Automatic Sunglasses, The Electromechanical Way

These days, photochromic lenses are old-hat. Sure, it’s useful to have a pair of glasses that automatically tints due to UV light, but what if you want something a little more complex and flashy? Enter [Ashraf Minhaj]’s SunGlass-Bot.

The build is simple, beginning with an Arduino Pro Mini for reasons of size. Connected to the analog input is a light-dependent resistor for sensing the ambient light level. This reading is then used to decide whether or not to move the servo which controls the position of the lenses. In low light, the lenses are flipped up to allow clear vision; in brighter light, the lenses flip down to protect the eyes. Power is supplied by a homebrew powerbank that it appears [Ashraf] built from an old phone battery and a small boost converter board. All the files to recreate the project are available on Github, too.

It’s a fun build that [Ashraf] shows off in style. While this may not be as effortless as a set of Transition lenses or as quick as a welding mask filter, it has a certain mechanical charm that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a certain sci-fi aesthetic.

Hungry for more? Check out these self-blending sunglasses we featured a while back. Video after the break.

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Automatic Sunglasses, No Battery!

There are some projects that are so simple they require very little description, and [Bobricius’s] automatic sunglasses definitely fit into that category. Their story starts with the fad for 3D displays a few years ago, a resurfacing of the movie business’s periodic flirtation with the third dimension in the hope of using the gimmick to bring in more moviegoers. There was a time when you could hardly encounter a new TV or graphics card without it coming with a pair of cheap plastic glasses with LCD panels instead of lenses that would alternately shutter the view for each eye to create the 3D illusion.

Of course, once everyone had seen the film with the blue aliens and tried a few other titles on their new toy, they grew tired of headaches, nausea, and half-brightness. The glasses gathered dust, and the fancy 3D telly never ventured beyond two dimensions again. Except for [Bobricius’s] glasses, that is, for he’s levered out the 3D driver electronics and replaced them with a tiny SOIC-8 solar cell. Light hits the cell, the LCD gets a charge and darkens, no light and they remain transparent. Similar to welding goggles — though they usually use a battery. It’s unclear whether they can get a little too dark on a really bright day and whether they are something akin to [Zaphod Beeblebrox]’s peril-sensitive sunglasses, but we really applaud the idea. They are so simple that this Hackaday write-up is probably longer than their write-up, but they remain a neatly executed idea and we like that.

You can, of course, use a battery, or achieve the same effect by more complex means. But if the [Beeblebrox] glasses are closer to your requirements, we’ve got that covered too.

Automatic Sunglasses For the Lazy Hacker

[Andreas] may have created the ultimate lazy hacker accessory: automatic sunglasses, or “Selfblending sunglasses” as he creatively titled his video. If you can’t tell from the name, these are glasses that you never have to take off. If the light is dim, they move away from your eyes. Going back outside to bright light? The glasses move to protect your eyes.

The glasses consist of a couple of micro servos which move tinted lenses toward or away from the user’s eyes. A side-mounted Arduino Uno reads a CdS cell light sensor and drives the servos.  Why an Uno rather than a much more wearable Arduino Nano? It’s what [Andreas] had lying around.

Yes, a good portion of the fun of this build is [Andreas’] comedy. But the best part comes when he tests the glasses out — in an actual car on the highway. The glasses work better than expected — moving the lenses into and out of [Andreas] field of view as he drives through tunnels. You can actually see how surprised [Andreas] is that it works so well.

These aren’t the first automatic sunglasses we’ve seen, nor are they the most peril-sensitive. Still, it’s a fun project and the video gave us a few chuckles.

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What Makes A Hacker

I think I can sum up the difference between those of us who regularly visit Hackaday and the world of non-hackers. As a case study, here is a story about how necessity is the mother of invention and the people who invent.

Hackaday has overlap with sites like Pinterest and Instructables but there is one vital difference, we choose to create something new and beautiful with the materials at hand. Often these tools and techniques are very simple. We look to make things elegant by reducing the unnecessary clutter, not adding glitter. If something could be built with a 555 timer we will let you know. If there is a better choice for a processor, we will tell you.

