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retro edition                         /___/ 
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Design Challenge: Hung Jury

posted Feb 12th 2007 12:12am by
filed under: contests

We’re not really hung, but it is taking a while for us to decide just who get the title. While we decide, here’s a couple more entries remind you what it’s all about.

[Razvan] sent in this excellent entry. (I’m hosting it on my personal server since he didn’t have one)
The writeup could be a bit clearer, but the design is pretty sweet. It features a mega avr brain and a microchip ethernet controller with a software based USB interface. It’s a pretty intriguing design – lots of possibilities for ethernet controllable projects.

[Tom D] sent in this rolling codes garage door opener. This will step through all the garage door opener codes for garage doors made before 2003.

Light to sound converter

posted Jan 4th 2009 10:16am by
filed under: digital audio hacks, misc hacks


[Alex] built what he calls a light to sound converter. It reacts differently depending on the type of light: remote controls, light bulbs, TV screens, etc. A photodiode is used with an amplifier to pick up the light change. That signal is dumped through a dual opamp. He swapped in several different types of photodiodes and settled on the BPW34 intended for visible light. He’ll be incorporating this into a much larger project.

Birthday gift is a constant reminder of impending AARP membership

posted Mar 22nd 2011 5:04am by
filed under: clock hacks, Microcontrollers


Sometimes milestone birthdays can be a bit depressing. 30 is rough, and 40 tougher – but 50…that’s a big one!

[Ryan’s] uncle is going to be turning 50 shortly, and in the interest of good-natured fun, he has constructed a handy birthday countdown timer for his uncle, lest he forget (or tries to avoid) the big day.

The device displays the amount of time left before his uncle’s birthday, playing an audio clip of “Don’t fear the Reaper” when the clock strikes 00:00. This is accomplished by using the MSP430′s internal clock to keep time, while also interfacing with a Nokia 3310 LCD panel to display the countdown timer. The music is provided by the circuit board from a greeting card he gutted for the project, which was wired to the LaunchPad in order to be triggered at the right moment. Everything was crammed inside an Altoids tin, as you can see in the picture above.

Though not overly complicated, it’s a fun little project, and we’re hoping his uncle gets a big kick out of it. Once his birthday has come and gone, [Ryan] plans on converting the piece into a permanent desktop clock for his uncle.

Wireless fireworks controller

posted Mar 24th 2008 10:38pm by
filed under: misc hacks

[Tuckie] sent in his wireless fireworks controller. The electronic parts are off the shelf – a 12 channel relay board and remote provide the guts. He used a rock tumbler to mill the black powder needed to make the detonators. A combination of the fine ground black powder, nichrome wire and ping pong balls makes up the business end of each detonator. When a channel is selected with the remote, the relay is activated, current is sent to the detonator which is taped to the firework fuse.

Cold cathode art piece controller

posted Nov 6th 2009 2:00pm by
filed under: home hacks


[Andrew] built a light box for an exhibition last year that displayed different colors statically. After showing it off, it went unchanged but future improvements remained in the back of his mind. Recently, he pulled it out again and hacked together a controller to drive the colors individually.

He’s actually reusing some of the hardware he built for a different project. At its core is a PIC 16F628 that actuates the lights using relays. In this case, only four of the eight on the board are used to control red, white, blue, and green cold cathode tubes. The video after the break shows the device randomly rotating through different patterns. This is a nice start to making the piece more interactive and we can image adding web-controlled color changes, or perhaps some Daft Punk inspired functionality.

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