ESP32 Gets A Nifty Serial Console Library

Sometimes you need to get a project to talk to you, so you can see what’s going on inside. The ESP32 console Arduino library from [jbtronics] promises just that.

The library adds a simple serial console to the ESP32, and is compatible with the Arduino ecosystem to boot. It’s set up to allow the easy addition of custom commands so you can tweak the console to suit your own projects. It’s remarkably complete with nifty features, too. There’s autocomplete as well as a navigable command history – the sorts of features you only expect from a modern OS terminal. A bunch of system commands are built-in, too, for checking the status of things like the memory, network interface, and so on.

The tool is available via the Arduino library manager or the PlatformIO registry. You’ll want to use it with a VT-100 compatible terminal like PuTTY or similar, which lets you use all the fancy features including color output. [jbtronics] hopes to port it to the ESP8266 soon, too!

We’ve seen some other great serial tools of late, too. If you’re brewing up your own nifty console hacks, be sure to drop us a line!

 

 

Now There’s USB-C On The IPhone SE

As confusing as it can be, USB-C is actually pretty good, and certainly has its fans. [David Buchanan] must be one of them, for he did a great job putting a USB-C port into his iPhone SE.

[David] didn’t want to ruin a pristine example, so set about hacking the cheapest first-gen iPhone SE he could find on eBay. His approach was simple: get a USB-C to Lightning dongle and hack it into the phone’s body.

The first step was to strip the adapter down and melt off the Lightning connector. He then de-soldered the Lightning port from the phone, and found a bunch of test pads on the motherboard corresponding to its pins. Soldering leads from the adapter to the test pads got things up and running, once he properly hooked up a connection-detect pin to ground.

With a bit more trimming, some hot glue and some enameled wire, [David] was able to cram everything inside the iPhone. Paired with a new screen and home button, and he had an iPhone SE with a working USB-C port. It works for both charging and USB data, too.

If you’re rocking an iPhone SE, you might dig this conversion as it gives you access to more chargers out in the wild. Plus, you’ve still got the regular headphone jack. Be sure to check out the iPhone 13 with a USB C port, too. It’s the hottest new hack until the new EU regulations hit Apple in coming years.

Turning The Back Of Your Phone Into A Touchpad

Smartphones use big touchscreens on the front as a useful tactile interface. However, our hands naturally wrap around the back of the phone, too. This area is underutilized as an interface, but the designers of BackTrack found a way to change that.

Touches on the 2D rear matrix are translated into a pair of touches on the linear line of pads on the front screen. This can then be reconstructed into the touch location on the rear touchpad.

The idea is simple. The project video notes that  conductive tape can be placed on a multitouch touchscreen, allowing touches to be read at a remote location. Taking this concept further, BackTrack works by creating a 2D matrix on the back of the phone, and connecting this matrix to a series of pads in a row on the front touchscreen. Then, touches on the back touchpad can be read by the existing touchscreen on the front screen. Continue reading “Turning The Back Of Your Phone Into A Touchpad”

Simple Binary Watch Uses A PCB Body

There are many ways to tell the time, from using analog dials to 7-segment displays. Hackers tend to enjoy binary watches, if only for their association with the digital machines that seem to make the world turn these days. [Vishal Soni] decided to build one of their own.

It’s a straightforward design, that uses six bits to show the time. A red light is illuminated at the top of the watch to indicate the watch is showing minutes, and these are displayed in binary on the six blue LEDs below. Then, the watch indicates it is showing hours, and again uses the six blue LEDs to show the relevant number. Continue reading “Simple Binary Watch Uses A PCB Body”

Building A Modular Joystick For Star Citizen

Joysticks are great for gaming, but sometimes it’s hard to find one that suits your personal playstyle. [Nixie] developed the TinkerJoy to suit their own needs, while giving it a modular design to make it easy to customize as well.

It’s built around a metal core, with 3D printed panels attached to the user’s liking. In addition to the body panels, parts like the trigger assembly and button panels can be moved around and adjusted to suit different games or different players.

A test unit has been built in a right-handed configuration, featuring four buttons and two switch sliders. In addition to the main X and Y axes, it also has a Z axis activated by twisting the joystick, as well as an analog brake. There’s a trigger, too, as every good joystick must have. For now, the electronics is not integrated. Instead, a STM32 BluePill board sits on top of the stick to read all the controls and talk to a PC. The test setup looks to work well, with [Nixie] putting the gear through its paces in Star Citizen.

The benefit of building your own hardware is that you can often do ergonomics better yourself. After all, companies often have to build for the 5th-95th percentile for reasons of economics and scale.

Continue reading “Building A Modular Joystick For Star Citizen

3D Printing A Check Valve In Metal

[SunShine] has been working on 3D printed pumps and similar parts with an aim towards building smaller and more compact hydraulic systems. His latest effort involves printing working hydraulic check valves that can be integrated seamlessly into his designs. 

Unlike many 3D printing enthusiasts, [SunShine] works with metal printers of the laser powder bed type. His expectations for his parts are thus very high, and he aimed to create check valves that could withstand high hydraulic pressures.

After much work, [SunShine] came up with two designs for 3D-printed check valves that would work. However, they both needed internal removal of support structures that couldn’t be achieved without cutting them open. He then figured out that he could use a special process using nitric acid to carefully eat away a very precise amount of metal inside the valves, which would remove the support material without destroying the whole valve itself.

While the valves couldn’t be tested beyond 400 bar due to the available equipment, they did work as intended. As a bonus, they actually sealed better as they were used more, as the sealing surfaces bedded in and deformed to match each other.

The video is then rounded out with a simple plastic check valve design you can print at home. It reminds us of other valves we’ve seen created with 3D printing before. Video after the break.

Continue reading “3D Printing A Check Valve In Metal”

Hacking A Jack-in-the-Box To Be Extra Surprising

A Jack-In-The-Box is scary enough the first time. However, if you’ve seen the clown pop out before, it fails to have the same impact. [Franklinstein] decided that swapping out the clown for an alternative payload would deliver the fright he was after.

Inside the toy, an Arduino Nano runs the show. It’s paired with an airhorn, installed in a special frame along with an RC servo. When the time is right, the RC servo presses up against the airhorn, firing off an almighty noise. There’s also a confetti blaster, built with a small chamber full of compressed air. When a solenoid is released, the compressed air rushes out through a funnel full of confetti, spraying it into the room.

When the crank on the toy is turned, the typical song plays. When the lid of the box opens, it releases a switch, and the Arduino fires off the confetti and airhorn. It’s shocking enough for [Franklinstein] himself, and even more surprising for those expecting the toy’s typical bouncing clown instead.

We’d love to see an even more obnoxious version that doesn’t turn the airhorn off for at least a full minute. We’ve seen them employed in some great Halloween hacks before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Hacking A Jack-in-the-Box To Be Extra Surprising”