Wireless Mouse Gets A Charging House

Mouse batteries always seem to die at the worst possible moment, like when you’re in the middle of pwning noobs or giving a presentation at work. [AyhamAS] was tired of having to look around for a replacement battery and decided to build a nice little charging dock for their mouse.

At the heart of this build is a TC4056A charging board inside the dock. Since this board is designed to charge 3.7 V batteries, [AyhamAS] removed the charge current-limiting resistor and replaced it with a pair of through-hole resistors. A switch on the back of the dock lets [AyhamAS] choose between the two values for fast or slow charging.

On the mouse side, [AyhamAS] cleverly used the receiver storage cubbyhole to house the contacts. Magnets in in the mouse and the dock and spring-loaded contacts add even more tactile feedback to the whole experience. The dock itself looks great, too — it’s made from acrylic that’s been sanded down to a matte finish. Check out the build video after the break.

If your mouse has a battery pack, you could always upgrade to a bigger one as long as there’s room.

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Wooden Disc Player Translates Binary Back Into Text

[jbumstead] used MATLAB to convert the text messages into binary to be cut out of the disk.
[jbumstead] wanted to demonstrate the idea of information-storing devices such as LPs, CDs, and old hard drives. What he came up with lies directly at the intersection of art and technology: an intricately-built machine that plays beautiful collaged wooden disks. Much like the media that inspired the Wooden Disk Player, it uses a laser to read encoded data, which in this case is short bits of text like “Don’t Panic”.

These snippets are stored in binary and read by a laser and photodiode pair that looks for holes and not-holes in the disk. The message is then sent to an Arduino Nano, which translates it into English and scrolls the text on an LED matrix. For extra fun, the Nano plays a MIDI note every time it reads a 1, and you can see the laser reading the disk through a protective acrylic shield.

Though the end result is fantastic, [jbumstead] had plenty of issues along the way which are explored in the build video after the break. We love it when people show us their mistakes, because it happens to all of us and we shouldn’t ever let it tell us to stop hacking.

If anyone knows their way around lasers, it’s [jbumstead]. We loved playing their laser harp at Supercon!

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Print Your Way To Keyboard Stability

Keyboard key stabilizers, or stabs as they’re known in enthusiast circles, do exactly what you’d expect — they stabilize longer keys like the Shifts and the space bar so that they don’t have to be struck dead-center to actuate evenly. Stabs work by flanking the key switch with two non-functional switch actuators linked with a thick wire bar. Some people love stabs and insist on stabilizing every key that’s bigger than 1u, while other people think  stabs are more trouble than they’re worth for various reasons, like rattling.

[Riskable 3D Printing] has been working on a parametric, printable stabilizer system for Cherry MX caps that uses small disk magnets to keep the wire in place. As you can see in the video (embedded after the break), the result is a crisp clacker that doesn’t rattle. The magnets stabilize the wire, so it snaps back quite nicely.

Although the print is an easy one, [Riskable] says the design process wasn’t as cut and dried as it seems. The center points of the stabilizer stems aren’t supposed to be in the center of cutouts, even though it looks that way to the naked eye. After that, the pain point has shifted to the wire, and getting it as straight as possible before making the necessary bends. [Riskable] is going to make a straightener to help out, and we suggest something like this one.

Clacker hacking is quite the rabbit hole, especially when combined with 3D printing. We recently saw a completely 3D-printed macro pad, springs and all.

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Arduino Magnetic Board Is Anything But Boring

Magnets (especially those ball magnets!) are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they? It’s almost dangerous to combine them with LEDs, because how are you supposed to get anything done with something like [andrei.erdei]’s Arduino Magnetic Board beckoning from beyond your keyboard?

This tons-of-fun board uses ball magnets to light up RGB LEDs as they roll around on the sexy Plexiglas field. Underneath the LED matrix is an orchestra of 36 reed switches — those little glass gas-filled grains of rice with axial leads that snap together or fly apart in the presence of magnetic fields. The LEDs are controlled with an Arduino Pro Mini, and so is the 8Ω speaker for sound effects.

