This Air Particulate Sensor Can Also Check Your Pulse Rate

The MAX30105 is an optical sensor capable of a great many things. It can sense particulate matter in the air, or pick up the blinking of an eye. Or, you can use it as a rudimentary way to measure your heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It’s by no means a medical grade tool, but this build from [Taste The Code] is still quite impressive.

The MAX30105 contains red, green, and infrared LEDs, and a very sensitive light detector. The way it works is by turning on its different LEDs, and then carefully measuring what gets reflected back. In this way it can measure particles in the air,¬† such as smoke, which is actually what it was designed for originally. Or, if you press your finger up against it, it can measure the light coming back from your blood and determine its oxygenation level. By detecting the variation in the light over time, it’s possible to pick up your pulse, too.

Getting this data out of the sensor is remarkably easy. One need only hook it up to a suitable microcontroller like the ESP8266 and use the MAX3010X library to talk to it. [Taste The Code] did exactly that, and also hooked up a screen for displaying the captured data. Alternatively, if you want the raw data from the sensor, you can get that too.

It should be noted that this build was done for educational purposes only. You shouldn’t rely on a simple DIY device for gathering useful medical data; there are reasons the real gear is so expensive, after all. We’ve looked at this sensor before, too, not long after it first hit the market. Continue reading “This Air Particulate Sensor Can Also Check Your Pulse Rate”

Tattoo-Removal Laser Brought Out Of Retirement For A Megawatt Of Fun

We’ve got to say that [Les Wright] has the most fun on the internet, at least in terms of megawatts per dollar. Just look at his new video where he turns a $30 eBay tattoo-removal laser into a benchtop beast.

The junk laser in question is a neodymium:YAG pulse laser that clearly has seen better days, both externally and internally. The original pistol-grip enclosure was essentially falling apart, but was superfluous to [Les]’ plans for the laser. Things were better inside the business end of the gun, at least in terms of having all the pieces in place, but the teardown still revealed issues. Chief among these was the gunk and grunge that had accumulated on the laser rod and the flash tube — [Les] blamed this on the previous owner’s use of tap water for cooling rather than deionized water. It was nothing a little elbow grease couldn’t take care of, though. Especially since the rest of the laser bits seemed in good shape, including the chromium:YAG Q-switch, which allows the lasing medium to build up a huge pulse of photons before releasing them in one gigantic pulse.

Cleaned up and with a few special modifications of his own, including a custom high-voltage power supply, [Les]’ laser was ready for tests. The results are impressive; peak optical power is just over a megawatt, which is enough power to have some real fun. We’ll be keen to see what he does with this laser — maybe blasting apart a CCD camera?

Continue reading “Tattoo-Removal Laser Brought Out Of Retirement For A Megawatt Of Fun”

Truthsayer Uses Facial Recognition To See If You’re Telling The Truth

It’s hard to watch [Mark Zuckerberg]’s 2018 Congressional testimony and not come to the conclusion that he is, at a minimum, quite a bit different than the average person. Of course, having built a multibillion-dollar company that drastically changed everything about the way people communicate is pretty solid evidence of that, but the footage at least made a fun test case for this AI truth-detecting algorithm.

Now, we’re not saying that anyone in these videos was lying, and neither is [Fletcher Heisler]. His algorithm, which analyzes video of a person and uses machine vision to pick up cues that might be associated with the stress of untruthfulness, is far from perfect. But as the first video below shows, it is a lot of fun to see it at work. The idea is to capture data like pulse rate, gaze direction, blink rate, mouth posture, and even hand position and use them as a proxy for lying. The second video, from [Fletcher]’s recent DEFCON talk, has much more detail.

The key to all this is finding human faces in a video — a task that seemed to fail suspiciously frequently when [Zuck] was on camera — using OpenCV and MediaPipe’s Face Mesh. The subject’s pulse is detected by watching for subtle changes in the color of a subject’s cheeks as blood flows through them, which we’ve heard about plenty of times but never before seen presented so clearly and executed so simply. Gaze direction, blinking, and lip compression are fairly easy to detect too. [Fletcher] also threw in the FER library for facial expression recognition, to get an idea of the subject’s mood. Together, these cues form a rough estimate of the subject’s truthiness, which [Fletcher] is quick to point out is just for entertainment purposes and totally shouldn’t be used on your colleagues on the next Zoom call.

Does [Fletcher]’s facial mesh look familiar? It should, since we once watched him twitch his way through a coding interview.

Continue reading “Truthsayer Uses Facial Recognition To See If You’re Telling The Truth”

Dead Simple Time-Domain Reflectometry With Just A Battery And An Oscilloscope

“Time-domain reflectometry” sure sounds like something that needs racks of expensive equipment to accomplish. In reality, TDR is just measuring the time between injecting a pulse into a cable and receiving its echo, either from the other end of the cable or from some fault or defect along the way. It’s a useful technique, and as [Allen Wolke (W2AEW)] shows us, it can be accomplished with little more than a battery, a resistor, and an oscilloscope. And a little math, of course.

There are, of course, dedicated time-domain reflectometers, but all of them are really just elaborations of the basic principles [W2AEW] demonstrates with his simple setup. The oscilloscope is set up with a tee connector on one channel; one side of the tee is connected to the cable under test, while the shield conductor of the other side is connected to the negative terminal of a 9V battery. A resistor connected to the center conductor is used to complete the circuit, which sends a brief pulse down the test cable. The scope is set up to capture the outgoing pulse as well as the return pulse, allowing the time between the two to be measured. Some simple math gives the length of the cable, the distance to a fault, or with a little rearrangement, the velocity factor of the cable.

