A scrolling name badge that uses LED matrices.

Scrolling Name Badge Is Sure To Break The Ice

Most makerspaces and hackerspaces have one night per week or month where the ‘space is open to the public in order to entice new people into joining up. Whereas most members just write their name in Sharpie on a piece of masking tape, [Madison] wanted to do something extra. And what better way to get people interested in your ‘space than by wearing something useful that came out of it?

The badge runs on an ATtiny45 and uses three 8×8 ultra-bright LED matrices for scrolling [Madison]’s name. It’s powered by a tiny LiPo battery that is boosted to 5 V. This build really shows off a number of skills, especially design. We love the look of this badge, from the pink silkscreen to the the typography. One of the hardest things about design is finding fonts that work well together, and we think [Madison] chose wisely. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

Custom name badges are a great way to start conversations no matter where you go. Here’s one that uses EL wire and LEDs that light up in sequence for an animated effect.

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A portable Bluetooth turntable.

Bluetooth Record Player Puts A New Spin On Vinyl

You know, we were just discussing weird and/or obsolete audio formats in the writers’ dungeon the other day. (By the way, have you ever bought anything on DAT or MiniDisc?) While vinyl is hardly weird or (nowadays) obsolete, the fact that this Bluetooth record player by [JGJMatt] is so modern makes it all the more fantastic.

Not since the Audio-Technica Sound Burger, or Crosley’s semi-recent imitation, have we seen such a portable unit. But that’s not even the most notable part — this thing runs inversely to normal record players. Translation: the record stands still while the the player spins, and it sends the audio over Bluetooth to headphones or a speaker.

Inside this portable player is an Arduino Nano driving a 5 VDC motor with a worm gear box. There really isn’t too much more to this build — mostly power, a needle cartridge, and a Bluetooth audio transmitter. There’s a TTP223 touch module on the lid that allows [JGJMatt] to turn it off with the wave of a hand.

[JGJMatt] says this is a prototype/work-in-progress, and welcomes input from the community. Right now the drive system is good and the Bluetooth is stable and able, but the tone arm has some room for improvement — in tests, it only played a small section of the record and skidded and skittered across the innermost and outermost parts. Now, [JGJMatt] is trying two-part arm approach where the first bit extends and locks into position, and then a second arm extending from there and moves around freely.

Commercial record players can do more than just play records. If you’ve got an old one that isn’t even good enough for a thrift store copy of a Starship record, you could turn it into a pottery wheel or a guitar tremolo.

Cracking Open The Prince Floppy After The Purple Reign

Readers of a certain vintage will no doubt remember the time when Prince eschewed his royal position and became an unpronounceable symbol. People had no choice but to refer to him as TAFKAP, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, and members of the music press were sent a 3.5″ floppy disk with a font file containing a single character — that gender-transcending shape that would soon become another one of Prince’s guitars. But it’s 2021, and now you can get it from the Internet Archive. Fun fact: the file wasn’t ever locked down. In fact, the symbol was available on Prince’s Compuserve and fan club CD-ROM.

While some people trawl auction sites for overalls and weird keyboards, others look for ridiculous items from the zeitgeist, like a copy of this floppy. Take [Anil Dash] for instance. [Anil] finally pulled the trigger after 15 years of debating this particular purchase. [Anil]’s interest was reignited after reading this analysis of whether the symbol could ever be put into Unicode. (Between being trademarked, a logo, and a personal character, it’s ineligible for inclusion.)

Earlier this week, [Anil] teamed up with Adafruit to extract the data from the floppy. The Twitter thread that ensued led readers to another old source of the font — the 1994 game Prince Interactive. We wonder if they broke out the oscilloscope, though it doesn’t look like it.

Thanks for the tip, [pt and limor]!

A disposable wireless phone charger made from molded cardboard pulp.

Charging Phones With The Power Of Paper Pulp

Here it is, the most exciting reveal since the Hackaday Prize ceremony — [Eric Strebel] uses the pulp mold he designed and built over the three previous videos. In case you missed our coverage so far, [Eric] set out to design an eco-friendly wireless charger that’s meant to be disposable after six months to a year of use, and looks good doing it.

