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Published on: September 19, 2013 / Comments: None

Solar Swing-Set Install

Benjamin has created a series of videos showing how he converted a swing-set to serve a dual purpose. He beefed up the structure with some 3/4″ conduit which he flattened the ends on and used it for cross bracing. A couple of solar panels we mounted to the roof and the wires were safely routed through conduit to a remote location when he uses the energy to charge his electric motorcycle.

The charging rate varies significantly proportional to the amount of sun. He was seeing 2 Amps on a cloudy day  and has witnessed up to 7 Amps. Check out the videos  after the break.


Published on: September 14, 2013 / Comments: 1

Arduino Guitar Tuner (Frequency Detector)

Here’s a project which rocks! nikoala3 made an Arduino Guitar Tuner based off of this Audino Frequency Detection project. Both projects are well documented so you just may learn something.

In her build nikoala3 shows you how you can take an AC signal and offset it using a voltage divider to bring it into the 0-5V range that the Arduinos Analog to Digital Convert (ADC) uses. The Arduino has a 10bit resolution but the project only uses the high 8 bits giving you a range of 0-255 counts.  The sketch detects the frequency at which the signal crosses a given threshold. Different strings produce different amplitudes so you have to tweak the threshold to where it works with all the strings on your guitar.

A few LEDs and one cool enclosure with a laser cut top really made this project pop. There is something really refreshing about finding well documented builds like this. Check out more build photos after the break.


Published on: September 13, 2013 / Comments: 3

How to remove an IC from a PCB the unusual way

It’s Friday… and you are probably are stuck at work.  So why not learn how to remove a IC from a PCB — in a very very unconventional way.  It’s great if you don’t care about the chip… or the board for that matter.

Seriously though, if you need to relieve some stress, the guys who made this video Electronics In a Nutshell have a very entertaining channel on YouTube where they mostly torture circuit boards and stuff in various ways.  Just the way we like it.

Here’s another entertaining video to get you through the day.  Lithium-Ion battery vs 220 volts.


Published on: September 11, 2013 / Comments: None

In the near future, your cell phone may not need batteries

In today’s somewhat creepy too-good-to-be-true technology announcement is this technique called Ambient Backscatter.  In the demo, researchers create 2 devices that neither one takes batteries, yet they are able to communicate to each other.  The devices harness radio waves that are already in the air like TV signals.

By either choosing to absorb or reflect the existing signals, the other device notices either a 1 or a 0.  Thus data transfer wirelessly, without batteries!  These devices have to run on real low power to work, because it’s consuming some of the rf signals to harness as power.  The future for these devices is huge, imagine tons of little smart objects that can communicate, that don’t need batteries!  People are already making small things that sip battery power but they do eventually need batteries.  And typically those devices if they communicate wirelessly they are power hungry.

Amazing technology.  Read more on the writeup on for a more detailed explanation, or watch the video below.


Published on: September 8, 2013 / Comments: None

Lazy Sunday Links – 9/8/2013

It’s sunday, time for a barrage of quick links.

First up, muxberrypi.  Control your Raspberry Pi via node.js and websockets.  Similar to the heimcontrol.js project.  Source repo here.  Video below.


A quick acetone vapor bath rig made from goodwill parts.  Image tutorial here.  The end results didn’t turn out that good, but I have faith in the process.  Tutorial is brief but you can get the idea.



Build a mini USB powered soldering fume extractor.  Steps here.  Can also be used as a personal cooling agent when you get really hot.  Good to have with that USB soldering iron.

OpenWRT support has been added for the Raspberry Pi.  Source repo here.  Might end up being a quality distro for turning your Pi into a router.  OpenWRT is pretty well established, I appreciate they already made the decision not to include XBMC in it.

Looking to make battery powered devices ?  Then you should probably learn more about batteries.  Calculating Amp Hours, Capacity testing, etc.

And finally, a quick crash course to programming the serial port in windows and linux.

Published on: July 24, 2013 / Comments: None

Get your Raspberry Pi to use less juice!

Dave Akerman wants to shoot his Raspberry Pi into the sky on a balloon.  In order to do that the Pi has to run on battery power.  Dave dives deep into the core of the Raspberry Pi’s power configuration and decides that unless you are running a USB device that needs 5v, you can power the Pi on as little as 3.3 volts.  Now I can appreciate any article that starts out with a disclaimer about voiding your warranty!  Dave strips off the on-board linear regulator and goes through the option of wiring up your own LDO (possibly more efficient) or using a switching regulator.