Zoom Out Of The Classroom With A Mushroom Button

Considering the state of well, everything, we can’t tell you how glad we are to be out of school. That goes double for not being a teacher these days. [Elena] had some awesome light-up tactile buttons set aside for a killer Kerbal Space Program controller, but it’s funny how a pandemic will change your priorities. Instead, those buttons found a good home in this colorful and enticing Zoom control panel.

[Elena]’s ready pile of Arduinos yielded no Leonardos or Pro Micros, but that’s okay because there’s a handy bootloader out there that allows you to reprogram the USB interface chip of an Uno or a Mega and use it as a keyboard. After setting that up, it was mostly a matter of wiring all those latching and momentary buttons and LEDs to the Mega and making them look fantastic with a set of icons. (We all know the big red mushroom button is for aborting the call; so does it really need an icon?)

[Elena] was inspired by the Zoom call-terminating pull chain we saw a month or so ago as well as the pink control box that launched a thousand or so macro keyboards. Have you made your own sanity-saving solution for our times? Let us know!

USB Webcams Out Of Stock? Make One With A Raspberry Pi And HQ Camera Module

More people working from home has had an impact on the cost and availability of USB webcams, so [Jeff Geerling] got around the issue with a DIY solution that rang in around $100. It consists of a Raspberry Pi and HQ camera module acting as a USB webcam, and there is no messy streaming of ffmpeg over the network masquerading as a camera device or anything. It works just as a USB camera should.

[Jeff] chose a Raspberry Pi Zero and HQ camera module for his unit, making a tidy package that might not be quite as small as commercial webcams, but is certainly perfectly respectable as a USB camera. That being said, there are a few drawbacks, namely the lack of a microphone or autofocus, latency issues at higher resolutions, and the need to shut down the Pi cleanly.

Check out the GitHub repository for everything needed to set up your own, including a complete hardware list and some options for mounting. [Jeff] also tested whether the camera would work with the new keyboard-embedded Raspberry Pi 400, and it absolutely does. Embedded below is a video walkthrough and demonstration of the whole project, so check it out.

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An Easy Hack For Working With Your Hands On Video Calls

Video calls are okay. While some advocate for the benefit of body language over a standard phone call, they remain an imperfect substitute for in-person interaction. [Amos] wanted to be able to demonstrate things better when on a video chat, so devised this simple solution for when he’s working with his hands.

The hack consists of a mirror attached to a clothespeg with a flexible piece of wire. This simple device can then be clipped to the screen of a laptop, and the mirror adjusted to allow the webcam to view the user’s desk. By positioning it correctly, the user can both show their desk and their face together, in split screen. It’s a great way to explain something while giving viewers a clear shot of your face and your hands at the same time.

It’s not exactly complicated, but a nifty hack that could prove useful to anyone trying to teach without having to muck about with complicated digital handwriting setups or multiple webcams. There’s a shortage at the moment, anyway. If you’re looking for a way to chat with your less tech savvy relatives, consider repurposing an old Android tablet. Video after the break.

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