We love unique ways of displaying data here at Hackaday, and this ingenious thermochromic display created by [Moritz v. Sivers] more than fits the bill. Using sheets of color changing liquid crystals and careful temperature control of the plates they’re mounted on, he’s built a giant seven-segment display that can colorfully (albeit somewhat slowly) show the current temperature and humidity.
The sheets of temperature sensitive liquid crystals are a bit like flattened out Mood Rings; they starts out black, but as heat is applied, their color cycles through vibrant reds, greens, and blues. The sheets are perhaps best known as the sort of vaguely scientific toys you might see in a museum gift shop, but here [Moritz] has put their unique properties to practical use.
To achieve the effect, he first cut each segment out of copper. The crystal sheets were applied to the segments, thanks to their handy self-stick backing, and the excess was carefully trimmed away. Each segment was then mounted to a TES1-12704 Peltier module by way of thermally conductive epoxy. TB6612FNG motor controllers and a bevy of Arduino Nano’s are used to control the Peltier modules, raising and lowering their temperature as necessary to get the desired effect.
You can see the final result in the video after the break. It’s easily one of the most attractive variations on the classic seven-segment display we’ve ever seen. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it could pass for an art installation. The idea of a device that shows the current temperature by heating itself up certainly has a thoughtful aspect to it.
This actually isn’t the first display we’ve seen that utilized this concept, though it’s by far the largest. Back in 2014 we featured a small flexible display that used nichrome wires to “print” digits on a sheet of liquid crystals.
Continue reading “The Thermochromic Display You Didn’t Know You Needed”
It’s the suburbanista’s weekend nightmare: you’re almost done with the weekly chores, taking the last few passes with the lawn mower, when you hear a pop and bang. The cylinder head on your mower just blew, and you’re out of commission. Or are you? You’ve got a 3D printer – couldn’t it save the day?
If this bench test of plastic cylinder heads is any indication, it’s possible – just as long as you’ve only got 40 seconds of mowing left to do. [Project Farm] has been running all sorts of tests on different materials as field-expedient cylinder heads for small gasoline engines, using everything from JB Weld epoxy to a slab of walnut. For this test, two chunky heads were printed, one from ABS, of the thermochromic variety apparently, the other in PLA. The test went pretty much as expected for something made of thermoplastic exposed to burning gasoline at high pressure, although ABS was the clear winner with two 40-second runs. The PLA only lasted half as long before the spark plug threads melted and the plug blew out. A gasket printed from flexible filament was also tested, with predictably awful results.
As bad as all this was, it still shows that 3D-printed parts are surprisingly tough. Each part was able to perform decently under a compression test, showing that they can stand up to pressure as long as there’s no heat. If nothing else, it was a learning experience. And as an aside, the cylinder heads were printed by [Terry] from the RedNeckCanadians YouTube channel. That video is worth a watch, if just for a few tips on making a 3D-printed copy of an object. Continue reading “Results Of 3D-Printed Cylinder Head Testing Fail To Surprise”
Most of what we see on the wearable tech front is built around traditional textiles, like adding turn signals to a jacket for safer bike riding, or wiring up a scarf with RGB LEDs and a color sensor to make it match any outfit. Although we’ve seen the odd light-up hair accessory here and there, we’ve never seen anything quite like these Bluetooth-enabled, shape-shifting, touch-sensing hair extensions created by UC Berkeley students [Sarah], [Molly], and [Christine].
HairIO is based on the idea that hair is an important part of self-expression, and that it can be a natural platform for sandboxing wearable interactivity. Each hair extension is braided up with nitinol wire, which holds one shape at room temperature and changes to a different shape when heated. The idea is that you could walk around with a straight braid that curls up when you get a text, or lifts up to guide the way when a friend sends directions. You could even use the braid to wrap up your hair in a bun for work, and then literally let it down at 5:00 by sending a signal to straighten out the braid. There’s a slick video after the break that demonstrates the possibilities.
HairIO is controlled with an Arduino Nano and a custom PCB that combines the Nano, a Bluetooth module, and BJTs that drive the braid. Each braid circuit also has a thermistor to keep the heat under control. The team also adapted the swept-frequency capacitive sensing of Disney’s Touché project to make HairIO extensions respond to complex touches. Our favorite part has to be that they chalked some of the artificial tresses with thermochromic pigment powder so they change color with heat. Makes us wish we still had our Hypercolor t-shirt.
Nitinol wire is nifty stuff. You can use it to retract the landing gear on an RC plane, or make a marker dance to Duke Nukem.
Continue reading “HairIO: An Interactive Extension Of The Self”
[Marin Davide] was on a mission. A mission to build his own curved display screen, using an Arduino, nichrome wire, and thermochromic liquid crystal ink.
The prototype he’s designed uses a sheet of plastic coated in thermochromic ink, curved on an MDF frame. This particular thermochromic ink turns bright blue when heated to around 27°C.
To display digits, he’s created tiny segments of the 7-segment display by wrapping the nichrome wire around pieces of cardboard, which then have been glued to the back of the display. Each of these is controlled separately from his Arduino Mega. He muses that you could also make a rudimentary dot matrix display with this — it would be interesting to see what kind of resolution you could obtain!
To see more photos check out the original DesignNews post linked above. We’re not sure why the bulk of the details are only available in this PDF. If we’re just missing a direct link to the original project page let us know in the comments and we’ll update the post.
Interested in more thermochromic black magic? How about these awesome temperature sensitive photos? Or what about a digital clock face, illuminated by heating resistors?
[clarii_d] is currently finishing up her thesis project on thermochromic pigment to silkscreen receipts. The idea behind it is that when a receipt is touched, part of it fades revealing a hidden message.
As you can guess, thermochromic paint is a type of substance that changes color when introduced to heat — or in this case, fades altogether. Remember when mood rings were all the rage? Same thing.
In her project she is using silkscreening to transfer text onto the back of receipt paper using regular ink. Once dried, she silkscreens an image over top of the message, this time using a thermochromic pigment. The result is a slightly obscured image, but after holding it for a few seconds, it disappears and only the text remains.
Color-changing anything is a bit gimmicky, but we think [clarii_d’s] project is a pretty cool and unique application of it. A few years ago we shared another interesting project utilizing thermochromism; a color-changing clock face that utilized the heat given off by resistors!