CircuitPython Sculpture Clock Adds Character To Any Desk

We can probably all relate to the origin story of this one. [Alex] was working on a bigger, more involved clock project when this cute little desk clock idea caught his mind’s eye. Who wouldn’t want a clock with character and a little bit of an attitude?

This little guy’s brain is an ItsyBitsy M0 Express, and he gets his time data from an Adalogger FeatherWing RTC. Those antennae aren’t just for looks – [Alex] chose the ItsyBitsy because it can easily do capacitive touch out of the box without extra components. In the brief demo after the break, [Alex] shows how touching them triggers either an animated face or a still face before switching to the clock face.

We love functional circuit sculptures, especially ones with this much character. [Alex] was inspired by [Mohit Bhoite]’s breathtaking circuit sculptures and seems to follow his great example of laying it all out on paper first. Incidentally, our last HackChat before Supercon starred [Mohit] and his circuit sculptures. Missed it? Read the transcript here.

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Music Box Paper-Punching Machine Settles The Score

As soon as [pashiran] laid eyes on his first hand-cranked music box, he knew he was in love. Then, he started punching the holes for his first ditty. As the repetitive stress of punching heated up his arm, his love cooled a bit. Annealed by the ups and downs of this experience, he decided to design a machine that can punch the holes automatically.

Soon, [pashiran] found his people — a community of music boxers that transform MIDI files to DXF format, which creates coordinates for CAD software. In [pashiran]’s music puncher, an Arduino MEGA takes a DXF file and bubble-sorts the jumble of x-coordinates. The MEGA conducts a trio of two stepper motors and DC motor. One stepper pushes the paper through on the x-axis, and the other moves the puncher head back and forth across the paper scroll as the y-axis. The DC motor moves the punch up and down.

Now, paired with [Martin] of [Wintergatan]’s method for chaining music box paper together, [pashiran] can write a prog-rock-length opus without fear of repetitive stress injury. And since he’s published the STL and INO files, now you can, too. Watch it punch and play 250 notes worth of “See My Vest” “Be Our Guest” after the break.

There’s more than one way to avoid manually punching all those holes. When [Wintergatan] was wrestling this problem, he inspired the hacker community to create a MIDI-to-laser-cut-stencil solution.

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Giant Analog CO2 Meter Sweeps Away Doubt

Most of us are aware that trees turn CO₂ into oxygen, but we’d venture to guess that many people’s knowledge of this gas ends there. Is it feast or famine out there for the trees? Who can say? We admire [rabbitcreek]’s commitment to citizen science because he’s so focused on making it easy for people to understand their environment. His latest offering, a giant analog CO₂ meter, might be our favorite so far.

The brains of the operation is an Adafruit Feather Adalogger. It reads the CO₂ sensor that’s mounted close to the business end of the nautilus, and becomes the quill that writes the CO₂ value to a FeatherWing e-ink screen. For the giant needle, this lovely meter uses one of those fiberglass poles you mark your driveway with so you can find it under a blanket of snow. The needle is counter-balanced with washers encased in printed plastic.

As you can see in the GIF, there’s a decent delay between the CO₂ blast and the needle response — we like to imagine the CO₂ spiraling slowly through the nautilus like a heavy, ill wind on its way to gravely move the needle.

Want a way to monitor air quality that’s a bit more discreet? Slip this portable meter into your pocket.

Simulate City Blocks With Circuit Blocks In A LEGO Box

Have you ever looked around your city’s layout and thought you could do better? Maybe you’ve always wanted to see how she’d run on nuclear or wind power, or just play around with civic amenities and see how your choices affect the citizens.

[Robbe Nagel] made this physical-digital simulator for a Creative Programming class within an industrial design program. We don’t have all the details, but as [Robbe] explains in the video after the break, each block has a resistor on the bottom, and each cubbyhole has a pair of contacts ready to mate with it. An Arduino nestled safely in the LEGO bunker below reads the different resistance values to determine what block was placed where.

[Robbe] wrote a program that evaluates various layouts and provides statistics for things like population, overall health, education level, pollution, etc. As you can see after the break, these values change as soon as blocks are added or removed. Part of what makes this simulator so cool is that it could be used for serious purposes, or it could be totally gamified.

It’s no secret that we like LEGO, especially as an enclosure material. Dress it up or dress it down, just don’t leave any pieces on the floor.

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Printed Arduino Turntable Takes Objects For A Spin

Have you built a 3D scanner yet? There’s more than one way to model those curves and planes, but the easiest may be photogrammetry — that’s the one where you take a bunch of pictures and stitch them into a 3D model. If you build a scanner like [Brian Brocken]’s that does almost everything automatically, you might consider starting a scan-and-print side hustle.

This little machine spins objects 360° and triggers a Bluetooth remote tethered to an iPhone. In automatic mode, it capture anywhere from 2-200 pictures. There’s a mode for cinematic shots that shoots video of the object slowly spinning around, which makes anything look at least 35% more awesome. A third mode offers manual control of the turntable’s position and speed.

An Arduino UNO controls a stepper that moves the turntable via 3D printed-in-place bearing assembly. This project is a (vast) improvement over [Brian]’s hand-cranked version that we looked at over the summer, though both are works of art in their own right.

Our favorite part aside from the bearing is the picture-taking process itself. [Brian] couldn’t get the iPhone to play nice with HC-05 or -06 modules, so he’s got the horn of 9g servo tapping the shutter button on a Bluetooth remote. This beautiful beast is wide open, so fire up that printer. You can watch the design and build process of the turntable after the break.

Want to scan some really tiny things? Make a motorized microscope from movie machines.

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FitSocket Is A Portal To Better Prostheses

Traditionally, sockets for prostheses are created by making a plaster cast of the limb being fitted, and are then sculpted in carbon fiber. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process, and what is supposed to be a customized socket often turns out to be an uncomfortable disappointment. Though prosthetists design these sockets specifically to take pressure off of the more rigid areas of tissue, this usually ends up putting more pressure on the softer areas, causing pain and discomfort.

An MIT team led by [Arthur Preton] wants to make prosthesis sockets more comfortable and better customized. They created FitSocket, a machine that assesses the rigidity of limb tissue. You can see it in motion after the break.

FitSocket is essentially a ring of 14 actuators that gently prod the limb and test how much pressure it takes to push in the tissue. By repeating this process over the entire limb, [Preton] can create a map that shows the varying degrees of stiffness or softness in the tissue.

We love to see advancements in prostheses. Here’s an electronic skin that brings feeling to artificial fingertips.

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