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Making Music with Clojure and Bananas

อังคาร, 04/28/2015 - 00:00

At this point, the banana piano is a pretty classic hack. The banana becomes a cheap, colorful touch sensor, which looks sort of like a piano key. The Arduino sets the pin as a low-level output, then sets the pin as an input with a pull up resistor. The time it takes for the pin to flip from a 0 to a 1 determines if the sensor is touched.

[Stian] took a new approach to the banana piano by hooking it up to Clojure and Overtone. Clojure is a dialect of Lisp which runs in the Java Virtual Machine. Overtone is a Clojure library that provides tons of utilities for music making.

Overtone acts as a client to the Supercollider synthesis server. Supercollider has been around since 1996, and provides a wide array of sound synthesis functions. Overtone simply tells Supercollider what to do, letting you easily program sounds in Clojure.

The banana piano acts as an input to a Clojure program. This program maps the banana to a musical note, then triggers a note on Overtone’s built-in piano sampler. The result is a nice piano sound played with fruit. Of course, since Overtone and Supercollider are very flexible, this could be used for something much more complex.

After the break, a video of the banana piano playing some “Swedish Jazz.”

Filed under: musical hacks

New 3D Printing Techniques at AMUG 2015

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 21:01

Sometimes there’s a lot of perks to working for a cutting edge tech company while also being a writer here at Hackaday. This week I had the opportunity to attend AMUG 2015 — the Additive Manufacturing User Group conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

I saw companies big and small, checked out the newest techniques like metal printing and mold making, and met a ton of interesting people. Join me after the break for the rundown and a video summary of my experience.

I attended the conference for my company, Christie Digital, as a Product Developer. I was there exploring new possibilities that the additive manufacturing (3D printing) realm is bringing to reality — especially with direct metal additive manufacturing technologies. The AMUG conference is fast becoming one of the most interactive and hands-on 3D printing conferences around. With over 70 vendors, sponsors and exhibitors there’s a little bit of everything.

Operating in its 27th year, the Additive Manufacturing User Group is a volunteer organization dedicated to bringing industry professionals, educators, and even students together who all share a passion for 3D printing. The group was originally limited to just stereolithography back in the 90’s — but as the industry continued to grow, they opened it up to all companies and technologies in the additive realm with the goals: encourage information exchange among all equipment owners and operators, propose solutions that involve basic modification to hardware or software, and provide a forum for technology exchange.

They’ve seen amazing growth, doubling in size in just the past few years — If you can convince your company to send you to this conference, I highly recommend it. It’s unlike any tradeshow / conference I’ve ever been to.


Stratasys was one of the biggest sponsors of this year’s event, with a huge booth showcasing their technologies with almost no emphasis on sales — just engineers showing off the machines, and some of the projects they’ve made. As much as our community seems to love bashing these big companies, they are driving this industry forward at such an accelerated rate. I have to give them kudos for their desire for innovation and advancement of AM.

I had the pleasure of hearing a keynote from the CEO himself, Mr. [Joe Allison] — who painted a most exciting picture of the future of AM. They also announced the creation of a new subsidiary of Stratasys — Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. It’s a one-stop-shop for almost every kind of manufacturing technology, additive and subtractive combined. I heard about some of their more exciting projects — like working with Legacy Effects and [Jason Lopes] on the 3D printed Iron Man suits used in all of Marvel’s movies. Any CEO who refers to their business ventures and activities, multiple times, as doing “cool shit” is awesome in my book. I included a few excerpts from his speech in the video embedded below.


Beyond the big companies at the expo, we also got to see some of the little guys. Even Formlabs had a booth — which probably had the most affordable machine at the event coming in at about $3000 — unlike the $300,000 norm.

A completely 3D printed speaker using multi-materials with the Form 1+ SL printer

I got to see the 3D printed speaker in person! If you don’t remember, I actually featured this project on Hackaday a few months ago. They had an excellent booth setup showcasing the Form 1+ and their wide range of materials. It was great seeing the big companies come by and gawk at the price-tag. After all, you could buy dozens of the Form 1+ stereolithography based machines compared to just one of most equivalent “industry” machines. And the quality was there.

