Hackaday Prize 2022: Recycled Tire Table Is Where The Rubber Meets The Road

The problem with good inventions is that we usually end up with way too many of that particular widget lying around, which can cause all kinds of problems. Take the car tire, for instance. They were a great invention that helped spell the end of buggy whips and broken wagon wheels. But there are so many used-up tires about today that some people end up burning them in large piles, of all possible things.

Not [Vaibhav], who prefers to turn trash into utilitarian treasures. With little more than an old tire, some jute rope, and four plastic drink bottles, they made a sturdy, low-slung piece of furniture that could be used as a coffee table, a foot stool, or whatever life calls for.

Construction was fairly simple and involved stabilizing the hollow core with a round piece of cardboard glued to either side of the tire. Then came the jute rope and glue artistry, which hides any trace of the foundational materials. Finally, [Vaibhav] glued four plastic bottles to the bottom to act as legs. We think that steel cans would last longer and support more weight, but if plastic bottles are the only option, you could always fill them with dirt or sand.

This End Table Conceals A Close Encounter

If you’re of a Certain Age, perhaps you had a train set as a child. An oval of track, a loco, and some rolling stock; it matters not whether it was Thomas the Tank Engine or a large express train — they were at the time a pretty cool toy. Move forward a few decades, and model railways have become either super-expensive room-filler layouts, or have sunk low as novelty Christmas ornaments, so that the basic loop of track is in dire need of rescue. Perhaps [Peter Waldraff] can help, with a beautifully-constructed N gauge circular layout concealed in an end table. Even better, when you examine it closely, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary train set, it’s a scene from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

This is a project of two equally well-made parts, the piece of furniture and the train. The former is entirely scratch-built, with a cylindrical outside made from carefully cut rings of plywood and a sliding riser mechanism in the centre with a concrete counterweight. Slide the cylinder upwards, and the layout is revealed — a scratch-built hill in the centre of the ring of track and the lit-up underside of the UFO above it. As the train goes round the track, it even triggers a set of crossing lights and sounds for extra realism. The full story can be seen in the video below the break, and is well worth a watch.

We’ve covered more than one concealed model railway layout in the past, and it comes as no surprise when browsing to find that [Peter]’s work has featured here before.

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An electronics workbench with tools and drawers

IKEA Wardrobe Holds Entire Hardware Workspace

If you’re like us, you probably don’t finish a typical hardware project in one sitting. This doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated workbench for your hacking activities; you simply leave your current project there, ready to continue when you have time again. But this is not always a workable option if you, or a housemate, needs to use the same desk for other tasks as well.

[!BATTA!] over at IKEAhackers ran into this problem, and solved it by building a complete electronics workstation inside a wardrobe. The base of this project is a storage unit called PAX, which is designed to store clothes and shoes but which also works just fine with project boxes. [!BATTA!] installed a variety of shelves and drawers to organize their collection of boxes and tools.

Not content with simple storage, [!BATTA!] decided to add a workbench, using a sturdy sliding tray that carries a working surface and a reinforced back panel to hold parts bins. Metal braces were added to prevent wobbliness, and the whole structure was bolted to a wall to prevent it from tipping over. When the workbench is not in use, the tray simply slides inside so the doors can be closed for a nice, clean look.

We really like the many clever storage solutions spread around the work area, such as a magnetic rail to hold hand tools and a “honeycomb” of PVC tubes for storing cables. Compact LED strips provide suitable lighting while a power strip with both mains and USB sockets brings juice to the tools and projects.

Modifying pieces of IKEA furniture is nothing new; we’ve seen them turned into arcade cabinets and MP3 players. We’ve also covered several well-organized workspaces, but none as compact as this one. Thanks to [IrregularShed] for the tip.

Enterprise Helm Commands The Entertainment Center

Many a young geek wished they could get a chance to sit at the helm of the USS Enterprise, wildly tapping on unlabeled technicolor buttons with the self-assured confidence of a proper Starfleet officer. For most of us it was a dream unrealized, but right now somebody in the Seattle, Washington area is getting to do exactly that in their media room. We won’t deny being jealous, but at least our collective egos can take some comfort in the knowledge that they had to outsource the construction of their replica helm to the fine folks at [Blackmouth Design].

There’s not a lot of technical details to be had, but considering the page for this project is only meant to show off the company’s design and fabrication skills, we can’t blame them too much. If we were in the business of selling these things, we’d probably keep some of the juicer details under wraps too.

