Years ago, [Leo Neumann]’s girlfriend gave him a 1970s chess computer game that was missing almost everything but the super cool clicky keyboard. Noting the similarity of chess move labeling to chord notation, [Leo] decided to turn it into something even nerdier — a jazz chord game where you jam with the computer.
To play the game, you and the computer take turns entering jazz chords that progress musically from the last one played. The hardware is simple — a Raspberry Pi Zero and a WM8960 audio hat with amplifier in speakers. [Leo] also put in a slightly larger display than the original and printed a new bottom half for the case. We love the look of this build, especially the groovy custom line font [Leo] designed.
On the software side, [Leo] made a Python prototyping environment using PYO Module and Kivy UI. Not content with other approaches to tonal consonance, [Leo] played a couple thousand chords and rated them according to their progressive harmony. Shake out those jazz hands and check it out after the break.
Want to play chess with computers? Make Alexa your go-between.
Continue reading “Chess Computer Retires To Play Jazz” →
An electronic tachometer is a straightforward enough device, in which the light reflections from a white spot on a rotating object are detected and counted over time, measuring the revolutions per minute (RPM). It’s a technique that has its roots in analogue electronics where the resulting pulses would have fed a charge pump, and it’s a task well suited to a microcontroller that simply counts them. But do you need an all-singing, all-dancing chip to do the job? [Stefan Wagner] has done it with a humble ATtiny13.
His TinyTacho is a small PCB with an IR LED and photodiode on one end, a small OLED display on its front, and a coin cell holder on its rear. The electronics may be extremely simple, but there’s still quite some effort to get it within the ATtiny’s meagre resources. Counting the revolutions is easy enough, but the chip has no I2C interface of its own and some bitbanging code is required. You can find all the design files and software you need in a GitHub repository, and he’s put up a video of the device in action that you can see below the break.
Tachometers are a popular project hereabouts, and we’ve featured a lot of them over the years. Perhaps the best place to direct readers then is not to another project, but to how to use a tachometer.
Continue reading “TinyTacho: Rotational Speed Measurement Without The Bulk” →
Buying tools is all well and good, but it doesn’t suit the ethos of Youtube channel [Workshop From Scratch]. Building what you need is much more the go, and that’s demonstrated ably with this home-built electric workshop crane.
The crane is put together in a straightforward manner using basic steelworking techniques. Plates and bars are machined with a drill press, bandsaw and grinder, though we could imagine you could use hand tools if you were so inclined. An ATV winch is pressed into service to do the heavy lifting, powered by a set of 12V lead acid batteries placed in the base. This design choice does double duty as both a mobile power supply for the crane, and acts as a counterweight in the base.
The final result looks sharp in its orange paint finish, and does a good job of moving heavy equipment around the workshop. The legs are reconfigurable, so that even very heavy loads can be lifted with appropriate counterweight placed on the back. It’s a significant upgrade on the earlier version we featured last year, which was hydraulic in operation. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Building A Workshop Crane From Scratch” →
On older vehicles, if you noticed that the lights had gone out behind one of your gauges, you knew it was time to snake your hand back there and replace the little incandescent bulb that had given up the ghost. But what are you supposed to do if you’re seeing the same problem on a modern vehicle that’s already made the leap to LED dash lighting? That’s what [Tysonpower] recently had to find out when the fuel indicator on his Alfa Romeo Giuletta QV went dark.
In the video after the break, [Tysonpower] details how to remove the instrument cluster from the Giuletta’s dash, which we imagine would be a useful little tutorial for anyone who owns the same vehicle. Once he has it out on the bench, he strips it down to the bare PCB and starts (literally) poking around.
He eventually noticed that if he pushed on the board near the fuel indicator he could get the appropriate 3528 SMD LED to light up, but touching up the solder joints didn’t seem to fix the issue. Assuming the LED must be defective internally, he simply replaced it and all was good again.
