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.

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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.

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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?

Making A Kid-Friendly Computer As A Present: Or How To Be The Cool Aunt At Christmas

This article was meant to be finished up before Christmas, so it’ll be a little late whenever you’re reading it to go and prepare this for the holiday. Regardless, if, like me, should you ever be on the lookout for something to give a toddler nephew or relative, it could be worth it to look into your neglected old parts shelves. In my case, what caught my eye was a 9-year-old AMD laptop catching dust that could be better repurposed in the tiny hands of a kid eager to play video games.

The main issues here are finding a decent selection of appropriate games and streamling the whole experience so that it’s easy to use for a not-yet-hacker, all the while keeping the system secure and child-friendly. And doing it all on a budget.

This is a tall order, and requirements will be as individual as children are, of course, but I hope that my experience and considerations will help guide you if you’re in a similar boat.

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Pringles Can Turned Vaporwave Lamp

We play host to a lot of incredibly complex projects here at Hackaday; take a look at some of the entries in the Hackaday Prize for some real world-class engineering. But the hacks you can knock out in an afternoon are often just as compelling as the flagship projects. After all, not everyone is looking to devote years of their lives into building some complex machine.

Case in point, this very slick lamp built by [mytzusky]. Made of nothing more exotic than an old Pringles can and an RGB LED strip, this is something that can potentially be built with what you have laying around right now. All you need to provide is a bit of geometry, a steady hand, and a love for anything that looks like it could pass as a prop in a TRON fan film.

The first step is getting the Pringles can: either find one in the trash or treat yourself to a stack of weird hard potato chip sorta things. Once you’ve got the can, you need to cut out your design. You could print out the template provided by [mytzusky] if you want, but you could put your own spin on it instead. Just remember that the design needs to make sense when you wrap it around the can.

With the lines cut out of the can, the whole thing gets wrapped with a few sheets of standard white paper. This will not only cover the original label but diffuse the light coming from the cuts you’ve just made. [Mytzusky] doesn’t mention it, but some kind of sealer applied to the paper might be a good idea if you’re looking to keep this thing around for the long haul.

Finally, an RGB LED strip goes inside the can. Make sure to flip the can upside down for this part, with the solid end on the top and the clear lid on the bottom. Not only does this let you run the wire out of the bottom, but provides a very cool ring of diffuse light at the bottom of the lamp.

This is another excellent example of an “upcycled” project which uses literal trash as a building material. It might take a little outside the box thinking, but the results can be very impressive.

Fix Everything And Get Your Own Flailing Arms Tube Man

The staple of used car dealerships that prompted Houston to ban all ‘attention getting devices’ is called an ‘air dancer’ and was invented in 1996. And now you can build your own, even if until now the space requirements kept you from doing so.

[dina Amin] shows how to make one from a bunch of discarded hair dryers and stuff everybody is likely to find in his or her workshop. While the build as such is rather basic — these things are really simple devices after all — [dina Amin]’s project video takes us through the interesting detours that turn a build into a project. It touches on the topics of painting plastics, hardware repairs, diagnosing and fixing DC motors, and how hair dryers actually work. As an added bonus we get a good-looking solution for fixing that enclosure with the worn out threads. All that in five minutes flat.

And while you might not know if you need one, [dina Amin]’s wacky waving inflatable arm flailing arm tube man is pretty much guaranteed to work. Unlike this one.

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