Already Have That Book? Get The ISBN 411 Over IoT

Have you ever been at the bookstore and stumbled across a great book you’ve been looking for, but had a nagging feeling that you already had it sitting at home? Yeah, us too. If only we’d had something like [Kutluhan Aktar]’s ISBN verifier the last time that happened to say for sure whether we already had it.

To use this handy machine, [Kutluhan] enters the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) of the book in question on the 4 x 4 membrane keypad. The Arduino Nano 33 IoT takes that ISBN and checks it against a PHP web database of book entries [Kutluhan] created with the ISBN, title, author, and number of pages. Then it lets [Kutluhan] know whether they already have it by updating the display from a Nokia 5110.

If you want to whip one of these up before your next trip to the bookstore, this project is completely open source down the web database. You might want to figure out some sort of enclosure unless you don’t mind the shy, inquisitive stares of your fellow bookworms.

Stalled out on reading because you don’t know what to read next? Check out our Books You Should Read column and get back to entertaining yourself in the theater of the mind.

Via r/duino

Cellerator Wants To Be Your Automated Desktop Biotech Lab

Cellerator really had us at “make designer beers”, but of course this multi-purpose biotech lab has a lot more to offer. It seeks to lower the cost and complexity barriers for automating useful scientific equipment, and wants to pave the way for more innovation in material science based.

The approach taken by Cellerator is to take existing lab tools and automate common research tasks using components familiar to anyone who’s used a 3D printer. A gantry system with end effectors designed for different tools like pipettes automate the processing of samples. A camera (with or without microscope) can be used for feedback via computer vision, or simply by logging snapshots.

A number of screenshots from the software show the depth of the plans for the system. They include widgets for telling the system where various fixtures such as the hot plate, centrifuge, and bioreactor are located. Sub menus for each tool set parameters for their operation, with a scheduling and instruction system for customizing each experiment as well as recording all of the data along the way.

IOT Pinball Puts Oktoberfest Fun On Tap

We don’t really miss going out to bars all that much, unless you’re talking about the one downtown with all the pinball machines. Don’t get us wrong — pinball emulators have gotten crazy good, and you can find exact digital replicas of most machines to play on your phone or whatever. But it just doesn’t compare to the thrill of playing a real cabinet.

Don’t despair, because for the next couple of weeks, you can queue up to play on a real Oktoberfest pinball machine that’s sitting in Espoo, Finland. The controls are hooked up to a Raspberry Pi 4 through a custom HAT, along with a camera pointed at the playfield and another focused on the backglass screen. The game development/video streaming company Surrogate is hosting a tournament over the internet, and will be giving prizes to the top ten high rollers.

We usually have to wait until the holiday season to come across these remote-reality gaming opportunities. Having played it several times now, we recommend spamming the flippers until you get a feel for the lag. Also, just holding the flippers up while the ball is in the upper half of the playfield will catch a lot of balls that you might otherwise lose due to flipper lag, and sometimes they end up back in front of the launcher to shoot again. After the break, check out a brief but amusing video of setting up the cameras and Pi that includes a taste of the Oktoberfest music.

The tournament runs until the end of August, which should be enough time for somebody to set up CV and a keyboard to play this automatically. Need inspiration? Here’s an open-source pinball machine that can play itself.

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Busting GPS Exercise Data Out Of Its Garmin-controlled IoT Prison

If you take to the outdoors for your exercise, rather than walking the Sisyphusian stair machine, it’s nice to grab some GPS-packed electronics to quantify your workout. [Bunnie Huang] enjoys paddling the outrigger canoe through the Singapore Strait and recently figured out how to unpack and visualize GPS data from his own Garmin watch.

By now you’ve likely heard that Garmin’s systems were down due to a ransomware attack last Thursday, July 23rd. On the one hand, it’s a minor inconvenience to not be able to see your workout visualized because of the system outage. On the other hand, the services have a lot of your personal data: dates, locations, and biometrics like heart rate. [Bunnie] looked around to see if he could unpack the data stored on his Garmin watch without pledging his privacy to computers in the sky.

