PIR sensors are great for presence detection, and using a light or sound sensor can tell you a lot about the ambient environment. This type of data is useful for a variety of situations, especially when it comes to home automation. While these sensors are fairly easy to hook up, getting the data in a nice format to an embedded PC normally takes some development time, as you need to calibrate the device and set up the whole system.
The uThing::MNL noise, motion and light USB dongle from Ohmtech.io shortcuts this process, and allows you to simpy plug all three of these sensors in at once as a USB device. It can output data to Linux, MacOS, Windows, and even Android systems with no extra driver or software requried, and uses an STM32L412 MCU for processing. The dongle acts as a virtual com port, allowing you to save data in a CSV format with a simple test command when running Mac/Linux.
They also offer the uBridge aplication for working with it (and their uThing::VOC Air Quality Dongle) to display to dashboards, produce CSV files, publish to databases, and work with MQTT servers. For a quick way to get up and running with IoT applications without the hassle of wiring sensors up or programming an interface from scratch, the uThing looks like a great solution!
Problems with filament jamming inside your 3D Printer can be the bane of the printing processes, as well as running out of filament! You may have grown to fear the sight of the extruder moving back and forth, with no filament sticking out of the top of your feeder mechanism. Maybe the spool has run out, leaving it ‘printing’ in the air, as you furiously order new filament to start over in a day or two.
The Laser filament motion sensor from Mark takes a clever approach to feed issue detection in that it reads the input signals to the extrusion stepper. The laser sensor picks up on movement of the filament, determining whether the two inputs match up. This means that you don’t have to worry about complications with non-print moves, and that it doesn’t need any sort of code wheel or special marking to detect errors.
The root of this common issue is that for every pulse input to the extruder’s stepper motor, you’d like the corresponding amount of filament to be fed in to it. If this is happening, there’s a good chance it’s functioning correctly. If not, you have problems.
The device features an on-board microcontroller to take care of sensor processing, and when an error is detected it’ll send a signal to your machine to pause the print. It also features a buzzer to let you know when something is amiss, allowing you to correct the error and continue with your print job at a later time!
If you buy, sell, hold, trade, or otherwise have some interest in cryptocurrency, you may find yourself checking your phone or computer to get the latest update a little too often. For an easy way to check ticker prices–without having them brightly flashed in your face–Veeb has created PAULINE, an ePaper-based ticker that… ticks all of the right boxes.
The device, as documented on GitHub, runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, connected to a Waveshare 2.7 inch monochrome ePaper display. This allows it to show a crypto coin’s value–e.g. Bitcoin, Dodgecoin, Ethereum, and the like, as compared to the cryptocurrency of your choosing–USD, EUR, GBP, etc. To make adjustments, you simply log on via SSH, and change the config.yaml file as shown in the video below. The underlying code is written in Python, so if you need to make changes beyond the configuration file, there’s no reason this can’t be done either.
The device comes in a variety of frame colors, and you can even choose the color of the screws & bolts, as well as that of the Micro USB cable powering it. While this kind of display would be something of a luxury, but with all the money you can theoretically make by getting timely updates on your favorite currencies, perhaps it’s worth it!
When using ‘smart’ power banks to supply electronics with low current requirements, they may decide that the current is so low, that it’s not actually supplying anything. While this might be good when things are actually disconnected or turned off, it causes a few issues when you need to sip small amounts of power for an extended amount of time.
To boost the device’s power demands up to a level that the power bank recognizes as on, Colin Hickey designed the Power Bank Keep-Alive based on 555 Timer (SMD). Extra power is drawn via an astable timing circuit, with resistors and capacitors configured to give it a 50% duty cycle, and the pulses drawing roughly 130mA. This pattern can be configured as needed using values produced from this timer calculator, but if you’re going to change circuitry around, it would be better to use his through-hole components kit. The kit is somewhat larger than the SMD version shown, but would make modding easier.
Seller Blue Neon Tavern has a lot of computers in his basement, some of which aren’t connected to his network. Rather than having to walk down there every time he’d like to turn a particular computer on or off, he came up with this clever little WiFi relay board.
The device uses an ESP8266 MCU for control, along with a relay that can be wired in to the motherboard on/off pins. It’s powered by a simple USB cable, and can be activated via a web server, or using ESPNOW as an alternate direct over-the-air control method. The board comes with a nice 3D-printed enclosure, along with 3 zip ties to secure it in place wherever it’s needed. While meant for computer control, it would seem like a great solution for activating a wide variety of devices that need a simple on/off signal.
One could see several of these devices distributed around the house/basement to keep all of your computers (or whatever else) under control. If you need more WiFi control options at a certain location, you might also check out this larger 4-relay ESP8266 module.
On your latest project you decided to use an Arduino breakout board, which seemed like a good choice at the time. A few lines of code, and your LEDs were happily blinking away. Of course your were thrilled to be featured on Hackaday, but after several choice comments, you realized that you really should have used a 555 timer.
To remind yourself and others that you should have really used a 555 timer, you really should have worn this NE555 Classic Timer shirt from HobbyElectro. It comes in black, with a diagram of this classic component emblazoned in white on the front.
