Author Archives: James Hobson

A Magic Light Bulb For All Your Bright Ideas

via hardware – Hackaday

[Uri Shaked]’s lamentation over the breaking of his smart bulb was brief as it was inspiring — now he had a perfectly valid excuse to hack it into a magic light bulb.

The first step was disassembling the bulb and converting it to run on a tiny, 130mAh battery. Inside the bulb’s base, the power supply board, Bluetooth and radio circuits, as well as the LED board didn’t leave much room, but he was able to fit in 3.3V and 12V step-up voltage regulators for the LiPo battery.

[Shaked]’s self-imposed bonus round was to also wedge a charging circuit — which he co-opted from a previous project — into the bulb instead of disassembling it every time it needed more juice. Re-soldering the parts together: easy.  Fitting everything inside a minuscule puzzle-box: hard. Kapton tape proved eminently helpful in preventing shorts in the confined space.

In the interest of safety, [Shaked] also isolated the bulb from its base in case it gets mixed in with some regular light bulbs. He notes that it’s illegal in some countries to mess with bulbs like this unless you are a licensed electrician, since this could easily have a significant failure if plugged(screwed?) into a house’s circuit.

[Shaked] has also managed to tie this project in with a beacon he’s previously built for some cool effects, as well as integrating Bluetooth-based IoT functionality that detects sound, changing the bulb’s colour and brightness appropriately.

If you’re an Apple user, we’ve previously featured one method to get Siri to control a Phillips Hue bulb. Better yet, if one could fuse this with idea with Visible Light Communication, one might be able to control a suite of devices that have a photodiode or other such receivers like a real magic wand — er, bulb.

Filed under: hardware, misc hacks

Helix Display Brings Snake Into Three Dimensions

via hardware – Hackaday

Any time anyone finds a cool way to display in 3D — is there an uncool way? — we’re on board. Instructables user [Gelstronic]’s method involves an array of spinning props to play the game Snake in 3D.

The helix display consists of twelve props, precisely spaced and angled using 3D-printed parts, each with twelve individually addressable LEDs. Four control groups of 36 LEDs are controlled by the P8XBlade2 propeller microcontroller, and the resultant 17280 voxels per rotation are plenty to produce an identifiable image.

In order to power the LEDs, [Gelstronic] used wireless charging coils normally used for cell phones, transferring 10 W of power to the helix array.  A brushless motor keeps things spinning, while an Arduino controls speed and position via an encoder. All the links to the code used are found on the project page, but we have the video of the display in action is after the break.

There are some decidedly easier ways to achieve a volumetric display, as well as some that feel ripped straight from a video game.

[Thanks for the tip, Itay!]

Filed under: hardware, led hacks

Mitosis: Anatomy of a Custom Keyboard

via hardware – Hackaday

Ergonomic. Wireless. Low-latency. Minimalist. Efficient. How far do you go when you design your own open-source keyboard? Checking off these boxes and providing the means for others to do so, Redditor [reverse_bias] presents the Mitosis keyboard, and this thing is cool.

The custom, split– as the namesake implies — mechanical keyboard has 23 keys on each 10 cm x 10 cm half, and, naturally, a custom keymapping for optimal personal use.

Upper and lower PCBs host the keys and electronic circuits respectively, contributing to the sleek finished look. Key caps and mechanical switches were ripped from sacrificial boards: two Waveshare core51822 Bluetooth modules are used for communication, with a third module paired with a Pro Micro make up the receiver.[reverse_bias] spent a fair bit of time attempting to minimize the power consumption of the keyboard so it could be powered by a pair of coin batteries, giving it an estimated six month lifespan of daily use.  These are pinched between the upper and lower boards by little dabs of solder and the slight spring tension of the boards themselves. However, a bit of de-soldering is required to change the battery.

Laser-cut adhesive neoprene adorns the base, proving a comfortable springiness, grip, and protection for the pins as well as cushioning from any debris on the desk. The final product has almost zero flex, has a low enough profile to negate the need for a wrist rest. If you’re interested in building your own, [reverse_bias] has linked all the relevant files here.

Of course, one could always go the opposite way and opt for a more heavyweight option.

[Thanks for the tip, Tyberius Prime!]

Filed under: hardware

Thermal Panorama One Pixel At A Time

via hardware – Hackaday

Inspiration can strike from the strangest places. Unearthing a forgotten Melexis MLX90614 thermopile from his  ‘inbox,’ [Saulius Lukse] used it to build a panoramic thermal camera.

[Lukse] made use of an ATmega328 to control the thermal sensor, and used the project to test a pair of two rotary stage motors he designed for tilt and pan, with some slip rings to keep it in motion as it captures a scene. That said, taking a 720 x 360 panoramic image one pixel at a time takes over an hour, and compiling all that information into an intelligible picture is no small feat either. An occasional hiccup are dead pixels in the image, but those are quickly filled in by averaging the temperature of adjoining pixels.

The camera  rig works — and it does turn out a nice picture — but [Lukse]  says an upgraded infrared camera to captured larger images at a time and higher resolution would not be unwelcome.


Another clever use of a thermopile might take you the route of this thermal flashlight. if you don’t build your own thermal camera outright.

[Thanks for the tip, Imn!]

Filed under: hardware, misc hacks

Robot Arm From Recyclables

via hardware – Hackaday

A robot assistant would make the lives of many much easier. Luckily, it’s possible to make one of your own with few fancy materials. The [] team demonstrates this by building a robot arm out of recyclables!

With the exception of the electronics — an Arduino, a trio of servo motors, and a joystick — the arm is made almost completely out of salvaged recyclables: scrap wood, a plastic bottle, bits of plastic string and a spring. Oh, and — demonstrating yet another use for those multi-talented tubers — a potato acts as a counterweight.

Instead of using screws or glue, these hackers used string made from a plastic bottle as a form of heat shrink wrap to bind the parts of the arm together. The gripper has only one pivoting claw for greater strength, and the spring snaps it open once released. Behold: your tea-bag dunking assistant.

Code for the project is available to download from their site. Given this straightforward tutorial, it’s hard to find a reason NOT to embark on building your first robot arm — if you haven’t already begun.

We at Hackaday love seeing projects that strive to reuse materials in inventive ways. That said, you needn’t rely on a shiny new Arduino for this robot arm. If you have an aging palm pilot kicking around, that will also do the trick.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware, robots hacks

Sir, It Appears We’ve Been Jammed!

via hardware – Hackaday

In a move that would induce ire in Lord Helmet, [Kedar Nimbalkar] has hacked together a simple — yet effective — WiFi jammer that comes with a handful of features certain to frustrate whomever has provoked its wrath.

The jammer is an ESP8266 development board — running some additional custom code — accessed and controlled by a cell phone. From the interface, [Nimbalkar] is able to target a WiFi network and boot all the devices off the network by de-authenticating them. Another method is to flood the airspace with bogus SSIDs to make connecting to a valid network a drawn-out affair.

This kind of signal interruption is almost certainly illegal where you live. It does no permanent damage, but once again raises the existing deauth exploit and SSID loophole. [Nimbalkar]’s purpose in building this was for educational purposes and to highlight weaknesses in 802.11 WiFi protocols. The 802.11w standard should alleviate some of our fake deauth woes by using protected frames. Once the device authenticates on a network it will be able to detect fake deauth packets.

We featured a more targeted version of this hack that can be done using a PC — even targeting itself! And more recently there was a version that can target specific devices by jumping on the ACK.

[Thanks for the tip, Itay!]

Filed under: hardware, wireless hacks