Self-Shutting Face Mask Is Hacker’s Delight

Most of us currently have to deal with wearing face masks in our daily life. An experience that is not entirely pleasurable as it is more difficult to breathe under the mask and can become hot after a while. In addition, you have to take off the mask whenever you want to eat or drink. [DesignMaker] has attempted to solve these problems by creating a mask with an opening that shuts automatically when other people are nearby.

While homemade masks are usually made from fabric [DesignMaker]’s version is much more to a hacker’s taste and includes 3D-printed parts, an Arduino Nano, PIR sensors, an SG90 servo, and some Neopixels. [DesignMaker]’s background in industrial design certainly helped him when modeling the mask as it looks just plain awesome.

His goal was to use PIR sensors to detect when a person is moving nearby. The servo then shuts an opening located at the mouth part of the mask. However, he soon found out that the mask often shuts when nobody is around. The reason is that the sensor can be triggered by ambient IR radiation when it is moving by itself. In the end [DesignMaker] decided that having the mask shut when you are moving is not a bug, it’s a feature.

Of course, the mask is just a prop and should not be used as protective equipment. As shown in the video below, also the false triggering of the PIR sensors can be annoying at times. But [DesignMaker] is already thinking of improvements like having the mask properly sealed with fabric or replacing the PIR sensors by a camera with face detection.

If you want to learn how to sew a proper fabric face mask have a look here. It’s a lot less ridiculous, but a lot more effective. You can’t have everything.

Video after the break.

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Open Laser Blaster Shells Out More Bang For The Buck

[a-RN-au-D] was looking for something fun to do with his son and dreamed up a laser blaster game that ought to put him in the running for father of the year. It was originally just going to be made of cardboard, but you know how these things go. We’re happy the design went this far, because that blaster looks fantastic.

Both the blaster and the target run on Arduino Nanos. There’s a 5mW laser module in the blaster, and a speaker for playing the pew pew-related sounds of your choice. Fire away on the blaster button, and the laser hits a light-dependent resistor mounted in the middle of the target. When the target registers a hit, it swings backward on a 9g servo and then returns quickly to vertical for the next shot.

There are some less obvious features that really make this game a hit. The blaster can run in 10-shooter mode (or 6, or whatever you change it to in the code) with a built-in reload delay, or it can be set to fully automatic. If you’re short on space or just get sick of moving the target to different flat surfaces, it can be mounted on the wall instead — the target moves forward when hit and then resets back to flat. Check out the demo video we loaded up after the break.

No printer? No problem — here’s a Node-RED shooting gallery that uses simple wooden targets.

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A Flag-Waving Hat For All Occasions

When [Taste the Code] saw that his YouTube channel was approaching 1,000 subscribers, it was time to do something special. But celebration is no reason to be wasteful. This flag-waving celebratory hat has endless possibilities for the future.

The build is simple, which is just right for these strange times of scarcity. An Arduino Uno hot-glued to the back of the hat is directly driving a pair of 9g servos on the front. [Taste the Code] made the flags by sticking two stickers back to back with a bamboo skewer in between. The code is flavored such that the flags will wave in one of three randomly-chosen patterns — swing around, swing in reverse, and wild gesticulations.

After the novelty of the whole 1k subs thing wears off, [Taste the Code] can change the flags over to Jolly Rogers to help with social distancing. And someday in the future when things are really looking up, they can be changed over to SARS-CoV-2 victory flags, or fly the colors of a local sports team. We think it would be way cool to program some kind of real semaphore message into the flags, though the mobility might be too limited for that. Check out the build video after the break, which happens picture-in-picture as [Taste the Code] dishes out a channel retrospective and lays out a course for the future.

Even though YouTube messed with subscriber counts, we think it’s still worth making a cool counter. Here’s one with a Tetris twist.

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Lovebox Gives Infinite Treats Sweeter Than Chocolate

Want to make a special Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving well past the holiday? We do too, especially if it’s something as cute as [Marcel Stör]’s Lovebox. This is a relatively simple build, but it’s the kind that lets you make someone’s day over and over again.

