Hacked Gadgets Forum

July 25, 2010

DIY Gate Opener Controller Replacement

at 7:06 am. Filed under Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


These days when something electronic dies the repair bill is usually so high that it doesn’t make financial sense to repair it since there is no guarantee that the repaired out of warranty item isn’t going to fail for some other reason in a week.Β  When Sam from the Parallax forum was faced with this dilemma with a gate opener he decided to scrap the old gate controller and make his own DIY Gate Opener Controller. In the end the gate is working again thanks to a Basic Stamp Board, a H25 Motor Controller, a Parallax Position Controller, a few RFID Card Readers and a few other miscellaneous electronic bits. I am of the same mind that it is better to extend the life of the stuff around us instead of just taking the easy road and tossing it in the bin and picking one up from the local department store. It would be hard to justify the financial benefit since the hours put into a project like this could have most likely generated much more than the replacement cost if it were spent at work but the enjoyment and learning would outweigh the financial consideration.

Unfortunately a lightning strike seems to have fried the electronics. Looks like some troubleshooting is in order. πŸ™

July 24, 2010

Name the Thing Contest – 141

at 7:46 pm. Filed under Contests


The prize this week is a loupe magnifier, this will let you get a close look at whatever you are working on. This contest will run for one week (July 24 – July 30, 2010) . Ending time is based on central standard time. To enter, identify the item pictured above and give an example of what can be done with it. You don’t need to know the make and model just what it is in general, and what this type of thing is normally used for.

Please do not give the answer in the comments.

Send an email to contest @ hackedgadgets.com with “Name the Thing Contest” as the subject, and the message body consisting of:

  • The name of the item in the above picture
  • An example of what the item pictured above can be used for

The winner will be chosen at random from all of the correct entries.


Added August 8, 2010

The item to guess was a Power Amplifier

The winner is Andrew S. (there were 82 entries)


Below is a picture of the prize.

DIY Credit Card System

at 3:53 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Accepting credit cards can be expensive. If you have a permanent selling location with a phone line or data connection you can use a standard credit card terminal. Or if you are on the go you can use a mobile credit card terminal just like the pizza guy when he comes to your door. With both of these options you need to pay for the equipment and pay some steep monthly fees. Adafruit Industries which primarily an online kit businessΒ  doesn’t run a permanent retail outlet so there’s no need for a physical credit card machine unless they are out at an event.

There are lots of virtual credit card terminals which let you just type in the data on a web page using a secure connection. These are perfect for low volume occasional transactions since the entry system is a bit cumbersome, you need to enter the customers name, credit card number and expiration date. If any of these are off the transaction will obviously not go through.

To speed things up Limor Fried from Adafruit Industries rigged up a neat DIY Credit Card System. A low level credit card reader was connected to a ATmega32u4 on a dev board called the Teensy. The microcontroller watches the credit card reader data lines, when a credit card is swiped the microcontroller captures all of the information. The Teensy then emulates a USB keyboard and maneuvers around the credit card web form entering all the data from the credit card. Say goodbye to mis-typed names and numbers!


July 23, 2010

Quadcopter Prototype

at 10:12 am. Filed under Complex Hacks, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Starlino is building a Quadcopter,Β  the design is based around the Acc_Gyro Board that he designed and is being sold by our friends over at Gadget Gangster. It uses PID along with a simplified Kalman Filter.

“I did some tests on the lift force potential of this frame+motors+props, and was surprise to find out it performed better than some entry-level brushless motors. The lift force of this platform is up to 2.25 lbs.Β  The results of lift-force experiments are compiled in this spreadheet: MotorLiftPower.pdf.

How I measured the lift force ?Β  I didn’t have any fancy equipment so I simply fixed the quad in a vise and weightedΒ  it it at different throttle levels – the difference in weight gave me the lift power.”


July 22, 2010

Multimeter Clock Build Log

at 5:54 am. Filed under Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks


Remember the Multimeter Clock article last month? I just got the full build log up. Lots of people wanted the CNC files so that they could cut their own clock, these DXF files are also available on the Multimeter Clock project page. If you want to make your own there’s a kit available.

If you missed the video of the clock in action last time here it is again.

July 21, 2010

DesignSpark PCB – Free PCB Design Software

at 11:53 am. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks

Next time you are designing a PCB you might want to try the new kid on the block. DesignSpark PCB is a free PCB design tool from RS. I am currently using Eagle for my PCB designs but I think this software is good enough to give a try on the next design. I still remember making my first design many years ago with Express PCB, I was surprised that they gave away their fully functional software for free but after the project was complete I found their profit motive. With Express PCB you can’t generate anything that a normal board house can use so you are stuck with getting Express PCB to manufacturer your boards. This didn’t matter to me since I was just printing the image to iron it to a piece of copper clad board anyway.

It sounds like DesignSpark PCB will always be free and it can produce files that can be taken anywhere for production. I am assuming that the parts list that the software produces will reference parts from the RS system which is no big deal. All in all I think this might be a winner and I can see this becoming the new hobbyist standard.

Via: Dangerous Prototypes and Adafruit

July 20, 2010

Entrepreneur Journeys Volume 4 by Sramana Mitra

at 1:05 pm. Filed under Reviews


For all you budding entrepreneurs who have a great business idea in your head but think that taking the first step is quite daunting needs to give Entrepreneur Journeys Volume 4 a look. Sramana Mitra who writes for Forbes and is a serial entrepreneur herself shares her knowledge with us to help our business ideas along their way. In the book she interviews many high profile successful executives such as Eric Benhamou and Judy Estrin to extract their business wisdom.

She has developed sections of the book to be very pertinent to the current economy. For example there is a section on Shoestring Innovators since attaining a large sum of investment money might not be the easiest thing to come by right now. In this section she talks with Brian Behlendorf of CollabNet, Rod Johnson of Spring Source and John Roberts of SugarCRM.

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