Obviously this isn’t [Bunnie’s] first rodeo, but in the end you don’t need to be a 1337 haxor to pull this one off. An Open Source program called GPSBabel lets you convert proprietary data formats from a hundred or so different GPS receivers into .GPX files that are then easy to work with. From there he whipped up less than 200 lines of Python to plot the GPS data on a map and display it as a webpage. The key libraries at work here are Folium which provides the pretty browsable map data, and Matplotlib to plot the data.

These IoT devices are by all accounts amazing, listening for satellite pings to show us how far and how fast we’ve gone on web-based interfaces that are sharable, searchable, and any number of other good things ending in “able”. But the flip side is that you may not be the only person seeing the data. Two years ago Strava exposed military locations because of an opt-out policy for public data sharing of exercise trackers. Now Garmin says they don’t have any indications that data was stolen in the ransomware attack, but it’s not a stretch to think there was a potential there for such a data breach. It’s nice to see there are Open Source options for those who want access to exercise analytics and visualizations without being required to first hand over the data.

A Low-Cost Current Probe For IoT Applications

When it comes to the Internet of Things, many devices run off batteries, solar power, or other limited sources of electricity. This means that low power consumption is key to success. However, often these circuits draw relatively small currents that are difficult to measure, with plenty of transient current draw from their RF circuits. To effectively measure these low current draws, [Refik Hadzialic] built a cheap but accurate current probe.

The probe consists of a low value resistor of just 0.1 Ω, acting as a current shunt in series with the desired load. By measuring the voltage drop across this known resistor, it’s possible to calculate the current draw of the circuit.

However, the voltage drop is incredibly small for low current draws, so some amplification is needed. [Refik] does a great job of explaining his selection process, going deep into the maths involved to get the gain and part choice just right. The INA128P instrumentation amplifier from Texas Instruments was chosen, thanks to its good Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR) and gain bandwidth.

The final circuit performs well, competing admirably with the popular uCurrent Gold measurement tool. While less feature-packed, [Refik]’s circuit appears to perform better in the noise stakes, likely due to the great CMRR rating of the TI part. It’s a great example of how the DIY approach can net solid results over and above simply buying something off the shelf.

Current sensing is a key skill to have in your toolbox, and can even help solve laundry disputes. Video after the break.

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Hackaday Podcast 067: Winking Out Of IoT, Seas Of LEDs, Stuffing PCBs, And Vectrex Is Awesome

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams explore the coolest hacks of the past 168 hours. The big news this week: will Wink customers pony up $5 a month to turn their lights on and off? There’s a new open source design for a pick and place machine. You may not have a Vectrex gaming console, but there’s a scratch-built board that can turn you oscilloscope into one. And you just can’t miss this LED sign technology that programs every pixel using projection mapping.

Direct download (~60 MB)

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IoT Cassette Scroller Never Needs A Pencil

The see-through electronics craze of the ’80s and ’90s clearly had an effect on [MisterM], and we can totally relate. Those candy-colored components inside undoubtedly launched a few thousand kids in the direction of electronics, as we can attest.

Though the odds seemed very much against him, [MisterM] was able to fit all the necessary components for a scrolling IoT notifier inside a standard cassette tape. It took a bit of surgery on both the Raspberry Pi Zero W and the donor cassette in the name of getting all the components to fit in such a tight space. We’re glad he kept at it, because it looks amazing.

The Raspi uses Adafruit.IO and IFTTT to get all kinds of notifications — tweets, weather, soil moisture, you name it — and scrolls them across an 11×7 LED matrix. A vibrating disc motor gives a buzzing heads up first, so [MisterM] doesn’t miss anything. Hit the break button and flip this thing over, because the build video is all queued up on the B-side.

If you’d rather play around with cassette decks, add in some playback speed potentiometers to mess with the sound, or go all out and make a Mellotron.

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