Arduino Wannabe Should Have Used A 555. Oh Wait, It Does.

It’s a little known secret that when the Hackaday writers gather in their secret underground bunker to work on our plans for world domination, we often take breaks to play our version of the corporate “Buzzword Bingo”, where paradigms are leveraged and meetings circle back to loop in offline stakeholders, or something like that. Our version, however, is “Comment Line Bingo”, and right in the middle of the card is the seemingly most common comment of all: “You should have used a 555,” or variations thereof.

So it was with vicious glee that we came across the Trollduino V1.0 by the deliciously named [Mild Lee Interested]. It’s the hardware answer to the common complaint, which we’ll grant is often justified. The beautiful part of this is that Trollduino occupies the same footprint as an Arduino Uno and is even pin-compatible with the microcontroller board, or at least sort of. The familiar line of components and connectors sprout from the left edge of the board, and headers for shields line the top and bottom edges too. “Sketches” are implemented in hardware, with jumpers and resistors and capacitors of various values plugged in to achieve all the marvelous configurations the indispensable timer chip can be used for. And extra points for the deliberately provocative use of Comic Sans in the silkscreen.

Hats off to [Lee] for a thoroughly satisfying troll, and a nice look at what the 555 chip can really do. If you want a more serious look at the 555, check out this 555 modeled on a breadboard, or dive into the story of the chip’s development.

Circuit Sculpture Vibration Sensor

Here’s your useful and beautiful circuit for the day — [New Pew]’s vibration sensor takes manual control of the flip-flop inside a 555 timer and lights an LED in response. Use it to detect those vibrations you expect, like laundry machines, or those you only suspect, like the kind that might be coming from your engine. This gadget isn’t super-precise, but it will probably get the job done.

The vibration-detecting bit is a tiny ball bearing soldered to the spring from an old pen, which is tied between the trigger and ground pins of the 555. When the chip is powered with a 9 V battery, nearby vibrations will induce wiggle in the spring, causing the ball bearing to contact the brass rod and completing the circuit. When this happens, the internal flip flop’s output goes high, which turns on the LED. Then the flip flop must be reset with a momentary button. Check out the build video after the break.

Want to pick up Earthly vibrations? You can detect earthquakes with a homemade variable capacitor, a 555, and a Raspberry Pi.

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Tiny Trash Can Repels Trash Pandas, Medium-Sized Cats

Are you tired of cats and other wildlife relieving themselves in your outdoor plant pots? As if accidental neglect won’t kill them fast enough. [TecnoProfesor] has a solution, and it doesn’t even involve a microcontroller. It detects the presence of approaching animals and then blasts them with annoying sounds and a couple of bright green LEDs to drive them away.

Thanks to a couple of modules, the circuit is really pretty simple. There’s a PIR to detect the animals, a buzzer, and a 555-based pulse generator to play tones through the buzzer. This circuit can run 24/7 on a pair of 6V solar panels that charge up a battery. We particularly like the desk trash can enclosure, though we have to wonder how waterproof this system is. Check out the brief demo after the break.

For all of you satisfied with the 555 implementation here, your reward is this giant functioning 555. If you’re a 555 naysayer, how would you have done it better?

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Cool Off With A Piezo And A Glass Of Water

Some cool-mist humidifiers work by flinging water at a vaporizer, but our favorite kind uses a piezoelectric transducer. These work by using high-frequency sound waves to pound the surface of the water with mechanical energy. That energy introduces standing waves that force the water to break apart into a fine mist on the surface of the piezo disk.

The driving circuit for this DIY mist maker uses a 555 to generate 113 KHz, a trimmer potentiometer to fine-tune it, and a MOSFET to amplify the signal. You don’t need much more than that and a handful of passives to recreate this cool junk box experiment, but the spec of the piezo disk is quite important. The circuit is designed for atomizing transducers, which have a resonant frequency of 113 KHz — much higher than your average junk box piezo. Check out the demo and build video after the break.

Atomizing transducers can do way more than than moisten the air for our comfort. They’re not picky about where the water comes from, so if you have enough of them, you can dry a load of laundry in a few minutes.

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Tiny Circuit Sculpture Keeps The Night Watch

If you’re planning to get into circuit sculpture one of these days, it would probably be best to start with something small and simple, instead of trying to make a crazy light-up spaceship or something with a lot of curves on the first go. A small form factor doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t also be useful. Why not start by making a small automatic night light?

The circuit itself is quite simple, especially because it uses an Arduino. You could accomplish the same thing with a 555, but that’s going to complicate the circuit sculpture part of things a bit. As long as the ambient light level coming in from the light-dependent resistor is low enough, then the two LEDs will be lit.

We love the frosted acrylic panels that [akshar1101] connected together with what looks like right angle header pins. If you wanted to expose the electronics, localize the light diffusion with a little acrylic cover that slips over the LEDs. Check it out in the demo after the break.

There’s more than one way to build a glowing cuboid night light. The Rubik’s way, for instance.

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A Shrine For All The 555 Lovers

For many of our readers, the classic 555 timer holds a special place in their heart, and cursed be the fool who dares to use an Arduino in its place. For the seriously devoted ones, or those who simply like a novelty decorative item, [acerlaguinto7] built just the right thing: a giant, actually functional, cardboard 555 timer IC.

Taking all the measurements of the original IC, [acerlaguinto7] scaled it up by factor 22 and started cutting out pieces of cardboard — also considering the orientation notch — and added the markings to emulate TI’s NE555P. Next he took a bunch of aluminum cans apart and shaped them into the pins, again staying as close as possible to the original. To top it all off, he put an actual NE555 inside the giant counterpart, and hooked it up to the soda can pins, turning it into a fully operational, oversized timer IC.

Obviously, giant conductive pins like that scream for some dead bug blinky light that even the shakiest of hands could manage to solder, and [acerlaguinto7] certainly delivers, as you can see in the video after the break. One nifty way we could see this taken further would be integrating this breadboard implementation as replacement for the 555 inside — or then just connect it to the giant Raspberry Pi.

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What Does The Bat Say? Tune In With This Heterodyne Detector

Bats are fascinating animals, and despite all the myth and creepiness surrounding them, they really remind one more of a drunk bird lost in the night sky than the blood-sucking creature they’re often made out to be. Of course, some really fall into that category, and unlike actual birds, bats don’t tend to grace us with their singsong — at least not in ways audible for us humans. But thanks to bat detectors, we can still pick up on it, and [Marcel] recently built a heterodyne bat detector himself.

Bat Detector in its enclosure
The bat detector (and an insight to the beauty of German language, where a bat is a flutter mouse)

The detector is made with a 555, an MCP6004 op amp, and a 4066 analog switch — along with a bunch of passives — and is neatly packed into a 3D-printed case with a potentiometer to set the volume and center frequency for the detection. The bat signal itself is picked up by a MEMS microphone with a frequency range [Marcel] found suitable for the task. His write-up also goes in all the mathematics details regarding heterodyning, and how each component plays into that. The resulting audio can be listened to through a headphone output, and after putting together an adapter, can also be recorded from his smartphone. A sample of how that sounds is added in his write-up, which you can also check out after the break.

In case you want to give it a try yourself, [Marcel] put all the design files and some LTSpice simulations on the project’s GitHub page. If you are curious about bat detectors in general and want to read more about them, follow [Pat Whetman] down that rabbit hole, or have a look at this one made in Python for something more software-focused.

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