Posts with «the hackaday prize» label

Minimal Mill: The Minamil

Having a few machine tools at one’s disposal is a luxury that not many of us are afforded, and often an expensive one at that. It is something that a large percentage of us may dream about, though, and with some commonly available tools and inexpensive electronics a few people have put together some very inexpensive CNC machines. The latest is the Minamil, which uses a rotary tool and straps it to an economical frame in order to get a functional CNC mill setup working.

This project boasts impressively low costs at around $15 per axis. Each axis uses readily available parts such as bearings and threaded rods that are readily installed in the mill, and for a cutting head the build is based on a Dremel-like rotary tool that has a similarly low price tag. Let’s not ignore the essentially free counterweight that is used.

For control, an Arduino with a CNC shield powers the three-axis device which is likely the bulk of the cost of this project. [Paul McClay] also points out that a lot of the material he needed for this build can be salvaged from things like old printers, so the $45 price tag is a ceiling, not a floor.

The Minamil has been demonstrated milling a wide variety of materials with excellent precision. Both acrylic and aluminum are able to be worked with this machine, but [Paul] also demonstrates it in its capacity to mill PCBs. It does have some limitations but for the price it seems that this mill can’t be beat, even compared to his previous CNC build which repurposed old CD drives.

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Sparkpad Sparks Joy for Streamers

The best streamers keep their audience constantly engaged. They might be making quips and doing the funny voices that everyone expects them to do, but they’re also busy reading chat messages aloud and responding, managing different scenes and transitions, and so on. Many streamers use a type of macro keyboard called a stream deck to greatly improve the experience of juggling all those broadcasting balls.

Sure, there are dedicated commercial versions, but they’re kind of expensive. And what’s the fun in that, anyway? A stream deck is a great candidate for DIY because you can highly personalize the one you make yourself. Give it clicky switches, if that’s what your ears and fingers want. Or don’t. It’s your macro keyboard, after all.

[Patrick Thomas] and [James Wood] teamed up to build the perfect stream deck for [James]’ Twitch channel. We like the way they went about it, which was to start by assessing a macro pad kit and use what they learned from building and testing it to design their ideal stream deck. The current version supports both the Arduino Pro Micro and the ESP32. It has twelve key switches, a rotary encoder, an LED bar graph, and an OLED screen for choosing between the eight different color schemes.

If you’d rather have dynamic screens instead of cool keycaps, you can do it cheaper by making non-touch screens actuate momentaries.

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Get Your Flex On With The FlowIO Platform

Hackaday Prize 2021 entry FlowIO Platform promises to be to pneumatics what Arduino is to Electronics. The modular platform comprises a common controller/valve block, a selection of differently sized pumps, and a few optional connectivity and sensing blocks. With Arduino software support as well as as Javascript and web-GUI, there’s a way to program this no matter what the level of experience the user has.

flowIO exploded view from http://www.softrobotics.io/flowio

This last point is a critical one for the mission [Ali Shtarbanov] from the MIT Media Lab is setting out for this project. He reminds us that in decades gone by, there was a significant barrier to entry for anyone building electronics prototypes. Information about how to get started was also much harder to by before the internet really got into gear.

It’s a similar story for software, with tools like Scratch and Python lowering the barrier to entry and allowing more people to get their toes wet and build some confidence.

But despite some earlier work by projects like the Soft Robotics Toolkit and Programmable-Air, making a start on lowering the bar for pneumatics support for soft robotics, and related applications, the project author still finds areas for further improvement. FlowIO was designed from the ground-up to be wearable. It appears to be much smaller, more portable and supports more air ports and a greater array of sensing and connectivity than previous Open Source work to date.

Creative Commons Hardware

Whilst you can take all the plans (free account signup required) and build yourself a FlowIO rig of your very own, the project author offers another solution. Following on from the Wikipedia model of free sharing and distribution of information, FlowIO offers its hardware for free, for the common good. Supported by donations to the project, more hardware is produced and distributed to those who need it. The only ask is that redundant kits are passed on or returned to base for upgrade, rather than landfill.

