Posts with «lifehacks» label

Parking Assistant Helps Back Up the Car Without Going Too Far

Sure, [Ty Palowski] could have just hung a tennis ball from the ceiling, but that would mean getting on a ladder, testing the studfinder on himself before locating a ceiling joist, and so on. Bo-ring. Now that he finally has a garage, he’s not going to fill it with junk, no! He’s going to park a big ol’ Jeep in it. Backwards.

The previous owner was kind enough to leave a workbench in the rear of the garage, which [Ty] has already made his own. To make sure that he never hits the workbench while backing into the garage, [Ty] made an adorable stoplight to help gauge the distance to it. Green mean’s he’s good, yellow means he should be braking, and red of course means stop in the name of power tools.

Inside the light is an Arduino Nano, which reads from the ultrasonic sensor mounted underneath the enclosure and lights up the appropriate LED depending on the car’s distance. All [Ty] has to do is set the distance that makes the red light come on, which he can do with the rotary encoder on the side and confirm on the OLED. The distance for yellow and green are automatically set from red — the yellow range begins 24″ past red, and green is another 48″ past yellow. Floor it past the break to watch the build video.

The humble North American traffic signal is widely recognized, so it’s a good approach for all kinds of applications. Teach your children well: start them young with a visual indicator of when it’s okay to get out of bed in the morning.

This Freezer Failure Alarm Keeps Your Spoils Unspoiled

Deep freezers are a great thing to have, especially when the world gets apocalyptic. Of course, freezers are only good when they’re operating properly. And since they’re usually chillin’ out of sight and full of precious goods, keeping an eye on them is important.

When [Adam] started looking at commercial freezer alarms, he found that most of them are a joke. A bunch are battery-powered, and many people complain that they’re too quiet to do any good. And you’d best hope that the freezer fails while you’re home and awake, because they just stop sounding the alarm after a certain amount of time, probably to save battery.

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. [Adam]’s homemade freezer failure alarm is a cheap and open solution that ticks all the boxen. It runs on mains power and uses a 100dB piezo buzzer for ear-splitting effectiveness to alert [Adam] whenever the freezer is at 32°F/0°C or above.

If the Arduino loses sight of the DHT22 temperature sensor inside the freezer, then the alarm sounds continuously. And if [Adam] is ever curious about the temperature in the freezer, it’s right there on the 7-segment. Pretty elegant if you ask us. We’ve got the demo video thawing after the break, but you might wanna turn your sound down a lot.

You could assume that the freezer is freezing as long as it has power. In that case, just use a 555.

Arduband Gives Your Eyes a Hand

Let’s face it, we probably all sit at our computers for way too long without getting up. Yes, there’s work to be done, games to be played, and the internet abounds with people who are wrong and must be down-voted and/or corrected. We totally get and respect all that. However, if you want to maintain your middle- and long-range vision, you should really get up regularly and gaze out the window for a bit.

In fact, the Arduband does you one better. Its Arduino Nano and accelerometer check your position every ten minutes. If you haven’t changed your Z by the third check, then it’s time for a break. The combination of an RGB LED, buzzer, and vibrating disc motor working together should be enough to pull you out of any computerized stupor, and they won’t give up and go back to sleep until you have stood up and remained upright for one minute.

We like that [ardutronics123] spun up a board and made it small enough to be wrist-mounted using a watch strap. It would work just as well worn around your neck, and would probably even fit in your pocket. Blink a few times before you check out the build video after the break.

Arduband would be great on the go, but who does that anymore? If you spend every day at the same desk, you could point a time-of-flight sensor at your chair and start a timer.

Piston-Powered Pellet Pusher for Peckish Pets

We all have our new and interesting challenges in lockdown life. If you’ve had to relocate to ride it out, the chances are good that even your challenges have challenges. Lockdown left [Kanoah]’s sister in the lurch when it came to feeding her recently-adopted pet rat, so he came up with a temporary solution to ensure that the rat never misses a meal.

