A Pi Camera To Be Proud Of

The Raspberry Pi HQ camera has appeared in a variety of builds since its introduction back in 2020, and has brought with it many opportunities for photographic projects to compete with the professionals. The latest we’ve been sent is from [Kevin McAleer], who has taken the camera with a full-size Pi and clothed it in a case very similar to the crop of mirror-less compact cameras.

Inside the box is a Waveshare touchscreen that fits on the GPIO header, and a NanoWave 5000 mAH USB battery pack. The camera module fits on the front of the unit, with the C-mount ready to take a lens. Software is still a work in progress and is promised to be a Python script controlling the various camera programs. There are enough Pi camera projects for software to be a matter of choice and taste.

We like the form factor and we like the use of the very compact NanoWave battery, so we think this is a design with some possibilities. Perhaps a cover over the Pi ports might be of use though for general robustness in the face of everyday photography. The question remains though, whether it can come close to the performance of even a budget mirror-less compact camera, and we’re guessing that will depend as much on the operator skill, lens quality, and software capabilities as it does on the Pi HQ module. We look forward to seeing what comes of this project, but meanwhile you can see a video with all the details below the break.

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Share Screen To RGB Panel With Pi Pico W

RGB LEDs are great for adding a bit of color to your life, and it’s even more satisfying to use a matrix of them as a graphic display. [bitluni] built an RGB LED display with Pi Pico to which you can share a pixelated version of your PC’s screen.

[bitluni] wanted to gain some experience with MicroPython on the Raspbery Pi Pico W, and had previously used WebSockets to transmit display data over WiFi. Unfortunately, the available MicroPython WebSockets implementation didn’t leave enough RAM for the rest of the code. Instead, he set up a simple HTTP server on the Pico that receives the pixel data as a POST request. This makes for a slow refresh rate but still looks great, especially with the 3D printed rear-projection frame.

To send display data from the computer, [bitluni] uses a simple locally hosted HTML page that takes the Pico’s IP address, and prompts you to select the display or window you want to share. It uses JavaScript to grab the display data, generate the required low-res pixel values, and send the POST request.

This looks like a fun weekend project to add to your lab or home and only costs about $20 in parts. It’s basically a scaled-down version of his giant ping pong ball wall display.

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Hackaday Links: August 28, 2022

The countdown for the first step on humanity’s return to the Moon has begun. The countdown for Artemis 1 started on Saturday morning, and if all goes well, the un-crewed Orion spacecraft atop the giant Space Launch Systems (SLS) booster will liftoff from the storied Pad 39B at Cape Canaveral on Monday, August 29, at 8:33 AM EDT (1233 GMT). The mission is slated to last for about 42 days, which seems longish considering the longest manned Apollo missions only lasted around 12 days. But, without the constraint of storing enough consumables for a crew, Artemis is free to take the scenic route to the Moon, as it were. No matter what your position is on manned space exploration, it’s hard to deny that launching a rocket as big as the SLS is something to get excited about. After all, it’s been 50 years since anything remotely as powerful as the SLS has headed to space, and it’s an event that’s expected to draw 100,000 people to watch it in person. We’ll have to stick to the NASA live stream ourselves; having seen a Space Shuttle launch in person in 1990, we can’t express how much we envy anyone who gets to experience this launch up close.
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Hackaday Prize 2022: Compact Solar Tracking System Doesn’t Break The Bank

If you need to squeeze every available watt out of a solar panel, you’ll probably want to look into a solar tracking system. Unfortunately, they are usually quite large, heavy, and expensive. As an alternative, [JP Gleyzes] has put together a DIY solar tracking system that aims to address these issues.

Starting with a 100 W flexible solar panel purchased during a Black Friday sale, [JP] first created a simple frame using 20 mm PVC tubing and a few 3D printed brackets. It mounts on a wooden base with a printed worm gear rotation mechanism, powered by a stepper motor. The tilt is a handled by a lead screw made from a threaded rod, connected between the wooden base and the top of the solar panel, and is also driven by a stepper motor.

For even more efficiency, [JP] also created an MPPT charge controller with companion app using an ESP32, modified 20 A buck converter, and current sensor module. The ESP32 also controls the stepper motors. The optimum angle for the solar panel determined using the date, time, and the system’s GPS position. [JP] had also created a simple Android app to calibrate the panels’ start position.

This project is a finalist in the Planet-Friendly Power challenge of the 2022 Hackaday Prize, and all the details to build your own are available on your project page. Looking at the size of the system, we suspect future iterations could be even smaller.

