Stomp Switches Let You Skip Tracks Hands-Free

You’ve (probably) got four limbs, so why are you only using half of them when you’re working on the computer? Just because your toes don’t have the dexterity to type (again, probably) doesn’t mean your feet should get to just sit there doing nothing all day. In a recent project, [MacCraiger] shows you just how easy it can be to put some functionality under foot by building a pair of media control stomp switches.

Crimp pin connectors grant +50 professionalism.

If the devices pictured above look a lot like guitar effects, that’s because they share a lot of parts. [MacCraiger] used the same sort of switch and aluminum case that you might see on a pedal board, as he figured they’d be better suited to a lifetime of being stepped on than something he 3D printed.

Up on the desk, and this time in a printed case, is the Arduino Leonardo that they connect to. The wiring for this project is very straightforward, with the switches connected directly to the GPIO pins. From there, the Arduino firmware emulates a USB Human Interface Device and fires off the appropriate media control keystrokes to skip to the next track or pause playback depending on which switch has been engaged.

This hardware isn’t exactly breaking any new ground here, but we did like how [MacCraiger] used standard 3.5 mm audio cable and the associated jacks to connect everything up. It’s obviously on-theme for what’s essentially a music project, but more importantly, gives the whole thing a very professional look. Definitely a tip to mentally file away for the future.

For the more accomplished toe-tapper, our very own [Kristina Panos] recently recently took us through the construction of her macro slinging footstool. Between these two examples of bespoke peripherals, you should have everything you need to create your own custom input devices. We suppose you could even make one that’s hand operated if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Hands-Free Oreo Dispenser, Now With Milk

A while back, [Emiel] aka [The Practical Engineer] created a hands-free Oreo dispenser for his shop. This was a necessary addition to his fleet of handy tools, and allowed him to multitask much more effectively by using a sander, for example, at the same time that he needed to eat a cookie. Of course, this time-saving device was missing one crucial element: milk. [Emiel] is back in this video to show off his milk-dispensing upgrade to his original Oreo dispenser.

A few ideas were considered before [Emiel] decided to build a separate unit for the milk dispenser, so as not to create a gigantic mess any time an Oreo was delivered, and also to maintain some decorum in the shop. He rebuilt the Oreo dispenser with a 3D printer and then also 3D printed the milk dispenser. The chin-activated switch inside the device turns on a small pump which squirts milk into the user’s mouth, presumably after an Oreo has been delivered.

There are a few problems with the build, but most are easily solved by replacing non-food-grade parts with plastic that is more safe for being around consumables. The only other thing we can see here is that it might be a little hard to keep things clean, both inside and out, but most Oreo-related builds like this one have at least some problem with cleanliness that isn’t impossible to keep up with.

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Fifty Dollars To Make Your Car Audio Bluetooth Compatible

We’re rather impressed with the work [Aaron] did to add Bluetooth connectivity to his 2008 Honda. He used an aftermarket kit, but rolled in his own revisions to make it look and feel like an original feature.

After being disappointed by an expensive docking system he grabbed a Jensen BT360 kit for about $35. It comes with an external speaker which would look horrid mounted on the dash. That speaker is meant to play your telephone audio via Bluetooth, while music from the phone is sent to the car stereo using an FM transmitter. Since he planned on hiding the control unit under the dash anyway, it wasn’t too hard to add some wires which intercept the audio being fed to that FM transmitter. From there he added a couple of relays to automatically route the audio signals (when present) and patched the whole thing into the Aux input. This way he doesn’t need the extra speaker, and all sound is feed to the head unit via wire instead of radio transmissions.

The final setup works pretty well. If a phone call comes in it automatically mutes the volume, or pauses the iPod if that’s what’s currently playing through the Aux port. [Aaron] thinks the bass from music played via Bluetooth is not quite as rich as when using the Aux port, but if you don’t mind the cables that’s still an option too.

DIY Camera Dolly Frees Up Your Hands To Take Care Of The Important Stuff

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Documenting your build process can sometimes be an incredible pain, as it’s quite difficult to take pictures or video while you are in the middle of soldering. Professionals who demonstrate things on TV for a living have the benefit of a camera crew and special rigs to catch the action from every angle – the rest of us don’t have that luxury.

[Steve] felt the same frustrations as many of us do, and decided to do something about it. He built a movable camera dolly that can be suspended from the ceiling above his work surface for less than $30. The bulk of his camera dolly is built from PVC piping, with assorted bolts and washers holding things together. Skateboard bearings were used as rollers to provide smooth 2-axis motion for the entire rig, then he hung the entire apparatus from the ceiling joists over his workspace.

According to [Steve], the build process seems relatively easy and should take no more than an hour or so, and it can support pretty much any full-size DSLR camera you can find.

Stick around for a quick video tour of his camera dolly build.

[via Make]

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Hands-free Input

This is a concept input device that [Tech B] built for disabled users. The device uses an accelerometer along with a piezo sensor (right click) and a push button (left click) to function as a mouse. The Arduino that resides in a breadboard on the side of the hat communicates with the computer over a serial connection, using PySerial to translate the microcontroller data into cursor commands with the power and ease of the Python programming language.

During development [Tech B] made a proof-of-concept video using a Basic Stamp which you can watch after the break. He found that this input device was less complicated, more accurate, and much less resource intensive than his webcam IR tracking system.

Hands Free Point Of View Camera

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Here’s an odd little footnote we found while perusing the Comic Tools blog. [Matt Bernier]’s blog is dedicated to drawing and inking tutorials for comic artists. He uses a lot of example photographs that involve both hands. This week, at the bottom of his post on cleaning brushes, he included a photo to illustrate how he takes all of these point of view shots. The camera is strapped securely to his head using an old lanyard. He can see the display and access the controls on the back. After composing his shot, he just sets the timer, and you get a picture of what the process looks like from his perspective. Sure, it looks silly from this angle, but it really helps out the posts.