Most of the automated pet feeders we see around here use an auger to move the food. That’s all fine and good, but if you just need to move a singular mass, the screw seems like overkill. [Kanoah]’s feeder is more akin to a pellet-pushing piston. It runs on a Metro Mini, but an Arduino Nano or anything with enough I/O pins would work just fine. The microcontroller starts counting the hours as soon as it has power, and delivers pellets four times a day with a servo-driven piston arm. [Kanoah] has all the files up on Thingiverse if you need a similar solution.

There many ways of solving the problem of dry pet food delivery. Wet food is a completely different animal, but as it turns out, not impossible to automate.

RGB Kitchen Uses Pots to Stir Up Color

Anyone who has done anything with RGB LEDs knows that their ability to display pretty much any color is somehow both the best and worst thing about them. How do you get it right? How do you make your results repeatable? [Thomas] has the answer. He dug around in the ol’ parts cupboard, found a few pots, and got to work making this stay-home stew of a project — an on-demand RGB LED color mixer.

Three cleverly color-coded potentiometers and an Arduino let [Thomas] step through 0-255 to mix various values of red, blue, and green. The shade that gets made is displayed live on a set of 10 individual NeoPixels that are laid out under a frosty diffusing panel. Each of the RGB values are also shown on an 16×2 LCD.

This is one of those projects that hits a sweet spot of being simple, useful, and fun. It’s even nice-looking and compact. What more could you want from a project cobbled together from ingredients on hand? [Thomas] is even giving away the code recipe.

Once you dial in your ideal colors, why not make a gesture-controlled lamp?

Minimalist Mate Maker Keeps You Caffeinated

Americans love their coffee. The Brits adore their tea. In South America, the number one way to get through the day is with yerba mate, a tea made from the yerba plant. It is typically shared in a social setting, with one person preparing the beverage for everyone to enjoy. Although caffeine certainly deserves a ceremony, it never needs one. Hit the streets and you’ll see people everywhere with a thermos under one arm, keeping water hot and ready to refill the cup of mate in their hand.

The Stanley vacuum thermos is quite a popular choice for drinkers on the go, but the Argentinian government recently placed new restrictions foreign imports. [Roni Bandini] decided to build a minimum viable mate machine so he always has perfectly hot water on tap.

An Arduino Nano heats the water and displays the rising temperature on an LCD screen. When the temperature is just right, the display asks for your cup. An ultrasonic sensor detects the cup and dispenses a certain amount of water determined in the sketch. Yerba leaves can be used a few times before losing their flavor, so the machine keeps track and lets him know when it’s time to replace them. You can sip on a brief demo after the break.

Let’s say you don’t have perfectly-prepared mate, and it always comes out too hot. That’s better than too cold, but still not ideal. Why not make a temperature-sensing coaster that alerts you when it has cooled to perfection?

A Modern Solution To Tea Bag Inventory Management

Britain is famously known as a land of manners and hospitality. Few situations could make an Englishman’s stiff upper lip quiver, short of running out of tea bags while entertaining house guests. Thankfully, [The Gentleman Maker] is here and living up to his name – with a helpful tea monitor to ensure you’re never caught out again.

The Intelli-T, as it has been dubbed, monitors tea inventory by weight. An Arduino Uno combined with a HX711 IC monitors a load cell mounted under a canister, with a reed switch on the lid. Upon the canister being open and closed, the Arduino takes a measurement, determining whether tea stocks have dipped below critical levels. If the situation is dire, a Raspberry Pi connected over the serial port will sound an urgent warning to the occupants of the home. If there is adequate tea, the Raspberry Pi will instead provide a helpful tea fact to further educate the users about the hallowed beverage.

It’s a fun project, and one that has scope for further features, given the power of the Raspberry Pi. A little more work could arrange automatic ordering of more tea online, or send alerts through a service like IFTTT. We’ve seen [The Gentleman Maker]’s uniquely British hacks before, such as the umbrella that tells you the weather. Video after the break.

