Rage Against the Dying of the Light with a Raspi Night Vision Camera

One of the most interesting things about hacking is the difference between the vision we have at the beginning and the reality of we’ve built at the end. What began as a simple plan to build a night vision VR headset turned into a five-month adventure for [facelessloser] that culminated in this great-looking camera. He thought it would be easy, but almost every aspect presented some kind of challenge. The important thing is that he kept at it.

One of the major issues [facelessloser] encountered was power. He found that the Pi (Zero W), the screen, and the IR LEDs draw between 1.5 and 2A altogether. He was able to solve this one by using the charging board from a 2A power bank paired with a 1200mAh Li-Po built for the high draw required by vaping. If not for space issues, he might have used a 18650 or two.

Another challenge he faced was storing the video and images. He’d considered setting up the Pi as an access point to view them from a phone browser, but ultimately extended a USB port with an OTG cable to use flash drives. With a bit of Python he can watch for the drive to mount and then write to it. If the flash drive suddenly disappears, the Pi starts saving to the SD card.

There are two videos after the break, a walk through and a night vision demo. You’ll see a bit of a lag happening in the demo video—that’s because [facelessloser] is running the feed through PyGame first. No matter what nightlife you want to peep, it might be nice to add automated zoom with a rangefinder or get a closer look with some PiNoculars.

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Tricked-Out Tablet Becomes Workbench Tool

The workbench of the typical electronics hobbyist today would probably be largely recognizable by Heathkit builders back in the 60s and 70s. But where the techs and tinkerers of yesteryear would have had a real dead-tree SAMS Photofact schematic spread out on the bench, today you’ll get more use out of a flat-screen display for data sheets and schematics, and this handy shop Frankentablet might be just the thing to build.

Tablets like the older Nexus 9 that [enginoor] used as the basis for this build have a little bit of a form-factor problem because unlike a laptop, a tablet isn’t very good at standing up on its own. To fix that, they found a suitable silicone skin for the Nexus, and with some silicone adhesive began bedazzling the back of the tablet. A bendy tripod intended for phones was added, and with the tablet able to stand on its own they maximized the USB port with a right angle adapter and a hub. Now the tablet has a USB drive, a mouse, and a keyboard, ready for perusing data sheets online. And hackers of a certain age will appreciate the eyeball-enhancing potential of the attached USB microscope.

[enginoor]’s bench tablet is great, but we’ve seen full-fledged bench PCs before too. Take your pick — wall mounted and floating, or built right into the workbench.

Thanks to [ccvi] for the tip.

Teensy Script Plays Nintendo Switch, Strikes Out

The most recent of the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild, is known for its many, many puzzles.  One of the more frustrating ones involved bowling with a giant snowball at the top of a hillside.  [Bertrand] did not like this, so he cheated the system hacked the Nintendo Switch so that he “genuinely earned” a strike every time he played.  He achieved this by writing a script for a Teensy module that got him those sweet rupees.

The Teensy houses an Atmel 90USB1286 microcontroller.  When paired with LUFA software, it can emulate numerous controllers including keyboards, joysticks, etc.  It also handily has a Mini-B USB connector located on its rear, allowing it to communicate to the Switch with ease.  After confirming the hardware was compatible, [Bertrand] looked towards the software side noticing the similarity between what already existed and what he was attempting to accomplish.  He happened upon this in a Splatoon 2 fork that allows players to draw posts. 

In essence, it takes image files as input and emulates the controls and buttons to draw a 1-bit version of the image automatically.  This takes care of syncing the hardware as well as how to simulate the button presses.  But instead of reading an image file, it needed to take a custom script as the input.  This required starting from scratch.  The first logical step — of course — was to create a language similar to Logo, a name that surely brings back memories of the time of big hair and shoulder pads.  He only needed a handful of simple commands to control Link:

typedef enum {
} Buttons_t;

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Playing With USB Power Delivery

USB Power Delivery is the technology that’s able to pump 100 Watts down a USB cable. It’s been around for half a decade now, but only in the last few years have devices and power supplies supporting USB PD shown up on the market. This is a really interesting technology, and we can’t wait to see the outcome of people messing around with five amps flowing through a cable they picked up at the dollar store, but where are the DIY solutions to futz around with USB PD?

