Hack a Day
[Roy Bean] thought it was pretty silly for the Milwaukee Makerspace to keep buying bottles of water for their water cooler. He rigged up a system that automatically fills the refrigerated reservoir in their water cooler. It’s a functional hack that also provided an excuse for him to learn about a couple of different sensors.
What you see above is the meat and potatoes of the hack. The well is where water from a bottle drains into the cooler. This has been covered with a sheet of acrylic to keep the drinking water clean. There is a copper pipe which has been plumbed into the tap water supply. The other two bits are redundant level sensors to make sure the water valve shuts off without overflowing. One of them is a capacitive proximity sensor, the other is a conductivity sensor hacked together using stainless steel hardware submerged in the pool.
If you’re worried about the taste or odor of your tap water just add in a single or multiple stage under-counter filter system when plumbing in the water line. The filters are easy to find and we’d bet they cost less than a contract with a bottled water company.
Filed under: home hacks
We’ve seen a lot of hacks from [Lou] and his latest continues the tradition of excellence. The entryway of his home is a couple of stories high and features a chandelier. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a ladder tall enough to use when changing light bulbs. Even if he did have a way to get up there it would be nice if the light fixture could come to him instead. This hack makes that happen by adding an electric winch to lower the light fixture.
Watching the installation process makes us think that [Lou] might be a little reckless. He’s up in the attic mounting a winch to the rafters before he cuts the board holding the fifty-pound chandelier’s junction box in place. He mentions foregoing the recommended cable fastener in lieu of some baling wire. But he does manage the task without dropping the ball so to speak — perhaps we shouldn’t be so critical of his methods. After altering the chandelier mounting bracket to work with a winch [Lou] wires an outlet in the attic and adds a plug to the cord on the light. This means he needs to go into the attic to unplug the light before lowering the fixture on the winch. But he’s not done yet. After the break you can watch the second part of the project with improves upon this by adding a wall switch to control the winch and extension cord management to route the power.
[Lou] really loves his automated home gadgets. Check out the gaming table which drops from the ceiling.
Filed under: home hacks
Modeling simple objects in 3D can take some time. Modeling complex items… well you can get your college degree in that sort of thing. This method side-steps the artistic skill necessary to make the real virtual by using a laser and camera to map a three-dimensional object.
[Alessandro Grossi] is breaking the rules by using a 100mW laser for the project. He thinks that the Italian government prohibits anything over 5mW, but also mentions that the lens used to turn the laser dot into a vertical line drops the power dramatically. The beefy diode does still pay off, providing an incredibly intense line of light on the subject being mapped. The high-end DSLR camera mounted on the same arm as the laser captures a detailed image, which can be processed to dump everything other than the laser line itself. Because the two are mounted on different axes, the image provides plenty of perspective. That translates to the 3D coordinates used in the captured model shown in the inlaid image.
We’ve seen 3D scanners that move the subject; they usually rotate it to map every side. This method only captures one side, but the stepper motor moves in such small increments that the final resolution is astounding. See for yourself in the video after the break.
Filed under: laser hacks
[Dave Nunez] wanted arcade quality controls when gaming at home. The problem was he couldn’t decide on just one console to target with his build, so he targeted them all. What you see above is a single controller that connects to many different gaming rigs.
He took a simple-is-best approach, keeping the main goal of high-quality inputs at the forefront. To start, he built the face plate out of thick MDF to ensure it wouldn’t flex or bounce as he mashed the buttons. To keep the electronics as simple as possible he soldered connections to actual controller PCBs (well, reproductions of controllers), breaking each out to a separate DB9 connector on the back of the case. These connectors interface with one of the three adapter cables seen to the right. This lets the controller work with NES, SNES, and an Atari 2600 system.
To pull the enclosure together [Dave] designed the rounded corner pieces and cut them out with a CNC mill. These connect with flat MDF to make up the sides. To give it that professional look he filled the joints with Bondo and sanded them smooth before painting.
Filed under: nintendo hacks, peripherals hacks
Most of the time we feature hokey film footage in our Retrotechtacular series, but we think this hack is as cool today as it was fifty years ago. [Clint] wrote in to tell us about Operation Red Line. It was an experiment performed May 3rd and 4th, 1963, which means the 50th anniversary just passed a few weeks ago. The hack involved sending data (audio in this case) over long distances using a laser. But back then you couldn’t just jump on eBay and order up the parts. The team had to hack together everything for themselves.
They built their own helium-neon laser tube, which is shown on the right. The gentlemen involved were engineers at a company called Electro-Optical System (EOS) by day, and Ham radio enthusiasts by night. With the blessing of their employer they were able to ply their hobby skills using the glass blowing and optical resources from their work to get the laser up and running. With that side of things taken care of they turned to the receiving end. Using a telescope and a photomultipler they were able to pick up the beam of light at a distance of about 119 miles. The pinnacle of their achievement was modulating audio on the transmitter, and demodulating it with the receiver.
[Clint] knows the guys who did this and wrote up a look back at the project on his own blog.
Filed under: laser hacks, radio hacks