Automatic Transfer Switch Keeps Internet Online

Living in a place where the electric service isn’t particularly reliable can be frustrating, whether that’s because of a lack of infrastructure, frequent storms, or rolling blackouts. An option for those living in these situations is a backup generator, often turned on and connected by an automatic transfer switch. These are necessary safety devices too; they keep power lines from being back-fed by the generators. But there are other reasons to use transfer switches as well as [Maarten] shows us with this automatic transfer switch meant to keep his computers and Internet powered up.

The device is fairly straightforward. A dual-pole, dual-throw relay is housed inside of an electrical junction box with two electrical plugs, each of which can be connected to a different circuit or power source in [Maarten]’s house. The relay coil is energized by the primary power supply, and when that power is lost the relay automatically changes over to the other power supply, which might be something like a battery backup system. [Maarten] was able to get a higher quality product by building it himself rather than spending a comparable amount of money on a cheap off-the-shelf product as well. Continue reading “Automatic Transfer Switch Keeps Internet Online”

Using GitHub Actions To Brew Coffee

It’s getting harder and harder to think of a modern premium-level appliance that doesn’t come with some level of Internet connectivity. These days it seems all but the cheapest refrigerators, air purifiers, and microwaves include wireless capabilities — unfortunately they’re often poorly implemented or behind a proprietary system. [Matt] recently purchased a high-end coffee maker with Bluetooth functionality which turned out to be nearly useless, and set to work reverse-engineering his coffee maker and adapting it to work by sending commands from GitHub.

Since the wireless connectivity and app for this coffee maker was so buggy and unreliable, [Matt] first needed to get deep into the weeds on Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE). After sniffing traffic and identifying the coffee maker, he set about building an interface for it in Rust. Once he is able to send commands to it, the next step was to integrate it with GitHub, so that filing issues on the GitHub interface sends the commands from a nearby computer over Bluetooth to the coffee maker, with much more reliability than the coffee maker came with originally.

Using [Matt]’s methods, anyone stuck with one of these coffee makers, a Delonghi Dinamica Plus, should be able to reactivate the use of its wireless functionality. While we’d hope that anyone selling a premium product like this would take a tiny amount of time and make sure that the extra features actually work, this low bar seems to be oddly common for companies to surmount. But it’s not required to pick up an expensive machine like this just to remotely brew a cup of coffee. You can do that pretty easily with a non-luxury coffee maker and some basic wireless hardware.

DIY Semi Auto Grinder Builds Itself (Sort Of)

[JSK-koubou] is no stranger to making tools to improve their work, and this latest video is yet another in a long list of such builds, just checkout their YT channel to see the many other examples. The tool being highlighted this time is a semi-automatic grinder (Video, embedded below) which could be very handy in many situations.

Many of us struggle a little to get straight cuts with an angle grinder, especially with softer materials, as it is sometimes hard to get a good ‘feel’ of how the cut is proceeding. Once the cut is started, thin blades will tend to ‘track’ in the slot, so if it starts off a little bit, the whole cut will be off. Most annoying. Anything to help keep things straight and square would help a lot, with the extra feature of a motorized drive enabling a constant cut rate, and presumably giving an increase in the cut quality.

Using the part completed rig to cut its own leadscrew

Since operation is hands-off, you could set it up, and leave it to do its thing, whilst you step aside, away from flying sparks, noise and the remote possibility of getting a splintered blade in your face, should the unthinkable happen. All good things.

The detailed build video shows what looks like a pretty solid construction, there are plans available on the accompanying website, but they do request a small donation of ¥1000 (less than $10 USD) to download them. Given the usefulness of the tool, this seems like a small price to pay. We quite liked some sections of the build video, where the tool is used to cut its own components, as it is built-up sequentially. Clever stuff! Another interesting technique to see was the use of a flame-heated (Stanley) knife blade as a drive belt end-jointer. Somewhat tough on the blade, but it’s a consumable item and gets the job done, so that’s good enough for us!

Parts wise, there’s nothing special at all here, with most easily sourced via the usual mechanical suppliers, but we reckon you’d be able to find most of it on eBay as well. We think this is exactly the sort of build that would work well in your local Makerspace, so perhaps give that a thought?

Bored with manually cutting off? Need an overkill solution for a mundane job? How about an Automatic Cut-Off Saw? If you need some defense against the mighty angle grinder, then perhaps Proteus is just the ticket?

Continue reading “DIY Semi Auto Grinder Builds Itself (Sort Of)”

Automated musical instrument with LED array

ESP32 Is The Brains Behind This Art Installation

The ESP32 has enabled an uncountable number of small electronics projects and even some commercial products, thanks to its small size, low price point, and wireless capabilities. Plenty of remote sensors, lighting setups, and even home automation projects now run on this small faithful chip. But being relegated to an electronics enclosure controlling a small electrical setup isn’t all that these tiny chips can do as [Eirik Brandal] shows us with this unique piece of audio and visual art.

