Tracking Your Run Over The Long Haul

The rise of smartphone and smartwatch fitness tracking has been an absolute boon for anyone interested in tracking their runs. However, it all falls short when you need a custom feature and start getting into serious long distance running, as most smartphone batteries simply won’t last. While there are devices out there for the ultra-running enthusiast, [Ivor Hewitt] decided he wasn’t willing to pay a monthly subscription for the pricy trackers or deal with the hassle of the generic cheap versions, and decided to roll his own.

The key pieces of this project are the A9G GPS module and the RDA8955 GRS/GPRS module. They’re both incredibly small and power efficient, perfect for a project that needs to be worn on your person with a long battery life. As an added bonus, the RDA8955 also includes a SoC that’s user-programmable. After battling the lackluster documentation and tooling, [Ivor] managed to get some software running on his new system. A power bug on the A9G GPS module was potentially show stopping, but thanks to some help by folks in the community, it was diagnosed and solved.

Further additions included adding a proper charging circuit (TP4056) and a beefy 2600 mAh battery scavenged from a Sony smartphone, giving the compact system around 38 hours of active battery life. An OLED screen was added to show upcoming aid stations and overall system status, driven by a custom display library. A snazzy translucent case makes the whole device slim and easy to carry. Now at the end of a long race or training session, [Ivor] has a wealth of tracked points that has already been uploaded to his own tracking website and a fully charged phone.

Next time you’re looking for a small compact GPS tracker or cellular logger take a look at this project’s code on GitHub or the A9G and RDA8955 modules.

Thanks [Ivor] for sending this one in!

Electronic Treatment For Diabetes?

If you ask power companies and cell phone carriers how much electromagnetic radiation affects the human body, they’ll tell you it doesn’t at any normal levels. If you ask [Calvin Carter] and some other researchers at the University of Iowa, they will tell you that it might treat diabetes. In a recent paper in Cell Metabolism, they’ve reported that exposing patients to static magnetic and electric fields led to improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic mice.

Some of the medical jargon in a paper like this one can be hard to follow, but it seems they feed mice on a bad diet — like that which many of us may eat — and exposed them to magnetic and electrical fields much higher than that of the Earth’s normal fields. After 30 days there was a 33% improvement in fasting blood glucose levels and even more for some mice with a specific cause of diabetes.

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Classical Poultry Conditioning Is A Bird-Brained Scheme

A while back, [Kutluhan Aktar] was trying to hack their chickens, quails, and ducks for higher egg production and faster hatching times by using a bit of classical conditioning. That is, feeding them at the same time every day while simultaneously exposing them to sound and light. Once [Kutluhan] slipped enough times, they hatched a plan to build an automatic feeder.

This fun rooster-shaped bird feeder runs on an Arduino Nano and gets its time, date, and temperature info from a DS3231 RTC. All [Kutluhan] has to do is set the daily feeding time. When it comes, a pair of servos and a pan-tilt kit work together to invert a Pringles can filled with food pellets. A piezo buzzer and a green LED provide the sound and light to help with conditioning. Scratch your way past the break to see it in action.

If [Kutluhan] gets tired of watching the birds eat at the same time every day, perhaps a trash-for-treats training program could be next on the list.

Continue reading “Classical Poultry Conditioning Is A Bird-Brained Scheme”

Put That New Resin Printer To Work Making PCBs

With all the cool and useful parts you can whip up (relatively) quickly on a 3D printer, it’s a shame you can’t just print a PCB. Sure, ordering a PCB is quick, easy, and cheap, but being able to print one-offs would peg the needle on the instant gratification meter.

[Peter Liwyj] may just have come up with a method to do exactly that. His Instructables post goes into great detail about his method, which uses an Elegoo Mars resin printer and a couple of neat tricks. First, a properly cleaned board is placed copper-side down onto a blob of SLA resin sitting on the print bed. He tricks the printer into thinking the platform is all the way down for the first layer by interrupting the photosensor used to detect home. He lets the printer go through one layer of an STL file that contains his design, which polymerizes a thin layer of plastic onto the copper. The excess resin is wiped gently away and the board goes straight into a ferric chloride etching bath. The video below shows the whole process.

As simple as it sounds, it looks like it works really well. And [Peter] didn’t just stumble onto this method; he approached it systematically and found what works best. His tips incude using electrical tape as a spacer to lift the copper off the print surface slightly, cleaning the board with Scotchbrite rather than sandpaper, and not curing the resin after printing. His toolchain is a bit uncoventional — he used SketchUp to create the traces and exported the STL. But there are ways to convert Gerbers to STLs, so your favorite EDA package can probably fit in to the process too.

Don’t have a resin printer? Don’t worry — FDM printers can work too.

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UVA Aims To Be More Than Just One Tool

Sometimes, a project is more than it seems on just the surface. The UVA project from [Said Alvarado Marin] is one such example. What started as an attempt to build a single useful tool became the beginning of a broader utility ecosystem.

In and of itself, UVA is a project to build a powerful UV flashlight for curing UV-reactive glues. After some serious research, [Said] was able to find the right LEDs, outputting the right wavelengths, and begin the design of this simple tool. However, UVA quickly became a base upon which other tools could be developed. The design of UVA is such that the flashlight head fits onto an interchangable power base, consisting of three 18650 lithium polymer cells and a charging subsystem.

The aim of UVA is to encourage others to produce their own tools to work with this ecosystem. Designed around commonly available parts and DIY build methods like 3D printing, it’s intended to allow the average person to create the tools they need when and as they need them, on location. We look forward to seeing how the project progresses further as we head closer to the finale of the 2020 Hackaday Prize!

 

How To Shoot A Great Project Video

Creating projects is fun, but the real value, as far as the imaginary Internet points are concerned, is how well you show them off for the clout. Taking a few snaps is fine, but if you want to produce a quality video of your project, it pays to put some thought and effort into the process.

Telling The Story

Before setting out to document your project on video, think about what you’re trying to communicate to the viewer. Are you attempting to create a step-by-step guide on how to recreate what you’ve done, or are you simply trying to show off the awesome finished product? These are two very different types of video, and will require different content and delivery entirely. It also guides how you shoot your video.

If you want to show off your build process, you’ll need to shoot as you go. This can be time consuming, but also a great way to show the reality of what goes into your work. I always like it when people convey the pitfalls and successes they faced along the way, and get people involved in the story. It also means that you’ll end up shooting a lot of footage and you’ll spend plenty of time editing it all together. Continue reading “How To Shoot A Great Project Video”

Hackaday Podcast 088: Flywheel Trebuchet, Thieving Magpies, Hero Engines, And Hypermiling

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys riff on the hardware hacks that took the Internet by storm this week. Machining siege weapons out of aluminum? If they can throw a tennis ball at 180 mph, yes please! Welding aficionados will love to see the Hero Engine come together. We dive into the high-efficiency game of hypermiling, and spin up the polarizing topic of the Sun Cycle. The episode wouldn’t be complete without hearing what the game of Go sounds like as a loop sequencer, and how a variable speed cassette player can be abused for the benefit of MIDI lovers the world over.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (~60 MB)

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