3DP Unlimited 3DP Large Format 3D printer

Another of the “little guys” at the tradeshow was 3DP Unlimited, a massive 3D printer that utilizes a lot of the opensource software and technology that RepRaps use — it even features Marlin firmware. It’s a bit more expensive, coming in at about $20,000 — but seemed to be a very capable machine. Still too expensive for most hackerspaces, it’s a far cry from the equivalent industry FDM’s which go for hundreds of thousands.

I spent quite a bit of time at their booth watching the machine run and asking questions. My most obvious question was — how do you get the prints to stick? No build chamber, a massive bed, there has got to be curling issues! But there weren’t. First off — they don’t print in ABS, which typically has some of the worst problems with adhering to the bed, curling, and in general, failing prints. They prefer PLA and some of the other engineered plastics designed for 3D printing, like Taulman’s nylon and even materials like PETG. The second secret is beer.

No seriously. Beer.

Not to drink — but to use instead of hairspray on the borosilicate glass bed. I was just as surprised as you are now. For some reason that combination of low content alcohol and maybe some of the starch, creates a perfect slightly sticky surface for plastic to stick to. They swear by it. We did a quick google search and haven’t found any info about it — so we might prepare a quick tutorial later on this month explaining just how to do it. And of course to make sure they weren’t just pulling our leg.

In addition to that, there were of course the big players — and some new players altogether. HP is releasing their own 3D printer sometime next year… they brought some samples but not much more info than that!

Printing in Metal

By far the most popular tech been shown off are the new machines capable of manufacturing metal parts. The level of detail and accuracy is absolutely amazing. Just take a look at this titanium sample part that print3d4u.com was handing out.

It’s printed using the laser sintering process, and no post processing. That’s right — it’s a one piece assembly that has moving parts, right off the print bed! How freaking cool is that?

Now this second example is really cool. It’s a 3D printed part via SLA, which is then coated with a 0.0025″ layer of copper. Then electroplated with 0.006″ of nickel. You can bend the original part, but the metal plated one is stiff as a folded metal bracket. It was done by Repliform, and their booth completely surprised me.

By being able to coat 3D printed parts with a layer of metal (they can go pretty thick too!) you open up a world of possibilities. A great example they had was a 3D printed impeller blade for a small boat. A functional part that can take large amounts of forces — without degrading. Now the question is — how can we do it at home? I’ll be looking into it for you guys as soon as I get back to my workshop.

This wasn’t the only fabrication technique that caught my eye. The industry has been working on tangentially related techniques for some time now, like combining 3D printing with mold making.

Silicone Mold Making

Yazaki has become an expert in 3D printing master parts, and then casting them in silicone with Nylon to produce parts that are representative of production grade material properties. Just take a look at the example above. Pretty complex features in a part for a soft silicone mold. I was quite impressed, along with pretty much everyone else who attended the presentation.

There were also hands-on workshops (more info in the video), and I had the opportunity to try my hand at silicone molding! We’ve of course covered silicone molding many times before on Hackaday — but it was cool being taught by a company which leads the field.

One of the interesting things at the Stratasys booth were 3D printed molds for plastic injection molding machines. I actually got to see this in person two years ago, at the K-Show in Dusseldorf — which kick-started my Hackerspacing in Europe tour! It seems like they’ve made a lot of progress since then, and it is an exciting partnership of this rapid prototyping technology with mass production capabilities.


Now I wouldn’t be a very good employee if I didn’t take an opportunity to show you guys some of the “cool shit” we do here at Hyphen Services which is the in-house full-service 3D printing part of the company I work for. Staying true to our Canadian roots, we brought some entirely 3D printed hockey helmets that we made as a proof of concept and capabilities here at Hyphen. Picking them up, you would have no idea they aren’t regular store bought helmets. In addition to our manufacturing capabilities, we also have a wide-range of engineering test equipment — from vibration tables to tensile testers, thermal chambers to anechoic chambers as well as an EMC chamber, and even some impact test equipment.

And of course, our booth looked like a mini hockey arena, also made mostly by 3D printing. Attendees of the conference could take shots on our goalie to win a Hyphen branded mini-stick (hockey stick).

Free Samples and the Social Aspects of the Con Free Samples!

What’s a trade show without free samples? The little catapults (top left) from Stratasys are great fun. Top right is folding assembly — much like those origami notes. Then we’ve got our 3D printed bearing, a wrench, a nylon cast beer bottle opener, and an example of metal plating SLA parts which I discussed earlier.

