There’s no point in denying it — if you’re a regular reader of Hackaday, you’ve almost certainly got a favorite chip. Some in the audience yearn for the simpler days of the 6502, while others spend their days hacking on modern microcontrollers like the ESP32 or RP2040. There are even some of you out there still reaching for the classic 555. Whatever your silicon poison, there’s a good chance the Macrochips project from [Jason Coon] has supersized it for you.
The idea is simple: get a standard 100 mm x 100 mm (4″ x 4″) slate coaster, throw it in your laser engraver of choice, and zap it with a replica of a chip’s label. The laser turns the slate a light gray, which, when contrasted with the natural color of the slate, makes for a fairly close approximation of what the real thing looks like. To date, [Jason] has given more than 140 classic and modern chips the slate treatment. Though he’s only provided the SVGs for a handful of them, we’re pretty sure anyone with a laser at home will have the requisite skills to pull this off without any outside assistance.
When regular people think of 3D printing, they likely imagine semi-newfangled objects like twisty vases and useless trinkets. But there is so much more to 3D printing, as [andrei.erdei]’s printed, woven coasters demonstrate.
The design is based on the stake and strand basket weaving technique, which uses rigid strips called stakes in one direction and thinner strips called strands in the other. Since the flexibility of PLA is questionable, [andrei] printed the stakes already bent in a square wave pattern that accommodates the strands fairly easily. To tie the coasters together and make them look more polished and commercial, [andrei] designed a holder as well.
The awesome thing about this technique is that you can do so much with it, like varying the stakes’ widths or making them diagonal instead of square. [andrei] designed these in Tinkercad using Codeblocks; of course, they are open source. Be sure to check out the assembly video after the break.
An ESP8266 sits as the main controller, with an additional MQTT control option, where the whole unit is powered over a USB-C connection. On board PCB traces, in the shape of a Hilbert curve, create the heating element used to heat beverages placed on the coaster, where [Wq] reports a measured resistance of the PCB trace network at 1.2 ohms. [Wq] writes that an AON6324 MOSFET replaces the D4184 that was previously being used, but might need some testing to get working properly. There are two capacitive touch sensors which has a TTP223E capacitive touch controller attached to detect input, with a multi-colored FM-3528 RGB LED for user feedback.
We love the artistry that went into building the coaster. For adventurous hackers wanting to build their own, the bill of materials (BOM), source code and board files are all available. We’ve seen everything from coasters and to PCB reflow boards, so it’s nice to see experimentation with a combination of these ideas.
[Charlyn] wanted to highlight their friends beautiful mug collection, so the Glowy Coaster was born.
The coaster is made up of six layers of laser cut acrylic. The top and bottom layer are cut out of clear acrylic, providing a flat surface for the coaster. A top pattern layer made of pearl acrylic has a thin piece of vellum put underneath it to provide diffusion for the LED strip sandwiched inside. The middle layers are made of peach acrylic and have their centers hollowed out to provide room for the electronics inside. The top pearl acrylic layer gives the coaster, as [Charlyn] writes, a “subtle touch of elegance”. The coaster itself is screwed together by an M3 screw at each point of the hexagon that feed through to heat-set inserts.
The electronics consist of a short NeoPixel strip, cut to include 12 LEDs pointed in towards the center of the coaster. The LEDs are driven by a Trinket M0 microcontroller with a LiPo “backpack” to provide power, attachment points for the exposed power switch and recharging capability to the 110 mAh 3.7 V battery. The code is a slightly modified NeoPixel “rainbow” wheel loop (source available as a gist). The design files are available through Thingiverse.
Creations like these highlight how much care and work goes into a project with minimal beauty, where decisions, like the opacity and thickness of the acrylic or countersinking the M3 screws, can have huge consequences for the overall aesthetic. [Charlyn] has an attention to detail that brings an extra touch of professionalism and polish to the project.
The coaster is built around an Arduino Micro, which uses a microphone to detect audio levels in the room. When it detects an extended silence, it then fires off a sound clip using a SparkFun audio breakout board. The questions vary from plain to politically sensitive, so there’s a good chance you could get some spicy conversation as a result. Any talking device runs a risk of being more annoying than helpful, and there’s certainly a risk that Chatty Coaster could fall into this category. Choosing the right content seems key here.
Overall, while this may not be the ultimate solution to boring company, it could get a laugh or two and serves as a good way to learn how to work with audio on microcontrollers. Video after the break.
Infinity mirrors have been gaining in popularity recently, thanks in no small part to the availability of low-cost RGB LED strips to line them with. Generally such pieces are limited to wall art, or the occasional table build, which is what makes these infinity mirror drink coasters from [MnMakerMan] so unique.
Built from an ATtiny85 and a WS2812B LED strip nestled into a 3D printed enclosure, these coasters are relatively cheap and easy to assemble should you want to run a few off before the holiday party season. [MnMakerMan] mentions the LEDs can consume a decent amount of energy, so he’s included a module to allow recharging of the internal 3.7 V 1500 mAh battery over USB.
Of course, a couple of PLA pieces and a custom PCB doesn’t make an infinity mirror. To achieve the desired effect, he’s created a stack consisting of a 4″ glass mirror, a 1/8″ thick plexiglass disc, and one-way mirror tint film. The WS2812B strip mounted along the circumference lights up the void between the two surfaces, and produces a respectable sense of depth that can be seen in the video after the break.
Ah, the age-old question: at what temperature does one’s tea need to be for maximum enjoyment? It’s subjective, of course, but subjective in a way that makes everyone else’s opinion demonstrably wrong. What’s worse, the window of opportunity for optimum tea temperature is extremely narrow. What’s a tea drinker to do?
Throw a little technology at the problem, of course, in the form of this Internet of Tea smart coaster. Through careful experimentation, [Benjojo] determined the temperature of his favorite mug when the tea within was just right for drinking and designed a coaster to alert him to that fact. The coaster is 3D-printed and contains an MLX90616 IR temperature sensor looking up at the bottom of the mug. An ESP8266 lives inside the coaster too and watches for the Optimum Tea Window to open, sending an alert via Discord when the time is right. Yes, he admits that a simple blinking LED on the coaster would keep his tea habit metadata from being slurped up by the international tea intelligence community, but he claims he has nothing to hide. Good luck with that.