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.
Their candy slide is almost entirely made of PVC, plus some gauze to mummify it and make it scarier. It’s essentially a six-foot long section of 3″ tubing supported by two ladders made of 1″ tubing that put the top four feet off the ground and a kid-friendly two feet off the ground at the receiving end. [WickedMakers] did a great job of hiding the PVC-ness of this build. We can’t help but wonder how much harder it would be to make the skeleton put the candy on the slide. Check out the build video after the break.
Those of you with an eye to classic cinema will remember 1985’s Back To The Future, and particularly its scientist character Dr. Emmett Brown. When the protagonist Marty McFly finds himself in 1955, on his first meeting with they younger Dr. Brown the latter is wearing an experimental helmet designed to read thoughts. It doesn’t work, but it’s an aesthetic we’re reminded of in [Håkan Lidbo]’s Corona Hat, a social distancing tool that incorporates distance sensors into a piece of headgear.
The device is simple enough, half of a globe fitted with a set of car reversing sensors and the battery from an autonomous vacuum cleaner. It’s sprayed a bright orange, and worn on the head as he walks around town in the video below the break. It beeps any time something or somebody gets too close, and as far as we can see it’s effective in what it does. We are not so sure about the look though, to us as well as Emmett Brown it’s a little too reminiscent of the character Sheev in the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie who wore an armadillo’s armour as a hat. Perhaps more conventional headgear as a basis might gain it a few fewer askance looks.
With social distancing it can be harder to stay in touch with our relatives, especially those who are elderly and not particularly tech-savvy. Looking for a solution to that end for his own grandmother, [Steve] came up with the idea of using an inexpensive used tablet and a mobile data plan in order to mail her a “video phone” that works out of the box.
Since the tablet is configured to use cellular networks rather than WiFi, it requires no setup process at all to the recipient. And with the Android version of Skype, it’s possible to configure it so that calls are automatically picked up and video chat enabled. That way, whoever gets the tablet after it’s prepared doesn’t have to tap a single button on the screen in order to receive a call.
[Steve] has also developed the simple idea into a full-fledged easy-to-follow tutorial so that just about anyone is able to replicate the process for their own loved ones. And if you’re still having any trouble with it, there’s a team of volunteers right on the website who can help you with tech support. Just remember to disinfect whatever device you’re sending, since viruses can typically stick to surfaces like plastic and glass for longer.
Now, if showing up to your relatives as a disembodied video screen doesn’t cut it for you, then you might want to send them something more substantial like this cute little telepresence robot that can drive around on a desk.
While the COVID-19 pandemic at least seems to be on a downward track, the dystopian aspects of the response to the disease appear to be on the rise. As if there weren’t enough busybodies and bluenoses shaming their neighbors for real or imagined quarantine violations on social media, now we have the rise of social-distancing enforcement drones. These have been in use in hot zones around the world, of course, but have only recently arrived in the US. From New Jersey to Florida, drones are buzzing about in search of people not cowering in fear in their homes and blaring messages about how they face fines and arrest for seeking a little fresh air and sunshine. We’re all in favor of minimizing contact with potentially infected people, but it seems like these methods might be taking things a bit too far.
Out of all the people on this planet, the three with the least chance of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 blasted off from Kazakhstan this week on Soyuz MS-16 to meet up with the ISS. The long-quarantined crew of Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, and Chris Cassidy swapped places with the Expedition 62 crew, who returned to Earth safely in the Soyuz MS-15 vehicle. It’s a strange new world they return to, and we wish them and their ISS colleagues all the best. What struck us most about this mission, though, was some apparently surreptitiously obtained footage of the launch from a remarkably dangerous position. We saw some analysis of the footage, and based on the sound delay the camera was perhaps as close as 150 meters to the launchpad. It’s hard to say if the astronauts or the camera operator was braver.
And finally, because neatness counts, we got this great tip on making your breadboard jumpers perfectly straight. There’s something satisfying about breadboard circuits where the jumpers are straight and exactly the length the need to be, and John Martin’s method is so simple you can’t help but use it. He just rolls the stripped jumpers between his bench and something flat; he uses a Post-it note pad but just about anything will do. The result is satisfyingly straight jumpers, ready to be bent and inserted. We bet this method could be modified to work with the stiffer wire normally used in circuit sculptures like those of Mohit Bhoite; he went into some depth about his methods during his Supercon talk last year, and it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.
When getting parts together for a one-off project, we often find ourselves with some leftovers on hand. Most of the time these things go in the junk drawer, but [Brad] aka [AtomicZombie] was working on a project which required parts salvaged from several microwave ovens. That left him with enough surplus components to build a social distancing enforcement tool for the modern age; which will deliver a taser-like shock to anyone which violates the new six-foot rule.
The leftover parts in question were built around a high-voltage capacitor, which [Brad] strapped to his back to hold all of the electronics needed for the six-foot electrified hoop. The generator utilizes the output voltage from two magnetrons, but doesn’t start until the operator enters a code on the front control panel, which is about the only safety device on this entire contraption. To get power to the magnetrons a 12 VDC car battery is used with an inverter to get the required input voltage, and towards the end of the video linked below he shows its effectiveness by setting various objects on fire with it.
While this gag project is unlikely to get any actual use, it’s not like any of us around here need an excuse to play with high voltages. [Brad] is also unlikely to need it either; he lives on a secluded 100-acre homestead and has been featured here for some of the projects he built to make his peaceful life a little easier, like a robotic laundry line, mobile chicken coop, and an electric utility tricycle built from an old truck and motorcycle.
If you’re going outside (only for essential grocery runs, we hope) and you’re having trouble measuring the whole six feet apart from other people deal by eye, then [Guido Bonelli] has a solution for you. With a standard old HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, an audio module and a servo to drive a custom gauge needle he’s made a device which can warn people around you if they’re too close for comfort.
As simple as this project may sound like for anyone who has a bunch of these little Arduino-compatible modules lying around and has probably made something similar to this in their spare time, there’s one key component that gives it an extra bit of polish. [Guido] found out how intermittent the reliability of the ultrasonic sensor was and came up with a clever way to smooth out its output in order to get more accurate readings from it, using a bubble sort algorithm with a twist. Thirteen data points are collected from the sensor, then they are sorted in order to find a temporal middle point, and the three data points at the center of that sort get averaged into the final output. Maybe not necessarily something with scientific accuracy, but exactly the kind of workaround we expect around these parts!