I also got to hear an intimate Q&A interview session on stage with Chuck Hull — the father of 3D printing. He’s the inventor of stereolithography and the .STL file format. He founded 3D Systems and still helps run the company as the CTO. One of my peers actually sat with him the night before and asked “so how long have you been in the industry” to which he replied “a long time”. Class act Mr. Hull. Naturally, I had to get a photograph with him. He is in the Inventor’s Hall of Fame after all — along with the other greats like Nikola Tesla, or Henry Ford himself.

One of the outdoor networking lunches

But this wasn’t just about meeting 3D Printing celebrities. It was great to talk with everyone I met at the conference. Every time we had a lunch or meal, we’d draw numbers from a hat to determine what table we sat at — to encourage mingling with people we might not meet normally!

This just barely scratched the surface of some of the cool technology I saw at AMUG 2015. I’d highly recommend attending next year if you can. In the mean time, there’s some more cool stuff in a short video montage I took during my stay in Jacksonville. Enjoy!

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Featured

Thursday Drink-Up in The City

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 18:01

Hackaday is headed to New York this week. Grab your projects and catch up with us for a tasty beverage. We’ll be hanging out at the Antler Beer & Wine Dispensary on Thursday night starting at about 7. Be part of Hackaday’s first ever social event in NYC!

This is the pre-game for our Hackathon which starts on Saturday afternoon. So far we have eight of the Hackaday crew confirmed for evening: [Brian Benchoff], [Adam Fabio], [Bil Herd], [Sophi Kravitz], [Aleksandar Bradic], [Matt Berggren], [Jasmine Brackett], and [Rob Vincent]. But hey, it wouldn’t be any fun without you there too! We want to pack the place with hardware hackers so grab your friends and RSVP using the link at the top.

This is part of our 2015 Hackaday Prize Worldwide tour. Start your entry now by hammering out a few quick ideas about a future build and we can gab about it on Thursday. See you soon!

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:
Filed under: slider, The Hackaday Prize

Slick Six-Voice Synth for AVRs

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 15:00

He started off making an AVR synthesized guitar, but [Erix] ended up with much more: a complete six-voice AVR wavetable synthesis song machine that’ll run on an ATMega328 — for instance, on an Arduino Uno.

If you’re an AVR coder, or interested in direct-digital synthesis or PWM audio output, you should have a look at his code (zip file). If you’d just like to use the chip to make some tunes, have a gander at the video below the break.

It’s pretty sweet to get six channels of 31.25 kHz sampled 8-bit audio running on a 16MHz chip. The code underlying it works through some tricky optimization in the sample update routine (UpdateVoiceSample() in play.c if you’re reading along) and by carefully prioritizing the time critical elements.

For instance, the pitch is updated once every two PWM samples, I/O and other auxiliary player tasks every eights samples, and the sound’s dynamic volume envelope is only recalculated every 48 samples. Doing the slow math as infrequently as possible lets [Erix] make his timing.

And to round out the tools, [Erix] also provides wavetable editors and song generators in Lua to compile the tables of music data that the AVR routines need to run.

If you’re not impressed by this bit of AVR C coding, then you’ve not tried to implement something similar yourself.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, musical hacks

An Introduction To Individually Addressable LED Matrices

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 12:00

The most fascinating project you can build is something with a bunch of blinky hypnotic LEDs, and the easiest way to build this is with a bunch of individually addressable RGB LEDs. [Ole] has a great introduction to driving RGB LED matrices using only five data pins on a microcontroller.

The one thing that is most often forgotten in a project involving gigantic matrices of RGB LEDs is how to mount them. The enclosure for these LEDs should probably be light and non-conductive. If you’re really clever, each individual LED should be in a light-proof box with a translucent cover on it. [Ole] isn’t doing that here; this matrix is just a bit of wood with some WS2812s glued down to it.

To drive the LEDs, [Ole] is using an Arduino. Even though the WS2812s are individually addressable and only one data pin is needed, [Ole] is using five individual data lines for this matrix. It works okay, and the entire setup can be changed at some point in the future. It’s still a great introduction to individually addressable LED matrices.

