Hacked Gadgets Forum

November 30, 2013

Name the Thing Contest – 245

at 1:29 pm. Filed under Contests



The prize this week is an Arduino Pro Mini. This contest will run for one week (November 30 – December 6, 2013). Ending time is based on central standard time. To enter, identify the item above and what it can be used for. Please note the image above is a side view of the thing.

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 January 24, 2014

The item to guess was a permanent magnet generator.

The winner is Jeff K. (there were 48 entries)


Below is a picture of the prize.


Wireless Arduino Platform – LightBlue Cortado

at 12:39 pm. Filed under Complex Hacks, Cool Gadgets

 Wireless Arduino Platform - LightBlue Cortado


Punch Through Design which includes Colin Karpfinger who has been featured here before have been working hard on the next project. They have come up with an interesting product concept called LightBlue Cortado that already has almost 1500 backers and has surpassed their goal of generating $20K in pre-orders by more than $66K. You still have 25 days to jump in at the pre-order price of around $20. This device introduces an interesting concept of embedded development without wires tethering the device to your computer. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with things around it and with the low price point I can see this thing being used in some cool projects where price and complexity would have been a barrier in the past. 

“Tech Specs


  • 3-Axis Accelerometer
  • 4 PWM pins, 2 Analog inputs, 8 GPIO
  • I2C and SPI Hardware Peripherals
  • Coin cell battery
  • Battery life exceeding one year for low power applications
  • Daisy chain for extended range >100ft (30.5m)
  • Protoboard section
  • Adhesive backing”


Arduino based Bike Shock Project Allows the Shock to be Programmable

at 5:52 am. Filed under Complex Hacks, DIY Hacks


Lots of things are programmable these days. If you hop into most modern cars you will see switches for things like ride comfort, traction control, performance style etc. When you hop on a bike you would expect the ride to stay consistent. John Brack, David Dang and Broc SommerMeyer from Colorado State have built this Arduino based Bike Shock Project which Allows the Shock to be Programmable. It uses metallic particles suspended in oil which is acted upon by a magnetic coil which allows the fluid to thicken when magnetized. Feedback is provided to the system using a potentiometer that allows the system to apply the correct amount of electro magnetic energy to provide the desired ride. 

November 28, 2013

Friction Heater used to Heat a House

at 2:24 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks


oilpiggy is heating his 1200 square foot house with his home made friction heater. The heater is simply located in a central area at this time and it naturally radiates heat to the house. He has it plugged into a smart thermostat that controls the run time and temperature of the heater based on time of day. Currently he is heating his house to 75 degrees (with an outside temperature of 45 degrees) for about $30 per month. His old heating system used to cost him $200 a month. You can see a newer version being tested below and check out the other videos here to see how they are built.


November 27, 2013

WiFi Robot

at 2:06 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Check out this great WiFi Robot project that used an app called Wifi Bot Control.


  • Uses WiFi only to control the robot and view the IP Camera stream
  • Configurable camera URLs (up to 3)
  • 3 Joystick Modes: Default, Simple Mode and Orientation Sensor
  • Supports up to 8 additional commands via Command Buttons.
  • Configurable WiFi packet interval.
  • Supports a number of micro controllers – requires WiFi module/capabilities.
  • Sample Arduino sketch provided (below link).
  • Screen automatically re-sizes for smaller phones.”

November 25, 2013

CM 360A Solder Pot Review and a Look Inside

at 4:17 pm. Filed under Reviews



I ordered a cheap solder pot from Ebay a few months ago. I didn’t want to spend a fortune since I will only need it 5 or 10 times a year, just to take care of the jobs where using a soldering iron to tin a bunch of wires would be a pain. I had used it 4 or 5 times prior to this review and was very surprised at the quality of case construction, look and feel of the controls, and the speed at which it could melt solder. The only thing I would have liked is the power cable to exit the rear of the case and the on off switch to be pushed up to turn on. As I write this I am thinking the easiest way to solve all of these problems is to have the text on the label printed upside down so that the temperature dial, on/off switch and power cord were naturally positioned on the top. I bet that the guy who designed the case and physical layout was not the same guy who designed the label.

I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised at some nice build quality on the inside, but once the cover came off I lost some faith in the unit. I can see that this was assembled in a hurry like lots of other Chinese products. There is some heat resistant insulation covering the feed wires for the heating element, as you can see in the pictures and video a small sleeve should have been long enough to safely nest itself under the larger sleeve but in this case the wire was too long which left the insulation too short and exposing one of the conductors.

 There are some very poor connections of two very important wires to the small control board. One is the live feed direct from the plug, it is just soldered to the rear of the board onto the fuse holder solder point. It looks like originally it would have been through hole mounted from the front of the board into the same position and a smaller fuse holder (or solder in fuse) would have been used. If this wire comes loose and brushes against the inside of the case you will see a light show for a few seconds before your house breaker trips.

The other very poor connections were on both ends of the heater. There was a push on lug that was poorly soldered to the center terminal of the on/off switch. After the review a small wiggle was all it took to pop it off. When pushed onto the terminal the height of the lug interfered with the back panel, the simply solution was to simply fold the connector over on itself. The other heater connection was to the control board and this was also simply tack soldered to the back of the board just waiting to vibrate loose, looks like this connection also had a lug on it at one time but the lug was simply trimmed to a small nub which was the part soldered to the board.

If anyone is interested the triac used in the design is a BT137-600E. There is line voltage connected to the potentiometer which feels wrong to me but with a quick glance at a similar product, it looks like you can put 250 volts on many of these little pots (such as this one [PDF]). I guess I have seen too many loose adjustment pots with missing knobs which would make me think twice about adjusting them if I knew there was serious voltage on the wipers of the pot.

I also saw a problem with the switch wiring that wasn’t there (in the video). Many of these switches have a common terminal in the center, when the switch is flipped up the center and lower terminals are shorted and when the switch is down the center and upper terminals are shorted. In this case when the switch is in the off position there is no connection between any of the terminals. When moved to the on position neutral is placed on the center terminal which has one of the heater leads attached to it and also an internal lamp connection. The hot for the lamp is connected with a jumper from the fused side of line voltage on the control board.




November 24, 2013

Chilean Drinkbot Pees out your Drink

at 11:54 pm. Filed under Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks

Chilean Drinkbot Pees out your Drink


Not sure why so many cultures have funny characters with big penises but it looks like Chile also follows this tradition. Nathan Pahucki and Pablo Castro made a neat looking drink bot that has a Indio Pícaro doll that will pee out your drink order. If a doll penis offends you please skip the video below…

Via: Make

“The user chooses their drink from a tablet which is connected to a Raspberry Pi-based web server. The Raspberry Pi, in turn, controls the servo motors and peristaltic pumps to dispense the drink according to its recipe.”


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