[andrei.erdei] has already developed a few applications for this delightful desk toy, and they’re all on GitHub. There’s a chase game that involves tilting the board to catch the next red dot with the magnet, a light painting game, and a sequencer that mimics the ToneMatrix. Roll past the break to check out the series of short demo videos.

Want to play with reed switches but can’t source any at the moment? You could just make them yourself.

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Data Glove Gets A Grip On Gesture Input

If we really want wearable computing to take off as a concept, we’re going to need lightweight input devices that can do some heavy lifting. Sure, split ergo keyboards are awesome. But it seems silly to restrict the possibilities of cyberdecks by limiting the horizons to imitations of desk-bound computing concepts.

What we really need are things like [Zach Freedman]’s somatic data glove. This fantastically futuristic finger reader is inspired by DnD spells that have a somatic component to them — a precise hand gesture that must be executed perfectly while the spell is spoken, lest it be miscast. The idea is to convert hand gestures to keyboard presses and mouse clicks using a Teensy that’s housed in the wrist-mounted box. You are of course not limited to computing on the go, but who could resist walking around the danger zone with this on their wrist?

Each finger segment contains a magnet, and there’s a Hall effect sensor in each base knuckle to detect when gesture movement has displaced a magnet. There’s a 9-DoF IMU mounted in the thumb that will eventually allow letters to be typed by drawing them in the air. All of the finger and thumb components are housed in 3D-printed enclosures that are mounted on a cool-looking half glove designed for weightlifters. [Zach] is still working on gesture training, but has full instructions for building the glove up on Instructables.

It’s true: we do love split ergo keyboarded cyberdecks, and this one is out of this world.

Magnets Turn Flexible PCB Into Electric Grasshopper

Just because something doesn’t seem to have an apparent purpose, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try making it anyway. As flexible PCBs become cheaper and easier to order from low-scale fab houses, we’re seeing hobbyists experiment with new uses for them such as [Carl Bugeja]’s jumping circuit.

The circuit is based a coil printed on the flexible PCB itself acting as an electromagnet, but unlike other designs which use the same trick, in this one the coil is made to be the static side of an actuator. Attached to the circuit with folding arms is a stack of two permanent magnets, which work as the moving part. Since the magnets make up most of the mass of the circuit, as they’re pushed down and sprung back up, it causes the whole thing to leap around just under one centimeter off the table like a little electric grasshopper.

This is far from [Carl]’s first appearance here on Hackaday, and he’s been clearly busy exploring new uses for flexible PCBs with their properties as electromagnets, from making POV displays with them to small robots that move around through vibration. We’re excited to see what else he can come up with, and you can see this one in action after the break.

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Generate Power As You Ride With A Bicycle Planar Alternator

For most riders, bicycle lighting consists of an array of LED lamps and flashing gizmos, usually powered by lithium-ion batteries, or coin cells for the smaller ones. Some people though prefer to dispense with batteries and generate their own power, and that’s what [Thomas D] has done by fitting his bike with an alternator. But this is no off the shelf unit that rubs the tire or sits in a wheel hub. Instead, he’s built his own planar alternator that attaches to the spokes.

The design is inspired by those used in some wind generators, a central disk holding a set of planar coils sits between two rotating disks holding magnets. The stator holding the coils is made from laser-cut acrylic, and the rotors holding the magnets are sheet steel. One rotor is attached to the rear wheel spokes of the bicycle in close proximity to the stator which is attached to the rear frame. The second rotor sits on the other side of the stator while attached to the first rotor by its edge.

The coils are wired as two parallel groups in series in a ring with a single-phase output that feeds a rectifier and DC to DC converter. It would be interesting to see the effect of the same alternator with different winding arrangements or multiple phases.

This is the first time we’ve seen one of these on a bicycle, but this type of alternator has appeared here in more than one wind generator.

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