You Probably Don’t Want To Find This Toilet In Your Washroom

Ok, this one is a bit bizarre, but in perfect keeping with the subject matter: a talking toilet ripped from the pages of the Captain Underpants children’s books. Hackaday.io user [hamblin.joe]’s county fair has a toilet decorating contest and at the suggestion of their neighbour’s son, [hamblin.joe] hatched a plan to automate the toilet using an Arduino in the fashion of the hero’s foes.

Two Arduinos make up this toilet’s brains, an Adafruit Wave Shield imbues it with sound capabilities, and a sonic wave sensor will trigger the toilet’s performance routine when someone approaches. A windshield wiper motor actuates the toilet bowl lid via a piece of flat iron bar connected to a punched angle bracket. Installing the motor’s mount was a little tricky, since it had to be precisely cut so it wouldn’t shift while in the toilet bowl. A similar setup opens the toilet tank’s lid, but to get it working properly was slightly more involved. Once that was taken care of there was enough room left over for a pair of 12V batteries and a speaker. Oh, and a pair of spooky eyes and some vicious looking teeth.

If you have a limited number of bathrooms at home or at work, some signage would be useful to know when it’s free and how dangerous it is to enter.

Posted in adafruit, Arduino Hacks, Captain, fair, motor, toilet, Uncategorized, Underpants, wave shield, Windshield Wiper | Leave a comment

GuitarBot Brings Together Art and Engineering

Not only does the GuitarBot project show off some great design, but the care given to the documentation and directions is wonderful to see. The GuitarBot is an initiative by three University of Delaware professors, [Dustyn Roberts], [Troy Richards], and [Ashley Pigford] to introduce their students to ‘Artgineering’, a beautiful portmanteau of ‘art’ and ‘engineering’.

The GuitarBot It is designed and documented in a way that the three major elements are compartmentalized: the strummer, the brains, and the chord mechanism are all independent modules wrapped up in a single device. Anyone is, of course, free to build the whole thing, but a lot of work has been done to ease the collaboration of smaller, team-based groups that can work on and bring together individual elements.

Some aspects of the GuitarBot are still works in progress, such as the solenoid-activated chord assembly. But everything else is ready to go with Bills of Materials and build directions. An early video of a strumming test proof of concept used on a ukelele is embedded below.

GuitarBot would fit right in to a band where only the instruments operate unplugged. Speaking of robot bands, don’t forget the LEGO-enabled Toa Mata, or the fully robotic group Compressorhead.

Posted in arduino, art, Artgeneering, guitar, guitarbot, music, music robot, musical hacks, robotic, robots, robots hacks | Leave a comment

The Latest Hacker Camp Badge Comes From BornHack

If you’re a fan of outdoor hacker camps, or if you’re a SHACamp attendee who’s still coming down from the event high, you may already know about the upcoming BornHack 2017 hacker camp on the Danish island of Bornholm, from the 22nd to the 29th of this month. It’s a smaller camp than many of the others on the calendar, but it makes up for that with a quite reasonable ticket price, a much longer duration, and a location that is a destination in itself.

Today we have news of the BornHack badge announcement, and though the details are a little sketchy it’s safe to say that there should be plenty there to keep attendees occupied. The irregularly-shaped PCB contains a Silicon Labs “Happy Gecko” EFM32 ARM Cortex M0 microcontroller, a 128×64 pixel OLED display, and the usual array of I/O lines. There is no information about its connectivity as it seems the BornHack folks prefer to run a teaser campaign, but we’d be surprised if there wasn’t some kind of wireless module on the reverse.

Barring a transportation miracle it’s unlikely that any of the Hackaday team will be making it to BornHack, but that’s our loss. It may not be one of the larger camps, but it looks to offer no less of the atmosphere you’d expect from a European hacker camp. At the time of writing there are still BornHack tickets to be had, so head on over to their website if you fancy a week at a hacker camp on a Danish island.

