Archive for the ‘Home Hacks’ Category

Under-desk RGB keyboard lighting

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Home Hacks

[Jay Collett] was having trouble seeing his keyboard when the room was dim. But throwing a light under the desk just didn’t seem cool enough. Instead he built an RGB light board that is controlled by his desktop. The board is based around an ATmega328 with the Arduino booloader. He etched a single-sided PCB to connect it to a group of five RGB LEDs, with a programming header for an FTDI cable. The board communicates with a PC via serial connection, with a C# control application that [Jay] coded to control the color. We’ve embedded a couple of videos after the break but check his page for a package of code and hi-res pictures.

If you want something cool that’s a little bit less work to build check out the EL-wire keyboard from this links post.

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How much water do you use when showering, or washing your hands, or washing the dishes? Not how much does the average person use, but how much to you use? That’s what the team over at Teague Labs set out to find with this water usage feedback system. The sensor used is a Koolance flow meter which is intended to measure coolant flow in PC liquid cooling systems. At $20, it makes a nice low-cost sensor which was paired with a WiFi enabled Arduino. In the image above they’re using an iPad as a screen so that you can see how much water you’re using (or wasting) as you wash your hands. This resulted in saving 1/2 gallon of water every time someone washed their hands.

The project code, schematic, and board files are all available for download. Along with the hardware build there’s some nice server-side software that gathers and graphs the data over time. We’ve seen a lot of power-meter hacks, but it’s nice to have the option to track water usage, even if this is tailored to just one tap at a time.

 

Hacking together a Sous Vide cooker

Posted: November 6, 2010 in Home Hacks

Those amongst you that are cooks won’t need this explanation, for the rest of us, lets just get this out of the way. Sous Vide is when you cook things at a temperature lower than normal, for a period of time longer than normal to attain specific results in texture. A chef can tell you more intricate details about it, but what we care about is how to impress our friends with a cheap hack and a tasty meal. This video shows how to hack your slow cooker for precise temperature control.  Well, it really shows how to splice a temperature controller into an extension cord, so we guess it could be used for a ton of things, non Sous Vide related.

 

[Lyscho] built a racing simulator cockpit based on a PVC frame but it took up a lot of space when not in use. His second generation is built inside the frame of an ottoman, meaning it can be stored right under your feet.

The pedals are fixed in place, with some padding below to rest your heels on. The cockpit chair and steering wheel are both adjustable to suit different drivers. They use a routed groove along with wing nuts and bolts, making it easy to slide them for adjustments. The ottoman itself is [Lyscho’s] own creation, which just needs power and USB when in use, and has a padded top when not in use.

If you can’t use a real car as the simulator this is fantastic alternative.

[via Make]

 

This is [Thomas Clauser’s] Google Street View enabled treadmill. He points out that most of the Street View hacks use a measurement of rotational movement to interface with a computer. He respects that but didn’t want to take the time to make it work with his treadmill. Instead, he used a stealth switch propped up on a book below the treadmill frame, but any switch can be used as long as you know how to connect it to the computer. When you stand on the treadmill the frame flexes and almost clicks the button, but when you start running it moves the rest of the ways and closes the switch. From there an autohotkey script is used to advance Street View.

 

Just a day after Halloween and a replacement for Michael Jackson has been found, in the form of a very talented musical house. Not only does this house come close to a Michael Jackson dance routine but can mimic the voice quite well.  The house has also been known to do the Monster Mash as well as Sandstorm (Techno) by Darude. YouTube’s KJ92508 has uploaded his Halloween conquests for all to enjoy.  As of yet, he has not made a how to or even done a walk through video in broad daylight but here is to hoping he will due to numerous requests for a sneak peak.  He has mentioned that he used “4 singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved and blow mold pumpkins, strobes, floods and thousands of lights.” I look forward to what is in store for next years decor.  Just another example of what technology in everyday life and a little elbow grease can do.  Be sure to check out the video of “Thriller” as done by this house after the break.

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[Dr. West] shared his Halloween costume with us; a Daft Punk inspired voice-changing helmet. He stared with a motorcycle helmet, cutting out a hole in the back for a sub-woofer speaker. Inside there’s an old computer mic and the amp circuitry for a portable stereo system. An Arduino is used to pick up the wearer’s voice from the microphone and perform the digital signal processing. Once the alterations have been made the signal is sent to an R-2R resistor ladder to perform the digital to analog conversion, and onto the amp for broadcast. Hear the result in the video after the break.

The rest of the helmet is window dressing. He found some kind of auto-body repair product called flex-edging to use as metallic hair. Those fins are accented with strings of red and blue LEDs. The faceplate finishes the look using speakers from the stereo system and a tinted visor.

He wan’t going for a replica, but we think his creation would be right at home with the look of the original.

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