The video below shows the simple method at work on coax and Cat 5e Ethernet cable. It even worked on a roll of zip cable, which was a little surprising. If this technique is too simple, you can always elaborate a bit and roll your own TDR tester. Googly eyes optional, of course, but recommended.

Continue reading “Dead Simple Time-Domain Reflectometry With Just A Battery And An Oscilloscope”

Pulse Generator Does The Job With An STM8

When working with hardware, whether a repair or a fresh build, it’s often necessary to test something. Depending on what you’re working with, this can be easy or a total pain if you can’t get the right signal to the right place. To eliminate this frustrating problem, [WilkoL] built a useful pulse generator for use in the lab.

[WilkoL] notes that historically, the job of generating pulses of varying length and frequency would be achieved with a smattering of 555 timers. While this is a perfectly cromulent way to do so, it was desired to take a different approach for the added flexibility modern hardware can offer. The pulse generator is instead built around an STM8 microcontroller; an unusual choice in this era, to be sure. [WilkoL] specified the part for its incredibly low cost, and highly capable timer hardware – perfect for the job.

Combined with an ST7735 TFT LCD screen, and programmed in bare metal for efficiency’s sake, the final project is installed in a project box with controls for frequency and pulse length – no more, no less. Capable of pulse lengths from 250 ns to 90 s, and frequencies from 10 mHz to 2 MHz, it’s a tool that should be comfortable testing everything from servos to mechanical counters.

Of course, if you need to get down to picosecond timescales, an avalanche pulse generator might be more your speed. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Pulse Generator Does The Job With An STM8”

A Wearable That Jives To The Beat Of Your Heart

We’re always searching for the coolest biohacking projects all over the web, so imagine our excitement when we ran across [marcvila333’s] wearable biometric monitor on Instructables. This was a combined effort between [Marc Vila], [Guillermo Stauffacher], and [Pau Carcell√©] as they were wrapping up the semester at their university. Their goal was to develop an integrated device that could modulate the wearer’s heart, and subsequently their mood and stress levels, using music.

Their device includes an LCD screen for user feedback, buttons for user input, an MP3 module, and a heart rate sensor module. The user can measure their heart rate and use the buttons to select the type of music they desire based on whether they would like to decrease or increase their heart rate. The science behind this phenomenon is still unknown, but the general sense is that different music can trigger different chemical signals in your brain, subsequently affecting your mood and other subtle physiological effects. I guess you can say that we tend to jive to the beat of our music.

It would be really cool to see their device automatically change the song to either lower or raise the user’s heart rate, making them calmer or more engaged. Maybe connect it to your tv? Currently, the user has to manually adjust the music, which might be a bit more inconvenient and could possibly lead to the placebo effect.

Either way; Cool project, team. Thanks for sharing!

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Hackaday Links: June 7, 2020

For many of us who were in college at the time, the 1989 release of Will Wright’s classic SimCity sounded the death knell of our GPAs. Being able to create virtual worlds and then smite them with a tornado or a kaiju attack was the stuff of a procrastinator’s dreams. We always liked the industrial side of the game best, and took great pains in laying out the factory zones, power plants, and seaports. Those of a similar bent will be happy to know that Maxis, the studio behind the game, had a business simulations division, and one of their products was a complete refinery simulator the studio built for Chevron called, unsurprisingly, SimRefinery. The game, which bears a striking resemblance to SimCity, has been recovered and is now available for download, which means endless procrastination by playing virtual petrochemical engineer is only a mouse click away.

Speaking of time wasters, we stumbled upon another simulation this week that sucked away a couple of hours of productivity. As RTL-SDR.com reports, YouTuber called Information Zulu has a 24/7 live stream showing arrivals and departures at Los Angeles International Airport. That may sound boring, but the cameras used to watch the runways are virtual, and the planes are animated based on ADS-B data being scooped up by an RTL-SDR dongle. We pinged Information Zulu and asked for a rundown of the gear behind the system, but never heard back. If we do, we’ll post a full article on what we learned, because the level of detail is amazing. The arriving and departing planes sport the correct livery for the airline, the current weather conditions are shown, taxiing is shown in real time, and there’s even an audio feed from air traffic control.

If you’re looking to gain back a little of the productivity lost to the last two items, Digi-Key might be able to help with their new PCB Builder service. All you have to do is upload your gerbers and select your materials, and they’ll give you options for a bunch of different quick-turn fabrication houses. Looks mighty convenient.

Steve Mould dropped a video this week about vibration analysis. That might not sound very exciting, but the fascinating bit is how companies are now using motion amplification video techniques to show how and where industrial equipment is moving, even if those motions are too subtle to be seen by the naked eye. It’s frankly terrifying to see how pipes flex and tanks expand and contract, and how pumps and motors move relative to each other. The technique used is similar to the way a person’s pulse can be detected on a video by the subtle color change as blood rushes into capillaries. We’d love to see someone tackle a homebrew version of this so we can all see what’s going on around us.

And finally, we want to remind everyone that the Hackaday Prize is back, and that you should get your entries going. What’s new this year is the Dream Team challenges, where four worthy non-profits organizations will each assemble a three-person team to work on a specific pain-point in their process. The application deadline has been extended to June 9, and there are two $3,000 microgrants, one in June and one in July, for each team member. So look through the design briefs and see if your skills match their needs.