If you’d like to see what can be done with a whole bunch of individually addressable LEDs, here’s the FLED that will probably be at our LA meetup in two weeks. There are some crazy engineering challenges and several pounds of solder in the FLED. For the writeup on that, here you go.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, led hacks

DIY Wet Media Blast Cabinet

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 09:01

Most people have heard of sand blasting, a process used for cleaning parts by spraying a high pressure air and sand mixture. At this speed, the sand becomes abrasive and will remove paint, rust and general gunk leaving a clean surface behind. There is one downside to the process, breathing the silica dust created by the sand blasting process can lead to a lung disease called silicosis, which is not curable and can even lead to death.

[Roger] wanted to clean his motorcycle parts and decided to build a wet media blasting cabinet. Unlike sand blasting, wet media blasting mixes the cleaning media with water instead of air. The media and water slurry is sprayed at the part needing cleaning and has the same effect as sand blasting without creating any dust.

As you can clearly see from the image, the main blasting chamber is made from a 55 gallon plastic drum. It even has a removable lid on one side to make loading in parts easy. A large hole was cut into the drum in order to install a window. Look close – there is even a wind shield wiper from a car installed on the inside of the window to aid in seeing the part being cleaned!

Underneath the blasting chamber is another plastic drum cut in half. This serves as a slurry tank. A regular pool pump is used to both agitate the slurry mixture and power the spray nozzle. Overall, [Roger] is happy with his blast cabinet made from found parts and says it has become his all-time favorite cleaning device. He says that the part surface finish obtained was well worth the effort building the blast cabinet.

Filed under: tool hacks

Hackaday Links: April 26, 2015

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 06:00

In case you haven’t heard, we’re giving away a trip to space. We have $50,000 to promote giving away a trip to space too, and this week we’re giving away some OSH Park gift cards. If you have a project that’s held together with hot glue on a 40-year-old piece of perf board, add a project log describing how you need some free PCBs.

A few months ago, some guy in Texas found the original molds for the Commodore 64C, the Plus/4 and the 128. That discovery turned into one of the best examples of what Kickstarter can do. Now, new keycaps are being manufactured with an Indiegogo campaign. If you’re waiting on your C64c case to be pressed out of a mold, this is not the time to think about the sunk cost fallacy. They’re not Cherry MX compatible, but they will work with just about every version of the C64. Not bad for under €20.

The UK has a fabulously rich history of ancient melee weapons, ranging from the flail to the mace and a bunch of odd bladed weapons used by the Scots. This tradition was passed down to the UK mains plug, the single most painful plug to step on. Apple just released a USB charger with a folding UK mains plug and [oliver] did a teardown on it.

For St. George’s Day in Catalonia, there’s a tradition of giving roses to women, and books to men. [Nixieguy] has all the books he could want, and would prefer to receive a rose. Bucking tradition, he made himself a rose from a punch card. It’s the closest he’s going to get to ‘@}-\—’. A few years ago, he carved a rose out of a 10mm LED.

Finally, a decent tutorial on how to grow your own SMD components.

Need to take apart a cellphone? Use acetone! Need the phone to work after you take it apart? Ummmm….

The Dayton Hamvention is just three weeks away! Yes, the same weekend as the Bay Area Maker’s Faire, which means most of the Hackaday crew will be elsewhere, but I hear [Chris Gammell] will be there putting Parts.io stickers on everything. By the way, I’m looking for a Tek PM203 Personality Module for a 68000 64-pin PDIP.

Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

Using an LED as a Simple RF Detector

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 03:00

When [b.kainka] set out to make the world’s simplest RF detector, he probably didn’t realize it would be as easy as it was. Consisting of only a handful of components and thirty eight lines of code, he was able to make an RF detector that works reasonably well.

The microcontroller running the code is an ATtiny13 on a Sparrow board. He’s using an everyday LED as a detector diode and an internal pull-up resistor in the ATtiny13 for the bias voltage. The antenna runs off the LED’s anode. To make it sensitive enough, he switches on the pull-up resistor for a tiny fraction of time. Because an LED can act like a small capacitor, this charges it to a few volts. He then switches the pullup off, and the voltage across the LED will start to discharge. If there is an RF signal present, the discharge voltage will be less than the discharge voltage with no signal present.  Neat stuff.

Be sure to check out his Hackaday.io page linked at the top for full source, schematics and some videos demonstrating his project.

