Linear LED clock displaying the time using different-colored triangles.

Linear LED Clock Looks Decidedly Vintage

We just love a good clock around here, and something about those triangles gives this linear LED clock a deliciously mid-century vibe. If you’ve read these pages for any length of time, you know that [andrei.erdei] loves clocks as much as we do, and is always coming up with interesting ways of displaying the passage of time.

Two upward-facing triangles sandwich one downward-facing triangle, and they are lighting up as follows: right, left, middle.This one is a remix of some other linear RGB clocks, but the result is distinctly [andrei.erdei]’s style. There’s nothing crazy going on under the hood here — it’s essentially a Wemos D1 mini running a strip of RGBs, and the microcontroller connects to a Wi-Fi router to get the time from a server. The magic is in the programming and the way the clock is read.

The brief but thorough demo video after the break does a much better job of explaining the display by showing various times of the day, but we’ll give it a shot. For one thing, it uses 24-hour time exclusively. There are four groups of triangles; yellow, red, green, and blue which correspond to tens and units of hours, and tens and units of minutes.

The triangles light up in groups of three in the order depicted in the animation. At midnight, none of the triangles are lit up. Again, it’s best explained in the video, looking at various times of day.  Plus you can see the neat-o startup animation.

Are you more into sound than blinkenlights? Then this customizable bird clock may be for you.

Continue reading “Linear LED Clock Looks Decidedly Vintage”

Regular Expressions Finally Come To Microsoft Excel

There are two types of people in the world: those who have no idea what a regular expression is, and those who not only know what they are but can compose them on the fly and tend to use them in situations where they’re clearly not called for. And it’s that latter camp, of which we consider ourself a proud member, that is rejoicing with the announcement that Microsoft is adding regular expression support to Excel.

Or perhaps not rejoicing so much as wondering what took so long. Yes, regular expressions have been part of VBA for a while now, but the new functions allow you to use regexes right in the spreadsheet grid. There are plenty of caveats, of course. The big one is that this is still in beta at this time, so you have to do some gymnastics to enable it, if you’re even allowed to in the first place. Second, support appears limited to three functions at the moment: REGEXTEST, which provides a logical test of pattern matching; REGEXEXTRACT, which returns a substring that matches a pattern; and REGEXREPLACE, which substitutes a string for a pattern. The video below walks through how to use these functions within spreadsheets.

What’s also unclear now is what flavor of regular expressions is supported. There are a bewildering number of entities in the regex bestiary — character classes, positional indicators, quantifiers, subexpressions, lazy and greedy matches, and a range of grouping constructs that perplex even regex pros. One hopes these new functions will support one of the existing regex standards, but Microsoft is famous for “extending and enhancing.” Then again, regex support has been in the .NET Framework for years and is pretty close to the Perl standard, so our guess is that it’ll be close to that.

If you fall into the “What’s a regex?” camp but want to change that, why not get your grep on?

Continue reading “Regular Expressions Finally Come To Microsoft Excel”

Twelve pink tentacles are wrapped around a small, green succulent plant. The leaves seem relatively undisturbed. They are dangling from brass and white plastic pressure fittings attached to a brass circle.

Tentacle Robot Wants To Hold You Gently

Human hands are remarkable pieces of machinery, so it’s no wonder many robots are designed after their creators. The amount of computation required to properly attenuate the grip strength and position of a hand is no joke though, so what if you took a tentacular approach to grabbing things instead?

Inspired by ocean creatures, researchers found that by using a set of pneumatically-controlled tentacles, they could grasp irregular objects reliably and gently without having to faff about with machine learning or oodles of sensors. The tentacles can wrap around the object itself or intertwine with each other to encase parts of an object in its gentle grasp.

The basic component of the device is 12 sections “slender elastomeric filament” which dangle at gauge pressure, but begin to curl as pressure is applied up to 172 kPa. All of the 300 mm long segments run on the same pressure source and are the same size, but adding multiple sized filaments or pressure sources might be useful for certain applications.

We wonder how it would do feeding a fire or loading a LEGO train with candy? We also have covered how to build mechanical tentacles and soft robots, if that’s more your thing.

