Your source for daily hacks

Published on: October 2, 2013 / Comments: 3

DIY Watch uses OLED screen and ATMega328

With the advances of shrinking technology it’s becoming more and more easier to roll your own every day items.  Ever thought of making your own watch ?  Sure you have, it was probably going to turn out larger than you anticipated too huh?   How’s 1.5mm thick sound ?   Sounds pretty good to me too.  Zak has a really awesome writeup of him rolling his own watch.

The display is a 0.96″ OLED display (128×64 pixels), it uses a DS3231M RTC, 2 LEDs, a buzzer, a 3 way switch and runs off of a 150mah LiPo battery.   Impressive!  Features of the software include, window animations, up to 10 alarms, games, stopwatch, and flashlight mode.

Power consumption numbers are decent too.  6ua in sleep mode, and 10ma with normal on.  That means depending on how much time you spend with the screen on will dictate how long your charge will last.  This puts you anywhere between 15 hours and 3 years.  With those sort of numbers and a modest use of your watch you should be able to get 15-30 days out of a single charge.

The Schematic and source code are available on Zak’s web site, a long with more photos of the build.  Enjoy a video and a few more pics after the break.


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 18, 2013 / Comments: None

LED Fireflies are the new LED Throwie

Admit it, you still love LED throwies, everyone does!  So does David.  After viewing an article on very low power LED fireflies by Karl Lunt, David decided to build the project (and does a good job of documenting the process to reproduce it).  The LED fireflies use the LED as a photosensor to detect when there is light so it knows when to go to sleep, thus by saving power by not doing anything with the lights on.

The build works off of a CR2032 coin cell battery, and everything is dead-bug soldered together.  The microcontroller is an ATTiny13a which is already a low power microcontroller, but by using the LED as a light sensor periodically, the microcontroller knows when to sleep and doesn’t wake up until the light level changes below a threshold.  This allows the firefly to last a really long time on that single coin cell.

David added a little spin on the original by wrapping it in a waterproof enclosure (à la sauce container) and a magnet (so it can be a throwie).  This looks like a fun build.

Source code can be found on Karl’s site.  David’s writeup can be found here.  Video after the break.


Published on: September 16, 2013 / Comments: None

LightBox – A Video Jockey oriented RGB LED controller

Bocho came up with a really neat controller for RGB LED strips.  The idea is to compliment a VJ performance, full of knobs and sliders of course.  Something that you can tweak in real time, but can also be assisted by the music.  Bocho started out with this post on bass detection on Arduino, which was then rolled into the controller.

The build uses 3 high power transistors for controlling current, and various pots and sliders that control oscillation speed, luminosity, hue, and selecting manual or beat detection all controlled by an Arduino.  Even better the project is wrapped in a decent looking enclosure.

Source code is available here. Full writeup here on bocho’s blog.  Enjoy a video demonstration after the break. (more…)

Published on: September 13, 2013 / Comments: None

Defeating a cheap infra-red security system with Arduino

Security researcher Silvio put together his process for defeating a cheap infra-red based security system.  The security system uses an infra-red remote to arm and disarm the alarm.  The alarm is triggered by any motion that happens while it is armed.

In his first attempt he tried to use an off the shelf learning remote to record the signal and play it back.  For whatever reason the remote didn’t like the signal and didn’t even try to learn it.  So in his second attempt, he whipped out a frequency counter and an oscilloscope and was able to replicate the signal using an Arduino and an infra-red LED.  For fun he also made a third attempt using a more hacker friendly open source board called a USB Infrard Toy made by Dangerous Prototypes.

A good read if you want to learn the process of simple reverse engineering.  Full article here.

Published on: August 28, 2013 / Comments: 1

DIY home automation with Souliss

[su_quote]… it runs over AVRs microcontrollers and include all the libraries and drivers required for a complete a distributed intelligent network, it also includes an Android user interface.[/su_quote]Ever wanted to make your home smarter ?  Or just remotely control basically everything in your home ?  Souliss is here to help.  It’s a framework for DIY home automation.

What I like about Souliss versus having used traditional home automation hardware (like Z-Wave) is you aren’t restricted to what modules are available.  You can craft your own using a lot of familiar hardware like Arduino’s (and I’m sure Raspberry Pi’s in the future).  It’s not restricted to specific methods of communication either, you can do wired or wireless or wi-fi or serial or whatever you can use to get your devices to communicate.  Great project!



Published on: August 15, 2013 / Comments: 2

Run your LEDs on AC power


Dealing with mains voltage is no joke, please be careful

Running your LEDs from AC voltage is pretty efficient, you can light up a whole lot of LEDs with little effort.  Most Christmas lights you buy nowadays already do this, but as Matt points out in the video they flicker a lot.  Matt decided to set up a bridge rectifier, and a capacitor to smooth out the flickering.  As shown on the oscilloscope those simple modifications make a huge improvement!

Of course you can’t just plug the LEDs into the wall and expect it to work (and not catch fire).  A little planning is needed.  By calculating the collective voltage drop of the LEDs in series you can run a lot of LEDs with very little current limiting.  Cool hack Matt.