Filed under: ATtiny Hacks

Senior Design Project Serves Infinite Drinks

จันทร์, 04/27/2015 - 00:01

If you’re creative, you can make your passion projects count for college credit. Somehow [InfinityTable] managed to use this infinity bartender build called BarT as a senior design project.

There’s a lot going on here, starting with the cabinet which is 30″x30″ and has some custom mirrored glass necessary because of a square cut-out in the middle of the front pane. The two mirrors face each other, with a strip of LEDs in between which accounts for the “infinity” part of the build. This is popular but usually it’s usually just the mirror and lights. In this case that special cut-out is a cubby for a glass. Place it in there and the rest of the build will mix you up a tasty beverage.

There is a second chamber in the enclosure behind the rear mirror. This houses the components that mix up the drinks. Raw materials are dispensed from 1.25L plastic bottles. The extra special part of the build is that since it is a senior project, all the driving circuitry uses roll-your-own boards.

[via reddit]

Filed under: cooking hacks

A Deadbugged GPS/GLONASS/Geiger Counter

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 21:00

So you think you’re pretty good at soldering really tiny parts onto a PCB? You’re probably not as good as [Shibata] who made a GPS/GLONASS and Geiger counter mashup deadbug-style with tiny 0402-sized parts.

The device uses an extremely small GPS/GLONASS receiver, an AVR ATxmega128D3 microcontroller, a standard Nokia phone display and an interesting Geiger tube with a mica window to track its location and the current level of radiation. The idea behind this project isn’t really that remarkable; the astonishing thing is the way this project is put together. It’s held together with either skill or prayer, with tiny bits of magnet wire replacing what would normally be PCB traces, and individual components making up the entire circuit.

While there isn’t much detail on what’s actually going on in this mess of solder, hot glue, and wire, the circuit is certainly interesting. Somehow, [Shibata] is generating the high voltage for the Geiger tube and has come up with a really great way of displaying all the relevant information on the display. It’s a great project that approaches masterpiece territory with some crazy soldering skills.

Thanks [Danny] for sending this one in.

Filed under: hardware, Microcontrollers

DIY Dust Cyclone A Traffic Cop Would Be Proud Of

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 18:01

Sure, having a wood shop is super handy but it also can get real dusty. Hooking up a shop vac to suck up dust coming off a wood-cutting machine works for all of 3 minutes before the vacuum’s filter gets clogged with dust. There is a solution, though, and it is called a dust separator.

A dust separator does just as its name suggests, it separates dust from air. There is a common type of dust separator made in the DIY community, it has a cone-shaped body and is generally referred to as a cyclone-style. [Dror] built his own cyclonic dust collector out of an odd object… a traffic cone. Looking at it now, we wonder why this isn’t much more common!

The dusty air enters the PVC pipe and ends up spinning around the inside of the cone. Since the dust particles have mass, they are thrown to the outside of this chamber as they spin. They loose speed and drop down into the 5 gallon bucket below. The dust-free air then outlets through the top of the dust separator which is connected to a shop vac.

You’ll notice that [Dror] decided to use threaded rod to hold his separator pieces together. While this may seem like overkill, he had tried several glues and could not get any to stick to the traffic cone!

If you’d like to get in on the dust separator action but don’t have a traffic cone, they can also be 3D printed or made from metal.

Filed under: tool hacks

The Ultimate Tool For Homebrew PCB Manufacturing

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 15:00

While OSHPark, Seeed Studio, and DirtyPCB have taken most of the fun and urgency out of making your own circuit boards at home, there are still a few niche cases and weird people who like to go it alone. For them, [Jarzębski] has created the ultimate homebrew PCB manufacturing solution (.pl, here’s the Google translatrix).

[Jarzębski] is using UV-sensitive photomasks for his PCBs, but he’s not doing something simple like a blacklight to develop his boards. He’s using a 30 Watt UV LED for exposing his boards. This, of course, generates a lot of heat and to mitigate that he’s added a Peltier cooler, temperature sensor, and a fan to cool off this retina-burning LED. 30 Watts will get the job done, considering [Jarzębski] was using a quartet of 4.5W LEDs before this build.

Developing a PCB is only one part of the equation; you need to etch it, too. For this, [Jarzębski] is using a small 1.6 Liter aquarium and four aquarium heaters for dunking 120mm x 120mm PCBs in the tank. There’s no mention of what chemistry [Jarzębski] is using – ferric chloride, cupric chloride, or otherwise – but the heaters and aerator should make etching go very smoothly.