Posted in badge, badgelife, BornHack, cons, Denmark, hacker camp, hardware badge | Leave a comment

A gas model made of magnets

Magnets are great stuff and everyone loves them, there are so many things you can do with them, including creating a model of the crystalline structure of solids, just as [Cody´sLab] did using a bunch of magnets inside a pair of plexiglass sheets.

Crystal structure of ice. Image from Wikemedia Commons.

Many materials have their atoms arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure – a crystal-, including most metals, rocks, ceramics and ice, among others. The structure emerges when the material solidifies looking for the minimum energy configuration. Every atom interacts with its neighbors via microscopic forces forming several patterns depending on the specific material and conditions.

In his macroscopic world, [Cody´sLab] used the magnets as his “atoms” and the magnetic repulsion between them represent the microscopic forces. Confining the magnets inside two transparent walls one can see the formation of the crystal structure as magnets are added one by one.

This is an excellent teaching resource and also a fun way to play with magnets if you want to give it  a try. Or if you want another magnet hack, we have tons of them, including implanting them in your body, or making your own with 3D printing.

Posted in atomic structure, crystal, magnet, misc hacks | Leave a comment

Use a Drill to Power Your Flipbooks

[WolfCat] of Wolfcatworkshop is creating a hand-animated split-flap animation. But what do you use to test your animation once it’s on the split-flaps? Well, to test it out, [WolfCat] used a drill to give it motion. DoodlersAnonymous has some pics and an interview with [WolfCat] about his animation and there are some pictures on his Instagram page.

Technically, what [WolfCat] wanted to make is a “mutoscope,” a hand-cranked precursor to the movie projector that had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century. Originally installed in penny arcades and the like, mutoscopes were single-viewer apparatus. The viewer cranks the handle and the animated cards inside rotate around, stopped briefly by a bit of metal at the top in order to show a frame. The basic idea is similar to the way split-flap clocks or signs work.

[WolfCat] hand drew the animation for his movie and then scanned and printed out each frame. The frames were then transferred to a pair of flaps. [WolfCat] wanted to see how it would look when animated, but didn’t have any plans at the time for a case or a hand crank, so he found the closest tool that would do the job – a cordless drill. Attaching the drill and using a bit of card or wood as a stopper, [WolfCat] could see how the end result would look and could then start work on the case and crank.

The drill is a quick and easy way to see what the finished product would look like. Once he’s got it working, [WolfCat] could check out this 3D printed mutoscope case, or this flip dot animated display.

Posted in animation, cordless drill, flipbook, hand-drawn, hardware, split flap | Leave a comment

Clever Battery Holder Hack Makes Brilliant Earrings

A ‘googly eye’ with hole for LED leads on one side, slot for coin cell on the other. Black disk for pupil removed.

We love seeing a thing get used effectively for other than its intended purpose, and this DIY LED Earrings project is a great example. [IdunnGoddess] liked the idea of making light-up LED earrings powered by a small coin cell, but an enclosure and power connection for the battery were sticking points. The solution? A googly eye after a few minor modifications turned out to be perfect.

A googly eye resembles a thin, flat, hollow plastic bulb. Choose one that’s just a bit bigger than the coin cell, and cut a slot in one end and a small hole in the other. The LED leads go into the hole, and the coin cell slides into the slot. The result? A lightweight battery holder for an attached LED, and as a bonus the hacked googly eye is a clean and super smooth surface that can easily be painted or decorated to make it part of the design. The video embedded below demonstrates the process and showcases a few sample designs.

Most LED-lit fashion accessories (like these LED Matrix Pendants) are forced to treat the battery like a necessary evil, a kind of mild embarrassment to be hidden away. It’s refreshing to see a solution that not only does away with extra parts, but allows the battery enclosure to be incorporated as part of the design. It’s a wonderful use of a part in an unusual and effective way.

[via Solarbotics Blog]

Posted in coin cell, diy, earrings, fashion, googly eyes, how-to, led, led hacks | Leave a comment

A Tiny Sharp MZ-80K That Really Works!