Hack a Day 21 Feb 06:00

Business On The Outside, Electronics Workstation On The Inside

As an electrical engineering student, [Brandon Rice] had the full suite of electronics tools you’d expect. Cramming them all into a dorm room was doable — but cramped — a labour to square everything away from his desk’s top when he had to work on something else. To make it easier on himself, he built himself a portable electronics workstation inside the dimensions of a briefcase.

Built from scratch, the workstation includes a list of features that should have you salivating by the end. Instead of messing with a bunch of cables, on-board power is supplied by a dismantled 24V, 6A power brick, using a buck converter and ATmega to regulate and display the voltage, with power running directly to  12V and 5V lines of a breadboard in the middle of the workstation. A wealth of components are stored in two dozen 3d printed 1″ capsules setting them in loops pinned to the lid.

If all this was not already enough, there’s more!

Since he’ll be soldering a lot, there’s obviously an included soldering station, but were you expecting a helping hand and a carbon-filtered fume extractor? How about a folding overhead light to boot? Spools of wire are off to the rear to be tugged on when needed, and a drawer tucked into the side keeps circuit boards and jumper wires organized. There’s also a power strip along the other side — [Rice] notes that it was handier than he realized — for any other devices you might need. There’s even a built-in Arduino.

Hungry for more? How about a second serving, or even desert?

Interactive Plant Lamps for Quiet Spaces

If you’ve spent any serious time in libraries, you’ve probably noticed that they attract people who want or need to be alone without being isolated. In this space, a kind of silent community is formed. This phenomenon was the inspiration [MoonAnchor23] needed to build a network of connected house plants for a course on physical interaction and realization. But you won’t find these plants unleashing their dry wit on twitter. They only talk to each other and to nearby humans.

No living plants were harmed during this project—the leaves likely wouldn’t let much light through, anyway. The plants are each equipped with a strip of addressable RGB LEDs and a flex sensor controlled by an Arduino Uno. Both are hot glued to the undersides of the leaves and hidden with green tape. By default, the plants are set to give ambient light. But if someone strokes the leaf with the flex sensor, it sends a secret message to the other plant that induces light patterns.

Right now, the plants communicate over Bluetooth using an OpenFrameworks server on a local PC. Eventually, the plan is use a master-slave configuration so the plants can be farther apart. Stroke that mouse button to see a brief demo video after the break. [MoonAnchor23] also built LED mushroom clusters out of silicone and cling wrap using a structural soldering method by [DIY Perks] that’s also after the break. These work similarly but use force-sensing resistors instead of flex-sensing.

Networking several plants together could get expensive pretty quickly, but DIY flex sensors would help keep the BOM costs down.

Definitive Dog Feeding with Arduino

Some dogs have no sense of self-preservation. Given the opportunity, they will eat until they’re sick. It’s up to us humans to both feed them and remember doing it so they aren’t accidentally overfed. In a busy household with young children, the tricky part is the remembering.

[Bryan]’s family feeds their dog Chloe once a day, in the mornings. She was a rescue who spent a few years scrounging for meals on the street, so some part of her is always interested in finding food, even if she just ate. Each morning, the flurry of activity throughout the house is compounded by Chloe’s repeated requests for food, so [Bryan] got his kids involved and built a simple circuit that lets everyone know—at a glance—whether Chloe was fed.

Chloe’s kibble is kept in a touch-top wastebasket that flips open at the press of a button. [Bryan]’s dog-fed detector uses a reed switch and an Arduino clone to detect when the lid is opened. When the reed switch goes, low, the Arduino lights up an LED. The light stays on for two hours and then shuts off automatically to get ready for the next day. You don’t have to beg for a demo video, because it’s waiting for you after the break.

Since Chloe devours a bowl of food in about two minutes flat, maybe the next project for [Bryan]’s family could teach her to slow down a bit.