Author Archives: James Hobson

WiFi Power Bar!

via hardware – Hackaday

Ever wanted to access a file or run some program on your computer while away from home, but the darned thing is turned off? Finding themselves occasionally working away from home and not wanting to leave their computer on for extended periods, [robotmaker]’s solution was to hack into existence a WiFi-controlled power bar!

esp8266-powerbar-thumbInside the junction box, an eight-channel relay is connected to an ESP8266 module. The module uses MQTT to communicate with Home Assistant and is powered by a partially dismembered USB AC adapter — wrapped in kapon tape for safe-keeping. The entire bar is wired through a 10A fuse, while also using a fire resistant 4-gang electrical box. Once the outlets were wired in, closing it up finished up the power bar.

[robotmaker] controls the outlets via a cheap smartphone — running HADashboard — mounted to a wall with a 3D printed support. Don’t worry — they’ve set up the system to wait for the PCs to power down before cutting power, and the are also configured to boot up when the relay turns on.

The best part — the power bar only cost $25.

[via /r/homeautomation]


Filed under: hardware, home hacks, wireless hacks

A Solar-Powered Headset From Recycled Parts

via hardware – Hackaday

Solar power has surged ahead in recent years, and access for the individual has grown accordingly. Not waiting around for a commercial alternative, Instructables user [taifur] has gone ahead and built himself a solar-powered Bluetooth headset.

Made almost completely of recycled components — reducing e-waste helps us all — only the 1 W flexible solar panel, voltage regulator, and the RN-52 Bluetooth module were purchased for this project. The base of the headset has been converted from [taifur]’s old wired one, meanwhile a salvaged boost converter, and charge controller — for a lithium-ion battery — form the power circuit. An Apple button makes an appearance alongside a control panel for a portable DVD player (of all things), and an MP4 player’s battery. Some careful recovery and reconfiguration work done, reassembly with a little assistance from the handyman’s secret weapon — duct tape — and gobs of hot glue bore a wireless fruit ready to receive the sun’s bounty.

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Taking the initiative to go green using solar power– taken literally — could also result in getting into hydroponic gardening.


Filed under: hardware, how-to, portable audio hacks, solar hacks

Taking A Robot For A Drive

via hardware – Hackaday

Instructables user [Roboro] had a Mad Catz Xbox steering wheel controller he hasn’t had much use for of late, so he decided to hack and use it as a controller for a robot instead.

Conceivably, you could use any RC car, but [Roboro] is reusing one he used for a robot sumo competition a few years back. Cracking open the controller revealed a warren of wires that were — surprise, surprise — grouped and labelled, making for a far less painful hacking process. Of course, [Roboro] is only using the Xbox button for power, the player-two LED to show the connection status, the wheel, and the pedals, but knowing which wires are which might come in handy later.

An Arduino Uno in the wheel and a Nano in the robot are connected via CC41-A Bluetooth modules which — despite having less functionality than the HM10 module they’re cloned from — perform admirably. A bit of code and integration of a SN754410 H-bridge motor driver — the Arduino doesn’t supply enough current to [Roboro]’s robot’s motors — and the little robot’s ready for its test drive.

[Roboro]’s suggested improvements are servo steering for the robot, upgrading to the HM10 module, more sensors to take advantage of the other buttons on the wheel, and a camera — because who doesn’t love some good ol’ fashioned FPV racing?


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware, robots hacks

Toast-Bot Butters For You (Sometimes)

via hardware – Hackaday

Sometimes — despite impracticality, safety, failure, and general good sense — one has an urge to see a project through for the sake of it. When you’re sick of buttering your toast every morning, you might take a leaf out of Rick Sandc– ahem, [William Osman]’s book and build a toast-bot to take care of the task for you.

[Osman] — opting for nail the overkill quotient — is using a reciprocating saw motor to hold the butter while the toast moves underneath the apparatus on a platform controlled by a linear stepper motor. The frame and mounts for Toast-Bot were cut out of wood on his home-built laser cutter — affectionately named Retina Smelter 9000′ — and assembled after some frustration and application of zip-ties. The final result DOES butter toast, but — well — see for yourself.

Despite working with only margerine-al (sorry!) success from a practical standpoint — equally inclined to shred or butter — we are inclined to chalk this up as a win regardless. A robot doesn’t always need to be perfect to prove that it can be done — especially if it does the job in a deliberately comedic fashion.


Filed under: hardware, robots hacks

Your Arm Is The Ideal Controller

via hardware – Hackaday

With interest and accessibility to both wearable tech and virtual reality approaching an all-time high, three students from Cornell University — [Daryl Sew, Emma Wang, and Zachary Zimmerman] — seek to turn your body into the perfect controller.

That is the end goal, at least. Their prototype consists of three Kionix tri-axis accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors (at the hand, elbow, and shoulder) to trace the arm’s movement. Relying on a PC to do most of the computational heavy lifting, a PIC32 in a t-shirt canister — hey, it’s a prototype! — receives data from the three joint positions, transmitting them to said PC via serial, which renders a useable 3D model in a virtual environment. After a brief calibration, the setup tracks the arm movement with only a little drift in readings over a few minutes.

[Sew, Wang and Zimmerman] see their project as an easy-to-implement alternative to the high-end systems currently extant in the gaming, virtual reality, fitness and medical industries. We can’t wait ’till we can combine this with tracking individual fingers.

If seeing this project has warmed you up to the topic of rapid prototyping, check out [Ben Krasnow’s] advice on the topic from his SuperCon talk. We’d also like to point out [Bodo Hoenen’s]  talk about a system that uses electromyography to pick up the movement of the muscles in the arm.


Filed under: hardware, Virtual Reality

The Power Glove Ultra Is The Power Glove We Finally Deserve

via hardware – Hackaday

How do you make the most awesome gaming peripheral ever made even more bad? Give it a 21st-century upgrade! [Alessio Cosenza] calls this mod the Power Glove Ultra, and it works exactly as we imagined it should have all those years ago.

The most noticeable change is the 3D-printed attachment that hosts the Bluetooth module, a combination USB charger and voltage booster, and a Metro Mini(ATmega328) board. On top of a 20-hour battery life, a 9-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass gives the Power Glove Ultra full 360-degree motion tracking and upgrades the functionality of the finger sensors with a custom board and five flex sensor strips with 256 possible positions for far more nuanced input. [Cosenza] has deliberately left the boards and wires exposed for that cyberpunk, retro-future look that is so, so bad.

Power Glove Ultra Poster[Cosenza] has also modified a Wiimote Nunchuck controller to provide complimentary functionality for games that require an analog stick (such as a first-person shooter game). [Cosenza] aims to keep the project open source for the love of the glove and the community surrounding it, though he says the code isn’t at the point where he’s comfortable releasing it.

Until those files are released, our craving for something we love because it’s so bad must be satiated by a few other Power Glove hacks. A few years ago, we saw the Power Glove used as the perfect tool for stop-motion animation, and take over Maker Faire with a glove-controlled drone. There’s still a lot of life left in the electronic glove, and with the current trend of wearable electronics, we’re only going to see more. This time, hopefully without pre-teen antagonists telling us how bad something is.

[Thanks for the tip, Nils Hitze!]


Filed under: hardware, home entertainment hacks, Microcontrollers, nintendo hacks