There’s a video (English) going over the rest of the project below.

Filed under: tool hacks

The Digistump Oak; An ESP8266 On Kickstarter

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 12:00

When it was first released, the ESP8266 was a marvel; a complete WiFi solution for any project that cost about $5. A few weeks later, and people were hard at work putting code on the tiny little microcontroller in the ESP8266 and it was clear that this module would be the future of WiFi-enabled Things for the Internet.

Now it’s a Kickstarter Project. It’s called the Digistump Oak, and it’s exactly what anyone following the ESP8266 development scene would expect: WiFi, a few GPIOs, and cheap – just $13 for a shipped, fully functional dev board.

The guy behind the Oak, [Erik Kettenburg], has seen a lot of success with his crowdfunded dev boards. He created the Digispark, a tiny, USB-enabled development board that’s hardly larger than a USB plug itself. The Digispark Pro followed, getting even more extremely small AVR dev boards out in the wild.

The Digistump Oak moves away from the AVR platform and puts everything on an ESP8266. Actually, this isn’t exactly the ESP8266 you can buy from hundreds of unnamed Chinese retailers; while it still uses the ESP8266 chip, there’s a larger SPI Flash, and the Oak is FCC certified.

Yes, if you’re thinking about building a product with the ESP8266, you’ll want to watch [Erik]’s campaign closely. He’s doing the legwork to repackage the ESP into something the FCC can certify. Until someone else does it, it’s a license to print money.

The FCC-certified ESP8266 derived module, cleverly called the Acorn, will be available in large quantities, packaged in JEDEC trays sometime after the campaign is finished. It’s an interesting board, and we’re sure more than one teardown of the Acorn will hit YouTube when these things start shipping.

Filed under: Crowd Funding, Microcontrollers, wireless hacks

Brewdoo Helps Keep the Office Coffee Fresh

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 09:01

Until about lunch time, the coffee goes pretty fast in our office. Only a few of us drink it well into the afternoon, though, and it’s anyone’s guess how long the coffee’s been sitting around when we need a 4:00 pick-me-up. It would be great to install a coffee timer like [Paul]’s Brewdoo to keep track of these things.

The Brewdoo’s clean and simple design makes it easy for anyone in the office to use. [Paul]’s office has two carafes, so there’s a button, an RGB LED, and a line on the LCD for each. Once a pot is brewed, push the corresponding button and the timer is reset. The RGB LED starts at green, but turns yellow and eventually red over the course of an hour. Brewdoo has a failsafe in place, too: if a timer hasn’t been reset for four hours, its LED turns off and the LCD shows a question mark.

[Paul] knew he couldn’t touch the existing system since his company leases the equipment, so the Brewdoo lives in an enclosure that [Paul] CNC’d with custom g-code and affixed to the brewing machine with hard drive magnets. Although [Paul] designed it with an Arduino Uno for easy testing and code modification, the Brewdoo has a custom PCB with a ‘328P. The code, Fritzing diagram and Eagle files are up at [Paul]’s GitHub.

Filed under: Microcontrollers

Massive Wood Joints With Chainsaw Mortiser

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 06:00

One common joinery method used in wood working is the mortise and tenon. A mortise is basically a hole in a piece of wood and the tenon is another piece of wood cut to tightly fit in that hole. The tenon is usually secured in place with either glue or a wooden pin or wedge.

The folks over at [WayOutWest] were building a fence and needed a way to cut a bunch of mortises in 4×4 inch posts to accept 2×6 inch rails. Although they had a chainsaw, trying to cut a mortise with it by hand turned out to be super dangerous because the chainsaw would kick up every time the tip of the blade touched the wood. The team had some parts kicking around so they made a fixture to hold the chainsaw as it is plunged into the 4×4’s.

The contraption’s frame is made from an old scaffolding stand and the slides are just pipes inside of pipes. The chainsaw is bolted to the slide and a lever moves it forward and back. A second lever moves the piece of wood getting mortised up and down so that the mortise can be cut to any width. This is a pretty ingenious build that only cost a little effort and will end up saving a bunch of time mortising countless fence posts.