One could wear it as a constant reminder to use this device instead of an Arduino, or as a sort of loyalty statement to this classic component. Alternatively, it could be given as a “gift” to others to point out their supposed mistake.
Of course we love Arduino boards and the like here at Tindie, but can certainly appreciate the appeal of this venerable component. For more 555 goodness, you might check out this extremely tiny 555 dev board, or this larger kit with variable resistors to help you explore how the 555 works. In the end, if you’re stuck on the Arduino Uno form factor, you could always implement a Trollduino for control.
For a brilliant way to show off your name in lights, check out this luminescent nametag from Electronics corner. It features LEDs arranged on a 24×5 LED array, which can be powered constantly, or enabled with the press of a button.
This name tag can be ordered as a kit, or assembled with LEDs attached per your request. It comes with a brooch pin to allow it to attach to a backpack or clothing, and runs on a single 3V coin cell battery.
Interestingly, Electronics Corner notes that this board was from a failed project, meant to be controlled by an ATtiny–thus the blank “IC1” on the PCB. In its current iteration, it’s a neat little badge, and a good way to reuse a PCB that would otherwise go in the junk drawer, and/or in the trash!
If this little LED matrix isn’t quite your style, you could also check out the LED Sewing Kit featured here, by none other than Becky Stern!
She of course answers obligatory question of “What is Tindie?” for the audience, and talks about selling on the platform in general. Specifically, we delve down on the question of how do you keep things in stock without overbuying? Jasmine has a few ideas on the subject, though there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all answer. One important tip that she points out is that at some point items on the wait list get “cold.” In other words, people eventually move on to other ideas, especially if it’s been quite some time. So be sure to restock if you’re out!
I myself have finally gotten into actually selling some products on this platform. While some have sold little to no volume–which isn’t an issue per Tindie’s nonexistent listing fee–my EZ Fan2 Raspberry Pi fan control board has become modestly popular. Keeping them appropriately in stock has been quite the learning experience, which was actually a lot of the inspiration for this episode.
I even half joking that selling on Tindie should be part of a college business course. Jasmine then revealed that she’s actually seen a number of the same things for sale, which she finally realized was a part of some some sort of educational project. I say that’s a great idea, and hopefully the participants got something important out of it!
The show’s other host, Pat Regan, also runs a store on Tindie, and lists items like his Breadboard Spring Vise. While it is quite clever, he notes on the listing that you should just print one yourself. As far as I know, he was never a salesman. He also lists a cooling fan duct made out of carbon fiber. While it’s probably overkill, who can resist that kind of geek-chic? Probably not anyone reading this article.
Our other guest for the show was Kenny Stier, who owns Cloudfree.shop. His company deals in Tasmota-flashed IoT devices, which allow you to maintain local (i.e. cloud free) control without the hassle of flashing things yourself. I’ve been thrilled with the four switches that I bought, but since that time had some challenges keeping things in stock. Between the four of us, it turned out to be a great conversation.
You can see the whole show in the YouTube video below. The show is also available via SoundCloud on iTunes if you prefer the audio-only version, and we have quite a few other interesting guests in the show’s back catalog if you’d like to poke around!
Servos power a wide range of robotics projects. While extremely useful, ensuring they’re working correctly is a bit trickier than simply hooking up + and -. Additionally, wiring, along with pulse timing, may get a bit cumbersome if using several together.
The tester features a potentiometer to set the power/ramp, along with a second potentiometer that varies the actual servo position. A series of DIP switches allow you to set the I2C address, and there’s even a set of auxiliary contacts that allow you to work with a standard servo if that’s what you have available.
While this concept looks great for testing servos, if you’re a little unclear about the concept of a servo vs. stepper vs. DC motor, then check out this explainer post. I’d be embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve accidentally swapped motor terminology around!
While many of us enjoy an under-the-counter dishwasher, if your dwelling didn’t come with one, you might find “Bob” the mini countertop dishwasher to be interesting. For £349.90 (~$482) + VAT, this little guy takes care of dirty dishes in a compact space, and, if not portable, could at least be moved from place to place as needed.
It seems like a neat little device, and includes a cartridge that takes care of injecting the correct amount of dish washing liquid for each load, similar to a printer cartridge… And if your techno-sense is starting to tingle a bit, it’s not a false alarm. These cartridges feature an EEPROM chip that tracks the number of washes, forcing you to buy a new one after 30 cycles.
While the cartridges can be returned to be refilled, somewhat offsetting the environmental cost, this doesn’t exactly take care of the recurring cost to your wallet. Have no fear though, dekuNukem is here with his “Bob Rewinder” renewal board/kit.
The STM32-based Rewinder board slides onto the cartridge’s interface port, and after simply applying power and pressing the “RENEW” button, it considers itself good for another 30 cycles. You can also purchase a syringe to actually refill the cassette with soap, as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable if needed.
While the board itself + syringe will run about $35, after that’s paid for the cost-per-wash price goes from 67¢ to 0.87¢, less than a penny in detergent per wash. Of course you’ll still need to pay for power and water, but depending on how much you use Bob, it’s not hard to see where this little device pays for itself. In fact, in his writeup ‘Nukem shows how it will save him over $200 per year–potentially thousands of dollars over Bob’s lifetime!
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