A Tuning Fork Clock, With Discrete Logic

[Willem Koopman aka Secretbatcave] was looking at a master clock he has in his collection which was quite a noisy device, but wanted to use the matching solenoid slave clock mechanism he had to hand. Willem is a fan of old-school ‘sector’ clocks, so proceeded to build his ideal time piece — Vibrmatic — exactly the way he wanted. Now, since most time keeping devices utilise a crystal oscillator — which is little more than a lump of vibrating quartz — why not scale it up a bit and use the same principle, except with a metal tuning fork? (some profanity, just to warn you!)

Shock-mounted tuning force oscillator

A crystal oscillator operates in a simple manner; you put some electrical energy in, it resonates at its natural frequency, you sense that resonance, and feed it back into it to keep it sustaining. With a tuning fork oscillator, the vibration forcing and the feedback are both done via induction, coils act as the bridge between the electronic and mechanical worlds.

By mounting the tuning fork onto a shock mounting, the 257 Hz drone was kept from leaking out into the case and disturbing the household. This fork was specified to be 256 Hz, but [Willem] reckons the drag of the electromagnets pushed it off frequency a bit. Which make sense, since its a mechanical system, that has extra forces acting upon it.

The sector face was CNC cut from aluminium, the graphics engraved, then polished up a bit. Finally after a spot of paint, it looks pretty smart. Some nice chunks of upcycled wood taken from some building work spoils formed the exposed enclosure. On the electronics side, after totally ignoring the frequency error, and then tripping over a bunch of problems such as harmonics in the oscillation, and an incorrectly set-up divider, a solution which seemed to work was found, but like always, there are quite a few more details to the story to be found in the build log.

We’ve seen a tuning fork clock recently, like this 440 Hz device by [Kris Slyka] that the project above references, and whilst we’re talking about tuning forks, here’s a project log showing the insides of those ubiquitous 32.768 kHz crystal units.

Banish Early Morning Zombification With The Zom-b-gone!

[Applied Procrastination] aka [Simen E. Sørensen] has a simple project to help those of us that struggle with early-morning zombification. By leveraging the backlight optics from a broken LCD monitor, it is possible to create an excellent diffused light source to simulate daylight, before your chosen waking time. The theory is that it is less shocking to the brain to be woken more gradually than an alarm may do. The increasing light level is to prepare the brain with a slowly increasing light level, reminiscent of daybreak, before being properly awoken by an alarm, regardless of the actual light level outdoors. This particularly useful for those of us in more northern regions, such as [Simen]’s native Norway, where mornings are very dark in the winter months.

Daylight is not purely a diffuse source however, it depends on the degree of atmospheric scattering, local reflections and such, but as far as we’re concerned here, we can just aim for as diffuse a light source a possible.

Source: DOI:10.1117/12.797854

The implementation makes use of the existing LCD metal frame, the light guide panel (usually a big hunk of acrylic covered in etched markings on one side) the diffuser/brightener sheet, and the prism sheet. A white LED strip mounted around the frame edge directs light into the light guide, which with a combination of total internal reflection and scattering on one side only, effectively turns the light through 90 degrees, and spreads it out evenly across that surface. The result of this optical sandwich is flat, even light, exactly what you want for a display, and also for simulating daylight.

Nestled beneath the expected 3D printed frame, is a custom PCB derived by smooshing together the designs from the Adafruit DS3231 RTC module and the Arduino Nano, an additional push button and rotary encoder complete the minimalistic UI, and allow the device to double up as general purpose lamp during the day. Despite a few wobbles with assembling the frame, and some incorrect PCB footprinting, the whole thing came together pretty nicely. This is a perfect thing to do with broken LCD monitors, eeking out a new life and keeping the amount of landfill to a minimum.

For further details of the hardware and codes, see the Zom-b-Gone Github.

Continue reading “Banish Early Morning Zombification With The Zom-b-gone!”

Light Bulb Plant Propagation Station Is A Bright Idea

We’ve always enjoyed having a few indoor plants around the Hackaday dungeon because they just make the days more cheerful. Apparently there’s a big craze for them right now, which has led to price increases of things like propagation stations — places where cuttings from mature plants go to grow a root system before getting planted in dirt. Many plants will root readily in water, and it’s better for them to start out this way because soil can come with a bunch of problems.

This goes really well with the older craze of Edison-style light bulbs. We’re glad we never bothered with those because [JGJMatt] says they don’t last long at all. The bulbs themselves are really nice looking, so [JGJMatt] decided to turn a few of them into hanging water propagation stations. After cleaning out the bulb and embiggening the opening, [JGJMatt] formed a holder by applying a torch to brass rod. This dulls the brass, so they shined it up with steel wool and some automotive polishing compound. Then it’s time for some simple macrame to hang it with, because it will soon be full of water.

Does the handle sound familiar? It ought to — [JGJMatt]’s elegant builds have graced these pages a few times before.

Samsung Releases Minimum Viable Galaxy Upcycling

It’s a tragedy every time a modern smartphone is tossed into e-waste. We prefer to find another life for these bundles of useful hardware. But given all the on-board barriers erected by manufacturers, it’s impractical to repurpose smartphones without their support. A bit of good news on this front is Samsung testing the waters with a public beta of their “Galaxy Upcycling at Home” program, turning a few select devices into SmartThings sensor nodes.