Filed under: tool hacks

FPGA Based Ambilight Clone

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 03:00

The Philips Ambilight – a bunch of rear-facing RGB LEDs taped to the back of a TV – is becoming the standard project for anyone beginning to tinker with FPGAs. [DrX]’s is the best one we’ve seen yet, with a single board that reads and HDMI stream, makes blinkey lights go, and outputs the HDMI stream to the TV or monitor.

[DrX] is using an FPGA development board with two HDMI connectors – the Scarab miniSpartan6+ – and a strand of WS2801 individually addressable RGB LEDs for this project. With a bit of level shifting, driving the LEDs was easily taken care of. But what about decoding HDMI?

Most of the project is borrowed from a project that displays a logo in the corner of a 720p video stream. The hardware is the same, but for an Ambilight clone, you need to read the video stream and process it, not just write to it. By carefully keeping track of the R, G, and B values for each pixel along with the pixel clock,  the colors along the edge of a display can be averaged. It’s not as difficult or as memory-intensive as building a frame buffer; nearly all of the picture data is thrown out when assembling the averages around the perimeter of the display. It does work, though.

After figuring out the average color around the perimeter of the display, it’s just a simple matter of driving the LEDs. Tape those LEDs to the back of a TV, and there’s an Ambilight clone, made with an FPGA.

[DrX] has a few videos of his project in action. You can check those out below.

Filed under: FPGA, video hacks

Hacklet 44 – Teardowns

อาทิตย์, 04/26/2015 - 00:01

Just about every hacker, maker and tinkerer out there received their early education the same way: A screwdriver in one and a discarded bit of electronics in the other. There is no better way to find out how something works than cracking it open and examining each piece.  In recent years, teardown videos have become popular on YouTube, with some of the great examples coming from users like [EEVblog], [mikeselectricstuff], and [The Geek Group]. This week’s Hacklet is all about the best teardown projects on Hackaday.io!

We start with [zakqwy] and his Savin C2020 Teardown. Photocopiers (and multifunction machines) are the workhorses of the modern office. This means there are plenty of used, abused, and outdated photocopiers available to hackers. [Zakqwy] got this monster when it started misbehaving at his office. Copiers are a venerable cornucopia of motors, gears, sensors (lots and lots of breakbeam sensors) and optics. The downside is toner: it’s messy, really bad to breathe, and if you don’t wear gloves it gets down into the pores of your skin, which takes forever to get out. [Zakqwy] persevered and found some awesome parts in his copier – like an  Archimedes’ screw used to transport black toner.

Next up is [Bob Blake] with Belkin WeMo Insight Teardown. [Bob] wanted a WiFi outlet, but wasn’t about to plug something in to both his power grid and his network without taking it apart first. [Bob] did an awesome job of documenting his teardown with lots of great high resolution photos – we love this stuff! He found a rather well thought out hardware design. The Insight has 3 interconnected PCBs inside. The power switching and supply circuits are all on one board. It includes slots and the proper creep distances one would expect in a design that will be carrying 120V AC mains power. A small daughter board holds an unknown chip – [Bob] is guessing it is the power sensing circuitry. A third board a tucked in at the top of the module holds the main CPU, a Ralink/MediaTek RT5350F SoC, RAM, and the all important WiFi antenna.


[Drhatch] took things into the danger zone with an X-ray Head Teardown. We’re not sure if [Drhatch] is a real doctor, but he does have a Heliodent MD dental X-ray head. Modern X-ray machines are generally radiation safe if they’re not powered up. Radiation isn’t the only dangers to worry about though – there are latent charged capacitors and cooling oils which may contain nasty chemicals like PCBs, among other things. [Drhatch] found some pretty interesting design decisions in his X-ray head. The tube actually fires through the cylindrical high voltage transformer. This means the transformer acts as a beam collimator, focusing the X-ray beam down like a lens. He also found plenty of lead shielding. Interestingly there are two thickness of lead in the housing. Shielding close to the tube is 1 mm thick, while shielding a bit further away is only 0.7 mm thick.