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Clayton] is doing just that. He’s built a tiny little power jack for USB PD that has a USB type-C plug on one end and a pair of screw terminals on the other. It’s the USB PD Buddy Sink, and once we find some cheap 100 Watt USB power adapters, this is going to be an invaluable tool.

Getting 100 Watts out of a USB charger is a bit more complex than just soldering a few wires together. The power delivery must be negotiated, and for that [Clayton] is using a simple, cheap STM32F0 ARM microcontroller. Plugging into a USB bus is a bit more complicated, but luckily On Semi has a neat little programmable USB Type-C controller PHY that does all the work. Throw in a few MOSFETS and other ancillary parts, and you have a simple, small 100 Watt power supply that plugs right into your new fancy laptop charger.

The design of the USB PD Buddy Sink is complete, and [Clayton] has a bunch of these on hand. He’s selling them on Tindie, but it’s also a great entry to the Hackaday Prize.

A Vintage Morse Key Turned into USB Keyboard

Time was when only the cool kids had new-fangled 102-key keyboards with a number pad, arrow keys, and function keys. They were such an improvement over the lame old 86-key layout that nobody would dream of going back. But going all the way back to a one-key keyboard is pretty cool, in the case of this Morse keyer to USB keyboard adapter.

To revive her dad’s old straight key, a sturdy mid-20th century beast from either a military or commercial setup, [Nomblr] started with a proper teardown and cleaning of the brass and Bakelite pounder. A Teensy was chosen for the job of converting Morse to keyboard strokes; careful consideration to the timing of dits and dahs and allowances for contact debouncing were critical to getting the job done. A new wooden base not only provides stability for the key but hides the Teensy and makes for a new presentation. The video below shows it in action; our only complaint is the lack of sidetone to hear the Morse as you pound out that next great novel one click at a time.

Lovingly restored telegraph gear is a bit of a thing around here; we featured this vintage telegraph sounder revived with a Morse code sender not too long ago.

[via r/DIY]

Thanks to [Liz] for the tip

Mini Drill Made From a Motor

We love this hacked-together mini drill by [BuenaTec] that uses a DC7.2V 10K-RPM motor with a 1/8” Dremel chuck added on. Power is supplied by a USB-A cable with the data wires cut off, with a switch controlling the voltage and a rectifier diode protecting the USB port or battery pack from back voltage from the motor.

The drill isn’t very powerful, only able to bore holes in PCBs, plastic, and similar soft materials. However, you could see how just a couple more components could make it even more robust — maybe a speed controller and voltage booster? Even so, we appreciate this bare-bones, ultra-low budget approach — only the barest essentials are included, with the components held together with hot glue and solder. Also, no one is allowed to complain about their soldering iron after viewing this video.

For more projects involving motors, read up on this brushless motor made from 3D-printed parts and this guide to hand-winding quadcopter motors.


Monstrous USB Power Bank

At some point, cleaning out the spare parts bin — or cabinet, or garage — becomes a necessity. This is dangerous because it can induce many more project ideas and completely negate the original purpose. [Chaotic Mind], considering the pile of  batteries he’s collected over the past decade, decided that instead of throwing them out, he would recycle them into a grotesque USB power bank.

Inside the bulk of this power bank are an eye-popping 64 18650 Lithium Ion cells, mostly collected from laptop batteries, and wired in a parallel 8×8 pattern with an estimated capacity of over 100,000mAh(!!).  The gatekeeper to all this stored energy is a two-USB power bank charger board from Tindie.

Ah — but how to package all this power? The handy man’s secret weapon: duct-tape!

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