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Why Make Coffee When You’re Tired? Let a Robot Do It for You

Like us, [Alberto] doesn’t compromise when it comes to a good cup of coffee. We figure that if he went to an office in the Before Times, he was the type of coworker to bring in their own coffee equipment so as not to suffer the office brew. Or perhaps he volunteered to order the office supplies and therefore got to decide for everyone else. Yep, that’s definitely one way to do it.

But like many of us, he is now operating out of a home office. Even so, he’s got better things to do than stand around pouring the perfect cup of coffee every morning. See, that’s where we differ, [Alberto]. But we do love Cafeino, your automated pour-over machine. It’s so sleek and lovely, and we’re sure it does a much better job than we do by hand — although we enjoy doing the pouring ourselves.

Cafeino is designed to mimic the movements of a trained barista’s hand, because evidently you’re supposed to pour the water in slow, deliberate swirls to evenly cover the grounds. (Our kettle has a chunky spout, so we just sort of wing it.) Cafeino does this by pumping water from an electric kettle and pouring a thin stream of it in circles with the help of two servos.

The three buttons each represent a different recipe setting, which specifies the amount of water, the hand pouring pattern, and the resting times between blooming the grounds and actually pouring the bulk of the water. These recipes are set using the accompanying web app via an ESP32, although the main brain barista is an Arduino Nano. Grab a cup and check out the demo after the break.

Got an old but modern coffee robot lying around? You could turn it into a planter with automated watering.

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Drink Water on Schedule or Else Flood Your Desk

How much water have you had to drink today? We would venture to guess that the answer is somewhere between ‘absolutely none’ and ‘not not nearly enough’. You can go ahead and blame poor work/life balance — that’s our plan, anyway — and just try to do better. All this working from home means the bathroom situation is now ideal, so why not drink as much water as you can?

But how? Well, you’re human, so you’ll need to make it as easy as possible to drink the water throughout the day. You could fill up one big jug and hoist it to your mouth all day long (or use a straw), but facing that amount of water all at once can be intimidating. The problem with using a regular-sized vessel is that you have to get up to refill it several times per day. When hyper-focus is winning the work/life tug-of-war, you can’t always just stop and go to the kitchen. What you need is an automatic water dispenser, and you need it right there on the desk.

[Javier Rengel]’s water pomodoro makes it as easy as setting your cup down in front of this machine and leaving it there between sips. As long as the IR sensor detects your cup, it will dispense water every hour. This means that if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you’re going to have it all over the desk at some point. [Javier] simply connected an Arduino UNO to a water pump and IR sensor pair and repurposed the milk dispenser from a coffee machine. Check it out in action after the break.

Of course, if you aren’t intimidated by the big jug approach, you could keep tabs on your intake with the right kind of straw.

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Sunlight-Based Life Clock Predicts Your Darkest Hour

The past year has been quite a ride for everyone on Earth. But you never know which day is going to be your last, so you might as well live a little, eh? This clock doesn’t actually know when you’ll kick off, either. But just for fun, it predicts the number of years remaining until you go to that hackerspace in the sky by hazarding a guess that’s based on your current age and the latest life expectancy tables. Don’t like the outcome? It’s completely randomized, so just push the button and get a set of numbers: the age you might die, and the percentage of life elapsed and remaining.

We love the design of this calculated doom clock, and it’s quite simple inside — an Arduino Pro Mini outputs the graph on an 2.9″ e-paper display, and both are powered with a 5.5 V solar panel. Just suction cup that puppy to the window and you’ll get automatic updates about your impending demise on sunny days, and none on cloudy days.

Want a more realistic picture of your mortality? Here’s a clock that counts down to your 80th birthday.

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WaterAid Finds Potable Water and Stops Polluters

Millions of people all over the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, and it’s largely because of pollution by corporations and individuals. Solving this problem requires an affordable, scalable way to quickly judge water quality, package the data, and present it to an authority that can crack down on the polluters before the evidence dissipates. Ideally, the solution would be open source and easy to replicate. The more citizen scientists, the better.

[Andrei Florian]’s WaterAid flows directly from this line of thinking. Dip this small handheld device below the surface, and it quickly takes a bunch of water quality and atmospheric readings, averages them, and sends the data to a web dashboard using an Arduino MKR GSM.

