Sawed Off Keyboard

Have you ever had to cut a piece of furniture in two to get it into a new place? Yours truly has, having had to cut the longer part of a sectional sofa in two to get it into a high-rise apartment. That’s what [Charles]’ sawed off keyboard immediately reminded us of. It sounds just as crazy, but brilliant at the same time.

In [Charles]’ case he wanted a keypad whose keys were customizable, and that would make a single keypress do common things like cut, copy and paste, which are normally ctrl-X, ctrl-C and ctrl-V in Windows. To do that he literally sawed off the numeric keypad from a full-sized keyboard. He also sawed off the end to the left of the QWERTY keyboard, and glued it onto the open end of his keypad.

The circuit board was too wide to fit in his new keypad, but he couldn’t stretch out the connections from the keypad’s keys to the board. So he did what any self-respecting hacker would do, he cut the circuit board where there were a manageable number of traces, leaving one part that would fit inside the keypad and another part that he could connect the traces to using a few wires. Lastly, he’d started with a PS/2 keyboard but he wanted USB output and programmability. So he redirected the PS/2 wires to an Arduino compatible Pro Micro and wrote some conversion code which you can find on his GitHub.

What other transformations can we do to keyboards? [Shrodingers_Cat] combined his with some DVD case covers to come up with a pedal board for use with his feet. And given that the keys on the numeric keypad are redundant, [Kipkay] put it to use as a hiding place for valuables instead.

Raspberry Pi Trackpad From Salvaged Trackpad Plus Arduino

Old laptops are easy to find and many have a trackpad with a PS/2 interface hardwired into the guts of the laptop. [Build It] wanted one of those trackpads for use in the DIY Raspberry Pi laptop he’s working on. But the Raspberry Pi has no PS/2 input, and he read that a PS/2 to USB adapter wouldn’t be reliable enough. His solution? Wire the trackpad to an Arduino and have the Arduino convert the trackpad’s PS/2 to USB.

After removing a few screws, he had the trackpad free of the laptop. Looking up the trackpad’s part number online he found the solder pads for data, clock and five volts. He soldered his own wires to them, as well as to the trackpad’s ground plane, and from there to his Arduino Pro Micro. After installing the Arduino PS/2 mouse and the Mouse and Keyboard libraries he wrote some code (see his Instructables page). The finishing touch was to use generous helpings of hot glue to secure all the wires, as well as the Arduino, to the back to the trackpad. By plugging a USB cable into the Arduino, he now had a trackpad that could plug in anywhere as a USB trackpad. Watch [Build It] put it all together step-by-step in the video below.

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Trackpad From Salvaged Trackpad Plus Arduino”

Awesome Illuminated Arcade Spinner

[Tinker_on_Steroids] made some awesome looking spinners that not only light up when spun but are a really professional looking build on their own. Before we’d watched his assembly video we were sure he’d just added on to something he’d bought, but it turned out it’s all custom designed and made.

In case you’ve never played the old arcade games, a spinner is an input device for games such as Tempest or Breakout where you rotate a knob in either direction to tell the game which way and how fast to move something. In Tempest you rotate something around the middle of the screen whereas in Breakout you move a paddle back and forth across the bottom of the playing field.

He even detects rotation with a home-made quadrature encoder. For each spinner, he uses two ITR9608 (PDF) optical switches, or opto-interrupters. Each one is U-shaped with an LED in one leg of the U facing a phototransistor in the other leg. When something passes between the two legs, the light is temporarily blocked and the phototransistor detects it i.e. the switch turns off. When the thing moves away, the light is unblocked and it turns on again. The direction of movement is done by having the thing pass between two ITR9608’s, one after the other. The “things” that pass between are the teeth of a 3D printed encoder wheel. Continue reading “Awesome Illuminated Arcade Spinner”

Everyone’s Favorite Energy Meter Hack, Now Wireless

[Kalle] is at it again with more hacks on electricity use meters. This time, the meter has been hacked to stream their data over the aether wirelessly. Now, data can be grabbed from multiple devices simultaneously, making the possibilities for home energy monitoring limitless

The first project [Kalle] did involved finding a meter from China with capabilities similar to (and cheaper than) the Kill-a-Watt meters. Unlike the Kill-a-Watt which spits out analog values, the Chinese meter sent digital information out on a ribbon cable with the bus lines labeled. Since the meter was so hackable, [Kalle] took it even further in this hack.

