Those of you who were regular office dwellers before the pandemic: do you miss being with your coworkers at all? Maybe just a couple of them? There’s only so much fun you can have through a chat window or a videoconference. Even if you all happen to be musicians with instruments at the ready, your jam will likely be soured by latency issues.
[Eden Bar-Tov] and some fellow students had a better idea for breaking up the work-from-home monotony — a collaborative sequencer built for 2020 and beyond. Instead of everyone mashing buttons at once and hoping for the best, the group takes turns building up a melody. Each person is assigned a random instrument at the beginning, and the first to go is responsible for laying down the beat.
Inside each music box is an ESP8266 that communicates with a NodeRed server over MQTT, sending each melody as a string of digits. Before each person’s turn begins, the LED matrix shows a three second countdown, and then scrolls the current state of the song. Your turn is over when the LED strip around the edge goes crazy.
Music can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing, but this instrument is built with the non-musician in mind. There are only five possible notes to play, and they’re always from the same scale to avoid dissonance. Loops are always in 4/4, which makes things easy. Players don’t even have to worry about staying in time, because their contributions are automatically matched to the beat. Check it out after the break.
Tired of sitting indoors all day, but still want to make music? Build a modular synth into a bike and you’ve solved two problems.
Continue reading “Slack Off From Home With A Networked Jam Session”
Phillips Ambilight technology is a curious thing, never quite catching on in the mainstream due to its proprietary nature. Consisting of an LED array that sits behind a television screen, it projects colours relevant to the content on screen to create a greater feeling of ambience. [Ed Chamberlain]’s reactive pixel lamps aim to do much the same thing in a more distributed way.
Each pixel lamp consists of a Wemos D1 controller fitted with an old-school 4-wire RGB LED. The components are placed in a 3D printed translucent cube, which serves as an attractive enclosure and diffuser. With WiFi connectivity on board, it’s possible to connect the individual cubes up to a Raspberry Pi serving as a Phillips Hue bridge thanks to DIYHue. Once setup, the lights can be configured as an Ambilight system within the Phillips Hue app.
It’s an impressive way to give a room reactive lighting on a budget, without resorting to costly off-the-shelf solutions. We’d love to see this expanded further, as we’re sure a room full of reactive lights would be truly a sight to behold. Other methods to recreate the Ambilight technology are possible, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Reactive Pixel Lamps Create Colourful Vibes On Command”
LoRa is the go-to tech for low power, long range wireless sensor networks. Designing with off-the-shelf modules can be a boon or a bane depending on the documentation and support. Luckily, [Renzo] has prepared a set of tutorials
to get you started.
In his seven part series of write-ups, [Renzo] starts by connecting the E32 module from AliExpress to an Arduino as well as an ESP8266 to demonstrate essential communications. Then he discusses the configuration options and the library he created to make like a bit easier. Following that is a series of posts discussing transmission types as well as power saving methods including sleep modes and wake-on-radio.
The information will be extremely handy for someone starting off with the SX1276/SX1278 Wireless Modules which are relatively inexpensive as opposed to more standardized development kits. We love the abundance of fritzing diagrams, arduino code and helper library and hope someone will build on it. You can get the library from Github
for your tinkering pleasure.
When you think of a shooting gallery, you might envision a line of tin cans set up along a split-rail fence, or a few rows of ducks or bottles lined up at a carnival. But what do these have in common? You, standing in one spot, and shooting in the same general direction. You’re exposed! If those targets could shoot back, you’d be dead within seconds. Wouldn’t it be more fun if the targets were all around you in 360°? We think so, too.
So how could you possibly set up a shooting gallery this way? [Another Maker] already solved that problem for you with ESP32s and Node-RED (YouTube). Each target has an ESP32, a laser sensor, and an LED that lights up when the target is ready, and turns off once it’s been hit. They all make an enticing ‘shoot me’ sound that goes with their graphics, and a second mp3 plays upon direct hit.
The PVC gun houses an ESP8266, a laser module at the end of the barrel, and runs on a cylindrical USB battery slipped down in the secondary grip. [Another Maker] can spread the targets out far and wide, as long as they all stay in range of the localized WiFi access point.
The best part is that the Node-RED system is target-agnostic — it doesn’t care how many you have or how they’re made, and it can juggle up to 250 of them. Because of the way the target objects are programmed, it would be quite easy to add actuators that make them drop down or fall backward when hit. You could also implement [Another Maker]’s fantastic suggestion of hitting arcade buttons with NERF darts instead. Charge those lasers and fire at the break button to see the demo and walk-through video.
