We consider ourselves well-versed when it comes to the technical literature plastered on hardware store parts. Acronyms don’t frighten us, and our Google-fu is strong enough to overcome most mysteries. One bit of dark magic we didn’t understand was the gobbledygook on LED lamps. Wattage is easy and color temperature made sense because it corresponds with warm and cool colors, but Color Rendering Index (CRI) sounds like deep magic. Of course, some folks understand these terms so thoroughly that they can teach the rest of us, like [Jon] and [Kevin], who are building a light controller that corrects inadequacies in cheap lamps by installing several lamps into one unit.
We learned a lot by reading their logs, which are like the Cliff Notes from a lighting engineer’s textbook, but we’ll leave it as an exercise for the students to read through. Their project uses precise light sensors to measure the “flavor” of light coming off cheap lamps so you can mix up a pleasing ratio. In some ways, they are copying the effects of incandescent bulbs, which emit light relatively evenly across the visible light spectrum, right into the infrared. Unfortunately, cheap LEDs have holes in their spectrum coverage, and a Warm White unit has different gaps compared with Daylight, but combining them just right gives a rich output, without breaking the bank.
No, no, at first we thought it was a Pokemon too, but Placemon monitors your place, your home, your domicile. Instead of a purpose-built device, like a CO detector or a burglar alarm, this is a generalized monitor that streams data to a central processor where machine learning algorithms notify you if something is awry. In a way, it is like a guard dog who texts you if your place is unusually cold, on fire, unlawfully occupied, or underwater.
[anfractuosity] is trying to make a hacker-friendly version based on inspiration from a scientific paper about general-purpose sensing, which will have less expensive components but will lose accuracy. For example, the article suggests thermopile arrays, like low-resolution heat-vision, but Placemon will have a thermometer, which seems like a prudent starting place.
The PCB is ready to start collecting sound, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, illumination, and passive IR then report that telemetry via an onboard ESP32 using Wifi. A box utilizing Tensorflow receives the data from any number of locations and is training to recognize a few everyday household events’ sensor signatures. Training starts with events that are easy to repeat, like kitchen sounds and appliance operations. From there, [anfractuosity] hopes that he will be versed enough to teach it new sounds, so if a pet gets added to the mix, it doesn’t assume there is an avalanche every time Fluffy needs to go to the bathroom.
We have another outstanding example of sensing household events without directly interfacing with an appliance, and bringing a sensor suite to your car might be up your alley.
A typical bicycle computer from the store rack will show your speed, trip distance, odometer, and maybe the time. We can derive all this data from a magnet sensor and a clock, but we live in a world with all kinds of sensors at our disposal. [Matias N.] has the drive to put some of them into a tidy yet competent bike computer that has a compass, temperature, and barometric pressure.
The brains are an STM32L476 low-power controller, and there is a Sharp Memory LCD display as it is a nice compromise between fast refresh rate and low power. E-paper would be a nice choice for outdoor readability (and obviously low power as well) but nothing worse than a laggy speedometer or compass.
In a show of self-restraint, he didn’t try to replace his mobile phone, so there is no GPS, WiFi, or streaming music. Unlike his trusty phone, you measure the battery life in weeks, plural. He implemented EEPROM memory for persistent data through power cycles, and the water-resistant board includes a battery charging circuit for easy topping off between rides.
When you toss the power of a mobile phone at a bike computer, someone will unveil the Android or you can measure a different kind of power from your pedals.
Continue reading “Bike Computer Powers On Long After Your Legs Give Out”
Smart homes come with a lot of perks, not least among which is the ability to monitor the goings-on in your home, track them, and make trends. Each piece of monitoring equipment, such as sensors or cameras, is another set of wires that needs to be run and another “thing” that needs to be maintained on your system. There are sometimes clever ways of avoiding sensors, though, while still retaining the usefulness of having them.
In this build, [squix] uses existing sensors for electricity metering that he already had in order to alert him when his oven is pre-heated. The sensor is a Shelly 3EM, and the way that it interfaces with his home automation is by realizing that his electric oven will stop delivering electricity to the heating elements once it has reached the desired temperature. He is able to monitor the sudden dramatic decrease in electricity demand at his house with the home controller, and use that decrease to alert him to the fact that his oven is ready without having to install something extra like a temperature sensor.
While this particular sensor may only be available in some parts of Europe, we presume the idea would hold out across many different sensors and even other devices. Even a small machine learning device should be able to tell what loads are coming on at what times, and then be programmed to perform functions based on that data.