WaterAid judges quality by testing the pH and the turbidity of the water, which gauges the amount of impurities. Commercial turbidity sensors work by measuring the amount of light scattered by the solids present in a liquid, so [Andrei] made a DIY version with an LED pointed at a photocell. WaterAid also reads the air temperature and humidity, and reports its location along with a timestamp.

This device can run in one of two modes, depending on the application. The enterprise mode is designed for a fleet of devices placed strategically about a body of water. In this mode, the devices sample continuously, taking readings every 15 minutes, and can send notifications that trigger on predefined thresholds. There’s also a one-and-done individual mode for hikers and campers who need to find potable water. Once WaterAid takes the readings, the NeoPixel ring provides instant color-coded judgment. Check out the demo after the break.

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Simultaneous Soldering Station

Soldering irons are a personal tool. Some folks need them on the cool side, and some like it hot. Getting it right takes some practice and experience, but when you find a tip and temp that works, you stick with it. [Riccardo Pittini] landed somewhere in the middle with his open-source soldering station, Soldering RT1. When you start it up, it asks what temperature you want, and it heats up. Easy-peasy. When you are ready to get fancy, you can plug in a second iron, run off a car battery, record preset temperatures, limit your duty-cycle, and open a serial connection.

The controller has an Arduino bootloader on a 32u4 processor, so it looks like a ProMicro to your computer. The system works with the RT series of Weller tips, which have a comprehensive lineup. [Riccardo] also recreated SMD tweezers, and you can find everything at his Tindie store.

Soldering has a way of bringing out opinions from novices to masters. If we could interview our younger selves, we’d have a few nuggets of wisdom for those know-it-alls. If ergonomics are your priority, check out TS100 3D-printed cases, which is an excellent iron, in our opinion.

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Generate Positivity with Machine Learning

Gesture recognition and machine learning are getting a lot of air time these days, as people understand them more and begin to develop methods to implement them on many different platforms. Of course this allows easier access to people who can make use of the new tools beyond strictly academic or business environments. For example, rollerblading down the streets of Atlanta with a gesture-recognizing, streaming TV that [nate.damen] wears over his head.

He’s known as [atltvhead] and the TV he wears has a functional LED screen on the front. The whole setup reminds us a little of Deep Thought. The screen can display various animations which are controlled through Twitch chat as he streams his journeys around town. He wanted to add a little more interaction to the animations though and simplify his user interface, so he set up a gesture-sensing sleeve which can augment the animations based on how he’s moving his arm. He uses an Arduino in the arm sensor as well as a Raspberry Pi in the backpack to tie it all together, and he goes deep in the weeds explaining how to use Tensorflow to recognize the gestures. The video linked below shows a lot of his training runs for the machine learning system he used as well.

[nate.damen] didn’t stop at the cheerful TV head either. He also wears a backpack that displays uplifting messages to people as he passes them by on his rollerblades, not wanting to leave out those who don’t get to see him coming. We think this is a great uplifting project, and the amount of work that went into getting the gesture recognition machine learning algorithm right is impressive on its own. If you’re new to Tensorflow, though, we have featured some projects that can do reliable object recognition using little more than a Raspberry Pi and a camera.

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Measuring the Time is a Breeze With This Air Flow Clock

If you’ve ever had surgery, and you’re over a certain age, chances are good you’re familiar with the dreaded incentive spirometer. It’s a little plastic device with one or more columns, each of which has a plastic ball in it. The idea is to blow into the thing to float the balls, to endure that your lungs stay in good shape and reduce the chance of pneumonia. This unique air-powered clock reminds us a little of that device, without all the pain.

Like a spirometer, [Nir Tasher]’s clock has three calibrated tubes, each big enough to hold a foam ball loosely. At the bottom of each tube is a blower whose motor is under PWM control. A laser rangefinder sits below each ball and measures its height; the measurement is used by a PID loop to control the speed of each fan and thus the height of each ball. The video below shows that the balls are actually pretty steady, making the clock easy to read. It doesn’t, however, reveal what the clock sounds like; we’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that it’s pretty noisy. Still, we think it’s a fantastic way to keep time, and unique in the extreme.

[Nir]’s Air Flow clock is an early entry in the 2020 Hackaday Prize, the greatest hardware design contest on Earth. Everyone should enter something, or at least check out the cool things people are coming up with. It’s still early in the process, but there are so many neat projects already. What are you waiting for?

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