Posts with «peripherals hacks» label

Physical Control Panel Elevates Flight Sim Experience

Like so many of us, [pgsanchez] has been bitten by the flight simulator bug. It’s a malady that can only be treated, but never cured — and like so many hobbies, it has a nasty tendency to spawn more hobbies. A software developer by trade, [pgsanchez] is also adept with Arduino and electronics, and his blog post about the PGS-2 Flight Simulator Control Panel demonstrates his fine abilities well, as does the video below the break.

A player of Digital Combat Simulator, he grew tired of having to remember awkward key combinations to control the simulator. Flying a jet, even in a simulator, can require quick thinking bound with quick reflexes, so having a button to press, a switch to flip, or a knob to turn can be vastly superior to even the simplest keyboard based command.

An Arduino interfaces the buttons to the computer, and a white acrylic case is employed to keep all the parts flying in formation. Yes, a white case — with great care taken to allow the case to be backlit. The effect is excellent, and it looks like the panel would be right at home in the Sukhoi Su-25T that it’s designed to control in the game.

We appreciated the attention to detail in the panel, as even the gear status lights and flap indicators match those in the simulator, a nice touch! What more could [pgsanchez] build? We’d like to see! If you’re into flight sims and the like, you might be interested in this fully 3D printed flight sim controller.

Paper Tape Reader Self-calibrates, Speaks USB

Input devices consisting of optical readers for punched paper tape have been around since the earliest days of computing, so why stop now? [Jürgen]’s Paper Tape Reader project connects to any modern computer over USB, acting like a serial communications device. Thanks to the device’s automatic calibration, it works with a variety of paper materials. As for reading speed, it’s pretty much only limited to how fast one can pull tape through without damaging it.

Stacked 1.6 mm PCBs act as an enclosure, of sorts.

While [Jürgen]’s device uses LEDs and phototransistors to detect the presence or absence of punched holes, it doesn’t rely on hardware calibration. Instead, the device takes analog readings of each phototransistor, and uses software-adjusted thresholds to differentiate ones from zeros. This allows it to easily deal with a wide variety of tape types and colors, even working with translucent materials. Reading 500 characters per second isn’t a problem if the device has had a chance to calibrate.

Interested in making your own? The build section of the project has all the design files; it uses only through-hole components, and since the device is constructed from a stack of 1.6 mm thick PCBs, there’s no separate enclosure needed.

Paper tape and readers have a certain charm to them. Cyphercon 4.0 badges featured tape readers, and we’ve even seen the unusual approach of encoding an I2C byte stream directly onto tape.

CAT Is Not Your Average Meow-cropad

Are you completely over the idea of the keyboard in any flattish form and looking for something completely different for inputting your data? Or do you want a mega macropad for 3D design, GIMP or Inkscape work, or to use while relaxing with a nice first-person shooter? Then this ergonomic, double-fistable keyboard/controller mashup named CAT may be what you’re looking for.

Inside each of these slinky felines is pretty much what you’d expect to find — 25 or so switches and an Arduino Pro Micro. Interestingly enough, the switches are all lever-action and not push buttons. There are two breeds of CAT available to build or buy: one has 25 buttons, and the other has a joystick or trackball on the thumb between two upper and two lower buttons. You could have one type for each hand!

More information is available on the Lynx Workshop site, which is where you’ll also find tutorials and instructions for everything from the 3D printing to the electronics to the assembly and coding. There is even a bonus 3D modeling tutorial. Don’t want to invest the time to make your own CAT? These kitties are also available for pre-order. Claw past the break to check them out in action.

Looking for something with regular keyswitches? Oh, we have plenty of those.

Custom Macro Keyboard With Sweet Backlighting

From the smallest 60% keyboards for those with no desk space to keyboards with number pads for those doing data entry all day, there’s a keyboard size and shape for just about everyone. The only problem, even with the largest keyboards, is that they’re still fairly limited in what they can do. If you find yourself wishing for even more functionality, you might want to build something like this custom macro keyboard with built-in LED backlighting.

