Your source for daily hacks

Published on: September 22, 2013 / Comments: 2

Lazy Sunday Links – 9/22/2013

It’s Sunday again, time to take a break from watching your favorite NFL team lose and learn something somewhat productive.

First up, you should fire up your 3D Printer and make yourself a set of these cool 8bit video game coasters.

Not in the mood for some video game coasters? Well did you know there are more places to get 3D models to print for your 3D Printer other than Thingiverse ?  There’s Defcad which commonly has all those items that people are forced to take down other places, and Yeggi which seems to just scour the web hunting models.  If you are making industrial designs like PCB layout, there’s 3dcontentcentral.  That should get you going.

You’ve obviously heard of FFT or Fast Fourier Transform, you have it on your trusty O’Scope and when you look at it, you think you see valuable information.  But what exactly is a Fourier Transform?  Check out the interactive guide to Fourier Transform so you can learn something.

Looking for somewhere to host your software project, not a fan of GitHub?  Srchub is just starting out, but offers subversion, git, mercurial, wiki, issue tracker.  Lets you assign multiple collaborators and also make private repositories.  Not a bad gig for free.

You JavaScript/Node.js guys have probably seen the Espruino microcontroller.  A micro that can be developed using JavaScript.  But did you know there is another one ?  The Tessel.  This one’s got on-board wi-fi.

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 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: September 7, 2013 / Comments: 1

Home automation via heimcontrol.js on your Raspberry Pi and Arduino

DIY home automation seems to be a pretty big topic lately, I just wish they would all work together.  If these guys could work with the Souliss guys that would be awesome.  On to heimcontrol.js.  Instead of going the app + server route, heimcontrol.js is going responsive.  That’s platform agnostic html5+css3 that should look good on mobile devices, tablets and desktops.

Websockets is another technology that you don’t see widely used, but it allows your web browser to maintain a persistent connection to the server instead of polling (or even pulling data via ajax requests) so it can have super fast response times.  The main server runs off of the Raspberry Pi, with communication to an Arduino.  That gives you access to the gpio and peripherals the Pi has, plus all the cool things you can hack together with your Arduino.

Peeking at the code it looks like extending capabilities is pretty easy with their plug-in design.  If you’ve ever done any web development you should feel pretty safe as well.

More over at the heimcontrol.js site.

Published on: July 26, 2013 / Comments: None

Robotic arm that tracks your movements

Yu Jiang has put together a sweet robotic arm that track’s his arm and hand movements pretty well.   The arm its self is constructed using a Lynxmotion rotating base, servos, raw materials, and some aluminum scissors and spoons for the fingers.   On the tracking side I have to assume the 3D tracking is done with the Leap Motion control device, the arduino is controlling the servos and node.js is used to tie it all together.

 Here is a link to his build instructions which is only part 1.  Part 2 will cover the software more but in the mean time he does have the source code up on github for your viewing pleasure.  Pretty neat hack, I would really love to see 2 of these going at the same time tracking both hands.

*UPDATE*  Part 2 is up.