Think Again: Tips On Finding And Flexing Your Creativity

Technical work — including problem-solving — is creative work. In addition, creativity is more than a vague and nebulous attribute that either is or isn’t present when it’s needed. A short article by [Anthony D. Fredericks] gives some practical and useful tips on energizing and exercising one’s creativity.

Why would creative thinking be meaningful to a technical person? The author shares an anonymous observation that as children we’re taught to stay inside the lines, while as adults we are often expected to think outside the box. Certainly when it comes to technical tasks, our focus is more on logical thinking. But problem solving benefits as much from creative thinking as it does from more logical approaches.

How can one cultivate creative thinking? The main idea is that creativity is best flexed and exercised by actively looking for connections and similarities between highly dissimilar elements, rather than focusing on their differences. Some thought exercises are provided to help with this process. Like with any exercise, the more one does it, the better one becomes.

Practicing more creative thinking can help jolt new ideas and approaches to a tough problem, so give it a shot. It’s also worth keeping in mind that we all need a feeling of progress, especially during extended times of applying effort to something, so do yourself a favor and give yourself an occasional win.

Sticky Situation Leads To Legit LEGO Hack

[samsuksiri] frequently uses a laptop and has an external drive to store projects. The drive flops around on the end of its tether and gets in the way, so they repurposed their old iPod pouch and attached it to the laptop lid with double-sided tape. You can guess how that went — the weight of the drive caused the pocket to sag and eventually detach over time.

Then [samsuksiri] remembered that they had LEGO DOTS patch stashed somewhere. It’s an 8×8 plate with adhesive on the back so you can build almost anywhere. Then the problem was this: how to attach LEGO to the drive itself? You’d think this is where the hot glue comes in, but that didn’t work because the drive is too slippery.

Nothing worked, really — not until [samsuksiri] flipped the drive over to work with the dimpled side that has un-coated plastic. Finally, the answer turned out to be mounting tape. Now, [samsuksiri] can attach the drive in any orientation, or even attach a second drive. Be sure to check it out after the break.

Looking for slightly more astounding LEGO creations? Check out this hydroelectric dam.

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IKEA BEKANT sit/stand desk with a new controller attached

LYFT: Standing Up For Better IKEA BEKANT Control

The IKEA BEKANT sit/stand desk is kind of a lifesaver — even if you don’t personally go between sit and stand much, the adjustability makes sharing the desk a breeze. Sharing was the case in [Matthias]’ house during the pandemic, as he and his wife took turns using the desk. Switching between their two preferred heights quickly became annoying, so [Matthias] engineered LYFT, a replacement controller that stores up to four settings.

In addition, the new SAMD21-based controller allows them to raise and lower the desk without having to hold the button down. And finally, having a digital readout showing the position is just plain cool. As you’ll see in the manual (PDF), LYFT is as easy to set up and use as the average flat-packed product.

In order to make this work, [Matthias] had to figure out how the desk’s motors communicate out of the box, and he did so with the help of a BEKANT controller project by [Greg Cormier]. You won’t find LYFT at the blue and yellow, at least not yet; for now, you’ll have to shop Tindie or build it yourself.

A Fully Automatic British Breakfast: Ready While You Sleep

What do you mean, the temporary breadboard setup went into production? (Credit: Gregulations, YouTube)
What do you mean, the temporary breadboard setup went into production? (Credit: [Gregulations], YouTube)
Among all the amazing technologies that were promised to us, there is one that is much more egregious than the lack of flying cars and real hovering hoverboards: the lack of fully automated breakfast-maker machines. Instead we find ourselves handling the same dumb appliances each morning as we make a healthy breakfast that we then have time to wolf down before rushing out of the door to still be a few minutes late for work. When [Greg] researched machines that could automatically prepare breakfast, he came up empty, which led him down the rabbit hole of the Autochef-9000.

