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.
Last month we brought word of the IKEA VINDRIKTNING, a $12 USD air quality sensor that could easily be upgraded to log data over the network with the addition of an ESP8266. It only took a couple of wires soldered to the original PCB, and since there was so much free space inside the enclosure, you didn’t even have to worry about fitting the parasitic microcontroller; just tape it to the inside of the case and button it back up.
Now we’ve got nothing against the quick and dirty method around these parts, but if you’re looking for a slightly more tidy VINDRIKTNING modification, then check out this custom PCB designed by [lond]. This ESP-12F board features a AP2202 voltage regulator, Molex PicoBlade connectors, and a clever design that lets it slip right into a free area inside the sensor’s case. The project description says the finished product looks like it was installed from the factory, and we’re inclined to agree.
Nothing has changed on the software side, in fact, the ESP-12F gets flashed with the same firmware [Sören Beye] wrote for the Wemos D1 Mini used in his original modification. That said [lond] designed the circuit so the MCU can be easily reprogrammed with an FTDI cable, so just because you’re leaving the development board behind doesn’t mean you can’t continue to experiment with different firmware builds.
It’s always gratifying to see this kind of community development, whether or not it was intentionally organized. [lond] saw an interesting idea, found a way to improve its execution, and released the result out into the wild for others to benefit from. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that this is exactly the kind of thing Hackaday is here to promote and facilitate, so if you ever find yourself inspired to take on a project by something you saw on these pages, be sure to drop us a line.
While some of us would have been tempted to gut the VINDRIKTNING and attach its particle sensor directly to the ESP8266, the approach [Sören] has used is actually quite elegant. Rather than replacing IKEA’s electronics, the microcontroller is simply listening in on the UART communications between the sensor and the original controller. This not only preserves the stock functionality of the VINDRIKTNING, but simplifies the code as the ESP doesn’t need to do nearly as much.
All you need to do if you want to perform this modification is solder a couple wires to convenient test pads on the VINDRIKTNING board, then flash the firmware (or write your own version), and you’re good to go. There’s plenty of room inside the case for the ESP8266, though you may want to tape it down so it doesn’t impact air flow.
While not required, [Sören] also recommends making a small modification to the VINDRIKTNING which makes it a bit quieter. Apparently the 5 V fan inside the sensor is occasionally revved up by the original controller, rather than kept at a continuous level that you can mentally tune out. But by attaching the sensor’s fan to the ESP8266’s 3.3 V pin, it will run continuously at a lower speed.
We’ve seen custom firmware for IKEA products before, but this approach, which keeps the device’s functionality intact regardless of what’s been flashed to the secondary microcontroller, is particularly appealing for those of us who can’t seem to keep the gremlins out of our code.
[Ed note: The project pages and video got pulled right when this went to press. Nicola received a takedown notice. We’ll let you know more when we do. The main link has been updated to the Wayback Machine.]
That’s not to say that the Ikea TRÅDFRI light bulb is the only thing [Nicola Wrachien] needed to accomplish the hack. But the bulb, specifically this addressable GU10 RGB LEB bulb, donated the most critical component, a Silicon Labs MGM210L wireless microcontroller, with enough processing power to run vanilla Doom. Added to the microcontroller was a TFT display, a controller made from a handful of buttons and a shift register, and a few odds and ends to stitch it all together. Some more memory was needed, though, so [Nicola] used an 8 MB QSPI flash memory and a couple of neat tricks to reduce latency and improve bandwidth. There are a lot of neat tricks with this one, but the coolest thing might just be that the whole footprint of the build isn’t that much bigger than the original bulb. Check out the surprisingly smooth gameplay in the video below.
We’re in a fortunate position when it comes to audio gear, because advances in amplifier and signal processing technology have delivered us budget devices that produce a sound that’s excellent in comparison to those of a few years ago. That said, a decent quality device is good whichever decade it was manufactured in, and a speaker from the 1960s can be coaxed into life and sound excellent with a modern amplifier. It’s something [Sebastius] has explored, as he picked up an attractive-looking set of Swedish speakers from the 1960s. Wanting to bring them into the 21st century, he’s upgraded them for Sonos compatibility by hacking in the guts of an IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker.
