A Classic TV Trope For An Escape Room

No spooky mansion is complete without a secret passage accessed through a book shelf — or so Hollywood has taught us. What works as a clichĂ© in movies works equally well in an escape room, and whenever there’s escape rooms paired with technology, [Alastair Aitchison] isn’t far. His latest creation: you guessed it, is a secret bookcase door.

For this tutorial, he took a regular book shelf and mounted it onto a wooden door, with the door itself functioning as the shelf’s back panel, and using the door hinges as primary moving mechanism. Knowing how heavy it would become once it’s filled with books, he added some caster wheels hidden in the bottom as support. As for the (un)locking mechanism, [Alastair] did consider a mechanical lock attached on the door’s back side, pulled by a wire attached to a book. But with safety as one of his main concerns, he wanted to keep the risk of anyone getting locked in without an emergency exit at a minimum. A fail-safe magnetic lock hooked up to an Arduino, along with a kill switch served as solution instead.

Since his main target is an escape room, using an Arduino allows also for a whole lot more variety of integrating the secret door into its puzzles, as well as ways to actually unlock it. How about by solving a Rubik’s Cube or with the right touch on a plasma globe?

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What’s The Time? It’s Casino’clock!

As the saying goes, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and the never-ending inventiveness of clock hacks. No matter how tried and proven a concept is, someone will always find a new twist for it. Case in point: notorious clock builder [Shinsaku Hiura] took the good old split-flap display approach, and mixed things up by using a deck of playing cards to actually represent the time.

Technically, the clock works just like a regular flip clock, except that only the upper half of the split-flap is used to display the digits, while the lower half is showing the cards’ backsides. Other than that, the mechanics are the same: a set of hinges holding the cards are arranged on a rotor that’s moved by a stepper motor until the correct digit is shown (STLs available on Thingiverse). Aces low, Jokers are zeroes, and the queen strikes at noon.

At the center of it is an ESP32 that controls each digit’s motor driver, and retrieves the time via WiFi, keeping the general component count conveniently low. Of course, one option is to arrange the cards in their order to keep rotations at a minimum, but let’s be real, the flapping sound is half the fun here. So instead, [Shinsaku Hiura] arranged the cards randomly and mapped it in the code accordingly. You can see it all in action, along with some additional design information, in the video after the break.

For some more of his clock creations, check out this different flip clock approach and the Hollow Clock. But if the future is of more interest to you than the present, here’s a matching Tarot deck.

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Re-reclaimed From Nature: Resurrecting A DT80 Terminal

When Datamedia announced their new DT80 terminal as a VT100 killer back in 1979, they were so confident of its reliability, they threw in a full one-year warranty. Now, decades later, that confidence is once more put to the touch after [RingingResonance] fished one such terminal out of a creek by an old illegal dumping site. Not knowing what to expect from the muck-ridden artifact, his journey of slowly breathing life back into the device began.

Brings new meaning to the term “rooted”

Considering the layers of mud and roots already growing all over the main board, one can only assume how long the terminal has actually been in there. But cleaning it from all that was only the beginning: some components were missing, others turned out to be broken, including some of the ROMs, which [RingingResonance] speculates may have been caused by lightning which determined the DT80’s fate in the first place.

That’s when the adventure really started though, digging deep into the terminal’s inner life, eventually writing a debugger and own firmware for it. That code, along with all other research, notes, and links to plenty more pictures can be found in the GitHub repository, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re into the technologies of yesteryear.

Despite the DT80’s claimed superiority, the VT100 prevailed and is the terminal that history remembers — and emulates, whether as tiny wearable or a full look-alike. But this fall into oblivion was also part of [RingingResonance]’s motivation to keep going forward restoring the DT80. Someone had to. So if you happen to have anything to contribute to his endeavours or share with him, we’re sure he will appreciate you reaching out to him.

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LMN-3: Putting The ‘OP’ In Open Source Synthesizers

Some projects you come across simply leave you in awe when you look at the thought and the resulting amount of work that went into it, not only for the actual implementation, but everything around it. Even more so when it’s a single-developer open source project. [Stone Preston]’s synth / sampler / sequencer / DAW-in-a-box LMN-3 absolutely fits the description here, and it seems like he has set his heart on making sure everyone can built one for themselves, by providing all the design files from case down to the keycaps.

The LMN-3 (LMN as in “lemon”, not “comes before the OP“) is intended as a standalone, portable digital audio workstation, and is built around a Raspberry Pi 4 with a HyperPixel display for the user interface. The UI itself, and with it the core part of the software, was created using the Tracktion Engine, which itself uses the JUCE framework and combines your typical synthesizer, sequencer, and sampler features with the DAW part to handle recording, editing, and mixing. The remaining hardware is a custom-designed PCB with a set of function and keyboard buttons, along with a pitch bend joystick and four rotary encoders with push buttons that serve as main input handlers. Oh yes, and a Teensy board.