More devices and functionality are promised, but this initial release is barely a shadow of what Samsung promised in 2017. Missed the announcement back then? Head over to a “How it started/How it’s going” comparison from iFixit, who minced no words starting with their title Galaxy Upcycling: How Samsung Ruined Their Best Idea in Years. They saw a bunch of Samsung engineers at Bay Area Maker Faire 2017, showing off a bunch of fun projects reusing old phones as open hardware. The placeholder GitHub repository left from that announcement still has a vision of a community of makers dreaming up novel uses. This is our jam! But sadly it has remained a placeholder for four years and, given what we see today, it is more likely to be taken down than to become reality.

The stark difference between original promise and actual results feel like an amateur Kickstarter, not something from a giant international conglomerate. Possibly for the same reason: lack of resources and expertise for execution. It’s hard to find support in a large corporate bureaucracy when there is no obvious contribution to the bottom line. Even today’s limited form has only a tenuous link of possibly helping to sell other SmartThings-enabled smart home devices.

Ars Technica was similarly unimpressed with launch functionality, but was more diplomatic describing the beta as “a very modest starting point”. XDA-Developers likewise pinned their hopes on the “more devices will be supported in the future” part of Samsung’s announcement. Until Samsung delivers on more of the original promise, we’ll continue to be hampered by all the existing reasons hacking our old cell phones are harder than they should be. Sometimes an idea can be fulfilled by helpful apps but other times will require hacking into our devices the old-fashioned way.

The 70s Are Calling To Shed Some Light

Remember when phones didn’t all look the same? We had a good thing going in the early cell phone days, which seemed like a brief holdover from the Western Electric (et. al) era where you could get a phone that suited your inner minimalist or princess, and choose the color to boot.

[Dubchinsky] found a beautiful phone from this bygone era and saved it from one of two likely fates — the landfill, or else a life languishing as a piece of vintage technology that’s just sitting around for looks. Instead, this phone found a second calling as a lovely desk lamp with secret goose neck flexibility. The lamp itself is an inexpensive LED module from ebay that’s wired up to mains power through a push button switch in the phone’s base.

We absolutely love that [Dubchinsky] wrapped the curly cord around the goose neck, but were a bit disappointed that he didn’t use the hook switch to turn the lamp on and off. In the comments, he says that the plastic felt like it was too brittle to stand up to repeated actuation of such a heavy switch. That’s understandable. [Dubchinsky] also thought about using the rotary dial as a dimmer, and we think that’s a bright idea.

Between the guide, the pictures, and the build process video after the break, this is pretty much a complete how-to. We think that is commendable given that [Dubchinsky] is selling these lamps on etsy.

Do ya miss spinning the rotary dial and long for somewhat simpler days? Hook your finger into this rotary cell phone.

Continue reading “The 70s Are Calling To Shed Some Light”

This Hot Air Gun Is Either A Work Of Genius Or Lethal, We Can’t Decide

One of the essentials on the bench is some form of hot air gun. Whether it’s a precision tool intended for reworking PCBs or the broad-stroke item used for paint stripping, we’ve all got one somewhere. The paint-stripping variety are pretty cheap, but not as cheap as [Porcas Pregos e Parafusos]’s home made hot air gun. This slightly hair-raising device is made from a variety of junk parts and delivers hot air, though we suspect the possibility for burning the operator remains high.

At its heart is one of those mains powered water boiler elements designed to be lowered into a cup or similar, and since such devices would burn out if not cooled in some way, there is a fan from a microwave oven passing air over it. The whole thing sits inside an aluminium cone cut from a circular cake tin, and is held together on a wooden chassis to which the handle and power switch from a defunct electric drill provide the operator with something to hold on to.

As you can see from the video below the break it makes for an effective hot air gun, but one that we’re guessing you’d soon learn to avoid touching on the metal cone. Still, as a community we’re used to this with our soldering irons, as the RevSpace T-shirt puts it: “If it smells like chicken, you’re holding it wrong“.

Strangely, this isn’t the first DIY heat gun we’ve seen.

Continue reading “This Hot Air Gun Is Either A Work Of Genius Or Lethal, We Can’t Decide”

How To Keep Your Head Warm With A Skirt

We’re not sure what we like better about this upcycled trapper hat — that [ellygibson] made it as a tribute to Holden Caulfield, the anti-hero of the classic teen angst novel The Catcher in the Rye, or the fact that she made it out of a skirt that cost a dollar from the thrift store. Oddly enough, one dollar is exactly what Holden paid for his hat in the book.

To make this hat, [elly] started by measuring the circumference of her head, then used math to figure out the radius of the circle for the top part. She made a prototype first to get the fit right, then cut the pieces from the skirt and the lining pieces from black flannel. We love that [elly] used the tiny pocket from the skirt in one of the ear flaps, because it will surely come in handy one day.

[elly] doesn’t provide pattern pieces, but that’s okay — between the explanation of how she arrived at the hat band circumference and the step-by-step instructions, it should be easy to make one of these for yourself from whatever fabric you’ve got.

Before you go cutting up an old coat, consider whether it could be fixed. Remember when [Ted Yapo] fixed the zipper box on his son’s winter coat by printing a replacement? Or how about the time [Gerrit Coetzee] cast his own pea coat buttons?