Rib Cage Lamp Kicks It Up A Notch With Party Mode

We think [Michelle]’s sound-reactive rib cage lamp turned out great, and the photos and details around how it was made are equally fantastic. The lamp is made of carved and waxed wood, and inside is a bundle of LED lighting capable of a variety of different color palettes and patterns, including the ability to react to sound. Every rib cage should have a party mode, after all.

The LED strip is fashioned into an atom-like structure.

Turns out that designing good rib cage pieces is a bigger challenge than one might think. [Michelle]’s method was to use an anatomical 3D model as reference, tracing each piece so that it could be cut from a flat sheet of wood.

The resulting flat pieces then get assembled into a stack, with each rib pointed downward at a roughly 20 degree angle. This process is a neat hack in itself: instead of drilling holes all at exactly the same angle, [Michelle] simply made the holes twice the diameter of the steel rod they stack on. The result? The pieces angle downward on their own.

The LED lighting is itself a nice piece of work. The basic structure comes from soldered solid-core wire. The RGB LED strip gets wound around that, then reinforced with garden wire. The result is an atomic-looking structure that sits inside the rib cage. An ESP32 development board drives everything with the FastLED library.

Code for everything, including the sound-reactive worky bits, which rely on an INMP441 I2C microphone module is all available on GitHub. And if you want to make your own sound-reactive art, make sure to check out these arms as well.

Want to see the rib cage in action? A short demo video is embedded below that demonstrates the sound reactivity. Equally applicable to either party or relaxation modes, we think.

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EEG graph with activity sections highlighted, one part highlighted as "F" and other as "6"

DREEMWORK Lets You Code Morse From Inside Your Dream

Lucid dreaming fascinates hackers. Every few years for over a decade now, we’ve seen a serious project dedicated to studying or taking advantage of this phenomenon, and the interest in this topic hasn’t faded still. [Michael] has contacted us to tell about a small and unconventional breakthrough that a few lucid dream hackers have accomplished — communicating in Morse code from their dream using eye movements.

These hackers are using Dreem 2 and 3 headbands, which include clinical-grade polysomnography features like EEG measurements, which is instrumental for decoding eye movements. [Michael] tells us that one of the participants, [Sebastiii], was able to transfer the letter F by looking twice to the left, then right and left again – ..-. in Morse. With an off-the-shelf headband, this information transmission method is quite accessible to anyone willing to learn Morse, and [Michael] himself is now working on an automated decoding solution. We might forget what happens in our dreams fairly quickly, but this unexpected side channel could be a good counter.

[Michael] has tipped us off to many of the projects we’ve covered, and himself has quite a history in the field. His own research into using Morse to communicate out of lucid dreams dates back as far as 2012. If your ham exam preparations have you dream in Morse, perhaps this is the perfect project to join. A lot of projects we’ve seen focus on gaining enough awareness to achieve lucidity first, like the variety of lucid dream-invoking masks we’ve covered over the years. This part being thoroughly explored, it makes sense that communication is the next frontier to be tackled.

Building A Tessellated NeoPixel Clock

Anyone can buy a clock, but building your own lets you express your creative flair along the way. [Edison Science Corner] did just that with this neat sci-fi looking design.

The build relies on an Arduino Pro Mini to run the show, paired with a DS3231 real-time clock module. The latter part is of great importance, as without it, the Arduino would not keep accurate time. The 3D printed enclosure looks nondescript from the outside. However, inside, it’s got a neat triangular structure which allows the time to be displayed in that attractive tessellated triangular fashion. There’s a black plastic separator between all the segments which stop unattractive bleed-through and really help with the final effect. The individual triangles are each lit by a NeoPixel LED, which are both addressable and capable of lighting up in RGB colors. It makes for an attractive and colorful display.

If you want to try something more traditional yet challenging, consider whipping up your own 7-segment displays. Video after the break.

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2022 Cyberdeck Contest: A Chorded-Keyboard Wearable Cyberdeck

Those of us who are unreformed hunt-and-peck typists are often baffled by the keyboard skills of those with more formal training. Home row? Specific fingers for specific keys? The mind boggles. And chorded keyboards? That’s straight-up witchcraft!

But, there are times when only a chorded keyboard will do, such as when you want to build a wrist-wearable cyberdeck like this one. It’s called the ComputeDeck-B3, and it comes to us from [Nate Damen], better known as someone who goes around with a TV on their head, which sort of fits with the total device immersion this cyberdeck enables.

The deck is designed to fit on the forearm in the position of function — basically, the posture your arm, wrist, and hand take on naturally when everything is relaxed. There’s a small display mounted at a good angle for viewing, but the star of the show is the keyboard. The fingers slip inside a slot to find three mechanical key switches positioned for each finger. It looks like the idea is to use the finger pad, fingertip, and fingernail to press each key, and then to press different combinations of keys to make specific characters. The thumb isn’t left out of the action; there’s a five-position “hat switch” located right where the thumb naturally falls, to add to the input possibilities. The short video below gives a tour and some background on design goals, and why this isn’t really a PipBoy.

