Hacked Gadgets Forum

June 30, 2011

Digitally Controlled Electric Guitar

at 9:32 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Crazy Hacks, DIY Hacks, Educational, Electronic Hacks


Adam Jackman and Pouria Pezeshkian designed a cool Digitally Controlled Electric Guitar for their ECE 4760 Final Project. My daughter is learning guitar and I can see that the electric guitar can have its sound modified in interesting ways just by twiddling the knobs on the guitar. Only issue is it’s hard to revert back and forth between different sounds without lots of trial and error. Adam and Pouria have devised their project to make an end to that issue. Their system replaces the stock analog knobs with digital rotary knobs like the ones that we featured here. A microcontroller mounted in the body of the guitar monitors the user inputs on the knobs and sends this information to an external controller which alters the sound using digital technology in the same way the original analog knob would have. When the musician has the exact sound he likes it can be saved for later use. The controls on the guitar are then used to automatically select one of the presets to be used. I can see a big potential for this item to become a commercial product with little effort.

“Our project allows the user to control the settings of the guitar swiftly and automatically. By replacing the analog interface such as tone-knobs and switch, to digital components, we enter the domain of digital electronics; ergo, we recreate a smarter and friendlier guitar. We employed a combination of digital components to replace the current tone-adjusting technology of a standard guitar as a proof of concept. Our project uses rotary encoders integrated with the microcontroller to control the programmable digital potentiometers. We also added push-buttons, which enable the change between user-created presets. We digitalized the 5-lever switch to communicate with the microcontroller, so that it could control which pick-ups to output. This was made possible by using an analog multiplexor. A small 2×16 character LCD displays the tone and pre-set configuration. One component of the project concept was to ensure that the signal is still allowed to pass through the circuitry in analog form, with minimal effects in the final tone. Because the components used were digitally-controlled analog components, the signal is never converted to a digital signal, an aspect of our product which is very desirable and valuable to musicians. “

June 29, 2011

DIY Keypad Door Entry System

at 4:58 am. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Remember the PIC 16F1937 Capacitance Touch Switch Keypad Project that we featured last week? Giorgos from PCB Heaven has been hard at work integrating the keypad into a larger project which is a DIY Keypad Door Entry System. A bunch of videos can be seen here and the build log with lots of pictures can be found here. If you want to build your own Giorgos has made the schematics and firmware available also.

“I hacked a normal keylock and added an RC servo to pull the “tongue” of the lock. A PIC16F1937 is used to control the servo. The keypad has a second PIC 16F1937 which acts as a 10-buttons capacitance touch sensor. The controller PIC stays into sleep all the time to save power. In sleep mode, the device draws 16 micro-amperes. When the operator pulls the door gently, a mechanical switch wakes up the controller PIC (with a pulse to RB0/INT port) which in turn provides power to the touchpad. To open the door, you pull the handle, enter the code, pull the handle again to activate the servo.

To change code, you pull the handle, enter the code, pull the handle again but you keep it pulled for 3 seconds until you hear the distinctive long beep. Then you enter the new code two times.”


June 28, 2011

LM34 Temperature Sensor Weather Station Project

at 8:29 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Have a look at the NANO.r00t-Ed site for some interesting projects including this LM34 Temperature Sensor Weather Station Project. It uses a LM34 temperature sensor which is similar to the LM35 that I used in the PWM fan controller project except it outputs voltages that scale with Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.  There is a microcontroller that reads in the voltage and determines the temperature which is sent to the weather station computer. For a bit of added fun some beacon lights are also able to be activated by the system! Full code and schematics are available.

“I made a circuit that reads the output from a LM34 (temp sensonr) and send the output to the computer using PIC12F683. I also used the project called phpWX to collect the weather on my area and displays it on the page.”

June 27, 2011

How a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is made

at 10:30 pm. Filed under Educational


Making your own PCBs boards is a time consuming task. If I need to make 1 or 2 simple boards I don’t mind spending some time and building a few but if you will ever need more than that you better look at getting them made by a professional PCB manufacturer. This means that drawing a picture of your copper layer in a graphics program and printing it on a transparency won’t exactly cut it since all of the PCB manufacturers will need Gerber and Excellon files. But with these files they can work their magic.

Eric from Base2 gets his PCBs made at Advanced Circuits and they were nice enough to give him a tour of their facility. I have seen all of these steps before except for flying-probe electrical testing, I have had this done on my boards but never knew how it was done. Watch the video below to see it in action. What the test is doing is ensuring every pad is shorted by traces to other pads and is properly isolated from pads which should not be connected.

Thanks for sending in the post Eric!


June 26, 2011

TinyCopter AVR Microcontroller Game

at 10:39 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Game Hacks


Owen from Hackniac has just finished his latest hack. It is a game called TinyCopter that is built into the very small code space of a Attiny13 and uses a Nokia3310 LCD for the game screen. This tiny game reminds me of a game I used to play on the Apple II where a green screen helicopter would fly around and you just pressed the space bar to make the helicopter fly up.

“With the Attiny’s 1K of programmable flash memory and 64 bytes of RAM I needed every bit of control over the hardware that I could get. I set out to write it in deliciously crunchy AVR assembly. I should say that I am heavily biased toward assembly. Most programmers hate it, but if I had infinite time I would choose to use it always.”

June 25, 2011

Name the Thing Contest – 177

at 8:45 pm. Filed under Contests


The prize this week is a cable tester which will make sure your home made cables are working correctly. This contest will run for one week (June 25 – July 1, 2011). Ending time is based on central standard time. To enter, identify the item pictured above.

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 July 2, 2011

The item to guess was DHT22 temperature-humidity sensor

The winner is Cliff H. (there were 82 entries)


Below are two pictures of the prize.


PCB Hole Driller

at 8:39 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Drilling holes in PCBs is one of the most boring tasks I have ever done. Positioning the board isn’t the hard part, pulling the drill press lever up and down at a rate that won’t break the fragile tiny drill bit it the thing to watch. This PCB Hole Driller project will solve this issue by allowing you to simply position the board and hit a foot switch. The system will automatically drill a hole at the rate selected. This is sure to get some good mileage out of those fragile drill bits that love to snap.

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