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Published on: September 20, 2013 / Comments: 1

Remote control aquarium lighting with Raspberry Pi and Node.js

Bryan bought a new aquarium awhile back and some pretty little fish to go with it.  The tank’s lighting system has a day and night mode in order to be a little more realistic for the fish’s natural environment, but you have to physically switch it between day and night.  So as any hacker would do, he hooked a Raspberry Pi up to it and made it remote control!

The hardware control interface is a transistor and a relay connected to the gpio of the Raspberry Pi.  The software interface has a manual mode and automatic mode.  In automatic mode it pulls the sunrise and sunset data from the interwebs and alters the day/night modes accordingly.

Aside from the original article, Bryan decided to go a little deeper on the build with an overview in part 1 and hardware rundown in part 2 where he has the schematic and his pcb layout.

Source code is available on github.  Info on getting node.js up is on the original article. Video demo after the break;


Published on: September 19, 2013 / Comments: None

Solar powered temperature logger using Electric Imp

The Electric Imp is a WIFI module with a brain.  In some use cases it’s used to help connect your device to the cloud, as one of those ‘internet of things’.  On other cases (like this one), it is the thing.  Marcus has a cool little project that takes temperature readings and pushes them to the cloud.

Since the Imp is pretty power savvy, Marcus was able to power the project using a solar panel and charger.  From there it uses a TMP36 analog temperature module to pull readings from.  The temperature is read using the ADC and turned into an actual temperature number.   The imp handles the rest by using the ThingSpeak api, which then collects and graphs the data.

Source code and schematic included on slickstreamer.

Published on: September 17, 2013 / Comments: None

GitHub adds 3D model diff viewer

You already know that GitHub is pretty awesome for hosting your source files, but how about your 3D object STL files ?  Awhile back they added a 3D file viewer to give you live previews of your 3D objects.  Now they’ve added the capability to see the differences between revisions.

When you compare 2 versions, one object is in green, one is red.  Then there is a slider to let you transition between the old version and the new version.  This method of comparing 3D models is much better than doing a side by side comparison, as sometimes the difference is so slight.


Published on: August 29, 2013 / Comments: None

507 Mechanical Movements

As more and more people join the new age of home manufacturing and engineering, we need some inspiration.  This site has captured 507 ‘mechanical movements’.  That means odd shaped gears, pullys, yankers, shakers, clickers, scissors, and engine designs.  A lot of the designs are static, but some have been upgraded and animated.

Sometimes it’s cool just to make things move mechanically for the hell of it.  A lot of this has a real ‘steampunk’ vibe if you are into making that.  These designs can be re-created and possibly 3D printed, laser cut or CNC’d.  Either way you should check them out.

View all 507 mechanical movements here.

Published on: August 19, 2013 / Comments: 2

Making laser cut boxes

This topic recently came up during a conversation with a friend about making laser cut boxes.  If you’ve ever bought a kit that has some laser cut wood or acrylic, or looked at a maker bot or something you’ve seen it.  Those cool ways that the ends join together (with and without screws), the snap in tabs etc.

So how do you design something like that for yourself ?  Well we’ve got a few resources for you.

MakerCase – An online site that allows you to plug in your own dimensions and tab type and it will generate a file you can laser cut to make the box (or edit in another editor)

BoxMaker – Like MakerCase, a few less options in some areas, and some finer settings in other areas.

Tabbed Box Maker – A plugin for InkScape (This is real cool as InkScape is Open Source and you could easily make modifications from within the application)

I also remembered this cool post on Make about different types of joinery that you can laser cut (or CNC).  This goes beyond boxes, we’re talking all types of joints, even flexible ones!  Since this post has been around awhile there’s also more gold hiding in the comments like bookmark lists to books.


Published on: August 12, 2013 / Comments: 2

Monitor your water usage with an Arduino and Raspberry Pi

Carriots is a platform focused on talking to embedded devices.  Data collection is an obvious strong point of a platform like this.  Here is a project using Carriots, an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and a water flow meter to monitor water usage on a gardening system.

The tutorial is broken up in to part1 and part2.  Source code included.  Part 1 primarily focuses on setting up and configuring, using python on the Pi to communicate to the Arduino, and the flow meter sensor is then read by the Arduino.  Part 2 is dealing with the data collected which includes graphing.

While I’m no green-thumb, I’m not sure how practical this particular application is I can see the usefulness when generating a larger sensor node collection system.


Published on: August 6, 2013 / Comments: 3

OctoPi – a OctoPrint ready distro for the Raspberry Pi

OctoPrint is a cool piece of software.  It’s essentially a web interface for your 3D printer.  I can see this being useful if you don’t want to sit next to your 3D printer while it prints and you trust it not to mess itself up while it prints.  This could also be useful in a hackerspace-style environment where you have multiple people printing jobs throughout the day.  One cool feature the software has is you can attach a camera to it to monitor it remotely, and it will also make time-lapse videos of your prints.

OctoPi is a ready-made Raspberry Pi distro that has OctoPrint installed and ready to go. (You will need to configure your 3D printer however).  And instead of dedicating a PC to running the jobs, a compact Raspberry Pi can do the job for you.

Source available here.  Raspberry Pi image available here ( image link updated! ).