With those pesky wires out of the way, the device now uses an Arduino Pro Mini to sniff the energy meter’s data stream. Then it transmits the data wirelessly with a nRF34L01+ transceiver. As a perk, all of these chips fit inside the case of the energy meter, making this a very tidy hack indeed. The project code an incredible amount of detail is available on the project site, so be sure to check this one out for all of your energy monitoring needs!

LED Light Staffs for the Ultimate Portable Rave


[risknc] and [mpinner] have been working on a couple of LED light staff designs for a while now and have come up with a prototype that can light up the night with an array of streaming colors. There is even a dial that can turn up and down the brightness.

Originally, [risknc] began developing his own project at SpaceX and dove further into the idea right before Burning Man. The visual effects, when twirled through the air, produced an extremely bright flow of energy that can be seen circling around the user.

The 8ft long carbon fiber staff was stuffed to the edges with RGB LEDs. Neopixel strips at 60 LED per meter were used to alternate between colors, and a whole bunch of white capable LEDs were embedded into the staff as well. One of early designs was purposefully left at a local hackerspace called Crashspace in Culver City, California. Photos of community members trying it out surfaced on the hackerspace’s website. In addition, a description of the staff and a few high-quality photos of the ‘Sparkle Stick’ were uploaded on to the Suprmasv projects page. Searching through the pictures reveal an instance that shows the LED light staff being used during a flow session with a fire poi spinner in the background. Perhaps there is a way to combine LEDs and fire? Anyways, a later version of the staff was tested out at the 2014 Maker Faire in San Francisco.

Full specs and logs of the project can be found on A quick video of [mpinner]’s light staff being spun around comes up after the break. In the video, it looks like they are testing it out outside of Crashspace as they run through the darkness of the alleyway in the back, lighting up the area with a nice LED glow. Plans for the future include building a bunch of them and wirelessly syncing them up. CAD models will be uploaded soon as well.

Continue reading “LED Light Staffs for the Ultimate Portable Rave”

Reflow Oven Controller with Graphic LCD

Reflow Controller

A reflow oven is one of the most useful tools you will ever have, and if you haven’t built one yet, now is as good a time as any. [0xPIT’s] Arduino based reflow oven controller with a graphic LCD is one of the nicest reflow controllers we’ve seen.

Having a reflow oven opens up a world of possibilities. All of those impossible to solder surface mount devices are now easier than ever. Built around the Arduino Pro Micro and an Adafruit TFT color LCD, this project is very straight forward. You can either make your own controller PCB, or use [0xPIT’s] design. His design is built around two solid state relays, one for the heating elements and one for the convection fan. “The software uses PID control of the heater and fan output for improved temperature stability.” The project write-up is also on github, so be sure to scroll down and take a look at the README.

All you need to do is build any of the laser cutters and pick and place machines that we have featured over the years, and you too can have a complete surface mount assembly line!

Building a Final Key

Final Key

Remembering passwords is a pain, and there’s a number of devices out there to make it easier. If you’re looking to roll your own, this guide to building a Final Key will walk you through the process.

We talked about the Final Key before. It’s a one button password manager that encrypts and stores your password. It acts as a virtual serial port for configuration. When you hit the button, it becomes a keyboard and types in the correct password.

The creator has no intentions of making this a commercial project for a number of reasons. Instead, easy build instructions are provided based on the Arduino Pro Micro. The 24LC512 EEPROM can be soldered directly to the Arduino by bending out the DIP legs. A few resistors, a button, and an LED finish off the project. The last step is to fill it with hot glue to prevent tampering.

The Final Key firmware is available on Github, and the case can be ordered from Shapeways. If you’re interested in hardware password management, you can also check out the Mooltipass which is being developed on Hackaday.

[Thanks to Lars for the tip!]