Rather than go with a standard mechanical keyboard switch like a Cherry MX, this build is based around TS26-2 pushbuttons with built-in LED lighting. [atkaper] only really needed one button for managing the mute button on MS Teams, but still built a total of eight switches into this keyboard which can all be individually programmed with different functions. The controller is an Arduino Leonardo and the enclosure was 3D printed.

Paired with the classic IBM Model M keyboard, this new macro keyboard adds plenty of functionality while also having control over LED backlighting. Macro keyboards are incredibly useful, especially with their ability to easily change function with control over the software that runs on them. The key to most builds is the 32U4 chip found in some Atmel microcontrollers which allows it to easily pass keyboard (and mouse) functionality to any computer its plugged in to.

Custom Macro Keyboard With RGB Lighting

From the smallest 60% keyboards for those with no desk space to keyboards with number pads for those doing data entry all day, there’s a keyboard size and shape for just about everyone. The only problem, even with the largest keyboards, is that they’re still fairly limited in what they can do. If you find yourself wishing for even more functionality, you might want to build something like this custom macro keyboard with built-in LED backlighting.

Rather than go with a standard mechanical keyboard switch like a Cherry MX, this build is based around TS26-2 pushbuttons with built-in LED lighting. [atkaper] only really needed one button for managing the mute button on MS Teams, but still built a total of eight switches into this keyboard which can all be individually programmed with different functions. The controller is an Arduino Leonardo and the enclosure was 3D printed.

Paired with the classic IBM Model M keyboard, this new macro keyboard adds plenty of functionality while also having control over LED backlighting. Macro keyboards are incredibly useful, especially with their ability to easily change function with control over the software that runs on them. The key to most builds is the 32U4 chip found in some Atmel microcontrollers which allows it to easily pass keyboard (and mouse) functionality to any computer its plugged in to.

Snap-Together Macropad Does It Without Solder

Maybe we’re biased, but we think everyone has a use for a macropad. It’s just a matter of time before a highly personalized set of speed controls starts to sound like a great time-saving device to have around.

Trouble is, macropads are usually kind of expensive to buy outright, and not everyone feels comfortable building keyboards. Okay, so what if you didn’t even have to solder anything? That’s the idea behind [Jan Lunge]’s hand-wired macropad.

You will still want to open a window for ventilation if you build this one, because this macropad requires a lot of 3D printing. What it doesn’t require is glue or screws, because everything snaps together.

Of course, the star of this build is [Jan]’s hot swap socket design. We especially love the little clip that holds the column wires in place while also providing a spacer between those and the row wires. Everything is connected up to a Pro Micro with non-insulated wire and held in place with bends at the ends and the magic of tension. Be sure to check out the build video after the break.

Thirsty for more than a six pack of switches? This design is easy to scale up until you run out of microcontroller inputs. At that point, you might want to add screens to keep track of all your macros.

Thanks for the tip, [BaldPower]!

Low-Cost Computer Gesture Control with an I2C Sensor

Controlling your computer with a wave of the hand seems like something from science fiction, and for good reason. From Minority Report to Iron Man, we’ve seen plenty of famous actors controlling their high-tech computer systems by wildly gesticulating in the air. Meanwhile, we’re all stuck using keyboards and mice like a bunch of chumps.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As [Norbert Zare] demonstrates in his latest project, you can actually achieve some fairly impressive gesture control on your computer using a $10 USD PAJ7620U2 sensor. Well not just the sensor, of course. You need some way to convert the output from the I2C-enabled sensor into something your computer will understand, which is where the microcontroller comes in.

Looking through the provided source code, you can see just how easy it is to talk to the PAJ7620U2. With nothing more exotic than a switch case statement, [Norbert] is able to pick up on the gesture flags coming from the sensor. From there, it’s just a matter of using the Arduino Keyboard library to fire off the appropriate keycodes. If you’re looking to recreate this we’d go with a microcontroller that supports native USB, but technically this could be done on pretty much any Arduino. In fact, in this case he’s actually using the ATtiny85-based Digispark.

