Although old-school machinists typically prefer the mechanical vernier scale on their trusty calipers, many users nowadays buy calipers with a digital readout. These models often come with additional features like differential measurements, or a “hold” function for those situations where you have to maneuver the instrument somewhere deep inside a machine. Another useful feature is a data link that lets you log your measurements on a computer directly instead of manually entering all the values.
The VINCA-branded caliper that [Liba2k] bought has such a data link feature, which requires a USB adapter that’s sold separately. There is a micro-USB connector on the tool itself, but instead of implementing a USB interface, this is used to carry a proprietary serial protocol — a design decision that ought to be classified as a felony if you ask us. Rather than buying the official USB adapter, [Liba2k] decoded the protocol and built his own interface called VINCA Reader that can connect through either USB or Wi-Fi.
The serial format turned out to be a simple serial bus that clocks out 24 bits at a time. In order to adapt its 1.2 V signal level to the 3.3 V used by an ESP32, [Liba2k] designed a simple level shifter circuit using a handful of discrete components. The ESP can communicate with the computer through its Wi-Fi interface, for which [Liba2k] wrote a spreadsheet-like application; alternatively, an ordinary USB cable can be connected to emulate a keyboard for use with any other software.
With its added Wi-Fi feature, the VINCA Reader is actually more complete than the official USB adapter, and will probably be cheaper as well. The serial interface appears to be common to all caliper manufacturers, although many went for a more sensible connector than micro-USB. An automated readout system is particularly handy if you have to make thousands of similar measurements.
DIY spot welders often use high-powered components that can be a bit frightening, given the potential for dangerous malfunctions. [Wojciech “Adalbert” J.] designed his capacitive discharge spot welder to be safe, easy to build, and forego the microcontroller.
Many projects work great with just a single Li-ion cell, but when you need more power, you’ve got to start connecting more cells together into a battery. [Wojciech]’s spot welder is designed to be just powerful enough to weld nickel tabs onto a cell without any overkill. The capacitor bank uses nineteen Nichicon UBY 7500uF/35V capacitors, all wired in parallel using solder wick saturated with solder. They sit atop on a perfboard with metallicized holes to carry the high current.
[Wojciech] has detailed every step of building the welder, including changes to the off-the-shelf relay board and adding a potentiometer to the step-up converter board. The level of detail makes this seem like a good starting place if you’re hoping to hop into the world of DIY spot welders. Safe is always a relative term when dealing with high powered devices, so be careful if you do attempt this build!
DIY spot welders have graced these digital pages many times, including this one built with safety in mind, and this other one that was decidedly not.
NFC hacking can be a daunting task with many specialized tools, a proliferation of protocols, and a multitude of different devices. [ElectronicCats] has done a lot of work to try to make this investigation accessible by creating an open-source, hardware-certified NFC tool called the HunterCatNFC that can read and emulate a multitude of NFC devices.
The HunterCatNFC device is meant to be portable and self contained, with LED indicator lights that can give information about the various modes, and feedback about what data is being received. At its core, the HunterCatNFC has an NXP PN7150 NFC controller chip to handle the NFC communication. The main processing controller is a Microchip SAMD21 which also provides USB functionality, and the whole device is powered by a 3.7V 150mAh Li-ion battery.
The HunterCatNFC has three main modes, ’emulation’, ‘read/write’ and ‘peer-to-peer’. Emulation mode allows the HunterCatNFC to mimic the functionality of a passive NFC device, only responding when an NFC reader issues a request. The read/write mode allows it to emulate an NFC reader or writer, with the ability to communicate with nearby passive NFC devices. The peer-to-peer mode gives the device the ability to have two way communication, for instance, between two HunterCatNFC devices.
We’ve covered NFC hacking before, including the Flipper Zero. The HunterCatNFC is a fine addition to the NFC hackers arsenal of tools with some very nice documentation to learn from. For those not wanting to send out their own boards to be printed and assembled, [ElectronicCats] has them for sale.
Video after the break!
Continue reading “Hunt Down NFC Signals With This NFC Multi Tool” →
Cooking pasta is perhaps one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen, second only to watching a pot of water boil. But as pasta maker Barilla points out on their website, you can reduce your meal’s CO₂ emissions by up to 80% if you simply let the pasta sit in the hot water rather than actively boil it the whole time — a technique known as passive cooking.
