Mini Space Station Keeps Tabs On The Real One

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of projects that can blink an LED or otherwise notify you when the International Space Station is overhead. It’s a neat trick that brings space a little closer to home, but not exactly a groundbreaking achievement in 2020. That said, we think this version built by [Lance] deserves some special recognition for the unbearably adorable miniature ISS he designed it around.

Especially once you realize that its tiny little solar panels are actually functional. Well, more or less. [Lance] says conditions have to be pretty ideal for the panels to actually charge up the internal battery, so there’s the option to top things off with a USB cable if need be. To try and reduce power consumption as much as possible, he uses some pretty aggressive power saving tricks which are interesting in their own right.

As the ISS silently passes over your head several times per day, the notifier can’t spend too much time sleeping on the job. The Particle Photon needs to wake up regularly to pull down the time of the next pass given the current geographical position, then go back to sleep until right before showtime. When the Station is nearby, it blinks an Adafruit Smart NeoPixel positioned under a small 3D printed model of the Earth, and finally goes back to sleep until the process starts over.

If you’re looking for something a little less complicated, this two dimensional representation of the Space Station might be more your speed. Then again, an even more complicated take on the idea using lasers sounds pretty good too.

Solar-powered Bird House Tweets Using B-Squares

This bird house will tweet to let you know when the occupants pass through the door…¬†err… hole. It uses solar panels to keep a battery topped off, and an Arduino along with an optical sensor which monitors the doorway to pass along an alert via an XBee module.

Admittedly, the video after the break is a bit tongue-in-cheek and doesn’t safeguard against the elements, or even against bird poop. AND it’s basically an advertisement for B-Squares. But we still like it.

These squares use magnetic corners to connect the solar squares together, as well as the squares that house the Arduino and the battery. These magnetic corners also act as the power and ground rails. Two nails have been pounded through the roof of the bird house, acting as a surface to magnetically attach the solar panels to, as well as a conductor to pass the power rails through the wood. It’s no wonder that B-Squares are closing in on ¬†raising five-times their Kickstarter goal.

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Spotlight On Tinyminds


Etsy places a spotlight on tinyminds, creator of the much-hyped solar robots. [Jenny], the brains behind tinyminds and self-described “all round nerd and non-stop crafter”, claims to draw inspiration for her BEAM solar bug and monster robots from things as varied as paper and wood. She describes the process of creating her robots and working with solar energy as “magical”. The fact that they’re solar-powered is a huge advantage – these “pets” never die and never need recharging, only light. Her Cthulhu robot was linked to by BoingBoing Gadgets, and is unfortunately sold out at the moment. tinyminds has plenty of other inventive, equally inspiring robots available for purchase.