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve seen somebody use a similar sensor to pull off low-cost gesture control, but so far, none of these projects have really taken off. It seems like it works well enough in the video after the break, but looks can be deceiving. Have any Hackaday readers actually tried to use one of these modules for their day-to-day futuristic computing?

Mini Wireless Thermal Printers Get Arduino Library (and MacOS App)

[Larry Bank]’s Arduino library to print text and graphics on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) thermal printers has some excellent features, and makes sending wireless print jobs to a number of common models about as easy as can be. These printers are small, inexpensive, and wireless. That’s a great mix that makes them attractive for projects that would benefit from printing out a hardcopy.

It’s not limited to simple default text, either. Fancier output can be done using Adafruit_GFX library-style fonts and options, which sends the formatted text as graphics. You can read all about what the library can do in this succinct list of concise functions.

But [Larry] hasn’t stopped there. While experimenting with microcontrollers and BLE thermal printers, he also wanted to explore talking to these printers from his Mac using BLE directly. Print2BLE is a MacOS application that allows dragging image files into the application’s window, and if the preview looks good, the print button makes it come out of the printer as a 1-bpp dithered image.

Small thermal printers make for neat projects, like this retrofitted Polaroid camera, and now that these little printers are both wireless and economical, things can only get easier with the help of a library like this. Of course, if that’s all starting to look a little too easy, one can always put the thermal back in thermal printing by using plasma, instead.

Big ‘F’ Key to Pay Big Respects

So your ally was slain. Your comrade has fallen. And somehow, that capital F coming from that tiny key is supposed to convey your respect? Please. What you need is a giant, dedicated F key that matches the size of your respect. And [Jaryd_Giesen] is gonna teach you how to build your own. Well, kind of. Between the Thingiverse build guide and the hilarious build video below, you’ll get the gist.

One of the coolest things about this build is the custom spring. Between a birthday time crunch and lockdown, there was just no way to source a giant spring in two days, so [Jaryd] printed a cylinder with a hole in it to chuck into a drill and stand in for a lathe. Ten attempts later, and the perfect spring was in there somewhere.

We love the level of detail here — making a pudding-style keycap to match the main keyboard is the icing on this clacky cake. But the best part is hidden away inside: the stem of the giant switch actuates a regular-sized key switch because it’s funnier that way. Since it’s a giant Gateron red, it doesn’t exactly clack, but it doesn’t sound linear, either, mostly because you can hear the printed pieces rubbing together. Check out the build video after the break, and hit up the second video if you just want to hear the thing.

Seeing things embiggened is one of our favorite things around here. Some things are just for looks, but other times they’re useful tools.

If you just want to hear it, here’s a link to the exact timestamp.

[via r/gaming]

USB Mouse Hack for Pachyderm Protection

When most of us think of seismometers, our minds conjure up images of broken buildings, buckled roads, and search and rescue teams digging through rubble. But when [Subir Bhaduri] his team were challenged with solving real world problems as frugally as possible as part of the 2020 Frugal Science course, he thought of farmers in rural India for whom losing crops due to raiding elephants is a reality. Such raids can and have caused loss of life for humans and elephants alike. How could he apply scientific means to prevent such conflicts, and do it on the cheap?

Whether inspiration came from using a computer mouse with the cursor speed turned up to “orbital velocity” is debatable, but [Subir] set forth to find out if such sensitivity could be leveraged for the seismic detection of the aforementioned elephants. His proof of concept is a fantastically frugal low cost seismograph using an optical mouse and some cheap PVC pipe and fittings.

We invite you to watch the video below the break to find out how it works. You’ll be impressed as we were by [Subir]’s practical application of engineering principles. And keep your eyes open for the beautiful magnetic damper hack. It’s a real treat!

If pontificating pesky pachyderms p-waves piques your interest, perhaps you’ll appreciate previous projects which produce data with piezo pickups and plumbing parts.