The trick is getting the timing right, so in a fairly surprising move, Barilla has released the design for an open source device that will help you master this energy-saving technique. Granted it’s not a terribly complex piece of hardware, consisting of little more than an Arduino Nano 33 BLE, an NTC probe, and a handful of passive components wrapped up in a 3D-printed case. But the documentation is great, and we’ve got to give Barilla credit for going way outside of their comfort zone with this one.
Magnets in the 3D printed case let it stick to the lid of your pot, and when it detects the water is boiling, the gadget alerts your phone (at least for this version of the device, an Android or iOS application is required) that it’s time to put in the pasta. A few minutes later it will tell you when you can turn off the burner, after which it’s just a matter of waiting for the notification that your passively-cooked pasta is ready to get pulled out.
Like the prop making video Sony put out after the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, we recognize that on some level this is an advertisement for Barilla pasta. But if developing useful open source gadgets that can be built by the public is what a company wants to spend their advertising dollars on, you won’t catch us complaining. Hell, we might even spring for a box of Barilla next time we’re in the store.
Continue reading “Barilla’s Open Source Tool For Perfect Pasta” →
[_Pegor] wanted to create a shot pouring machine for their friends birthday. Unfortunately, the build wasn’t done in time, but at least the JagerMachine is finished now so that others can use it.
The JagerMachine has a peristaltic pump that moves liquid from a reservoir hidden in the back of the machine to the glass in front. The machine has a 3.5 inch DSI touch screen display for user input and a WS2812B LED ring for creating a small light show when the drinks are served. A 3.3 V to 5 V level shifter is used to power the LED ring and a motor driver module is used to drive the peristaltic pump motor. It looks like there’s a “shot glass detection” feature that uses a 3D printed mini platform with a notch for a magnet so that when a glass is placed on top of it, the hall sensor can detect the presence of the nearby magnet.
Part of the charm of this project is the software stack on the Raspberry Pi that allows for novel interaction, including being able to serve drinks from the receipt of emails. Using the Raspberry Pi as the controlling device allows for this rich set of interfacing options, including easily allowing the ability to drive the LEDs, detect the presence of the shot glass, along with establishing network connectivity. The setup procedures are all documented in the repository for anyone wanting to see how this type of functionality might transfer to their own project.
Drink mixing robots are, of course, a thing. ranging from small and cute to full shelf.
Science fiction is full of things you don’t want to think too hard about. Why do starships with transporters have brigs with forcefields? Why not just beam a prisoner into an enclosed space? Why do Cylons fly ships with human controls? Why not have a plug in their… well, you get the idea. For that matter, why do Cylons (and Kaylons, and Gort) even look human at all? Why aren’t some Cylons just ships?
Of course, the real reason is so we can identify with them and actors can play them with some cosplay gear and makeup. But real-life robots that are practical rarely look like humans at all.
No one is going to confuse a robot factory arm or a Roomba with a person, yet they are perfectly suited for their purpose. Yet we are fascinated with human-looking robots and continue to build them, like Nadia from IHMC Robotics in the video below. Continue reading “In Our Own Image: Do We Need Humanoid Robots?” →
Join us on Wednesday, October 19 at noon Pacific for the Lubrication Engineering Hack Chat with Rafe Britton!
You know the old joke: if it moves when it shouldn’t, fix it with duct tape, and if it doesn’t move but it should, fix it with WD-40. For a lot of us, that’s about as far as our expertise on lubricants — and adhesives — goes. That’s a shame, because with hundreds of years of petrochemical engineering expertise behind us, not to mention millennia more of ad hoc experience with natural substances, just reaching for that trusty blue and yellow can for a spritz is perhaps a wasted opportunity. Sure, it’ll work — maybe — but is it really the right tool for the job?
Modern lubricants are extremely complex and highly engineered materials, often built atom by atom to perform a specific job under specific, often extremely challenging, conditions. Oils and greases are much more than just the slippery stuff that keeps our mechanical systems running, and while you might not need to know all the details of how they’re made to put them to use, a little inside information could go a long way in making sure your mechanism lasts.
We’ve invited Rafe Britton on the Hack Chat to talk about all aspects of lubrication engineering. With degrees in engineering and physics, Rafe runs Lubrication Expert and the Lubrication Explained channel on YouTube to help his clients figure out what they don’t know about lubrication, and how to put that knowledge to use in the real world. Be sure to bring your questions and concerns about lubrication, as well as your lubrication success stories and failures — especially the failures!
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 19 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.