Realistic Mission Control Box Is A Blast For All Ages

A lot of electronic busy boxes that are built for children are simply that — a mess of meaningless knobs and switches that don’t do much beyond actuating back and forth (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty fun to do). But this Mission Control Center by [gcall1979] knocks them all out of orbit. The simulation runs through a complete mission, including a 10-minute countdown with pre-flight system checks, 8.5 minutes of powered flight to get out of the atmosphere that includes another four tasks, and 90 minutes to orbit the Earth while passing through nine tracking stations across the world map.

That’s a lot time to keep anyone’s attention, but fortunately [gcall1979] included a simulation speed knob that can make everything go up to 15 times faster than real-time. This knob can be twiddled at any time, in case you want to savor the countdown but get into space faster, or you don’t have 90 minutes to watch the world map light up.

The main brain of this well-built box is an Arduino Mega, which controls everything but the launch systems’ mainframe computer — this is represented by bank of active LEDs that blink along with the voice in the sound clips and runs on an Arduino Uno and a couple of shift registers. To keep things relatively simple, [gcall1979] used an Adafruit sound board for the clips.

We love everything about this build, especially the attention to detail — the more important pre-flight tasks are given covered toggle switches, and there’s a Shuttle diagram that lights up as each of these are completed. And what Shuttle launch simulator would be complete without mushroom buttons for launch and abort? Grab your victory cigar and check out the demo video after the break.

Is your child too young to be launching the Shuttle? Here’s an equally cool busy box with toddler brains in mind.

Continue reading “Realistic Mission Control Box Is A Blast For All Ages”

Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition

In theory, it’s fun to have a lot of toys tools around, but the sad reality is that it’s only as fun as the organization level applied. Take it from someone who finds organization itself thrilling: it really doesn’t matter how many bits and bobs you have, as long as there’s a place for everything and you put away your toys at the end of the day.

[Cranktown City] is always leaving drill bits lying around instead of putting them back in their bit set boxes. Since he responds well to yelling, he decided to build an intelligent drill bit storage system that berates him if he takes one out and doesn’t put it back within ten minutes.

But [Cranktown City] did much more than that. The system is housed in a really nice DIY stand that supports his new milling and drilling machine and has space to hold a certain type of ubiquitous red tool box beneath the drill bits drawer.

All the bits now sit in a 3D-printed index that fits the width of the drawer. [Cranktown City] tried to use daisy-chained pairs of screws as contacts behind each bit that could tell whether the bit was home or not, but too much resistance interfered with the signal. He ended up using a tiny limit switch behind each bit instead. If any bit is removed, the input signal from the index goes low, and this triggers the Arduino Nano to do two things: it lights up a strip of red LEDs behind the beautiful cut out letters on the drawer’s lip, and it starts counting upward. Every ten minutes that one or more bits are missing, the drawer complains and issues ad hominem attacks. Check out the demo and build video after the break, but not until you put your tools away. (Have you learned nothing?)

Okay, so how do you deal with thousands of jumbled drill bits? Calipers and a Python script oughta do it.

Continue reading “Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition”

Making A Vintage 1990s Sound Board Do Rapid Fire Silently

Sometimes a mix of old and new is better than either the old or new alone. That’s what [Brad Carter] learned when he was given an old 1990s sound board with a noisy SCSI drive in it. In case you don’t know what a sound board is, think of a bunch of buttons laid out in front of you, each of which plays a different sound effect. It’s one way that radio DJ’s and podcasters intersperse their patter with doorbells and car crash sounds.

Before getting the sound board, [Brad] used a modern touchscreen table but it wasn’t responsive enough to get a machine gun like repetition of the sound effect when pressing an icon in rapid succession. On the other hand, his 1990s sound board had very responsive physical buttons but the SCSI hard drive was too noisy. He needed the responsiveness of the 1990s physical buttons but the silence of modern solid state storage.

And so he replaced the sound board’s SCSI drive with an SD card using a SCSI2SD adaptor. Of course, there was configuration and formatting involved along with a little trial and error to get the virtual drive sizes right. To save anyone else the same difficulties, he details all his efforts on his webpage. And in the video below you can see and hear that the end result is an amazing difference. Pressing the physical buttons gives instant sound and in machine gun fashion when pressed in rapid succession, all with the silence of an SD card.

A SCSI2SD card is a nice off-the-shelf solution but if you want something a little more custom then there’s a Raspberry Pi SCSI emulator and one which uses a Teensy with a NCR5380 SCSI interface chip.

Continue reading “Making A Vintage 1990s Sound Board Do Rapid Fire Silently”

AH-1 Cobra Tap Handle Pours On The Fun

Ayn Rand said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” As far as we’re concerned those are words to live by, and something that’s exemplified by most of the posts on this site. She also said some really suspect stuff about the disabled and Native Americans and reality, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad and all that.

We don’t know how much Rand [Will Weber] has read, but we’re willing to bet he’d agree about overdoing it. He recently documented a very cool 3D printed tap handle that’s designed to look like the B8 flight stick from an AH-1 Cobra helicopter. But this is no static piece of plastic, in the video after the break, he demonstrates how each button on the flight stick triggers a different weapons sound effect.

The 3D print is separated up into a number of sections so that the stick can be assembled in pieces. Not only does this make it an easier print, it also allows for the installation of the electronics.

For the Arduino aficionados out there, we have some bad news. Rather than putting in a general purpose microcontroller, [Will] went the easy route and used an Adafruit Audio FX Mini Sound Board. These boards have their own onboard storage for the audio files and don’t require a microcontroller to function. It makes it super easy to add sound effects or even music to your projects; just pair it with a power supply, a couple of buttons, and a speaker.

The finish work on the printed parts looks excellent. We can only imagine how much fun [Will] had sanding inside all the little nooks and crannies to get such a smooth final result. While some might complain about the idea of a tap handle needing to be recharged occasionally, we think the satisfaction of firing off a few rockets every time you grab a glass is more than worth it.

While this isn’t the first unique tap handle we’ve covered here at Hackaday, it’s certainly the most flight-ready. Continue reading “AH-1 Cobra Tap Handle Pours On The Fun”