If you were a computer enthusiast in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one of your objects of desire may well have been a Sharp MZ-80K. This was an all-in-one machine from the Japanese electronics giant, and like Commodore’s PET line it included a CRT monitor, full alphanumeric keyboard and cassette tape drive in a smart console.

[Yasushi Enari] is a modeller of miniatures, and while at high school back in 1981 he made a perfect 1/5 scale model of an MZ-80K as an art project. Fast-forward to 2017, and with the help of a Raspberry Pi Zero, a miniature LCD composite video screen, and a Li-Po battery, he’s turned his 1981 model into a functioning computer.

Sadly he was not able to make his tiny 1981 plastic keyboard work, so an external Bluetooth unit is required to perform that function. And he makes no mention of running an MZ-80K emulator on the little machine, either. But the result is a work of art, and an odd collaboration between his adult and teenage self, something we are guessing most readers would be proud to own.

This isn’t the first tiny replica computer we’ve shown you, an Odroid W went into making this tiny Powermac from an American Girl doll’s toy computer.

Thanks [RC2014] for the tip.

Posted in classic hacks, miniature computer, MZ-80K, sharp, Sharp MZ-80K | Leave a comment

Building A Motorized Barrel Boat

[Rinoa Super-Genius] shows us in a video how to build a crude motorized barrel boat using only a few parts, including pontoons for extra buoyancy and stabilisation.

Building a barrel boat is simple. All you really need is a plastic barrel, scrap wood, PVC pipe with end caps, a battery, and a trolling motor. Of course, you could go even further and build your own trolling motor too.

The video shows the process of building the boat. You start of by cutting the barrel in two, making some calculations of water displacement in order to add the pontoons in the correct positions. These are just held in place with scrap wood screwed into the barrel. Connect the trolling motor to a battery and you’re done.

This isn’t obviously the best looking DIY boat out there, nor does it claim to be, but it can be built on a tight budget. If you have the right parts lying around, you could even build it for free.

Posted in barrel boat, boat, DIY Boat, how-to, scrap build | Leave a comment

DIY Dual Extrusion

Dual extrusion 3D printers are not as uncommon as they used to be, but there are still a lot of single-extruder machines. [Paul Lang] wanted to refit his printer to take two MK8 extruders, and he documented his experience with a blog post that has a few good tips if you want to try it yourself.

[Paul] used Fusion 360 to design a holder for the extruders that would fit his printer. Since he had accidentally ordered a spool of pink PLA, the whole assembly is shocking pink — not subtle at all. He shares a few design tips about using PLA near the hot areas and making everything fit and level.

The results speak for themselves (see right). [Paul] says he still needs better offset calibration and he isn’t quite happy with the head changeover in the G-code. Still, the resulting prints look pretty good.

[Paul] did you an existing design for the Prusa-style backplate, and your printer might be different anyway. So his post is less of a how-to and more of the steps he took and the difficulties he had to work through. Your hacked printer will probably vary.

If you don’t want to do the work, you can just lie and say you did. That actually can fool the printer. Either way, if you need help creating multicolor models, we covered that earlier.

Posted in 3d Printer hacks, 3d printing, multiple extrusion | Leave a comment

Smart Speed Bumps Slow Only Speeding Cars

Like it or not speed bumps are an essential part of our road infrastructure especially in built-up places like near schools [Business Insider UK] reports non-Newtonian liquid filled speed bumps are being tested in Spain, Israel and Germany.

Traditional speed bumps do have their drawbacks; damage to the underside of low vehicles is common. While they should be uniform in dimensions, in practice they can vary significantly, making driving over unfamiliar bumps a bit unpredictable. This is all set to change with non-Newtonian bumps which are soft to drive over at slow speeds but for speeding drivers they harden up and act more like traditional bumps. This gives drivers following the letter of the law a better driving experience whilst still deterring speeding drivers..

Non-Newtonian materials are nothing new but we think this is a great way of purposing these type of materials. Roads are getting smart whether you like it or not. It’s time to embrace technology and improve our commutes. 

Posted in car hacks, infrastructure, non-Newtonian, road, roads, speed bump, transportation hacks | Leave a comment