Well, not exactly. The light produced by the new part didn’t match the color or brightness of the other dozen or so white LEDs that were installed on the board, so [Tysonpower] decided to just dive in and replace them all. While it obviously took a lot more time and effort, he says the end result is that the instrument cluster looks noticeably brighter and crisper when driving at night. Not bad for an afternoon’s work and a couple bucks worth of LEDs.
Most of the time, when we see somebody messing around behind the dash it’s because they intend on replacing the original instruments with something more capable. But projects like this, which add just a touch of refinement to the existing hardware, prove that stock components aren’t always a disappointment.
Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Gauge Cluster Gets A Fresh Set Of LEDs” →
If you need to move a lot of data, and fast, Gigabit Ethernet is a great way to do it. However, most network hardware outside of datacenters is fairly space inefficient, a headache if you’re building a robot or drone. Enter the Gigablox, a super-compact Gigabit router for just these applications.
The Gigablox takes its mission seriously, with its compact size the ultimate design goal. The entire switch fits on a tiny 45 mm x 45 mm PCB. To this end, it eschews the common RJ45 connector, which is bulkier than necessary. Instead, thin Molex PicoBlade connectors are used for the five ports on board. Cables are included to convert between the two connectors, and obviously crimping ones own is easy to do, too. For those who need to connect more devices, several Gigablox can be hooked up in the same way as any other Ethernet switch. The Gigablox is a non-blocking switch, too – meaning all five ports can run at full speed simultaneously.
The design is the sequel to the SwitchBlox, and the later SwitchBlox Nano, both designed by [Josh Elijah] earlier this year. The pace of development is impressive, and it’s great to see [Josh] bring Gigabit speeds to the compact form factor. We can imagine a few good uses for these boards; share your best ideas in the comments below! Video after the break.
Continue reading “Tiny Ethernet Routers Now Available In Gigabit Speeds” →
How do you instantly make any game better? By lighting it up and playing at night. We would normally say ‘drinking’, but we’re pretty sure that drinking is already a prerequisite for cornhole — that’s the game where you toss bean bags at holes in angled boards.
[Hardware Unknown] loves cornhole, and was gifted a set of portable, folding boards that light up around the ring for nighttime action. These turned out to be the perfect basis for reactive boards that light up and play sound whenever points are scored. Both boards have a vibration sensor to detect bags hitting the top, and an IR break-beam sensor pair across the hole. An Arduino Nano reads from the sensors and controls an amplifier and a DF Player for sound.
Players get a point and a song for landing a bag on top of the board, and three points and a different song for making it in the hole. We love the Easter egg — anyone who manages to trip both the vibration sensor and the break-beam detector at the same time will be treated to the sound of a flock of honking geese. Check out the build journey after the break.
No good at cornhole? This one doesn’t let you miss.
Continue reading “Cornhole Boards Play Victory Songs” →
Electric bikes have increased in popularity dramatically over the past few years, and while you can easily buy one from a reputable bicycle manufacturer, most of us around here might be inclined to at least buy a kit and strap it to a bike we already have. There aren’t kits available for every bike geometry, though, so if you want an electric BMX bike you might want to try out something custom like [Shea Nyquist] did with his latest build. (Video, embedded below.)
BMX frames have a smaller front triangle than most bikes, so his build needed to be extremely compact. To that end, it uses two small-sized motors connected together with a belt, which together power a friction drive which clamps against the rear tire to spin it directly. This keeps the weight distribution of the bike more balanced as well when compared to a hub drive, where the motor is installed in the rear wheel. It also uses a more compact lithium polymer battery pack instead of the typical 18650 lithium ion packs most e-bikes use, and although it only has a range of around three miles it’s more than enough charge to propel it around a skate park.
The build boasts impressive numbers too, at 2.5 kW peak power per motor. This puts it in electric motorcycle territory, and it’s indeed fast despite its small stature. For a true high speed e-bike experience, though, you’ll need a slightly larger frame and motor even if it means tossing safety out of the window. Continue reading “Electric BMX With Friction Drive” →