For those unfamiliar with the sport of mountain biking, it’s a wild hobby that is rife with hacking. It started in the early 70s when the first dedicated mountain bikers were hacking road bikes together to ride on trails to varying levels of success, but only in the last decade or so have there been a lot of electronics appearing in various bike parts that we can all tinker with as well. This video discusses some of the downsides with a very expensive electronic seat post on a mountain bike, and attempts to solve its shortcomings by cutting it in half.
This build involves a dropper seat post, which is an adjustable seat for mountain biking that functions like an office chair. By pushing a button on the handlebars, the seat post can be rapidly adjusted up or down on-the-fly. Normally these seat posts use a cable to actuate, but this expensive version is wireless. The only problem is the battery will occasionally fly off when hitting big jumps, so [Berm Peak Express] decided to cut the existing proprietary battery system out and create a new housing for it. The new housing has a wired extension for the battery in its new location under the seat instead of behind it, and this gives it the clearance it arguably should have had from the manufacturer.
While not the most involved project of all time, it does take a certain mentality to take a hacksaw to a bike part that costs more than a large percentage of bicycles. It’s a niche product to be sure, but it also shows that some of the biggest annoyances with proprietary parts are not too difficult to overcome. And, it is interesting to see the ways that some people are hacking bikes outside of admittedly clever ebike conversions.
Despite its diminutive proportions, the thrust to weight ratio of the DJI Mini 2 is high enough that it can carry a considerable amount of baggage. So it’s no surprise that there’s a cottage industry of remotely controlled payload releases that can be bolted onto the bottom of this popular quadcopter. But [tterev3] wanted something that would integrate better with DJI’s software instead of relying on a separate transmitter.
As explained in the video below, his solution was to tap into the signals that control the RGB LED on the front of the drone. Since the user can change the color of the LED at any time with the official DJI smartphone application, decoding this signal to determine which color had been selected is like adding several new channels to the transmitter. In this case [tterev3] just needed to decode a single color to use as a “drop” signal, but it’s not hard to imagine how this concept could be expanded to trigger several different actions with a few more lines of code.
[tterev3] wrote some software to decode the 48 bits of data being sent to the LED with a PIC18F26K40 microcontroller, which in turn uses an L9110H H-Bridge to control a tiny gear motor. To get feedback, he’s using a small magnet glued to the release arm and a Hall-effect sensor.
Concerned about how much power he could realistically pull from a connection that was intended for an LED, he gave the release its own battery that is slowly charged while the drone is running. You could argue that since the motor only needs to fire up once to drop the payload, [tterev3] probably could have gotten away with not recharging it at all during the flight. But as with the ability to decode additional color signals, the techniques being demonstrated here hold a lot of promise for future development.
When designing a mains power supply for a small load DC circuit, there are plenty of considerations. Small size, efficiency, and cost of materials all spring to mind. Potential lethality seems like it would be a bad thing to design in, but that didn’t stop [Great Scott!] from exploring capacitive drop power supplies. You know, for science.
The backstory here is that [Great Scott!] is working on a super-secret ATtiny project that needs to be powered off mains. Switching power supplies are practically de rigueur for such applications, but compared to the intended microcontroller circuit they are actually quite large, and they’ve just been so done before. So in order to learn a thing or two, [Scott!] designed a capacitive dropper supply, where the reactance of the cap acts like a dropping resistor to limit the current. His first try was just a capacitor in series with an LED; this didn’t end well for the LED.
To understand why, he reverse-engineered a few low-current mains devices and found that practical capacitive droppers need a few more components, chiefly a series resistance to prevent inrush current from getting out of hand, but also a bridge rectifier and a zener to clamp things down. Wiring up all that resulted in a working capacitive dropper supply, but a the cost of as much real estate as a small switcher, and with the extra bonus of being potentially lethal if the power supply is plugged in the wrong way. Side note: we thought German line cords were polarized to prevent this, but apparently not? (Ed Note: Nope!)