Making A Halloween Costume Fit For 2020

All across the country, parents are wondering what to do about the upcoming Trick Or Treat season. Measures such as social distancing, contact free treats, or simply doing it at home are all being weighed as a balance of fun and safety. [BuildXYZ] has decided to lean into the challenges this year and incorporate a mask as part of the costume for his boys.

It started with a 3d printed mask, printed in two halves, and sealed with silicon caulk and N95 filter material in the inlet and outlet holes on the sides. The real magic of the mask is the small OLED screen mounted to the front that works along with a small electret microphone inside the mask. By sampling the microphone and applying a rolling average, the Arduino Nano determines if the mouth drawn on the display should be open or closed. A small battery pack on a belt clip (with a button to flash “Trick or Treat” on the screen) powers the whole setup and can be easily hidden under a cape or costume.

This isn’t the first hack we’ve seen for Halloween this year, such as this socially distant candy slide. We have a feeling that there will be many more as the month rolls on and people start to apply their ingenuity to the season.

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Open Source Stream Deck Does It Without Touch Screens

[Adam Welch] has built macro pads in the past out of pre-fab key matrices and handfuls of Cherry MX clones. But all the stickers and custom keycaps in the world wouldn’t make those macro pads as versatile as a stream deck — those visual shortcut panels with tiny touchscreens for each button that some streamers use to change A/V settings or switch between applications.

Let’s face it, stream decks are expensive. But 0.96″ OLED displays are not, and neither are SMD tactile buttons. Why not imitate a screen deck on the cheap by making it so the screens actuate buttons behind them? [Adam] based this baby on the clever design of [Kilian Gosewisch]’s FreeDeck, and they ended up working together to improve it with a dedicated PCB.

The brains of the operation is an Arduino Pro Micro, which addresses each screen individually via two 74HC4051 mux ICs. Thanks to an SD card module, there’s no need to flash the ‘duino every time you want to change a shortcut or its picture. Even if this deck doesn’t hold up forever, it won’t break the bank to build another one. Poke past the break for the build video, which has all the links you’d need to make your own, including a handy configurator.

There’s more than one way to do a visual macro pad. Here’s one that uses a single screen and splits it Brady Bunch style to match the matrix.

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Multi-Volume Knob Gives All Your Programs A Turn

We’ve all been there. You’re manning the battle station, deep in the sim-racing or some other n00b-pwning zone and suddenly some loudmouth blows out your eardrums over Discord. It’s insulting to have to stop what you’re doing to find the right Windows volume slider. So why do that? Build [T3knomanzer]’s simple yet elegant multi-volume knob and stay zen in the zone.

It’s easy, just turn the knob to cycle through your programs until Discord comes up on the little screen, and then push down to change it into a volume knob. If you need to change another volume, just click it again. Since there’s no Alt+Tabbing out to the desktop, no checkered flags should ever slip through your fingers.

Inside the well-designed case you’ll find the usual suspects — Arduino Nano, rotary encoder, an OLED display, and an LED ring, each with their own place carved out.

This completely open-source knob looks great, and we love that it’s been made incredibly easy to replicate by standing up a site with foolproof, well-depicted, step-by-step instructions. Watch them take it for a spin after the break.

Want more than volume at your fingertips? Here’s a DIY USB knob that does shortcuts, too.

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Laser Tachometer Knows How Fast You Were Spinning Back There

Does your drill go as fast as the manufacturer says it will? Well, you’d need a tachometer to figure that out. They’re not that expensive to buy, but as [Elite Worm] shows, they’re not that expensive to make, either — about $10 total if you get your parts from the right places. Lucky for you, he has links to everything.

Really, the links are just the tip of the iceberg here as far as the gifts that [Elite Worm] bestows upon those who choose to undertake this project. The build video (after the break, as usual; our favor to you) is fantastic, and would be perfect for a beginner because of the entrancing speed at which he builds it. The video is straight up relaxing to watch, whether you want to build one or not.

It’s a fairly simple circuit — just push the momentary switch, and the laser diode and sensor pair count the revolutions over one second. The Arduino Nano multiplies this number by 60 and displays the RPM on the OLED screen. What we absolutely love about this build is the care that taken in designing the case. There’s a designated spot for each component, and the ones without their own special holder are kept in place with printed crossbar pieces. [Elite Worm] says this has a higher refresh rate than his store-bought tacho, and we say it looks way cooler, too.

Still don’t want to make one yourself? Well, okay. Before you buy one, try using your phone to calculate RPM.

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ESP32 Boards With Displays: An Overview

The ESP8266 has become practically the 555 chip of WiFi connected microcontrollers. Traditionally, you’d buy one on a little breakout board with some pins and a few connectors, and then wire up anything else you need. The ESP8266’s big brother, the ESP32, hasn’t quite taken over from the ESP8266, but it has a lot more power and many more options. [Andreas] has a new video that shows seven new ESP32 boards that have integral displays. These boards can simplify a lot of applications where you need both WiFi and a user interface.

Of the boards examined, six of them have OLED displays, but one has an E-paper display. To summarize results, [Andreas] summarized his findings on these seven along with others in an online spreadsheet.

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Accessing Blockchain On ESP8266 Using The NodeMCU Board

Blockchains claim to be public, distributed, effectively immutable ledgers. Unfortunately, they also tend to get a little bit huge – presently the Bitcoin blockchain is 194GB and Ethereum weighs in at 444GB. That poses quite an inconvenience for me, as I was looking at making some fun ‘Ethereum blockchain aware’ gadgets and that’s several orders of magnitude too much data to deal with on a microcontroller, not to mention the bandwidth cost if using 3G.

Having imagined a thin device that I could integrate into my mobile phone cover (or perhaps… a wallet?) dealing with the whole blockchain was clearly not a possibility. I could use a VPS or router to efficiently download the necessary data and respond to queries, but even that seemed like a lot of overhead, so I investigated available APIs.

As it turns out, several blockchain explorers offer APIs that do what I want. My efforts get an ESP8266 involved with the blockchain began with two of the available APIs: Ethplorer and Etherscan.

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Checking The Weather Without A Window

Making a weather display is great because it’s a simple project that shows off some skills and has an obvious daily use. So [ACROBOTIC Industries] decided to make an easy kit for the Hackaday Prize to make weather displays even more accessible.

Calling it the ESPecter, [ACROBOTIC Industries] wanted to make this a simple project for anyone, regardless of skill with a soldering iron or Arduino toolkit. So they decided to base the guts on common components that can be put together easily, specifically a Wemos Mini D1 with an OLED shield as a bright display. They also designed a cool tiltable 3D-printed enclosure for this small device so that you can orient it to your eye level.

ESPecter breadboarded prototype.

While they already have a breadboarded prototype, and a 3D printed case, some software work remains to make the project really shine. They plan to add nice features like a web interface to configure location and network information, alerts, additional locations, and historical weather data. They also want to create a weather library to display well on a low-resolution screen and add battery operation.

We look forward to seeing the final version later in the Hackaday Prize!

This isn’t the first weather project we’ve seen around here. Other variants include mirror weather displays, an ESP8266-based weather monitoring station, a very low-power weather station, and this roundup of weather displays which might give you some inspiration.