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Is It On Yet? Sensing the World Around Us, Starting with Light

Arduino 101 is getting an LED to flash. From there you have a world of options for control, from MOSFETs to relays, solenoids and motors, all kinds of outputs. Here, we‘re going to take a quick look at some inputs. While working on a recent project, I realized the variety of options in sensing something as simple as whether a light is on or off. This is a fundamental task for any system that reacts to the world; maybe a sensor that detects

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Writing On A Whiteboard, Performed By A Robot

For some of us here at Hackaday, school is but a very distant memory. All that teenage awkwardness we‘d rather forget, synth pop, and 8-bit computers were cool the first time around, and our newer classrooms didn‘t have blackboards any more. The Whiteboard Future Had Arrived, and it came with solvent-laden pens that our more rebellious classmates swore would get you high if you sniffed them for long enough. Innocent times. Kids nowada

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Mechanisms: The Lever, It‘s Everywhere

Levers are literally all around us. You body uses them to move, pick up a pen to sign your name and you‘ll use mechanical advantage to make that ballpoint roll, and that can of soda doesn‘t open without a cleverly designed lever. I got onto this topic quite by accident. I was making an ornithopter and it was having trouble lifting its wings. For the uninitiated, ornithopters are machines which fly by flapping their wings. The problem

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Turn Failed Prints into Office Fun with a Paper Airplane Maker

If you‘re anything like us, you feel slightly guilty when you send a job to a printer only to find that twenty pages have printed wrong. Maybe it‘s a typo, maybe it‘s the dreaded landscape versus portrait issue. Whatever it is, trees died for your mistake, and there‘s nothing you can do about it except torecycle the waste. But first, wipe that guilt away by using this one-stroke paper airplane maker to equip the whole offi

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Neural Network Names Nightshades

Neural networks are a core area of the artificial intelligence field. They can be trained on abstract data sets and be put to all manner of useful duties, like driving cars while ignoring road hazards or identifying cats in images. Recently, a biologist approached AI researcher [Janelle Shane] with a problem - could she help him name some tomatoes? It‘s a problem with a simple cause - like most people, [Darren] enjoys experimenting with tom

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Motor test bench talks the torque

Salvaging a beefy motor is one life‘s greatest pleasures for a hacker, but, when it comes to using it in a new project, the lack of specs and documentation can be frustrating. [The Post Apocalyptic Inventor] has a seemingly endless stockpile of scavenged motors, and decided to do something about the problem. Once again applying his talent for junk revival, [TPAI] has spent the last year collecting, reverse-engineering and repairing equipmen

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Microsoft Secures IoT from the Microcontroller Up

Frustrated by the glut of unsecured IoT devices? So are Microsoft. And they‘re using custom Linux and hardware to do something about it. Microsoft have announced a new ecosystem for secure IoT devices called Azure Sphere. This system is threefold: Hardware, Software, and Cloud. The hardware component is a Microsoft-certified microcontroller which contains Microsoft Pluton, a hardware security subsystem. The first Microsoft-certified Azure S

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Roll Up Your Sleeve, Watch a Video with This Smart Watch Forearm Projector

We‘re all slowly getting used to the idea of wearable technology, fabulous flops like the creepy Google Glass notwithstanding. But the big problem with tiny tech is in finding the real estate for user interfaces. Sure, we can make it tiny, but human fingers aren‘t getting any smaller, and eyeballs can only resolve so much fine detail. So how do we make wearables more usable? According to Carnegie-Mellon researcher[Chris Harrison], one

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Video Quick-Bit: Numitrons and Infinite Build Volumes

Majenta Strongheart takes a look at a couple of cool entries from the first round of the 2018 Hackaday Prize: This is an infinite 3D printer. The Workhorse 3D is the way we‘re going to democratize 3D printing. The Workhorse 3D printer does this by adding a conveyor belt to the bed of a 3D printer, allowing for rapidmanufacturing, not just prototyping. [Swaleh Owais] created the Workhorse 3D printer to automatically start a print, manufactu

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Adventures In Gas Filled Tube Arrays

Vacuum tubes are awesome, and Nixies are even better. Numitrons are the new hotness, but there‘s one type of tube out there that‘s better than all the rest. It‘s the1-64/64M. This is a panel of tubes in a 64 by 64 grid, some with just green dots, some with green and orange, and even a red, green, blue 64 by 64 pixel matrix. They‘re either phosphors or gas-filled tubes, but this is the king of all tube-based displays. Not e

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Litar: An Air Guitar Using LiDAR

This year,[Blecky‘s] Hackaday Prize Entry is an air guitar which uses multiple LiDAR sensors to create the virtual strings. What‘s also neat is that he‘s using his own LiDAR sensor,the MappyDot Plus, an enhanced version of his 2017 Prize Entry, the MappyDot. He uses a very clever arrangementofsix sensors to get four virtual strings. Each sensor scans a 25-degree field of view. Three adjacent sensors are used to define a string,

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Retrotechtacular: Synchros Go to War (and Peace)

