Thrift Store CD Rack Turns Into Small Parts Storage Playground

What in the world could an accessory for an obsolete audio medium possibly have to do with keeping all your unruly bits and pieces in order? First of all, we’re not sure the CD is quite dead yet; we’ve got about a thousand of them packed away somewhere, and we’re pretty sure they’ll be back in style again one of these days. Until then, though, the lowly CD rack might be just what you need to get your shop under control.

As [Chris Borge] relates the story, he stumbled over this CD rack at a thrift sale and quickly realized its potential. All it took was some quick design work and a bit of 3D printing. Okay, a lot of 3D printing, including some large, flat expanses for the drawer bottoms, which can be a problem to print reliably. His solution was simple but clever: pause the print and insert a piece of stiff card stock to act as the drawer bottom before continuing to print the sides. This worked well but presented an adhesion problem later when he tried to print some drawer dividers, so those were printed as a separate job and inserted later.

Sadly, [Chris] notes that the CD format is not quite Gridfinity compatible, but that’s not a deal breaker. He also doesn’t provide any build files, but none are really necessary. Once you’ve got the basic footprint, what you do with your drawers is largely dependent on what you’ve got to store. The video below has a lot of ideas for what’s possible, but honestly, we’re looking at all those little parts assortment kits from Bojack and Hilitchi piled up in a drawer and just dreaming about the possibilities here. Add a voice-activated, LED inventory locator, and you’d really have something. Off to the thrift store!

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Shôtarô Kaneda’s Motorcycle, For Real

For fans of the iconic anime Akira, there’s only one way to traverse the mean streets of post-apocalyptic neo-Tokyo, and that’s the futuristic mount of motorcycle gang leader Shôtarô Kaneda. It’s a low-down feet-forward machine with, we’re told, “Ceramic double-rotor two-wheel drive,” which we’re guessing is some kind of hybrid electric drive with what sounds like a gas-turbine motor. Over the years, there have been a few different attempts to create a real version of Kaneda’s bike, and we’re pleased to see the latest from ヲタ工房「ポンちゃンネル」(Ota Kobo “Ponchanner”). It uses a twin-cylinder Kawasaki motor in an entirely custom-made frame, with dual single-sided swingarms front and rear and hub-centre steering.

The full build in the video below the break is pretty long but well worth a watch, and it includes a lot of very highly skilled metalwork. It’s an interesting choice not to attempt to make a direct replica of Kaneda’s bike. Still, we think some of the differences are dictated by this being very much a roadworthy and everyday-rideable machine.

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Hackaday Links: March 17, 2024

A friend of ours once described computers as “high-speed idiots.” It was true in the 80s, and it appears that even with the recent explosion in AI, all computers have managed to do is become faster. Proof of that can be found in a story about using ASCII art to trick a chatbot into giving away the store. As anyone who has played with ChatGPT or its moral equivalent for more than five minutes has learned, there are certain boundary conditions that the LLM’s creators lawyers have put in place to prevent discussion surrounding sensitive topics. Ask a chatbot to deliver specific instructions on building a nuclear bomb, for instance, and you’ll be rebuffed. Same with asking for help counterfeiting currency, and wisely so. But, by minimally obfuscating your question by rendering the word “COUNTERFEIT” in ASCII art and asking the chatbot to first decode the word, you can slip the verboten word into a how-to question and get pretty explicit instructions. Yes, you have to give painfully detailed instructions on parsing the ASCII art characters, but that’s a small price to pay for forbidden knowledge that you could easily find out yourself by other means.

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RP2040 Boot Loader Is A Worm

[Hunter Adams] has written a secondary bootloader for the RP2040 that uses an IR link and can be extended to behave like a polite worm virus. This allows the easy updating of a large cluster of co-located RP2040-based controllers. This could be handy in applications like swarm robotics or virtual cattle fencing. The project he demonstrates in the two videos ( below the break ) uses a pair of IR transmitters/receivers. But he purposely wrote the boot loader to be independent of the serial link, which could be infrared, radio, audio, or just wires.

Not only did [Hunter] make a boot loader, but he documented the entire boot process of the RP2040 chip. Whether or not you need a secondary bootloader, this is an excellent resource for understanding how the RP2040 responds to power cycling and resets. The boot loader code is available at his GitHub repository.

You may recall that [Hunter] is the lecturer of Cornell University’s Designing with Microcontroller classes, whom we’ve mentioned before. We’ve also covered some of his students’ projects as well, like these air drums and this CoreXY pen plotter.

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Simple NTP Clock Uses Custom RGB 7-Segment Displays

A great majority of hackers build a clock at some point. It’s a great way to get familiar with electronics and (often) microcontrollers, and you get to express some creativity along the way. Plus, you get something useful when you’re done! [Tadas Ustinavičius] recently trod this well-worn path and built a neat little NTP clock of their own.

The build uses an ESP 12F as the core of the operation. It’s charged with querying an NTP time server via its WiFi connection in order to maintain accurate timekeeping around the clock. For display, it drives a series of custom 7-segment displays that [Tadas] built using 3D-printed housings. They use WS2812B addressable LEDs and thus can display a rainbow of colors.

For initial configuration, the phone creates its own WiFi hotspot with a web interface for changing settings. Once configured, it connects to the Internet over WiFi to query an NTP server at regular intervals.

It’s a simple build that does a simple job well. Projects like these can be very valuable, as they teach you all kinds of useful skills. If you’ve been working on your own clock design, don’t hesitate to let us know. You can use a microcontroller, relays, or even a ball.

A Fully Automatic British Breakfast: Ready While You Sleep

What do you mean, the temporary breadboard setup went into production? (Credit: Gregulations, YouTube)
What do you mean, the temporary breadboard setup went into production? (Credit: [Gregulations], YouTube)
Among all the amazing technologies that were promised to us, there is one that is much more egregious than the lack of flying cars and real hovering hoverboards: the lack of fully automated breakfast-maker machines. Instead we find ourselves handling the same dumb appliances each morning as we make a healthy breakfast that we then have time to wolf down before rushing out of the door to still be a few minutes late for work. When [Greg] researched machines that could automatically prepare breakfast, he came up empty, which led him down the rabbit hole of the Autochef-9000.

Although often featured in movies – ranging from Back to the Future to Wallace and Gromit – the contraptions in those are rarely practical, and real-life attempts often suffer the problem of feature creep as they have to handle too many ingredients and operations. This is where [Greg] found redemption in the simplicity of a proper British breakfast: beans, toast, sausages (sossys), and eggs. Months of CAD, welding, breadboarding, and writing Arduino code later, he made a machine that can open a can of beans, toast bread, boil eggs, fry up sausages, and deposit it all on a plate, all ready for that morning breakfast first thing when you stroll into the kitchen.

Thanks to [htky] for the tip.

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Creating A Numbers Station Of Your Very Own

Numbers stations are a weird phenomenon where odd voices read out long strings of numbers or random codewords to the confusion of the vast majority of the listening audience. If you’ve ever wanted to build one of your own, you could follow the example of [AudioWanderer].

NumberMumble, as it’s called, is a numbers station emulator. It doesn’t signal spy networks or reveal national secrets. Instead, it randomly plays audio samples using an Arduino, including characteristic bursts of white noise that make it sound more authentic. It relies on the Mozzi library to help with audio tasks, including generating white noise and playing back samples. It’s also kitted out with a filter knob for varying the tone. Audio output is via PWM.

If you want to confuse your neighbours with oddball audio, put this thing on a radio transmitter and get broadcasting. But don’t, because that’s illegal without the proper licenses or — you know — if you happen to be a real spy. Video after the break.

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