The speakers themselves looked good enough, but on closer examination they proved to bear the scars of many decades. After testing new wiring and drivers they still had a good sound to them. Their passive crossover meant that hooking them up to a single amplifier is as straightforward as it was decades ago, but a Symfonisk has an active crossover and two amplifiers. Fortunately there’s a neat hack by which those two amplifiers can be combined as one, and this is what he’s done with the resulting Symfonisk electronic package mounted on the reverse of the speaker.
The fate of the original speaker’s broken mid-range and tweeter drivers was a common enough one back in the day as speakers were ill-matched to amplifiers. Too small an amp would need turning up in volume to get a good sound resulting in distortion that would burn out the top end drivers, while too much power would result in the bass drivers being overloaded and failing. It’s unclear whether the drivers in a vintage speaker would be well-matched to an amplifier such as the Symfonisk, but we’re guessing they are safe while run at sensible volumes. Perhaps of more interest is whatever on-board DSP a Symfonisk contains, because while vintage speakers were designed for as flat a response as possible, modern compact speakers use DSP to equalise the frequency and phase responses of otherwise not-very-good-sounding enclosures. If the Symfonisk does this then those adjustments will appear as distortion in the sound of a different cabinet, but the question remains whether that distortion will be significant enough to be detectable by ear.
These days, home appliances are equally as likely to have soft buttons and rotary encoders as they are to have a simple old clunk/clunk power switch and an analog knob for controls. This is all well and good if the device aligns with your personal philosophy about how such controls should work; otherwise, it’s absolutely maddening. [j-zero] ran into this problem with their ORSALA lamp from IKEA, and set about rectifying the problem with some custom firmware.
The ORSALA lamp uses a rotary encoder for setting both brightness and color temperature, with a button to toggle modes. A long press is required to switch the lamp off. The custom firmware modifies this behaviour, such that the lamp can be switched on and off with a simple button press. Turning the encoder modifies brightness, and turning it to minimum switches the lamp off too. Meanwhile, the less commonly used color temperature setting can be modified by using the button while adjusting the encoder.
The hack was executed by reprogramming the ORSALA’s onboard microcontroller, the STM8S003F3P6, via its SWIM interface. The pads for the interface are easily located on the board, making the hack easy. Other than the inputs, the lamp packs separate TTP932 LED drivers for the warm white and cool white LEDs, making it easy to code a custom firmware to handle all the necessary functions.
There’s an old joke that the CEO of IKEA is running to be Prime Minister of Sweden. He says he’ll be able to put together his cabinet in no time. We don’t speak Swedish, but [Adam Miklosi] tells us that the word “uppgradera” means “upgrade” in Swedish. His website, uppgradera.co has several IKEA upgrade designs you can 3D print.
There are currently six designs that all appear to be simple prints that have some real value. These are all meant to attach to some IKEA product and solve some consumer problem.
For example, the KL01 is a cup holder with a clip that snaps into the groove of a KLIPSK bed tray. Without it, apparently, your coffee mug will tend to slide around the surface of the tray. The CH01 adds a ring around a cheese grater. There are drains for a soap dish and a toothbrush holder, shoulder pads for coat hangers, and a lampshade.
We worry a little about the safety of the cheese grater and the toothbrush because you will presumably put the cheese and the toothbrush into your mouth. Food safe 3D printing is not trivial. However, the other ones look handy enough, and we know a lot of people feel that PLA is safe enough for things that don’t make a lot of contact with food.
Honestly, none of these are going to change your life, but they are great examples of how simple things you can 3D print can make products better. People new to 3D printing often seem to have unrealistic expectations about what they can print and are disappointed that they can’t easily print a complete robot or whatever. However, these examples show that even simple designs that are easily printed can be quite useful.
If you don’t have a printer, it looks like as though site will also sell you the pieces and they aren’t terribly expensive. We don’t know why IKEA invites so many hacks, but even they provide 3D printer files to improve the accessibility of some products.