The sender composes their love note in a secret GitHub gist, either as a text message or a binary image, and updates the gist. Whenever the Wemos D1 mini inside the box receives a new message, a micro servo slowly wiggles the hearts up and down to notify the recipient.

Once they remove the lid to read it, a light-dependent resistor senses the flood of light on its face and tells the servo it can stop wiggling. We think it’s neat that the heart nudges upwardly at the box lid a bit as it moves, because it increases the cuteness factor.

Everybody loves to hear from that special someone throughout the day. The idea of sending an intimate message remotely is quite romantic, and there’s something thrilling and urgent about a physical notification. Show the break button a little love, and you’ll see a truffle-sized demo featuring both an incoming image and a text message.

[Marcel] was happy to ply his woodworking skills rather than use a laser cutter. If you have neither of these, hit up a craft store or two and you’ll find unfinished wooden boxes and pre-cut hearts galore. Or, you could just say it with copper.

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Thomas The Terrifying Karaoke Robot

The junk bin can be a great source of inspiration, unless you’re too familiar with the contents to be imaginative with them. But thrift stores are another matter, like giant junk bins that are constantly replenished by underappreciated elves. You never know what kinds of goodies they will pile on the shelves, so it’s easy to become a fixture and visit them once or thrice a week.

[Hunter Irving] haunts a few choice thrift stores in his neighborhood, and a few months ago he found a knockoff Thomas the Tank Engine with an articulated face. It uses a simple mechanism to produce an impressive amount of movement, especially for a cheap knockoff toy. Both of its eyes slide sideways and its mouth opens, resulting in a very animated (and terrifying) range of expressions. Sensing an opportunity to turn his animatronic robot dreams into karaoke-singing nightmare fuel for the rest of us, he forked over a few bucks and took it home.

As luck would have it, a 9g micro servo fit perfectly in the back of the frightening little face. [Hunter] designed an axle to transfer motion to the face mechanism, but it broke almost immediately. We applaud his Plan B, though, which consists of a mounting block for the servo, and a cable tie armature connected with screws. Once that was sorted, [Hunter] designed a bulbous body for it in Blender.

This terrifying train-faced toy uses an Arduino Leonardo to read MIDI note-on and -off messages, and opens his mouth when appropriate to sing hit favorites in a smooth, speech-synthesized contralto. Pour yourself a strong beverage and enjoy the build/demo video after the break.

Interested in making your own? [Hunter] has all the files up on his Patreon page. For just $1, you can access the code, synth files, and STL files. While you’re there, you can also get the scoop on his Nintendo LABO waveform cards.

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Robot Dances To The Beat Of New YouTube Subs

Sure, you could build some kind of numerical counter to keep track of new YouTube subscribers. But does an increasing digit display truly convey the importance of such an event? Of course not. What you need is something that recognizes this achievement for what it is and celebrates it with you. Something like Subby, the Interactive YouTube Subscriber Robot.

Whenever [brian brocken] gets a new subscriber, Subby’s little TV screen face lights up, and he either dances, salutes, or does another move within his impressive range of motion. [brian] wrote a Visual Basic app that searches his channel’s page for the subscriber count and sends it to the Nano’s COM port over serial every thousand milliseconds. [brian]’s got the VB app and all the STL files available on IO through Dropbox. Moonwalk past the break to watch Subby get down.

We like that Subby is too focused on celebrating each new subscriber to care about the total number itself. Maybe he could be programmed to do some extra special moves whenever the channel hits a milestone.

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Rolling Robot With Two Motors, But None Are On The Wheels

This unusual 3D printed Rolling Robot by [ebaera] uses two tiny hobby servos for locomotion in an unexpected way. The motors drive the front wheel only indirectly, by moving two articulated arms in a reach-and-retract motion similar to a breaststroke. The arms are joined together at the front, where a ratcheting wheel rests underneath. When the arms extend, the wheel rolls forward freely. When the arms retract, the wheel’s ratchet locks and the rest of the body is pulled forward. It looks as though extending one arm more than the other provides for rudimentary steering.

The parts are all 3D printed but some of them look as though they might be a challenge to print well due to the number of small pieces and overhangs. A short video (embedded below) demonstrates how it all works together; the action starts about 25 seconds in.

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