Rotation. Motors rotate. Potentiometers and variable capacitors often rotate. It is a common task to have to rotate something remotely or measure the rotation of something. If I asked you today to rotate a volume control remotely, for example, you might offer up an open loop stepper motor or an RC-style servo. If you wanted to measure a rotation, you‘d likely use some sort of optical or mechanical encoder. However, there‘s a much olde

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Friday Hack Chat: Control Schemes For Robotics

The Hackaday Prize is in full swing if you haven‘t heard. It‘s the Academy Awards of Open hardware, and the chance for you yes,you to create the next great piece of hardware and a better future for everyone. Right now, we‘re in the Robotics Module Challenge portion of the prize. This is your chance to build a module that could be used in robotics projects across the world! Show off your mechatronic skills and build a robotics

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Reflow Rig Makes SMD Soldering a Wok in The Park

For a DIY reflow setup, most people seem to rely on the trusty thrift store toaster oven as a platform to hack. But there‘s something to be said for heating the PCB directly rather than heating the surrounding air, and for that one can cruise the yard sales looking for a hot plate to convert. But an electric wok as a reflow hotplate? Sure, why not? At the end of the day[ThomasVDD]‘s reflow wok is the same as any other reflow build. It

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Firing Bullets Through Propellers

Early airborne combat was more like a drive-by shooting as pilot used handheld firearms to fire upon other aircraft. Whomever could boost firepower and accuracy would have the upper hand and so machine guns were added to planes. But it certainly wasn‘t as simple as just bolting one to the chassis. This was during World War I which spanned 1914 to 1917 and the controllable airplane had been invented a mere eleven years before. Most airplanes

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Beat This Mario Block Like it Owes You Money

People trying to replicate their favorite items and gadgets from video games is nothing new, and with desktop 3D printing now at affordable prices, we‘re seeing more of these types of projects than ever. At the risk of painting with too broad a stroke, most of these projects seem to revolve around weaponry; be it a mystic sword or a cobbled together plasma rifle, it seems most gamers want to hold the same piece of gear in the physical world

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Smart Outlet Cover Offers Lessons on Going from Project to Product

Going from idea to one-off widget is one thing; engineering the widget into a marketable product is quite another. So sometimes it‘s instructive to take an in-depth look at a project that was designed from the get-go to be a consumer product, like this power indicating wall outlet cover plate. The fact that it‘s a pretty cool project helps too. Although[Vitaliy] has been working on this project for a while, he only recently tipped us

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Temperature Sensor and Simple Oscillator Make a Value-Added HF Beacon

Sometimes the best projects are the simple, quick hits. Easily designed, fast to build, and bonus points for working right the first time. Such projects very often lead to bigger and better things, which appears to be where this low-power temperature beacon is heading. In the world of ham radio, beacon stations are transmitters that generally operate unattended from a known location, usually at limited power (QRP). Intended for use by other hams

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Neural Networks On a Stick!

They probably weren‘t inspired by [Jeff Dunham‘s] jalapeno on a stick, but Intel have created the Movidius neural compute stick which is in effect a neural network in a USB stick form factor. They don‘t rely on the cloud, they require no fan, and you can get one for well under 100. We were interested in [Jeff Johnson‘s] use of these sticks with a Pynq-Z1. He also notes that it is a great way to put neural net power on a Ra

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First Lithographically Produced Home Made IC Announced

It is now six decades since the first prototypes of practical integrated circuits were produced. We are used to other technological inventions from the 1950s having passed down the food chain to the point at which they no longer require the budget of a huge company or a national government to achieve, but somehow producing an integrated circuit has remained out of reach. It‘s the preserve of the Big Boys, move on, there‘s nothing to s

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Former Smoker Now Pats Pockets for Motivation

It‘s hard to quit smoking. Trust us, we know. Half the battle is wanting to quit in the first place. Once you do, the other half is mostly fighting with yourself until enough time goes by that food tastes better, and life looks longer. [Danko] recently quit smoking. And because idle hands are Big Tobacco‘s tools, he kept himself busy through those torturous first few days by building a piece of pocket-sized motivation. This little boa

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Custom Chips As A Service

Ages ago, making a custom circuit board was hard. Either you had to go buy some traces at Radio Shack, or you spent a boatload of money talking to a board house. Now, PCBs are so cheap, I‘m considering tiling my bathroom with them. Today, making a custom chip is horrificallyexpensive. You can theoretically make a transistor at home, but anything more demands quartz tube heaters and hydrofluoricacid. Custom ASICs are just out of reach for th

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milie du Chtelet: An Energetic Life

milie du Chtelet lived a wild, wild life. She was a brilliant polymath who made important contributions to the Enlightenment, including adding a mathematical statement of conservation of energy into her French translation of Newton‘s Principia, debunking the phlogiston theory of fire, and suggesting that what we would call infrared light carried heat. She had good company; she was Voltaire‘s lover and companion for fifteen years, and

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Making 3D Objects The Scroll Saw Way

These days most have come to think that if you want to make a complex 3D object with all curved surfaces then a 3D printer is the only way to go. Many have even forgotten that once such things could be hand carved. [JEPLANS], on the other hand, is a master at making these objects using only a scroll saw as he‘s done with his latest, a miniature camel cut from a single block of maple. His process has a lot of similarities to 3D printing. He

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