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Automate Your Desk With The Upsy Desky

It might be surprising for some, but humans actually evolved to be long-distance runners. We aren’t very fast comparatively, but no other animal can run for as long or as far as a human can. Sitting at a desk, on the other hand, is definitely not something that we’re adapted to do, so it’s important to take some measures to avoid many of the problems that arise for those that sit at a desk or computer most of the day. This build takes it to the extreme, not only implementing a standing desk but also a ton of automation for that desk as well.

This project is an improvement on a prior build by [TJ Horner] called the WiFi Standing Desk Controller. This new version has a catchier name, and uses an ESP32 to run the show. The enclosure is 3D printed and the control board includes USB-C and a hardware UART to interface with the controller. The real perks of this device are the automation, though. The desk can automatically lift if the user has been sitting too long, and could also automatically lift if it detects no one is home (to help keep a cat off of the desk, for example). It also includes presets for different users, and can export data to other software to help analyze sitting and standing patterns.

The controller design is open source and could be adapted to work on a wide-array of powered desks. As we’ve seen in the past, with the addition of a motor, even hand-crank standing desks can be upgraded. If you haven’t gotten into the standing desk trend yet, we hope that you are at least occasionally going for a run.

Sleep Posture Monitor Warns You Away From Dangerous Positions

Age, we’re told, is just a number, but that number seems to be the ever-increasing count of injuries of a ridiculous nature. Where once the younger version of us could jump from a moving car or fall out of a tree with just a few scrapes to show for the effort, add a few dozen trips around the sun and you find that just “sleeping funny” can put you out of service for a week.

Keen to avoid such woes, [Elite Worm] came up with this sleep posture alarm to watch for nocturnal transgressions, having noticed that switching to a face-down sleeping position puts a kink in his neck. He first considered using simple mechanical tilt switches to detect unconscious excursions from supine to prone. But rather than be locked into a single posture, he decided to go with an accelerometer instead. The IMU and an ATtiny85 live on a custom PCB along with a small vibrating motor, which allows for more discrete alerts than a buzzer or beeper would.

Placed in a 3D printed enclosure and clipped to his shorts, the wearable is ready to go. The microcontroller wakes up every eight seconds to check his position, sounding the alarm if he’s drifting into painful territory. [Elite] did some power analysis on the device, and while there’s room for improvement, the current estimated 18 days between charging isn’t too shabby. The video below has all the details; hopefully, design files and code will show up on his GitHub soon.

Considering that most of us spend a third of our life sleeping, it’s little wonder hackers have attacked sleep problems with gusto. From watching your brainwaves to AI-generated nonsense ASMR, there’s plenty of hacking fodder once your head hits the pillow.

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A clock displaying a micro QR code

LED Clock Uses Micro QR Codes To Show The Time

As you probably know, we love our clocks here at Hackaday. Odd display technologies are always interesting to see, as are unusual encoding techniques such as binary, ternary or higher-radix number systems. Still, clocks are typically meant to be human-readable, even if their encoding might be a little eccentric.

[Kitchi] however built an LED-based clock that is not human-readable, at least not without quite a bit of training. This is because it displays the time by generating a QR code, which only becomes readable to most humans through the use of a smartphone app. Of course, this negates the need for a clock since your smartphone will already have one anyway — but whoever said a clock needs to be useful?

To be fair, the display could conceivably be read by a determined human, since the QR format used is the tiny Micro QR M2 version that measures only 13×13 pixels. It’s capable of storing ten decimal digits, just enough to hold the date and time in mmddhhmmss format. The fixed part of the QR code is made of paper, while the variable part is formed through a grid of 90 white LEDs. The LEDs are mounted on a piece of prototype board along with a PIC 16F1504 microcontroller, two TM1637 LED drivers and a DS1307 real-time clock with battery backup.

If decoding QR codes is not your thing, or you simply haven’t got your smartphone on you, then the QR clock can also be set to a more human-readable format by adding a jumper. The time will then scroll across the LED screen in ordinary decimal format.

The video in the link is in Japanese, with no automatic translation available, but the build process is clearly shown and should be understandable even if you can’t follow the cheerful robotic narrator. We’ve seen a couple of QR-code based clocks before, some with an LCD screen and some with retro styling, but all of those use the larger standard QR code which definitely no human can decode visually. Or can you? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for the tip, [J. Peterson]!