[Eric] started by cutting up a lot of cardboard and pulping it in a brand-new Oster blender that honestly looks to be pretty heavy duty. Pulping consists of blending the cardboard bits with water until a soupy chili-like consistency is reached. That blender lasted all of 20 minutes before breaking, so [Eric] promptly replaced it with a Ninja, which was way more up to the challenge of cardboard.

To do the actual molding, [Eric] mixed his pulpy chili with ~30 L of water in a tub big enough to accommodate the long brass mold. He dipped the mold to gather a layer of pulp and pulled it, and then pressed the wireless charger in place to create a pocket for it in the final, dried piece which he later replaced with an acrylic disk of the same diameter. [Eric] points out that a part like this would probably dry within ten minutes in an industrial setting. Even though he set it on top of a food dehydrator, it still took 4-5 hours to dry. Soup’s on after the break.

This isn’t [Eric]’s first wireless charger. A few years ago, he prototyped a swiveling version in urethane foam that does portrait or landscape.

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An array of open-source clocks that play Pac-Man (or Mrs. Pac-Man).

ESP32 Pac-Man Clock Keeps Track Of How Long You Watch It

There are so many elements that make a good clock worth looking at for much longer than necessary. Not only is this clock quite cool to behold, it plays Pac-Man around the time!¬†Yes, of course you can interact with the Pac-Man — touching the edges of the screen will make him go left, right, up, or down accordingly. You can also change to Ms. Pac-Man and make all the animations go normal speed, fast, or crazy-fast.

[TechKiwiGadgets] built a Pac-Man clock a few years ago that was well-received, but not cheap or easy to mimic. Since then, they have ported the code to the ESP32 and made a new version that has fewer and friendlier components. Not only that, they have great instructions for building the ESP32 shield on protoboard and also offer the shield as an open-source fab-able PCB. Still too much work? The complete kit version is available over on Tindie. Be sure to check it out in crazy speed mode action after the break.

Although this isn’t the first Pac-Man clock we’ve seen, it devotes equal attention to the time and the game, whereas this one is more about the game itself.

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This beaded QR code tells a story when scanned.

Beaded QR Code Bracelets Weave A Storytelling Interface

For centuries, people have been using patterns to communicate information in an eye-catching way. QR codes are no different, although they require a barcode scanner to decode rather than a knowledge of Navajo Native American history.

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and as part of their celebration, [ngaskins] and their students are making seed bead bracelets with QR codes. When scanned, each QR triggers a story written by the student in the form of an audio file, a video clip, or an animation. [ngaskins] says that this project was inspired by eyeDazzler, a beadwork tapestry made with software that generates Navajo weaving patterns.

The students started by designing their bracelets on graph paper, software, or a virtual loom before getting the seed beads and the tweezers out, and decided whether they would use a static or dynamic QR code. Aside from the aesthetics of beadwork, the bead loom is good for teaching math and computational ideas because the beads are laid out in rows and columns. It’s also a good tool for teaching lines of symmetry.

QR codes can hold quite a bit of information. In fact, there’s enough room in a version 40 QR for an executable version of Snake.

An electric mini rat rod made from mostly recycled parts.

Electric Mini Rat Rod Starts ‘Em Young

These days, a lot of people barely even say hello to their neighbors. But not [dewey302]. They’re so tight with the people next door that they built this bad-ass electric mini rat rod for the neighbors’ five-year-old kid. Talk about community!

Nearly every bit of this rod is recycled — the body is a wheelbarrow, the transaxle is from a mobility scooter, and the frame was welded together from scrap tubing including the wheelbarrow itself, and old bike or two, and some broken lawn chairs. The rear wheels are also from the ‘barrow, though the front ones were purchased (one of few new parts. Power comes from a pair of 18 V tool batteries wired in series and running through the Curtis controller from the scooter. Depending on the weight of the driver, this baby will do 10-12 MPH.

We love the look of this little rat rod, and wish we were [dewey302]’s neighbor. When you’re done poring over the pile of build pictures, be sure to watch [dewey302] and [The Kid] tear up the cul-de-sac in the video after the break.

You may have noticed the mailbox grille. Surprisingly, this is not the first mail-themed rat rod we’ve covered. Here’s one that really delivers.

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