My first real work commute was a forty-minute eastward drive every morning and a forty-minute westward drive every evening. This route pointed my car directly into the sun twice a day. Staring into a miasma of incandescent plasma for an hour and a half a day isn’t fun, and probably isn’t safe, but we can fix that.

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Hackaday Links: July 13, 2014

hackaday-links-chain

Don’t like sunglasses? Deal with it. They’re the pixeley, retro sunglasses from your favorite animated .GIFs, made real in laser cut acrylic. Points of interest include heat-bent frames made out of a single piece of acrylic.

Remember this really small FPGA board? The kickstarter is ending really soon and they’re upgrading it (for an additional $30) with a much better FPGA.

Sparkfun is now hosting the Internet of Things. They’re giving people a tiny bit of space to push data to, and you can also deploy your own server. That’s interesting, and you can expect us doing a full post on this soon.

Need waveforms? [Datanoise] is building a wavetable synthesizer, and he’s put all his waveforms online. Now if we could just get a look at the synth…

If you only have $20 to spend on a board, you’ll want to pick up at Teensy 3.1. [Karl] wrote some bare metal libraries for this awesome board, and while it’s not as extensive as the standard Arduino libs, it’s more than enough to get most projects off the ground. Included are UARTs, string manipulation tools, support for the periodic interval timers on the chip, and FAT and SD card support.

Turning 3D shutter glasses into automatic sunglasses

[Dino’s] hack this week seeks to create sunglasses that dim based on the intensity of ambient light. The thought is that this should give you the best light level even with changing brightness like when the sun goes behind a cloud or walking from inside to outside. He started with a pair of 3D shutter glasses. These have lenses that are each a liquid crystal pane. The glasses monitor an IR signal coming from a 3D TV, then alternately black out the lenses so that each eye is seeing a different frame of video to create the stereoscopic effect. In the video after the break he tears down the hardware and builds it back up with his own ambient light sensor circuit.

It only takes 6V to immediately darken one of the LCD panes. The interesting thing is that it takes a few seconds for them to become clear again. It turns out you need to bleed off the voltage in the pane using a resistor in order to have a fast response in both directions. Above you can see the light dependent resistor in the bridge of the frame that is used to trigger the panes. [Dino] shows at the end of his video that they work. But the main protective feature of sunglasses is that they filter out UV rays and he’s not sure if these have any ability to do that or not.

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Wrapping up Maker Faire with [Ben Heck], giant Arduinos, and an Apple Lisa

All good things, and apparently our coverage of Maker Faire, must come to an end. Here’s a few more things we saw in New York this last weekend that piqued our interest:

A 10x scale Arduino

[Robert Fitzsimons] of Part Fusion Electronics made a gigantic Arduino. It wasn’t quite functional, but [Robert] did manage to make a few 10:1 scale LEDs (with built-in circuit protection), 1 inch pitch headers, and a few other miscellaneous components out of foam and paint.

Since he’s from Dublin, Ireland, [Robert] didn’t want to take this giant board home with him. He graciously gave it to me in the hopes of turning it in to a proper working Arduino. I’ll do my best, [Robert].

There are hundreds of Lisas buried in a landfill in Utah.

Tekserve, an indie Apple store located in the heart of Manhattan, really knows how to put on a good show. For the entirety of their stay at Maker Faire, they had people showing off one of the first digital cameras, Apple Newtons, and an awesome collection of vintage Macs. No, your eyes do not deceive you; that’s a real Lisa there in the bunch.

Sadly, they didn’t have the boot disk to turn any of these on. Pity.

Yes, there were celebrities at Maker Faire

Well, celebrities to the Hackaday crowd, at least. [Ben Heck] showed off the electronic automatic sunglasses he built. It’s a pair of lensless glasses, a servo, light detector, and a pair of clip-on sunglasses. When [Ben] is out in daylight, the sunglasses swivel down. Inside, the amount of light received by the detector decreases and the shades rotate up.

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