Continue reading “Tentacle Robot Wants To Hold You Gently”

Building An 8-Color Automated Filament Changer

Multi-filament printing can really open up possibilities for your prints, even more so the more filaments you have. Enter the 8-Track from [Armored_Turtle], which will swap between 8 filaments for you!

The system is modular, with each spool of filament installed in a drybox with its own filament feeder .The dryboxes connect to the 8-Track changer via pogo pins for communication and power. While [Armored_Turtle] is currently using the device on a Voron printer, he’s designed it so that it can be easily modified to suit other printers. As it’s modular, it’s also not locked into running 8 filaments. Redesigning it to use more or less is easy enough thanks to its modular design.

The design hasn’t been publicly released yet, but [Armored_Turtle] states they hope to put it on Github when it’s ready. It’s early days, but we love the chunky design of those actively-heated drybox filament cassettes. They’re a great step up from just keeping filament hanging on a rod, and they ought to improve print performance in addition to enabling multi-filament switching.

We’ve seen some other neat work in this space before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Building An 8-Color Automated Filament Changer”

Hackaday Podcast Episode 272: Desktop EDM, Silence Of The Leaves, And The Tyranny Of The Rocket Equation

With Elliot off on vacation, Tom and Dan made a valiant effort to avoid the dreaded “clip show” and provide you with the tastiest hacker treats of the week. Did they succeed? That’s not for us to say, but if you’re interested in things like non-emulated N64 games and unnecessarily cool filament sensors, this just might be one to check out.

We also came across a noise suppressor for a leaf blower, giant antennae dangling from government helicopters, and a desktop-friendly wire EDM setup that just might change the face of machining. We waxed on about the difference between AI-generated code and just pulling routines from StackExchange, came to the conclusion that single-stage-to-orbit is basically just science fiction, and took a look at the latest eclipse from 80,000 feet, albeit a month after the fact.

Worried about attracting the Black Helicopters? Download the DRM-free MP3 and listen offline, just in case.

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast Episode 272: Desktop EDM, Silence Of The Leaves, And The Tyranny Of The Rocket Equation”

Dynamic Buttons Are Weird Blobs You Can Press

Imagine a flat surface that has no buttons on it, until they raise up like bubbles of goo for you to touch them. The Future Interface Group at Carnegie-Mellon has apparently developed just that. They’re calling the technology DynaButtons, and they look kinda weird…and very awesome.

The buttons use electro-osmotic pump technology. Basically, electricity is used to move a fluid under a flexible surface to create a dimple-shaped button. The team was able to increase the flow-rate of these pumps by 300% over traditional designs, while also integrating sensing for interactivity. This allowed the creation of a dynamic button that pops up as needed. The button design is fast and responsive. It’s able to readily change its position in an analog manner, both raising up and deflating below the base surface on command.

We don’t often cover weird goopy-looking projects around here, but maybe we should.

Continue reading “Dynamic Buttons Are Weird Blobs You Can Press”

This Week In Security: Drama At The C-Level, Escape Injection, And Audits

There was something of a mystery this week, with the root DNS server falling out of sync with it’s 12 siblings. That’s odd in itself, as these are the 13 servers that keep DNS working for the whole Internet. And yes, that’s a bit of a simplification, it’s not a single server for any of the 13 entities — the C “server” is actually 12 different machines. The intent is for all those hundreds of servers around the world to serve the same DNS information, but over several days this week, the “C” servers just stopped pulling updates.

The most amusing/worrying part of this story is how long it took for the problem to be discovered and addressed. One researcher cracked a ha-ha-only-serious sort of joke, that he had reported the problem to Cogent, the owners of the “C” servers, but they didn’t “seem to understand that they manage a root server”. The problem first started on Saturday, and wasn’t noticed til Tuesday, when the servers were behind by three days. Updates started trickling late Tuesday or early Wednesday, and by the end of Wednesday, the servers were back in sync.

Cogent gave a statement that an “unrelated routing policy change” both affected the zone updates, and the system that should have alerted them to the problem. It seems there might room for an independent organization, monitoring some of this critical Internet Infrastructure.

Continue reading “This Week In Security: Drama At The C-Level, Escape Injection, And Audits”