If you plan to knock the targets down or over in your implementation, you’ll want an easy way to reset them. Here’s a scrap-built shooting gallery that uses a windshield wiper motor to set ’em back up.
Continue reading “Node-RED Laser Shooting Gallery Goes Anywhere”
In our info-obsessed culture, hackers are increasingly interested in ways to quantify the world around them. One popular project is to collect data about their home energy or water consumption to try and identify any trends or potential inefficiencies. For safety and potentially legal reasons, this usually has to be done in a minimally invasive way that doesn’t compromise the metering done by the utility provider. As you might expect, that often leads to some creative methods of data collection.
The latest solution comes courtesy of [Keilin Bickar], who’s using the ESP8266 and a serial TTL camera module to read the characters from the LCD of his water meter. With a 3D printed enclosure that doubles as a light source for the camera, the finished device perches on top of the water meter and sends the current reading to HomeAssistant via MQTT without any permanent wiring or mounting.
Of course, the ESP8266 is not a platform we generally see performing optical character recognition. Some clever programming was required to get the Wemos D1 Mini Lite to reliably read the numbers from the meter without having to push the task to a more computationally powerful device such as a Raspberry Pi. The process starts with a 160×120 JPEG image provided by a VC0706 camera module, which is then processed with the JPEGDecoder library. The top and bottom of the image are discarded, and the center band is isolated into blocks that correspond with the position of each digit on the display.
Within each block, the code checks an array of predetermined points to see if the corresponding pixel is black or not. In theory this allows detecting all the digits between 0 and 9, though [Keilin] says there were still the occasional false readings due to inherent instabilities in the camera and mounting. But with a few iterations to the code and the aid of a Python testing program that allowed him to validate the impact of changes to the algorithm, he was able to greatly improve the detection accuracy. He says it also helps that the nature of the data allows for some basic sanity checks; for example the number only ever goes up, and only by a relatively small amount each time.
This method might not allow the per-second sampling required to pull off the impressive (if slightly creepy) water usage data mining we saw recently, but as long as you’re not after very high resolution data this is an elegant and creative way to pull useful data from your existing utility meter.
[Dimitris Platis] works in an environment with a peer review process for accepting code changes. Code reviews generally are a good thing. One downside though, is that a lack of responsiveness from other developers can result in a big hit to team’s development speed. It isn’t that other developers are unwilling to do the reviews, it’s more that individuals are often absorbed in their own work and notification emails are easily missed. There is also a bit of a “tragedy of the commons” vibe to the situation, where it’s easy to feel that someone else will surely attend to the situation, but often no one does. To combat this, [Dimitris] built this Code Review Lamp, a subtle notification that aims to prod reviewers into action.
The lamp is based on a ring of RGB LEDs and a Wemos D1 Mini board. The Wemos utilizes the popular ESP8266, so it’s easy to develop for. The LED ring and Wemos are tied together with a slick custom PCB. Mounting the LED ring on the top of the PCB and the Wemos on the bottom allows for easy powering via a USB cable while directing light upward. The assembly is placed in a translucent 3D printed enclosure creating a pleasant diffuse light source.
Every developer gets a Code Review Lamp. The lamps automatically log in to the change management system to check whether anything is awaiting review. If a review is ready, the Lamp glows in a color specific to the individual developer. All this serves as a gentle but persistent reminder that someone’s work is being held up until a review is completed.
We love the way that the device has a clear purpose: it does its job without any unnecessary features or parts. It’s similar to this ESP8266 IoT Motion Sensor in that it has a single job to do, and focuses on it well.
Continue reading “Code Review Lamp Subtly Reminds You To Help Your Fellow Developer”
Some legged robots end up moving with ponderous deliberation, or wavering in unstable-looking jerks. A few unfortunates manage to do both at once. [MusaW]’s 3D Printed Quadruped Robot, on the other hand, moves in rapid motions that manage to look sharp and insect-like instead of unstable. Based on an earlier design he made for a 3D printable quadruped frame, [MusaW] has now released this step-by-step guide for building your own version. All that’s needed is the STL files and roughly $50 in parts from the usual Chinese resellers to have the makings of a great weekend project.
The robot uses twelve SG90 servos and an Arduino nano with a servo driver board to control them all, but there’s one additional feature: Wi-Fi control is provided thanks to a Wemos D1 Mini (which uses an ESP-8266EX) acting as a wireless access point to serve up a simple web interface through which the robot can be controlled with any web browser.
Embedded below is a brief video. The first half is assembly, and the second half demonstrates the robot’s fast, sharp movements.
Continue reading “Watch The Snappy, Insect-like Moves Of This DIY Quadruped Robot”