Tweeting bird feeder keeps a picture record of all visitors


If you weren’t aware, Adafruit Industries is sponsoring the “Make it Tweet” contest over at Instructables, and this Twitter-enabled bird feeder is [quasiben’s] entry into the competition.

His bird feeder not only sends messages to Twitter, it also sends a picture of each bird to Twitpic. The feeder itself is a standard off the shelf model which has been fitted with a LinkSprite camera. A LilyPad Arduino controls the camera, sending images to his computer via a pair of XBee modules. To detect when a bird has stopped by for something to eat, [quasiben] used an infrared LED and an IR detector. The emitter and detector are positioned at opposing sides of the feeder’s opening, triggering the Arduino to snap a picture whenever the beam is broken. Once the image has been transferred to his computer, it is posted to TwitPic.

We’re pretty sure [quasiben] built this Tweeting bird feeder just because he could, but we think it’s a pretty smart idea for people who don’t necessarily have the free time to gaze out the window into their yard. It’s a great way to keep tabs on all your new winged visitors while on the go.

Puppy POV: Four-legged persistence of vision display


We see lots of persistence of vision projects around here, but we can’t recall any that involve a POV display facilitated by a living, breathing animal (humans aside, if you want to picky). [Michael] has a Miniature Pinscher that just loves to run and run…and run…in circles. Since she generally runs very fast and in large curves, he thought she would make a great POV device.

He has a small fleece “jacket” for his dog, and on it, he mounted a Lilypad Arduino, the associated power supply, and five bright white LEDs. Naturally, conductive thread was used to wire up the circuit, and after a bit of trial and error, things came together nicely.

With the vest complete, [Michael] unleashed his dog at the park, letting her run to her heart’s content. All the while, her vest was writing out [Cory Doctorow’s] “Makers” while he snapped some pictures.

We can’t think of a more appropriate text to write with LEDs in the night, but in the spirit of the book, we were hoping to see a circuit diagram or the project’s code posted. If he shares it, perhaps we could convince [Cory Doctorow] to run about the park in a vest, writing out [Michael’s] code in bright white LEDs!

Forearm-mounted GPS uses LEDs to light the way home


While some people can rely solely on memory and landmarks to find their way home, others need a bit more help. Consider Instructables user [_macke_] for instance.

Like other screenless GPS navigation devices we have seen, his “Find Home Detector” uses a GPS module to obtain his location, guiding the way home via a set of alternate indicators. In this case, he uses LEDs which are laid out like a compass rose. When [_macke_] is aimed toward his destination, the LED nearest to his fingertips lights up, letting him know he is on the right path. As he turns away from home, the other LEDs light, indicating the direction in which he should turn.

His forearm-mounted GPS navigator uses a LilyPad Arduino to control the system, much like others we have seen. It is connected to a GPS sensor and a compass module that work in concert to guide him home. The compass is responsible obtaining his heading information, and while it might look as if the LEDs that surround the module are pointing North, they are in fact indicating the heading of his destination instead.

It’s a cool little creation, and we can imagine it would be quite helpful if you happen to be walking home after a long night of drinking.

Be sure to check out the video below for a quick demonstration.

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Snuggle up with the softer side of hacking


Not all hacks need to be made up of servo motors, wireless radios, and PIR sensors. Sometimes hacking has a softer side, of which [Katie] reminds us with her latest creation.

Her LED quilt incorporates 64 hand-sewn LEDs, all of which were painstakingly attached with conductive thread. The same thread was used in a sewing machine to build the conductive grid that powers the LEDs. One half of the circuit was sewn into the front of the quilt in the form of 8 rows, while the columns are sewn into the back side. All of the rows and columns meet in the corner of the quilt, where they are attached to a Lilypad Arduino using simple metal snaps.

The LED matrix panel was then tested, then sewn into an actual quilt. The finished product looks completely innocuous until lit up, as you can see in the video below. We think it would make a great nightlight replacement for a child, especially if programmed to display soothing light patterns.

[via Make]

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Electronic diaper bag reminds you to pack everything but the baby


[jnorby] knows what it’s like to leave the house with her baby in tow, only to realize that she has left something she needs at home. Instead of relying on a paper checklist, she decided to craft her own diaper bag that alerted her if she had forgotten to pack a particular item.

She built her bag from scratch, wiring small circuits into each of the pockets she created on the inside of the bag. Wires were run to each half of a snap fastener, so that they would complete the circuit when the snaps touch. The LEDs and snaps were then connected to a LilyPad Arduino, which checks the status of the snap circuits, lighting the appropriate LED once the proper item has been packed.

While we like the idea of a bag that uses functional indicators that remind you to pack items, we do think that the use of the Arduino, or any microprocessor for that matter, is massive overkill. We would ditch the LilyPad and snap fasteners for reed switches or perhaps normally closed micro leaf switches that turn the LEDs off once the proper item has been packed, rather than the other way around.

Lilypad bicycle computer reads back distance in beeps

[Mark Fickett] finished his own interesting take on a bicycle computer. These wristwatch-sized devices normally mount to the handlebars and give feedback for current speed, trip distance, and many have options like cadence and heart rate. [Mark’s] has fewer features but it’s clean, simple, and does more than you’d think.

He used some denim to house the electronics which you can see mounted inside the frame of the bike. He’s chosen to use Lilypad components which are Arduino bits meant to be sewn into textiles. We’ve seen a Morse Code keyer using these components and this project is along the same lines. It reads wheel revolutions from a magnetic sensor mounted on the front fork. It has no LCD readout, but when you want to know how far you’ve traveled just press one button and the computer reads it back to in Morse Code played on a tiny piezo buzzer. This package hides one more nice option. Once you arrive home the trip data can be dumped onto a computer for easy graphing. Check out the video after the break to see these features in action.

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Monitor UV exposure with your sunglasses

Tired of those awful sunburns? [Nikko Knappe’s] UV sensing glasses will warn you before you become crisp and red as a lobster. The bump added to the bridge support hides a TSL230R light frequency sensor. The device automatically switches on when the arms are unfolded and starts tracking cumulative exposure. If it detects a rising UV level, or you are about to burn based on skin type, an LED inside one arm of the frames will flash to inform you.

This has some potential if you think David Brin’s Earth outlines how climate change is really going to play out. Either way it’s still fun and we give bonus points to [Nikko] for disguising the lilypad that controls this as a flowery hair-pin.