The project is essentially a small, automated synthesizer that has a series of arrays programmed into it that correspond to various musical scales. Any of these can be selected for the instrument to play through. The notes of the scale are shuffled through with some random variations, allowing for a completely automated musical instrument. The musical generation is entirely analog as well, created by some oscillators, amplifiers, and other filtering and effects. The ESP32 also controls a lighting sculpture that illuminates a series of LEDs as the music plays.

The art installation itself creates quite haunting, mesmerizing tunes that are illustrated in the video linked after the break. While it’s not quite to the realm of artificial intelligence since it uses pre-programmed patterns with some randomness mixed in, it does give us hints of some other projects that have used AI in order to compose new music.

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A Nerf Gun Upgrade

A lot of us have nostalgia for our childhood toys, and as long as they’re not something like lawn darts that nostalgia often leads to fun upgrades since some of us are adults with industrial-sized air compressors. Classics like Super Soakers and Nerf guns are especially popular targets for improvements, and this Nerf machine gun from [Emiel] is no exception.

The build takes a Nerf ball-firing toy weapon and basically tosses it all out of the window in favor of a custom Nerf ball launching rifle. He starts with the lower receiver and machines a pneumatic mechanism that both loads a ball into the chamber and then launches it. This allows the rifle to be used in both single-shot mode and also in fully-automatic mode. From there, a barrel is fashioned along with the stock and other finishing touches.

[Emiel] also uses a high-speed camera to determine the speed of his new Nerf gun but unfortunately it isn’t high-speed enough, suffering from the same fate as one of the fastest man-made objects ever made, and he only has a lower bound on the speed at 400 km/h. If you don’t want to go fast with your Nerf builds, though, perhaps you should build something enormous instead. Continue reading “A Nerf Gun Upgrade”

Voice Controlled Sofa Meets Your Every Beverage Need

It’s often taken for grated, but the modern world is full of luxuries. Home automation, grocery delivery, and even access to the Internet are great tools to have at hand, but are trivial to most of us. If these modern wonders are not enough for you, and the lap of luxury is still missing a certain je ne sais quoi, allow us to introduce you to the ultimate convenience: a voice controlled, beer-dispensing sofa with a built-in refrigeration system.

This is a project from [Garage Avenger] and went through a number of iterations before reaching this level of polish. Metal work on the first version didn’t fit together as expected, and there were many attempts at actual refrigeration before settling on repurposing an actual refrigerator. With those things out of the way, he was able to get to the meat of a project. The couch-refrigerator holds 12 beers, and they are on a conveyor belt which automatically places the next beer onto the automated drawer. When commanded (by voice, app, or remote) the sofa opens the drawer so the occupant can grab one easily without having to move more than an arm. Everything, including the voice recognition module, is controlled by an Arduino, as is tradition.

The attention to detail is excellent as well. The remote control contains a built-in bottle opener, for one, there are backlights and a glass cover for the refrigerator, and the drawer is retracted automatically when it senses the beer has been obtained. We couldn’t ask for much more from our own couches, except maybe that they take us where we want to go. But maybe it’s best to keep these two couch use cases separate for now.

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Building A Sound Activated Shop Fan With Arduino

Whether you’re using a soldering iron or a table saw, ventilation in the shop is important. Which is why [Atomic Dairy] built a monster air cleaner called the Fanboy that looks like it should be mounted under the wing of an F-15. Realizing a simple switch on the wall wouldn’t do this potent air mover justice, they decided to build a sound activated controller for it.

It’s certainly an elegant idea. The sound created once they kick on their woodworking tools would be difficult to miss by even the most rudimentary of sound-detection hardware. At the most basic level, all they needed was a way for an Arduino to throw a relay once the noise level in the room reached a specific threshold.

Of course it ended up getting a bit more complicated than that, as tends to happen with these kinds of projects. For one, the sound doesn’t directly control the solid state relay used in the fan controller. When the microphone equipped Arduino detects enough noise, it will start a timer that keeps the fan running for two hours. If the tool keeps running, then more time gets added to the clock. This ensures that the air in the room is well circulated even after the cutting and sanding is done.

[Atomic Dairy] also added a few additional features so they could have more direct control over the fan. There’s a button to manually add more time to the clock, and another button to shut it down. There’s even support for a little wireless remote control, so the fan can be operated without having to walk over to the control panel.

We’ve seen some impressive air circulation and dust collection systems over the years, but finding a way to elegantly switch them on and off has always been a problem given the wide array of tools that could be in use at any given time. Sound activation isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s certainly one we’d consider for our own shop.

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