For those of us who remember old ball mice, they were a lot like modern optical mice except that they needed to be cleaned constantly. Having optical mice as a standard way of interacting with a computer is a major improvement over previous eras in computing. With extinction of the ball mouse, there are an uncountable number of cheap optical mice around now which are easy pickings for modern hacking, and this latest project from [Vipul] shows off some of the ways that optical mice can be repurposed by building a digital ruler.
The build seems straightforward on the surface. As the ruler is passed over a surface the device keeps track of exactly how far it has moved, making it an effective and very accurate ruler. To built it, the optical component of a mouse was scavenged and mated directly to a Raspberry Pi Zero W over USB. Originally he intended to use an ESP32 but could not get the USB interface to work. [Vipul] was then able to write some software which can read the information from the mouse’s PCB directly and translate it into human-readable form where it is displayed on a small screen. The entire device is housed in a custom 3D-printed enclosure to wrap everything up, but the build doesn’t stop there though. [Vipul] also leveraged the Bluetooth functionality of the Pi and wrote a smartphone app which can be used to control the ruler as well.
While the device does have some limitations in that it has to make contact with the object being measured across its entire length, there are some situations where we can imagine something like this being extremely useful especially when measuring things that aren’t a straight line. [Vipul] has also made all of the code for this project publicly available for those of us who might have other uses in mind for something like this. We’ve seen optical mice repurposed for all kinds of things in the past, too, including measuring travel distances in autonomous vehicles.
Runescape is pushing nearly 21 years old, and while that’s quite a long time for a game to stay active with an engaged userbase, it’s also a long time for people to modify the game in all kinds of colorful ways. For some older games like Team Fortress 2 this means spinning up a bot to ruin servers, but for Runescape the hacks are a little more lighthearted and fun. Like this axe which allows [BigFancyBen] to play Runescape in real life.
This is more of an augmented reality hack which upgrades his normal human interface device from a simple keyboard and mouse to also include this axe. When the axe is manipulated in real life, the in-game axe can be used at the same time. There are a lot of layers to this one but essentially a Switch joycon is connected to the axe to sense motion, which relays the information on axe swings to an API via a Python script. A bot in the game then chops the virtual tree, which is reported back to the API which then reports it back to [BigFancyBen]’s viewscreen which is additionally streamed on Twitch.
While this started off as frustration with the game’s insistence on grinding in order to reach certain objectives, it seems that there are some fun ways of manipulating that game mechanic for the greater good. [BigFancyBen] originally said he would rather go to the gym than “click anymore rooftops” this is quite the start on the full IRLScape world. Don’t forget that it’s equally possible to take this type of build in the opposite direction and control real-world things from inside a video game.
[Jared Holladay] is a computer engineering student at the University of Cincinnati and a life-long roller coaster fanatic. A lot of people look at roller coasters as an exciting example of physics, like potential energy versus kinetic energy or inertia, and rightly so. [Jared] looks at them and wonders about the controls. Video also below and there is a feature-length explanation with more details. Some Hackaday readers and writers can identify the components, so we think his coaster model belongs here.
Like many folks in this field, he’s built K’nex models to get a handle on construction. He’s toured STEM shows with the tracks and undoubtedly wowed kids, adults, and physics teachers, but since he can speak to the programming, he is a triple threat. Now, he’s growing out of the toy construction plastic and moving into 3D printed parts with needle-fine tolerances.
His latest base is extruded aluminum, like what you’d want in a rigid CNC or printer. In addition to the industrial-grade surface, Rockwell Automation sent him a safety programmable logic controller, PLC, and a touchscreen HMI. Our fellows in the industry tell us those are far beyond the price scope of regular hobbyists. But fear not; your Arduino clones will suffice until you get your first grant.
The point of all the ruggedized hardware, aside from authenticity, is to implement safety features the same way you would in the industry. The redundant PLC connects to inductive prox sensors to check train speed and location. Other moving parts, like friction brakes, have sensors to report if there is a jam. After all, it’s no good if you can’t stop a train full of people. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong. Just ask [Jared] because he programmed on-screen indicators for all of them and classified them to let an operator know if they can keep the ride moving or if they need to call maintenance.
In this case, what’s going on is that [AMbros Custom] is masterfully turning a stainless steel M20 bolt into a pneumatic engraving tool. Yeah, you read that correctly. But the most amazing thing about this hack is the minimum of tools used to do it. For one thing, there’s not a lathe in sight — [AMbros Custom] just chucked it into the drill or added a few nuts and clamped it in a vise.
So, how does it work? [AMbros Custom] hooks it up to a compressor, which causes the piston inside to go up and down, agitating the engraving bit. If you don’t want to watch the video, there are a ton of build pictures in the write-up.
Having already started with replacing the Real Time Clock with his own creation, [Necroware] looked for other opportunities to make the Asus P/I-P55TP4XEG more capable than Asus did. And, he succeeded. Realizing that the motherboard has the ability to have an external voltage regulator board, [Necroware] made one so that the Socket 7 board could supply more than a single voltage to the CPU- the very thing keeping him from upgrading from a Pentium 133 to a Pentium MMX 200.
While the upgrade was partially successful, a deep dive into the Socket 7 and Super Socket 7 documentation helped him realize the need for a pullup resistor on a strategic clocking pin. Then, [Necroware] went full Turbo and smashed this author’s favorite single core CPU of all time into the socket: the AMD K6-2 450, a CPU well beyond the original capabilities of the board.
As the world grapples with the issue of climate change, there’s a huge pressure to move transport away from carbon-based fuels across the board. Whether it’s turning to electric cars for commuting or improving the efficiency of the trucking industry, there’s much work to be done.
It’s a drop in the ocean in comparison, but the world of motorsports has not escaped attention when it comes to cleaning up its act. As a result, many motorsports are beginning to explore the use of alternative fuels in order to reduce their impact on the environment.
Using nothing more than PVC pipe, an Ethernet cable, and a very basic electrical system, [Peter] has built a real MVP of a submarine. No, not Most Valuable Player; Minimum Viable Product. You see, there’s not a microcontroller, motor controller, sensor, or MOSFET to be found except for that which might reside inside the knock-off GoPro style camera which is encased in a candle wax sealed enclosure.
Instead, simple brushed motors live right out in the open water. Single pole double throw switches are connected to 100 feet of Ethernet cable and control the relays powering the motors. The camera signal is brought back to the controller through the same cable. Simple is the key to the build, and we have to admit that for all of its Minimum Viability, the little ROV has a lot going for it. [Peter] even manages to use the little craft to find and make possible the retrieval of a crustacean encrusted shopping cart from a saltwater canal. Not bad, little rover, not bad.
Also noteworthy is that the video below has its own PVC ROV Sea Shanty, which is something you just don’t hear every day.