Bee Counter Will Have You Up To Your Nectar In Hive Data

While we admit that free honey sounds pretty good, beekeeping is not some set-it-and-forget-it hobby where you can just put bees in a box and come back in a month to collect the goods. With the world’s bee population in decline, it’s more important than ever to monitor the health of hives.

One way to do that is to count the bees as they leave and reenter the hive. You can use the data to determine how many workers are working, or to compare activity between multiple hives. If you notice the bees are gone for longer and longer periods, it’s probably because their nearby nectar sources are dwindling and they have to travel farther to find flowers.

This open-source bee counter built by [hydronics2] is designed to fit the opening of a standard hive. The bees can only buzz themselves back in by flying through one of 24 little IR break-beam gates. Our favorite thing about this build is the way [hydronics2] created the individual gates by sandwiching two boards together with headers as spacers. It’s such a simple and perfect solution.

It’s also pretty cool that the board is designed to be compatible with any Feather or ItsyBitsy board, so there are a lot of options for data handling. Check out the brief demo we planted after the break, and stick around for the build video. If you’d prefer a more hands-off approach, try computer vision.

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Rubber Bands Can Secure Your Sanity

One of the greatest joys of being a child was figuring out that rubber bands make awesome sounds when they are plucked, and that the sound is easily changed by stretching the band to different lengths. For those of us who need firsthand experience to truly understand how the world works, these types of self-discovery are a pretty great way to learn about physics.

If you’re looking to build a physical music lesson or musical physics lesson into your burgeoning home school curriculum, look no further than the junk drawer, the broom closet, and the 3D printer. [Ham-made] used to stretch his bands across an empty tissue box, but came up with a much more professional implementation based on a broom handle. Check out this fat sound!

You don’t even need to find a spare broom handle, because none of this is permanent — the headstock piece with the hooks is meant to slide up and down to create cool sounds, and the tailpiece threads on in place of the broom bristles. Inside the tailpiece is a piezo disk and a 1/4″ jack so you can plug it in to your amp stack and start an impromptu jazz group. Just keep it under 10 people, okay?

You’ll need to mic your chanteuse, so keep the physics fun going with this plastic cup microphone.

Baby Keyboard Is Really Three Boards

Just when we think we’ve peeped all the cool baby keebs out there, another think comes along. This bad boy built by [andyclymer] can be configured three different ways, depending on what kind of control you’re after.

As designed, the PCB can be used as a six-switch macro keyboard, or a rotary encoder with two switches, or a pair of rotary encoders. It’s meant to be controlled with Trinket M0, which means it can be programmed with Arduino or CircuitPython.

This could really only be cooler if the key switch PCB holes had sockets for hot-swapping the switches, because then you could use this thing as a functional switch tester. But hey, you can always add those yourself.

If you’re in the market for purpose-built add-on input device, but either don’t have the purpose nailed down just yet, or aren’t sure you want to design the thing yourself, this board would be a great place to start. Usually, all it takes is using someone else’s design to get used to using such a thing, at which point it’s natural to start thinking of ways to customize it. [andyclymer] is selling these boards over on Tindie, or you can roll your own from the repo.

Need just a few more inputs? We’ve got you covered.

Do You Smell What The Magic Chef Is Cookin’?

Automata are already pretty cool, but the ones that can fool us are something extraordinary. The legendary [Greg Zumwalt] has recently turned his toy-making attentions toward illusory automata, and we think he’s off to a great start with his admirable appetizer, the Magic Chef.

The Chef aims to please, and as long as he has the power to do so, he’ll keep offering dishes from his six-item menu of hamburger, hot dog, pizza slice, BLT, sunny-side-up egg, and banded gelatinous chunk we can’t quite identify. Amazingly, this one-man restaurant does everything with a single 6VDC gear motor, some magnets, and 58 printed parts including gears, cams, and levers. The way the food carousel moves on a sort of magnetic slip ring system is the icing on the cake.

If you want to whip up a Magic Chef of your own, all the STL files are available for take-out from the Instructables page. Hungry for more details? go wash up and get situated after the break, ’cause we’re serving up a demo video with some close-up views of the inner workings. Oh, and here’s some automata-brewed coffee for dessert.

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Seven-Segment Shelves Do Double Duty

[Lewis] of [DIY Machines] was always on the lookout for that perfect something to hang above the couch. After spending a lot of time fruitlessly searching, he designed and built this awesome shelving unit with recessed lighting that doubles as a huge 7-segment clock.

The clock part works as you probably expect — an Elegoo Nano fetches the time from a real-time clock module and displays it on the WS2812B LED strips arranged in 7-segment formations. There’s a photocell module to detect the ambient light level in the room, so the display is never brighter than it needs to be.

Don’t have a 3D printer yet? Then you may need to pass on this one. Aside from the wood back plane and the electronics, the rest of this build is done with printed plastic, starting with 31 carefully-designed supports for the shelves. There are also the LED strip holders, and the sleeve pieces that hide all the wires and give this project its beautifully finished look.

You may have noticed that the far left digit isn’t a full seven segments. If you’re committed to 24-hour time, you’d have to adjust everything to allow for that, but you’d end up with two more shelves. Given the fantastic build video after the break, it probably wouldn’t take too long to figure all that out.

We like big clocks and we cannot lie. If you have room for it, build something like this blinkenlit beauty.

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This Is Not An Argument Bot

While in-person arguments are getting harder to come by these days, we’ll always have the internet (hopefully). So what can you do to stay on your game in a time when a little levity is lauded? Build an argument bot and battle wits with the best — a stern-faced John Cleese!

This latest offering from [8 Bits And A Byte] refers to a Monty Python sketch featuring an argument service — an office with a receptionist who will take your money and send you down the hall for a healthy and heated discussion. If you’ve never gone on a Monty Python binge, well, it’s probably as good a time as any.

Electronics-wise, the argument bot is a pretty simple build. A Raspberry Pi B+ outfitted with a Google AIY hat listens to your side of things and decides which bones to pick. Your obviously misguided statements are then matched with DialogFlow intents, and dissent is sent back through the speaker. Meanwhile, Mr. Cleese’s jaw moves up and down on a printed and servo-driven linear actuator while he maintains a stiff upper lip. Before you go off on that Python binge, check out the build video after the break.

Have you seen what can happen two robots argue? ‘Tis but a scratch. Continue reading “This Is Not An Argument Bot”

Hot Wire Ribbon Cutter Ceremoniously Heats Up Productivity

Anyone who’s ever cut ribbon, grosgrain or otherwise, may be dismayed by the frayed edge. There are methods of avoiding this, like cutting the ribbon diagonally, or double-diagonally into a forked point, or cutting it straight across and cauterizing the threads with a lighter. But if you have a thirteen dozen baker’s dozens’ worth of goodies to festoon, ain’t nobody got time for that.

[IgorM92] made this hot wire ribbon cutter for his wife, who has a yummy-looking baking business. It combines the cutting and the heat-sealing into a single step by using the heating element from an old soldering iron. If you don’t have one of those, you could just as easily use the nichrome wire from an old hair dryer, a toaster, or wire-wound resistor.

Since the idea is essentially shorting a power source to heat up a wire, it should be done safely. [IgorM92] used a phone charger to condition mains power down to 5 V. There isn’t much else to the circuit, just a rocker switch, a power-indicating LED, and its resistor, but this simple project will no doubt save a lot of time and labor. Burn past the break to watch it ramp up production.

Nichrome wire is good for cutting foam, too. Here’s a bare-bones version that can be made in minutes.

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