Wall Art With A Moving Coil Or Two

Almost every type of retro indicator technology from a Nixie tube to a flipdot with everything else in between has found itself on these pages in some form of artwork or decoration. It’s pleasing then to see one that hasn’t appeared so much over the years, and particularly at the hands of our colleague [Voja Antonic]. He’s taken a large array of moving-coil panel meters and hooked them up to a microcontroller board that’s triggered by a PIR sensor. Normally the readings are random, but get too close to it and all those needles start moving, making for a very different take on an electronic wall display.

He’s not given us the details of the control circuit he’s used, but in a sense that matters little. We think any Hackaday reader who knows one end of a soldering iron from the other should be able to produce a small DC current from a DAC to drive a meter, and we don’t think the software to make random readings would trouble many of you either.

Meanwhile [Voja] has produced so many interesting projects over the years, not least the 2022 Superconference badge. Here’s one from a few years ago.


Hackaday Prize 2022: Meet The Winners Of This Year’s Competition

This year, the 2022 Hackaday Prize challenged hackers and makers in the open source community to develop projects which evoked the concepts of Sustainability, Resiliency, and Circularity — ideas which perhaps have never been more important. As humanity works to become better stewards to the only planet they can call home, everything we build (or rebuild) should reflect our desire to preserve our world for future generations.

Today, we’re excited to announce the projects that our panel of expert judges believe best exemplified this year’s theme and took home their share of the $50,000 USD in prize money.

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When Only A TO92 Will Do

As through-hole components are supplanted by their surface-mount equivalents, we’re beginning to see the departure of once-common component form factors. Many such as the metal can transistors became rare years ago, while others still hang on albeit in fewer and fewer places. One of these is the once-ubiquitous TO92 moulded plastic transistor, which we don’t see very much of at all in 2022. [Sam Ettinger] is a fan of the D-shaped plastic blobs, and has gone as far as to recreate them for a new generation to enjoy.

Though a TO92 was a relatively miniature package in its day, it’s still large enough to easily fit a SOT23 or similar SMD packaged device on a small PCB. So the tiny board with just enough space for the part and the three wires was fabricated, ready for encapsulating. Epoxy moulding a TO92 gave very poor results, so instead an SLA print of a T092 shell was made. It fits neatly over the PCB, producing a perfect TO92 package. We’re sure a translucent pink package would have raised a few eyebrows back in the 1960s though.

There will come a time when restorers of old electronics will use and refine this technique to replace dead components. We’ve seen the technique before, after all.

Creating Your Alarm On The Fly

We suspect that most of us who use an alarm clock have our particular sound memorized. Common choices are annoying beeping, energetic marimbas, or what used to be your favorite song (which you have now come to despise). [Adam Kumpf] wanted a more pleasant alarm clock and came up with WakeSlow, an alarm clock audio stream, which is a spiritual successor to an earlier project he did called Warmly.

Some might say, “an audio stream? You could create an acceptable alarm tone generator with a 555 and a 2N2222”. The idea behind WakeSlow is to use your existing internet-connected alarm clock that can play an audio stream. You generate a URL using WakeSlow, and it plays the alarm. A custom URL is helpful since it incorporates weather data, letting you know if it’s going to rain, blowing wind, or be sunny that day. It mixes CC0 audio to form the stream, and includes a 5-minute fade to wake you up gradually. After five minutes, it’s jazz time, and it plays a sample of some CC0 jazz.

The code is super simple, and he makes it available on his website under a public domain/CC0 license. The simplicity offers something powerful, making it exactly how you like it. You could incorporate holiday information, a text-to-speech news announcer reading the news of what’s on your calendar that day, or anything you can dream of.

Hackers are generally particular about clocks, and alarm clocks fall under the same umbrella. WakeSlow allows you to skip the hardware part of making your customized alarm, but if you prefer to have the whole thing be custom, we have a few suggestions for alarms to look at.

Nanoassembly With Water

Water is sometimes known as the universal solvent. But researchers at Harvard want to use water to put things together instead of taking them apart. Really small things. In the video below, you can see a simple 3D-printed machine that braids microscopic fibers.

The key appears to be surface tension and capillary action. A capillary machine uses channels that repel floating objects. By moving the channel, materials move to avoid the channel, and by shaping the channel, various manipulations can occur, including braiding. This is one of those things that is easier to understand when you see it, so if it doesn’t make sense, watch the video below. The example uses tiny Kevlar fibers.

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"The Great Resistor" color code illumination project

The Great Resistor Embiggens The Smallest Value

With surface-mount components quickly becoming the norm, even for homebrew hardware, the resistor color-code can sometimes feel a bit old-hat. However, anybody who has ever tried to identify a random through-hole resistor from a pile of assorted values will know that it’s still a handy skill to have up your sleeve. With this in mind, [j] decided to super-size the color-code with “The Great Resistor”.

Resistor color code from Wikipedia with white background
How the resistor color-code bands work

At the heart of the project is an Arduino Nano clone and a potential divider that measures the resistance of the test resistor against a known fixed value. Using the 16-bit ADC, the range of measurable values is theoretically 0 Ω to 15 MΩ, but there are some remaining issues with electrical noise that currently limit the practical range to between 100 Ω and 2 MΩ.

[j] is measuring the supply voltage to help counteract the noise, but intends to move to an oversampling/averaging method to improve the results in the next iteration.

The measured value is shown on the OLED display at the front, and in resistor color-code on an enormous symbolic resistor lit by WS2812 RGB LEDs behind.

Inside view of the great resistor showing WS2812 LEDs and baffle plates
Inside The Great Resistor, the LEDs and baffle plates make the magic work

Precision aside, the project looks very impressive and we like the way the giant resistor has been constructed. It would look great at a science show or a demonstration. We’re sure that the noise issues can be ironed out, and we’d encourage any readers with experience in this area to offer [j] some tips in the comments below. There’s a video after the break of The Great Resistor being put through its paces!

If you want to know more about the history of the resistor color code bands, then we have you covered.  Alternatively, how about reading the color code directly with computer vision?

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Supercon Is On! Join Us!

Supercon is in high gear, after a full day of badge hacking that went well into the midnight hour. Now it’s time for the talks!

If you’re not here in person, you can still get in on the talks by following the 2022 Hackaday Supercon Livestream, which will be covering all the LACM stage action. We have a great lineup of speakers starting off with a keynote by Joe [Kingpin] Grand at 10:00 AM PDT and ending with the 2022 Hackaday Prize Awards at 7:00 PM — come see who won live!

Of course, talks are only one component of Supercon. The secret sauce has always been the people at the con. If you’re not joining us, we still need you to take part. There is a conference chat on Hackaday.io and on the Hackaday Discord server and all are welcome. Pop in and visit with people at the con, and others around the globe who wish they could have made it in person.

Make sure you’re on the live stream Saturday evening to watch as the Grand Prize is presented on stage during the Hackaday Prize Ceremony. Pop into the chat and ask for updates on badge hacking, the SMD Soldering Challenge, and all of the other shenanigans that make Supercon super.