For as much as chording isn’t our thing, we can see how this could work for input on the fly. And we have to compliment [Nate] on paying attention to ergonomics here, even though extending the fingers to press the nail buttons seems like a somewhat unnatural movement. We’d love a follow-up on this after he’s had some time to put it through its paces. Continue reading “2022 Cyberdeck Contest: A Chorded-Keyboard Wearable Cyberdeck”

DIY Wind Tunnel Aims To Educate The Youth

Typically, when we talk about wind tunnels, we think of the big facilities in use by the aerospace and motorsports industries. However, there’s nothing stopping you building a wind tunnel of your very own, and it may even be easier than you think! [Jude Pullen] has whipped up just such a design with DIY in mind.

Intended for high school Design & Technology (D&T) classes, it uses relatively simple materials construction techniques. The airflow straightener is built out of PVC pipes, and the end boxes built out of cardboard. The transparent walls for observation are created out of acrylic, while a simple fan provides the necessary flow. The desk-sized wind tunnel can then be instrumented with a manometer, tachometer, and anemometer to measure pressure, fan speed, and wind speed. [Jude] also explores experiments that can be run in the wind tunnel, such as working with a small balsa wood glider and measuring the lift it generates with a scale.

[Jude] has a very pragmatic and real-world understanding of such projects, too. He notes the difference between making things to measure, and making them to fit, and highlights the values of both approaches. It’s a much more holistic approach than simply berating students to “do it right” or “do it better” when making things in a D&T class.

Use of a basic wind tunnel is often not taught to engineering students until at least the second or third year of an engineering degree, after all the boring math and static analysis has been dealt with. However, there’s no reason high school physics students can’t understand the physics involved, and they’re more than capable of undertaking such a build. Starting such education early often nets huge benefits for individuals and their eventual careers.

Once you’ve got yourself a wind tunnel, you might want to start thinking about some flow visualization, which gets really exciting.

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Unintentional Emissions

First, it was the WiFi router: my ancient WRT54G that had given me nearly two decades service. Something finally gave out in the 2.4 GHz circuitry, and it would WiFi no more. Before my tears could dry, our thermometer went on the fritz. It’s one of those outdoor jobbies that transmits the temperature to an indoor receiver. After that, the remote for our office lights stopped working, but it was long overdue for a battery change.

Meanwhile, my wife had ordered a new outdoor thermometer, and it too was having trouble keeping a link. Quality control these days! Then, my DIY coffee roaster fired up once without any provocation. This thing has worked quasi-reliably for ten years, and I know the hardware and firmware as if I had built them myself – there was no way one of my own tremendously sophisticated creations would be faulty. (That’s a joke, folks.) And then the last straw: the batteries in the office light remote tested good.

We definitely had a poltergeist, a radio poltergeist. And the root cause would turn out to be one of those old chestnuts from the early days of CMOS ICs – never leave an input floating that should have a defined logic level. Let me explain.

The WRT54G was the hub of my own home automation system, an accretion of ESP8266 and other devices that all happily speak MQTT to each other. When it went down, none of the little WiFi nodes could boot up right. One of them, described by yours truly in this video, is an ESP8266 connected to a 433 MHz radio transmitter. Now it gets interesting – the thermometers and the coffee roaster and the office lights all run on 433 MHz.

Here’s how it went down. The WiFi-to-433 bridge failed to connect to the WiFi and errored out before the part of the code where it initialized GPIO pins. The 433 MHz transmitter was powered, but its digital input was left flopping in the breeze, causing it to spit out random data all the time, with a pretty decent antenna. This jammed everything in the house, and apparently even once came up with the command to turn on the coffee roaster, entirely by chance. Anyway, unplugging the bridge fixed everything.

This was a fun one to troubleshoot, if only because it crossed so many different devices at different times, some homebrew and some commercial, and all on different control systems. Until I put it together that everything on 433 MHz was failing, I hadn’t even thought of it as one event. And then it turns out to be a digital electronics classic – the dangling input!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the ride. And spill some copper for the humble pull-down resistor.

Lamp Flashing Module Is Perfect For Automotive Use

Modern cars tend to have quite advanced lighting systems, all integrated under the control of the car’s computer. Back in the day, though, things like brake lights and indicators were all done with analog electronics. If your classic car needs a good old-fashioned flasher module, you might find this build from [DIY Guy Chris] useful.

It’s an all-analog build, with no need for microcontrollers or other advanced modern contrivances. Instead, a little bipolar PNP transistor and a beefier NPN MOSFET as an oscillator, charging and discharging a capacitor to create the desired flashing behavior. Changing the size of the main capacitor changes the flash rate. The MOSFET is chosen as running 12 volt bulbs requires a decent amount of current. The design as drawn is intended to run up to eight typical automotive bulbs, such as you might find in indicator lamps. However, [Chris] demonstrates the circuit with just four.

Flasher circuits were in regular use well into the 1990s. The original Mazda Miata has a very similar circuit tucked up under the dashboard to run the turn signals. These circuits can be hard to find for old cars, so building your own may be a useful workaround if you’re finding parts hard to come by. Video after the break.

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