The UI is actually entirely controlled via MIDI commands, and custom firmware on the Teensy is translating the input events from buttons, encoders, and joystick accordingly. This essentially decouples the hardware from the software, and using a cross-platform framework underneath, you can also run the UI standalone on your computer and use any 3rd-party MIDI controller you like. Or then, as [Stone] thought really about everything, use a hardware emulator he created in addition. You could even leave out the Raspberry Pi and software altogether and turn this into a pure MIDI controller. If that sounds tempting, but you’re looking for something with more knobs and sliders instead of buttons, check out the Traktorino. And if you actually prefer a mouse as input device, there’s always something running in a browser.

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RC Car Repair With Beer Can Solder Stencil

Sometimes it might seem as if your electronics are just jinxed. For [Niva_v_kopirce] it was the control board of his nephew’s RC car that kept frying the transistors. In situations like this, you can either throw it in the bin, invest your time in troubleshooting, hoping to find the error and try to fix it then, or get creative. He chose the latter, and designed and etched a replacement board.

Of course, etching your own PCB isn’t that noteworthy for the average Hackaday reader, although [Niva_v_kopirce] did go the extra mile and added purple solder mask to it, turning the stylishness definitely up to 11. This is also where it gets interesting, when you think of the solder mask as complementary layer for a solder paste stencil. Growing tired of manually applying solder paste, he thought to give a DIY stencil a try this time — using a beer can.

After cutting the can open and flattening it, along with some sanding, he transferred the cutouts from the solder mask onto it, and started etching holes in it. While the result may not be exactly precise, it did the job, especially for a homemade built.

Despite their convenience, stencils are still a rather exotic addition for hobbyists as they rarely pay off for a one-off project with limited SMD component usage. But maybe this was a new inspiration for you now. And if etching metal is outside your comfort zone, cutting plastic can be an alternative, as well as 3d printing.

Bug Zapper Counts And Serenades Its Victims

Not many creatures are as universally despised as mosquitoes, whether it’s the harmless kind that, at worst, makes you miss winter, or the more serious ones that can be a real threat to your health. A satisfying way to deal with them is to send them off with a bang using one of those racket-shaped high voltage metal mesh bug zappers. [lmu34] saw big potential for some additional gamification here, and decided to equip his zapper with a kill counter and matching sound effects.

The initial thought was that there has to be a way to detect when a mosquito hits the mesh, and use that to trigger further events — in [lmu34]’s case play a sound file and increment a counter. After taking the zapper apart and doing a bit of research, he put theory into practice using a Digispark Pro board containing an ATtiny167, the DFPlayer module for playing a set of WAV files, and an ambitious four digit 7-segment display to keep track of the “score”. A new 3d-printed cover provided enough space to house all the components, including a charging circuit as he swapped the original two AAA batteries with a rechargeable one, which gave a bit more power for the display.

Of course, with these operation voltages, it would be difficult to detect activity on the high voltage side more than once, so [lmu34] went with current sensing instead. He distinguishes between two different levels here and maps them as normal kill and monster kill for the big zaps respectively, playing different sounds for each. Have a look at the video after the break for some quick demonstration.

All in all, this is a delightfully absurd modification that almost screams for an ESP32 to enable multiplayer mode as next iteration. But if chasing mosquitoes with low-tech gadgets isn’t for you, there’s always lasers and good old torture, although those can’t be repurposed to do some hardware fault injections during the winter months then.

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Unorthodox Toolbox Switcheroo: Barbecue!

Despite all the progress in cooking methods over the past millennia, nothing can ever replace the primeval sensation of staring into the embers as your food slowly gets ready. Barbecues are the obvious choice to satisfy this cave nostalgia, and while size might matter in some cases, sometimes you just want the convenience of being able to take your grilling device to the beach, park, or just really anywhere but home. Other times you’re [Laura Kampf] and don’t want to use an old toolbox for storing tools.

It all started with one of those typical three-layer folded cantilever toolboxes that [Laura] really likes for their mechanical construction, but not so much from a usability point of view. Being someone with a knack for turning random stuff into barbecues, this was an intriguing enough device to take apart. After plenty of time spent grinding bolts and paint off, she cut out the tray bottoms to weld metal mesh pieces as grill grates in their place — but you can watch the whole progress in the video below then.

The folding mechanics play out really nicely here. Not only can you access the grill goods by moving them away from the burning coals that are placed in the center bottom part of the box, it also provides you with two different heat layers. The individual lids on each side add even more variety, and this might even work as portable little smoker.

We’ve seen [Laura]’s work a few times before already, and in case you haven’t, go check out her beer keg motorcycle side car, wheelbarrow bicycle trailer, or Zippo lighter turned drill bit storage box.

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