer if you can find a convenient place to mount it. Keep a close eye out during the video for our favorite part of the whole build, using the neck of a latex party balloon to add a little traction to the wheels of the filament sensor. Brilliant.
Incidentally, Prusa tried to tackle jam detection optically on the i3 MK3 but ended up deleting the feature on the subsequent MK3S since the system proved unreliable with some filaments. The official line is that jams are so infrequent with high-quality filament that the printer doesn’t need it, but it does seem like an odd omission when even the cheapest paper printer on the market still beeps at you when things have run afoul.