Hacked Gadgets Forum

September 22, 2011

Breadboard Tips and Tricks

at 9:53 pm. Filed under Electronic Hacks


Our friend Daniel Garcia from Proto Stack has come up with a bunch of Breadboard Tips and Tricks that could make your life a bit easier next time you are breadboarding a project. The one shown here is a nice tip where you use pin headers to allow the use of multi pin devices that could otherwise never be connected to a breadboard. I do the same thing with some common value pots and small relays. There is another tip that will probably save you a few hours over the years and a few grey hairs. That is a way to solve the center disconnected positive and negative rails.


September 21, 2011

Stoplight used to indicate Server Status

at 11:34 am. Filed under Computer Hacks, Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks


It is nice to be able to see a status of equipment at a glance. A power on light on the power bar, some flashing lights on the router are some things that can be glanced at to ensure everything is operating properly. A server on the other hand is a bit trickier, you might want to see what the load is like on the server, check some ping times, how much space is left etc. Instructables user mkanoap created a system that uses a Stoplight to indicate Server Status, now all he needs to do is have a glance at the huge stoplight in the hall to see how the server is doing.

Via: Hack a Day

“At the place I work, we use xymon to monitor of our servers.  All of the services monitored are important, but we wanted a separate indicator to simply show the overall health of the most critical systems.  Furthermore, we came up with the following criteria:

  1. We wanted this visible to everyone whether or not they were near a web browser or even a monitor.
  2. We wanted it to preserve the “red/yellow/green” status’s xymon uses.
  3. We wanted it to be stand alone, not requiring a separate computer (we already have one running a widescreen monitor elsewhere for that).
  4. We wanted it to look good and be fun.”

September 19, 2011

Spy Video TRAKR Claw Attachment Hack

at 8:06 pm. Filed under Electronic Hacks, Toy Hacks


Steve Schuler sent in this Spy Video TRAKR Claw Attachment Hack he has done to his Spy Video TRAKR. The new version of the spy car has a ton of additional features when you compare it to the older Spy Video Car that we took apart. Wildplanet has really gone in a good direction with this new device since they are opening up their device for custom code to be used to enhance it.

“I have added a Lego grabber arm to the Spy Video Trakr. The Trakr is a remote controlled robot equipped with a microphone and color video camera, speaker, a near infrared LED for night vision, and an SD memory card slot for recording audio/video and storing downloadable and user designed programs. The remote control unit has control levers to drive the robot, a speaker and color video display so you can hear the audio picked up by the microphone and display the video transmitted by the camera, and several function buttons that can be used to control additional program functions of user designed programs.”

Untitled from SCUBA Steve on Vimeo.


September 18, 2011

Brad’s Hexapod Video Build Log

at 5:01 am. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks

Fellow Canadian Brad has been making a video log of the building of his Hexapod. You can see all the videos of the build here on his Youtube channel.

“Handmade hexapod running my own handwritten c++ code. Servo’s are a bit squishy due to being underpowered for the time being. Wiring will be cleaned up and main processor mounted within the next few weeks.”

Name the Thing Contest – 186

at 1:39 am. Filed under Contests


The prize this week is a solar flashlight, if you want to use this as a flashlight you better charge it during the day and not keep it hidden in a drawer. 🙂 I am thinking that the housing could make for a very small surface mount project. Not sure if the solar cell would have enough power to energize a very low current circuit but I would think it should. This contest will run for one week (September 17 – 23, 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 October 10, 2011

The item to guess was Bearing Puller (can be used to pull other things also such as gears)

The winner is Dean H. (there were 258 entries)


Below is a picture of the prize.


September 17, 2011

LC Meter using a Microchip PIC 16F628A

at 10:10 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


This LC Meter was built using a Microchip PIC 16F628A.  It would make life a bit easier when attempting to identify a few of those components that are always left over on the desk after building a project. Mine are often dumped into a miscellaneous box with other various components which makes it even more difficult to identify later…  I think this meter would make a great addition to my bench. It was built based on the design by Phil Rice which can be found here. The original design was powered by a 9 volt battery but the new design uses a 3.6V battery which required substantial changes to be made in the power section of the project. Have a look at the image below that shows the super tiny component that was used in the design, it must have been quite a feat to get this mounted onto the hand made board!

“I wanted to fit it in this project box that I had laying around for some time and I also wanted it to be battery powered. There was no way that I could fit 9V battery in this project box along side with all the electronics, so I figured I could add a tiny 3.6V Li-Ion battery that I also had… laying around.”

September 14, 2011

Karate Chop – Avnet Dog Days of Summer Contest using a PIC 16F1827

at 11:12 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Electronic Hacks, Game Hacks


My daughter Alexis and I worked on this Karate Chop project as an entry into the Avnet Dog Days Summer Contest. She had the idea to make a game to enter in the entertainment section of the contest. The game she came up with was a reaction game where you have to quickly move to the correct indicated position. Four infrared detection circuits was the resulting method used to detect hand movements. She also wanted to have a memory type game similar to the classic game called Simon but using the IR beams instead of buttons.

As a hacker and maker I will be giving Avnet a good look when purchasing parts, in the What’s New section of the Avnet home page it says that they offer free 2 day FedEx shipping on orders over $10 to Canada and the USA as long as it is under 10 pounds! The offer code is AVNETEXPRESS, I don’t know if this is a permanent thing so get it while you can. Not sure about you but free shipping is always something that I am looking for when it comes to parts orders.

There are 4 games in total, one game is the Simon like pattern game where you need to match the random patterns 5 times in a row to win and one where you need to match the patterns 10 times in a row. The other 2 games are reaction games, one is normal speed and the other you need to be very quick. With the reaction games you need to break the indicated random beam locations 10 times in a row without breaking the wrong beam or breaking the correct beam too slowly.

On power up and after each game the system waits for the user to choose the game to be played.
1 (top left beam): Pattern match 5 to win.
2 (top right beam): Pattern match 10 to win.
3 (bottom left): Normal reaction game. Get 10 normal speed beam break reactions to win.
3 (bottom right): Fast reaction game. Get 10 fast speed beam break reactions to win.

The circuit is quite simple and makes for an ideal microcontroller solution. A 16F1827 is the PIC microcontroller which has been selected for this project, the 16F1827 is available from Avnet here. Four pairs of IR LED and IR Transistors are used to detect the person waving their hand in the four chop zones. The user feedback is done in a number of ways. Four colored LEDs which are being driven directly from the PIC output pins. A very bright surface mount LED panel is mounted behind the breadboard and is shining through to the Avnet name on the front, this is being switched by a transistor since it requires about 200mA of current. A piezo buzzer is being driven directly from the PIC and provides audible feedback during game play.

Power is coming from a 12 volt plug in wall transformer and there is an board mounted LM7805 which is providing the 5 volt regulation for the low voltage circuitry.

The physical game is made from MDF and plywood. The main 1/2 inch section was made from MDF, a thin 3mm plywood front was added which had the laser engraved lettering and laser cut Avnet name. The IR LED and IR transistor holders were also cut from MDF to allow the beams to be mounted securely. The initial idea was to have two more pieces of 1/2 inch MDF stacked to the rear of this. The center section would hold the IR beams and allow for wires to be run. The rear section would cover everything up nice and neat. To keep things simple an open design that showcases the spaghetti of wires on the breadboard was eventually what we went with. 🙂

Sample code will be made available once it has been cleaned up and commented a bit more.

Thanks to John Schuch from the Hacker’s Bench for the tip.



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