A Simple RF Signal Strength Meter


[Scott] wrote in to us with his simple, but well done RF signal strength meter. As he points out in his post, sometimes an Arduino is overkill, so a Picaxe 08M was used instead. Apparently this was a refresh of a high school project that he did. Certainly many of us would have liked to go to that high school!

An interesting part of this project is how he used a laser cutter to produce his PCB traces. This was done by applying black paint to the copper on his board and cutting everywhere he didn’t want copper traces. The results were quite good, and should work well when this project is finalized in an enclosure

Check out the video after the break to see this circuit in action. He explains the build in it, but if you just want to see the signal strength lights come on, fast forward to around 2:25. Continue reading “A Simple RF Signal Strength Meter”

Pingbot: adorable and fully documented

After building many functional but somewhat unfinished looking bots, [Tomdf] really wanted to produce something that felt “complete”.  Pingbot is the result and here’s how [Tomdf] describes it:

Pingbot is a very small (38mm diameter), usb rechargeable, programmable, musical, remote control robot designed for maximum fun and danceability.

Though I wasn’t inclined to dance I did find myself smiling watching the video. Pingbot does look finished and has quite a bit of personality too. The brains inside the Pingbot are a Picaxe 08m2. With a 110mAh Li-Po battery, Pingbot can dance happily for a quite a while too. When juice is running low, just plug into your USB port for a recharge. You can find all the info and schematics on the instructible as well as the files to print your own Pingbot shell.

Continue reading “Pingbot: adorable and fully documented”

Suzuki V-Strom current gear indicator

[Iron Jungle] just finished building this gear indicator for his motorcycle. It uses a red 7-segment display to show the rider what gear is currently engaged. This hack is pretty common and makes us wonder why all motorcycles don’t come standard with the feature? But then again, if they did you wouldn’t have a reason to hack them.

The motorcycle does have a gear sensor; apparently it only lacks a way to display this data. The sensor outputs a signal between 0 and 5V which [Iron Jungle] reads using a PICAXE 18M2 microcontroller. Patching into that signal wasn’t hard at all. Once he found the correct wire he simply removed a portion of the insulation and soldered a lead to the conductor. This should stand up to the vibrations encountered in an automotive application like this one. Since the computing power is already there, he also included a DS18B20 to take ambient air temperature readings. Check out the quick demo after the break.

This is not the first time we’ve seen the V-Storm get a custom gear indicator. But if you really want to go all out, perhaps you need to build an interface for your tablet or smart phone. Continue reading “Suzuki V-Strom current gear indicator”

Echo box shakes itself to make sound

The echo box performs exactly as its name implies. If you tap out a rhythm on the lid, it will tap the same thing back to you. Except it isn’t tapping to make the sound, but vibrating.

The concept is similar to the Knock Block. In that hack, a piezo element detected a rapping on the wooden enclosure and repeated the rhythm by striking the lid with a solenoid. This iteration also uses a piezo element as the sensor. In the image above you can see a segment of PVC pipe in the upper corner. That houses the element, sandwiched between two pieces of wine bottle cork. That cork just touches the lid of the box, transferring the vibrations to the element.

The sound is created by a motor with an offset weight on its spindle. When the motor spins, it causes vibrations. The enclosure is one wood box inside of another, so the vibrating motor cause the inner box to shake against the outer one to make noise. Hear it for yourself in the clip after the break.

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An “Earthcore” Hexapod with Minimal Mechanical Parts

Although hexapod robots have been featured on [HAD] many times, this one features a really cool minimalistic design. With few mechanical parts to support the three servos, the “Earthcore Hexapod Robot” has a unique gait, tending to quickly slide the driving legs rather than picking the whole robot up. Although it would probably have trouble on rough terrain, for use on a smooth floor or counter, this ‘bot is perfectly suited.  Check out the video of it after the break.

Another thing that really stands out on this bot is the blue LED “eyes” and it’s tubing “hat.”  The “hat” hides the wiring for the three servos, while most of the circuitry looks to be in between the eyes. The main controller is a PICAXE 18M2 micro-controller. 3 AAA batteries seen behind the tubing power the unit.

As for the name “Earthcore”, it’s based on a book by [Scott Sigler]. If there is a movie version in the works, we hope he calls [onefivefour] to help with the special effects! Continue reading “An “Earthcore” Hexapod with Minimal Mechanical Parts”

Noise generator ported to run on small AVR, also Arduino compatible

Feeling a bit left out because he didn’t have a PICAXE on hand, [Rob Miles] decided to port the Luna Mod code so that it would work on an AVR chip. He chose to build his around an ATtiny45, but also mentions that this is Arduino compatible.

This case layout is a bit different from the original Make version, but we like this look just a bit better. It might not satisfy your need for that hipster looking enclosure, but the repurposed macadamia nut box looks seems it was built for this purpose. Take a look as the video after the break to see the final product and hear it spewing newly composed cacophony. [Rob] is sharing the sketch as a dropbox file but we’ve also included our own hosted link after the break in case is stops working.

Continue reading “Noise generator ported to run on small AVR, also Arduino compatible”

Toy robot hand vastly improved, now more offensive

YouTube user [onefivefour] posted a video of his hacked up toy robot hand. These cheap robot hands usually only use one wire to move all five fingers. [onefivefour] improved upon the design and added five servos to allow independent control of each digit.

The servos are controlled by a PICAXE microcontroller, and [onefivefour] is willing to share the code. A few pressure sensors in the fingertips would turn this build into a great test bed for future development. It would also be great for an [Anakin Skywalker] Halloween costume if anyone on the planet ever wanted that specific costume.

[onefivefour] says he only spent $6 on his and while there’s more money sunk into the servos, it was probably a good investment. We love seeing hacked up pieces of plastic like the fully functional Wall-E or the dancing Androids. If you’ve got a toy hack in the works, drop us a line on our tip form.