Although often featured in movies – ranging from Back to the Future to Wallace and Gromit – the contraptions in those are rarely practical, and real-life attempts often suffer the problem of feature creep as they have to handle too many ingredients and operations. This is where [Greg] found redemption in the simplicity of a proper British breakfast: beans, toast, sausages (sossys), and eggs. Months of CAD, welding, breadboarding, and writing Arduino code later, he made a machine that can open a can of beans, toast bread, boil eggs, fry up sausages, and deposit it all on a plate, all ready for that morning breakfast first thing when you stroll into the kitchen.

Thanks to [htky] for the tip.

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Goldilocks Beverage Coaster Tells You When It’s Just Right

If you ask us, morning is the only excuse we need for a hot caffeinated beverage — weather be damned. Wherever [gokux] is, they may be experiencing actual winter this year, given that they are out there getting cozy with a hot cup of what-have-you. But how do they know it’s at the right temperature for drinking? Enter the temperature-monitoring smart coaster.

At the heart of this build is a GY-906 infrared temperature sensor, which senses the warmth (or lack thereof) and displays the degrees on a small OLED screen thanks to a Seeed Xiao SAMD21. To make things simple, there is also an ideogram that corresponds to the current temperature — snowflake for too cold, danger sign for too hot, and thumbs up for that just-right range. Although this coaster is mostly 3D-printed, the mug sits on a slotted piece of aluminium that is removable for easy cleaning. This would be a good-looking and useful addition to any desk.

This is isn’t the first temperature-indicating beverage coaster we’ve seen. The most recent one ultimately used a probe, which is likely about as accurate (and messy) as you can get with these things.

Bed Sensors Do More Than You’d Think

Bed sensors do sort of sound like a gimmick — after all, who cares whether someone is occupying the bed? But if you think about it, that information is quite useful from a home automation standpoint. A person could do all sorts of things in this state, from ensuring the overhead lights in the room can’t come on, to turning off other smart devices that are likely not being used while both occupants are sleeping.

[The Home Automation Guy] presents a couple of ways of doing this, but both center around a fairly inexpensive pressure-sensing mat.

In the first method, he connects the pressure mat up to a Zigbee Aqara Leak Sensor, which conveniently has two terminals on the back to accept the wires from the pressure sensor. Then he simply connects it up to a Zigbee-compatible home assistant like the Aqara Hub.

In slightly harder mode, he forgoes the Aqara Leak Sensor and connects the pressure mat up to an ESP32 using a nifty screw terminal dev board. Then he sets up the sensor and all the desired actions in ESPHome. Of course, with an ESP32, it’s easy to add a second pressure mat for [Mrs. The Home Automation Guy]’s side of the bed.

Now, once they’ve both gone off to bed, the house goes into night mode — all the smart plugs, Sonos devices, and other things are powered down, and the alarm system is put into night mode. Be sure to check out the build video after the break.

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No TP? No Problem!

Among First World Problems, there can be few worse than running out of toilet paper. The horror! If you’re not able to do as we did yesterday and borrow a pack until more can be bought, then you’re not without options. A handy copy of the Daily Mail could be cut into squares and hung up in your Smallest Room, or you can even make your own with the help of this handy instructional video from [whoisandrewfahmy]. It appears from a casual search to be one of many such guides that appeared during the pandemic when the bog roll supply was seen as endangered, but it’s still interesting simply as a diversion into how something is made.

The process is surprisingly straightforward, starting with scrap paper, which is shredded and soaked before being boiled to break down to pulp. The pulp is then emulsified, and some body oil is added to remove the sandpaper-on-the-butt experience before being spread between a sheet and a piece of window screen to be ironed dry. It’s an energy-intensive process, so the Daily Mail is likely to be an easier stopgap if no friends can lend you a few rolls, but it’s left us here curious about papermaking. The butts of Hackaday may be safe from homemade TP, but that’s not to say that it wouldn’t be interesting to make other paper products. Check out the video below.

Of course, back in April 2020 we had our own solution to the pandemic toilet paper shortage. After you make your bespoke dunny roll, how can you wind it into a nice roll? Don’t worry. We got you.

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