Finally, we have [danielmiester] with Inside a 3ph AC Motor Controller(VFD). [Daniel] tore down a Hitachi Variable-Frequency Drive (VFD) with the hopes of creating a frequency converter for a project. These high voltage, high power devices have quite a bit going on inside, so the conversion became a teardown project all its own. VFDs such as this one are used in industry to drive high power AC motors at varying speeds efficiently. As [Daniel] says, the cheaper ones are ” just really fancy PWM modules”. Handling 1.5 kW is no joke though. This VFD had a large brick of power transistors potted into its heat sink. The controller board was directly soldered to the transistors, as well as the rectifier diodes for the DC power supply. [Daniel] was doing some testing with the unit powered up, so he built a custom capacitor discharge unit from 3 C7 Christmas lights. Not only did they keep the capacitors discharged, they provided an indication that the unit was safe. No light means no charge.

Not satisfied? Want more teardown goodness? Check out our freshly minted Teardown List!

That’s about all the time we have for this week’s Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Filed under: Hackaday Columns

Mini Wood Lathe Made of….. Wood?

เสาร์, 04/25/2015 - 21:01

When someone says ‘wood lathe’ the average person would think of a lathe used for turning pieces of wood into ornate shapes. But what if that lathe was also made of wood. Would that be a wood wood lathe? Instead of wondering the answer to that very unimportant question, young 15 year-old [laffinm] decided to actually build a wood wood lathe from plans he found in a magazine.

As you would expect, a 15 year-old’s budget is certainly not going to be very large. [laffinm] started by gathering plywood scraps left over at construction sites. The lathe bed, head stock, tail stock, tool rest and motor mount are all made from 3/4″ plywood. The tool rest and tail stock have knobs that allow loosening of each part so that they can be moved to any location on the bed.

Out back, [laffinm] made his own live center for the tail stock out of a chuck and bearing assembly that he pulled from an old drill. The tail stock supports were drilled out to fit the bearings which were epoxied in place. The live center and tail stock combination supports the right side of the work piece that is being turned on the lathe.

In the end the lathe came out pretty darn well. We here at Hackaday love projects that make use of recycled parts and this project sure does that as most of the parts were scavenged or obtained for free with the only exceptions a v-belt and some nuts and bolts. If you’d like to see the build process in detail, [laffinm] has a very complete Instructable with 3 build videos, the first of which you can find after the break.

Filed under: tool hacks

The Raspberry Pi Action Camera

เสาร์, 04/25/2015 - 18:00

Action cameras like the GoPro, and the Sony Action Cam are invaluable tools for cyclists and anyone else venturing into the great outdoors. These cameras are not really modifiable or usable in any way except for what they were designed for. [Connor] wanted a cheaper, open-source action camera and decided to build one with the Raspberry Pi.

[Connor]’s Pi action cam is built around the Raspberry Pi Model A+ and the Pi camera. This isn’t a complete solution, so [Connor] added a bluetooth module, a 2000 mAh battery, and a LiPo charger.

To keep the Pi Action Cam out of the elements, [Connor] printed an enclosure. It took a few tries, but eventually he was able to mount everything inside a small plastic box with buttons to start and stop recording, a power switch, and a USB micro jack for charging the battery. The software is a script by [Alex Eames], and the few changes necessary to make this script work with the hardware are also documented.

This was the most intensive 3D printing project [Connor] has ever come up with, and judging by the number of prints that don’t work quite right, he put a lot of work into it. Right now, the Pi action cam works, but there’s still a lot of work to turn this little plastic box into a completed project.

Filed under: digital cameras hacks, Raspberry Pi

Lego Flip-dot Display

เสาร์, 04/25/2015 - 15:01

We don’t need to mention that flip-dot displays are awesome. They use no power except in transitions, are visible on even the brightest of days, and have a bit of that old-school charm. So then it stands to reason that the flip-dot display that [AncientJames] made out of LEGO is awesome-plus. Heck, it even spells out “awesome”.

The display is programmed by arranging single-unit bricks on a template to either turn on or off a pixel. A set of fingers raise up, the new template slides in, and the fingers are lowered onto the template to set the display dot discs. Sounds easy, right?

The single pixel mechanism is interesting enough on its own:

But then the transfer mechanism’s choreography is really sweet. If you’re interested in the mechanics, read through [AncientJames]’s explanation, and don’t skip the animations of Chebyschev’s Lambda Mechanism on Wikipedia.

It’s truly amazing what one can get done with a single crankshaft. Nice work, [AncientJames]!

If we can beg, any chance you’d make a video of the transfer mechanism on its own?

Thanks [Daniel Kennedy] for the tip.

Filed under: toy hacks