The Smart Pen

“Ugh. You mean I have to press down on the pen’s button to open it? Gross.” In this day-and-age when we can swipe on our phones and do voice recognition, there seems no reason we should have to press a button. How antiquated. So [Marek Baczynski] modernized his pen for swiping and voice control. It’s also sure to get all the kids back to working on their penmanship.

Seriously though, not all hacks have to be serious. [Marek] and [Ghlargh] added a servo to activate the button, and then [Marek] added Bluetooth to control the servo. After writing a phone app, he was able to swipe down to open it and down again to close it. Then, after some prompting from Redditers he added voice control from his laptop. We think he could have done a more professional job with the way he attached the pen to the laptop, perhaps he could have 3D printed something instead of just using tape, or maybe made something using CNC or a laser cutter. An important hack such as this deserves as much. Now he need only say “Computer. Open pen.” and the tedious task is taken care of. Seeing is believing so check it out in the video below.

Continue reading “The Smart Pen”

Repurposing a click wheel

We think the click wheel is the biggest contributor to the success of the original iPods. The devices were a brick with a monochrome screen but the user interface was slick and easy to use. [Jason] decided he wanted to add a click wheel to his own project. After using a logic analyzer he discovered that it doesn’t implement a common protocol such as I2C, perhaps a deliberate move by Apple to keep the controller under wraps? He managed to get past this hurdle, as seen in the video after the break, by bit-banging the data in from the click wheel and then reverse engineering the protocol.

It’s connected to an AVR ATtiny88 with feedback shown on a character LCD screen. We’re glad that [Jason] tipped us off about this, but he doesn’t have any code available yet. We love to dive into the source so the sooner he gets it up the better! We’ve got an old 3rd generation with a bad board that is begging to have the wheel ripped out of it, not to mention the dirt-cheap replacements available on ebay. Continue reading “Repurposing a click wheel”