The build is essentially a replica cicada. [Saito] was inspired to build the device as the sounds of the insect remind him fondly of the summer. His design consists of a 3D-printed housing that roughly approximates something like a cicada, with two wings attached to a central body. In this case, the layer lines of the 3D print actually added to the realism of the ersatz insect The housing is nicely painted to serve as an adequate simulacra to those who aren’t up on their entomology.
Inside, there’s an ATTiny 85 paired with an MP3 playback module and a small speaker. It’s charged with reproducing the noise of various cicadas. It’s setup with an ingenious mechanism to switch it on. There are magnets installed in the base which allow it to stick to metallic objects. There’s also a switch in the bottom of the device. When it magnetically attaches to a surface, that switch is depressed, and the cicada starts playing, well… cicada noises. [Saito] notes that a patent has been secured for the idea.
The work-from-home revolution enabled many workers to break free from the shackles of the office. Some employers didn’t like the loss of perceived control though, and saddled workers with all kinds of odious spyware to monitor their computer activity. Often, this involves monitoring mouse movement to determine if workers are slacking off or not. Mouse jigglers aim to fool these systems, and the MAUS from [MAKERSUN99] is one you can build yourself.
The MAUS is not a mechanical system that moves a real-life mouse on your desk. Instead, it directly injects emulated mouse movements via USB. It runs on an ATtiny85, which is able to spit out USB HID commands with the help of the V-USB software USB implementation. Along with the microcontroller, MAUS also features a red LED and a WS2812B RGB LED for user feedback. It’s also available on Tindie if your boss has you so busy that you don’t have time to build one.
With all those e-paper based projects doing the rounds these days, including in our Low Power Challenge, you’d almost forget that monochrome LCDs were the original ultra-low-power display. Without them, we wouldn’t have had watches, calculators and handheld games operating off button cell batteries or tiny solar panels back in the ’80s and ’90s. [Gabor] decided to build a set of gadgets with a 1990s LCD aesthetic, called LCD Solar Creatures. These cute little beasts live on nothing but solar power and provide some amusing animations on a classic seven-segment LCD screen.
The Creatures’ activity depends entirely on the amount of power that’s available to them. If their supercapacitors dip below 3.3 V, their micros enter a deep sleep state and do nothing except briefly flash an LED every now and then as a sign of life. When light hits the solar panel, the supercaps are charged up and the Creatures come to life and display a few basic stats. Once the caps hit 4.1 V, they really start their day and run a few programs, including a Game of Life-style simulation and an animation of Euclidean rhythms. Continue reading “Low Power Challenge: LCD Solar Creatures Live On Sunlight, Sleep At Night”→
It might not seem too impressive these days, but when microcontrollers with hardware USB support were more expensive and rare, the VUSB library was often used to create USB devices with an ATtiny85. It became so popular that the ATtiny85 even got packaged into USB dongle formfactors, like the DigiSpark boards. Well, you might not know this, but your Android smartphones can also work with USB mice and touchscreens in lieu of the built-in touchscreen display. [ErfanSn] combined these two ideas, creating a library to automate smartphone touchscreen events and keyboard input with an ATtiny85 — open for all of us to use, and with examples to spare.
The library is called DigiCombo, and it comes with plenty of examples for any screen touch event emulation that you might want. For instance, check out the README — it has video examples for Instagram page scrolling, unlock screen brute-forcing with random coordinates, playing the Stack rhythm game, and pinch zoom — all the building blocks for your smartphone touch emulation needs are covered pretty well! Of course, all of these have example code corresponding to them, that you can download and base your own ideas on. What’s more, the library is available in current Arduino IDE under the DigiCombo name. So if you need to, say, make a quick autoclicker for your phone, the library is a few steps away!
If your smartphone project was stalled because you needed to emulate touchscreen input, this library is your chance to get it done! We appreciate projects that let us get more from smartphones — there’s a lot of those laying around, they’re pretty functional and self-sufficient devices, so it makes sense that some projects of ours could do with a phone instead of a Raspberry Pi. Some manufacturers let us get a bit more of our phones, but this hasn’t really caught on, which means we have to make do with help of libraries like these. Or, perhaps, you rely on your phone day-to-day, and you’d like to add a touchpad to its back?
As [Phil Greenland] explains in the first part of his excellent write-up, the lithium battery used to keep the real-time clock (RTC) going on the Macintosh SE/30 has a nasty habit of exploding and leaking its corrosive innards all over the board. Looking to both repair the damage on a system that’s already had a battery popped and avoid the issue altogether on pristine boards, he started researching how he could replace the battery with something a bit more modern.
It turns out, the ATtiny85 is pin-compatible with the Mac’s original RTC chip, and indeed, [Andrew Makousky] had already written some code that would allow the microcontroller to emulate it. This is actually a bit more complex than you might realize, as the original RTC chip was doing double-duty: it also held 256 bytes of parameter random access memory (PRAM), which is where the machine stored assorted bits of info like which drive to boot from and the mouse cursor speed.
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right? What about when life hands you annoyingly intrusive work-from-home policies that require you to physically stay at your computer even though you really, REALLY need to go to the bathroom, but can’t be trusted to act like a responsible adult who won’t get diverted by TV or the fridge on the way back? In that case, you build something like the Mouse Whisperer — because malicious compliance is the best kind of compliance.
To be fair, [andrey.malyshenko] does list other plausible use cases for what amounts to an automatic mouse wiggler. Like many of us, [andrey] isn’t a fan of logging back in from screen locks, and recognizes that not absolutely every minute of work requires staring at one’s screen. There’s also the need for bio-breaks, of course, and the Mouse Whisperer is designed to accommodate these use cases and more.
The design is quite compact, occupying barely more space than a wireless mouse dongle. Plugged into a USB port, the ATtiny85 mostly sits idle, waiting to detect the touch of a finger on an exposed pad via a TTP223. The dongle then goes into a routine that traces lazy circles with the mouse pointer, plus flashes an RGB LEB on the board, because blinkenlights are cool. The mouse wiggling continues until you come back from your Very Important Business and touch the pad again.
Now, if anyone is actually monitoring you remotely, the circling mouse pointer is going to look a wee bit sus. Fear not, though — the code uses a *.h file to define the circle, so other patterns should be possible. Either way, the Mouse Whisperer is a nice solution, and it’s considerably more compact and integrated than some of the alternatives we’ve seen.
Should a clock be round? Depends on the style of clock, we suppose. After all, we wouldn’t expect to see a digital clock with a round readout just for fun. But a binary clock — that’s another animal altogether. Whereas [JohnThinger] made just a few weeks back a linear binary clock using an RGB LED strip and an ATtiny, he decided it would look much better in the round.
Before you go decrying the fact that there are numbers other than 1 and 0 on the thing, those are simply the power of two by which one must multiply to get the time. And naturally, it’s done in three phases, with the yellow-green numbers representing the seconds, the pink-red representing minutes, and the blue standing for the current hour. No, the point is not to make life easier. But it’s a good-looking clock, no?
Just as before, an ATtiny85 is the brain, with an RTC chip and an oscillator to keep time. But now, the display involves negative space 3D-printed numbers and an RGB LED ring. Be sure to check it out after the break.