But we do know there’s “Arduino technology” under the hood that fires up different light and sound effects depending on which of the vintage rocker switches has been flipped. The red momentary buttons lined up on the right side of the coffee table sized panel are tied into the home media center to do things like turn off the lights and lower the projector screen. Check out the video below for a brief demo.

In a post on Reddit, one of the engineers behind the project explains that the top surface of the helm is 3/16″ powder coated aluminum, with the plywood that makes up the base laminated in the classic Original Series color scheme of red, grey, and black. The artwork for the astrogator was created from scratch, backlit with LEDs, and placed behind a 1/4″ acrylic panel for protection. We imagine the fact that it’s parallel to the ground means it’s supposed to be a space to place your drinks or popcorn, though if it was in our house, nobody would be bringing food or drink anywhere near it.

In all honesty, while Hackaday is decidedly more about building than buying, we can’t fault anyone for forking over their hard earned cash for craftsmanship of this caliber. After all, we’ve had our eyes on that officially licensed tricorder replica for quite some time now.

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Son Of Rothult

We are continuously inspired by our readers which is why we share what we love, and that inspiration flows both ways. [jetpilot305] connected a Rothult unit to the Arduino IDE in response to Ripping up a Rothult. Consider us flattered. There are several factors at play here. One, the Arduino banner covers a lot of programmable hardware, and it is a powerful tool in a hardware hacker’s belt. Two, someone saw a tool they wanted to control and made it happen. Three, it’s a piece of (minimal) security hardware, but who knows where that can scale. The secure is made accessible.

The Github upload instructions are illustrated, and you know we appreciate documentation. There are a couple of tables for the controller pins and header for your convenience. You will be compiling your sketch in Arduino’s IDE, but uploading through ST-Link across some wires you will have to solder. We are in advanced territory now, but keep this inspiration train going and drop us a tip to share something you make with this miniature deadbolt.

Locks and security are our bread and butter, so enjoy some physical key appreciation and digital lock love.

This Old Console Stereo Hides A Liquor Cabinet

There was a time when consumer electronics were statement items, designed to resemble quality furniture that would be shown off as a centerpiece of the home. Televisions in ornate wooden cabinets, or stereos looking for all the world like sideboards. [Zethus] had just such a huge record player and radio combo in a sideboard, and having little use for the cream of 1950s home entertainment technology, he rebuilt it as a concealed liquor cabinet with electronic controls and a much more modern stereo that forms part of a Logitech Media Server multi-room system.

After removing the tube-based radio chassis and Garrard jockey-wheel turntable it was time to gut their supporting woodwork and install the platform derived from a standing desk. With suitably impressive lighting and a pair of VFD displays for the music choice, there is the inevitable Raspberry Pi running the show. Control is achieved by a set of hidden capacitive buttons, and there’s a Web interface to allow both music and magical appearance of alcohol from the comfort of a smartphone. The whole can be seen in the video below the break.

Whenever a piece of vintage electronics is gutted in this way there will always be people who find it disquieting, but the truth is that these all-in-one stereos were made in huge quantities during the mid-century period and do not have a significant value. This one may have lost its original electronics, but it lives on safe from the dump that has claimed so many of its brethren. Happily this isn’t the first one we’ve seen saved with a Pi.

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LCD Panel Lamp Shade Makes For Eye-Catching Lighting

At first sight, [Kyle]’s Elroy lamp is simply an attractive piece of modern-styled interior furnishing; its clean lines, wood grain, and contemporary patterning being an asset to the room. But when he pulls out his phone, things change. Because this lamp hides a secret: at its heart may be a standard LED bulb, but the shade conceals four LCD screens driven by an Nvidia Jetson. These can be controlled through a web app to display a variety of textures, completing the effect.

This is not however simply a set of laptop screens bolted to a lampshade. The screens started life in laptops sure enough, but have since had their reflective backing removed to create a transparent LCD panel. Then an appropriate diffuser had to be found, which after much experimentation became a composite including more than one textured paper. Finally the whole was enclosed in an attractive wooden lamp frame and became part of the furniture. We like it, both as an aesthetically pleasing lamp and as a genuine departure from the norm.

This isn’t the first eye-catching lampshade we’ve brought you, but it’s certainly raised the bar. You can see it in action in the video below the break.

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