Continue reading “Home Monitoring, Without All The Sensors”
There’s always something to be learned from taking things apart. Sometimes the parts can be used for other things, sometimes they can be repaired or improved upon, but sometimes it’s all in good fun. Especially in this case where extremely high temperatures and combustible gasses are involved. This is from the latest video from [Warped Perception] that lets us see inside of a catalytic converter as its operating.
Catalytic converters are installed on most vehicles (and other internal combustion engines) in order to process unburned hydrocarbons from exhaust gasses with a catalyst. These can get extremely hot, and this high temperature complicated the build somewhat. There were two prototypes constructed for this build and the first was a cross-section of a catalytic converter with a glass window sealed on in order to allow the viewing of the catalyst during the operation of a small engine. It was easy to see the dirty exhaust gasses entering and cleaner gasses leaving, but the window eventually blew off. The second was a complete glass tube which worked much better until the fitting on the back finally failed.
A catalytic converter isn’t something we’d normally get to see the inside of, and this video was worth watching just to see one in operation in real life. You could also learn a thing or two about high-temperature fittings as well if you’re so inclined. It might be a nice pairing with another build we’ve seen which gave us a window into a different type of combustion chamber than ones normally found on combustion engines.
Thanks to [Ryoku] for the tip!
Continue reading “See-Through Catalytic Converter”
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a steady improvement in the sort of custom hardware a dedicated individual can produce. With affordable desktop 3D printers and PCB fabrication services, the line between store bought and home built can get very blurry. This slick MQTT-connected thermometer created by [Martin Cerny] is a perfect example.
The case for the device, which [Martin] calls Temper, is printed in a stone-look PLA filament and has been carefully designed so that LEDs shining behind it illuminate perfect square “pixels” on the front. There’s a living hinge button on the left side, and on the right, an opening for the SHT30 temperature and humidity sensor. Some may say that the look of the sensor aperture could be improved with a printed grille, but there was likely a concern about reduced airflow.
Inside the case is a 13×7 array of SMD LEDs, a few 74HC595 shift registers, a TP4054 charging chip to keep the internal 250 mAh battery topped off via USB, and some passives to round out the party. The ESP-12E module that brings it all together and the battery are on the flip side of the PCB. At a press of the button, the display fires up for 5 seconds and Temper publishes temperature, humidity and battery percentage through MQTT. If you’re looking for more granular data, it can also be configured to publish regular updates at the cost of increased energy consumption.
The physical product is gorgeous on its own, but we’re happy to report that the firmware and documentation have been handled with a similar attention to detail. The project’s GitHub repo has a Wiki to help others build and configure their very own Temper, and the device’s web configuration portal is easily just as nice as anything you’d find in a piece of modern consumer electronics (if not moreso).
We’ve seen plenty of ESP8266-based environmental monitoring devices here at Hackaday, but we think this one really pushes the state-of-the-art forward. This is a device that wouldn’t be out of place on the shelf at a Big Box electronics retailer, and while [Martin] says he has no interest in building and selling them himself, we don’t doubt that folks out there will be spinning up their own Temper clones before too long.
The last time we visited the Hackaday shooting range we were all psyched up to get the right posture, breathe correctly, lower our heart rates and squeeze the trigger at exactly the right moment that the wandering cross hairs align with the target ……. and lastly accommodate the inevitable recoil. But never did we think to check the temperature of our ammo! Ok, temperatures aren’t likely to vary that much there unless the range cat chooses to lay down on top of the ammo box, but out in the wilderness the temperatures can easily vary by up to 30 degrees, which would certainly be a problem.
If we take a quick look at what’s happening on Johnny’s Reloading Bench we get an in depth comparison of different powders at different temperatures, with data being collected via a bullet velocity radar. If nothing else, it’s interesting just to get a peep into the mysterious world of ‘Reloading’ where every one of the tiny kernels or ‘balls’ of powder make a difference and different powders require particular primers to make them burn properly.
Just to make it clear, bullet speed makes a big difference to the trajectory, especially at long distances. For example, if the bullet were to travel at close to the speed of light, there would be almost no trajectory at all and the shooter would not have to adjust the vertical aim for distance. Normally, we have to aim upwards to hit the target:
It may be that we ‘zero in’ our sights at room temperature, but then end up actually shooting the firearm on a cold, frosty morning with cold ammo, and given what we have now learnt from the video, we could now make a small adjustment for that eventuality, depending on the particular ammo we are using. Johnny’s video is after the break:
Continue reading “How Ammo Temperature Will Affect Shooting Accuracy”