Hacked Gadgets Forum

December 19, 2013

100 Year Motor Christmas Tree Decoration

at 1:03 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks


This spinning motor makes for a great Christmas tree decoration, best of all it doesn’t need to be plugged in. The creator is hoping for a 100 year run time! Not sure if it will last that long since most batteries have an internal discharge rate that will kill it in a handful of years without powering anything but this motor is running from home made Crystal Cells. The motor draws around 3 uA which is a very low draw but as things wear out drag may increase this significantly.

What do you think? Is this just wishful thinking or does this combination stand a change of making it?


Microcontroller based Useless Machine

at 5:06 am. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks

 Microcontroller based Useless Machine  useless_machine_arduino_controlled


We have seen a bunch of useless machines in the past but this Microcontroller based Useless Machine is a lot more fun since unlike the original versions there are almost endless possibilities on what will happen when the switch is toggled. Rest assured the machine will turn it off, but how it will go about doing it will chance every time! With the clicks and knocks as it starts up and what seems to be a shy arm at other times is hilarious. An ATMGEGA 328P waits till an interrupt is fired when the switch is thrown and uses two servo motors to get the job of switching the switch back off. One servo can open the hatch and the other controls the arm that turns the box back off. Of course this switch isn’t controlling power to the project but rather just switching an input on the controller. I wonder if there was a decent sized capacitor onboard if the switch could actually turn off power and use the remaining charge to move the servos back to the default position before the power drained?



December 18, 2013

Micro Current Gold Kickstarter

at 3:28 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Electronic Hacks



The µCurrent GOLD – Precision Multimeter Current Adapter Kickstarter by our friend Dave Jones form the EEVBlog is in full swing. This is a big upgrade from the previous µCurrent that Dave was selling. The price is more than before but on a previous episode of The Amp Hour Dave was talking about some of the precision resistors that were needed for the Gold version. If I recall correctly there was a resistor in the design that cost $15 each in modest quantities. As I write this the campaign is at $52,542 of an initial goal of $9,900 (Australian Dollars) so there is no worries about getting one. Also since Dave isn’t an amateur who it trying his hand at electronics for the first time you can be guaranteed that you will be shipped a good working product in a timely fashion.

If you are interested in some behind the scenes of the making of the new version have a look at this video where Dave discusses some of the steps he has taken to improve testing speed of the panelized PCBs.


December 17, 2013

Hacked Gadgets 2013 Holiday Comment Contest

at 11:48 pm. Filed under Contests



The new year is just around the corner, how would you like some cool swag from Hacked Gadgets to kick it off? There will be 4 winners this time around. We will be giving away a cool binary watch to a lucky winner, two subscriptions to Nuts and Volts will be going to two more winners, and finally an Arduino Pro Mini will be given to the 4th winner. Entry into the contest is simple, just leave a comment for any article from now till December 31 2013. Enter as many times as you want, just please don’t leave spam comments since these will be deleted as usual. As a matter of fact you can start by leaving a message below on this contest article. The email address of the comment will be used to identify and notify the lucky randomly selected winners. Please note that email addresses left when commenting is never made public.


Added January 24, 2014

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest by leaving a comment!

The winners are:

Watch: chipmikro for comment 16

Nuts and Volts Magazine: Roger for comment 47

Nuts and Volts Magazine: Josh for comment 1

Arduino Pro Mini: IJ for comment 2


Cool Contest Prizes


A cool Binary LED Watch that doesn’t look much like a watch until you activate it. Get ready to brush up on your binary math if you want to read it though.

1 Year of Nuts and Volts. For an example of what you can expect, have a look at the projects that were covered in this edition. “Computer To Computer Link Using Laser Pointers Computer Related by Ed Ringel Establish serial communication between computers or microcontrollers over low power laser beams. Phone Ring-A-Thing Control Home Automation by John Mastromoro Use your cell phone and this device as a receiver/decoder system to perform remote functions. Experiements with Alternative Energy Nuts & Volts Special by John Gavlik Learn the fundamentals of renewable energy through this educational series. This month: Build a Double Wide Sun Tracker. “


Please note due to the nature of the subscription the winner will need a US address. Not to worry though if you win and you are not in the US we will offer you something that you can use.

A second person will also get 1 Year of Nuts and Volts “Nuts & Volts is written for the hands-on hobbyist, design engineer, technician, and experimenter. The diversity of subjects appeals to all levels of experience and spans such topics as amateur robotics, circuit design, lasers, computer control, home automation, microcontrollers, data acquisition, new technology, DIY projects, electronic theory, and more, not to mention the popular BASIC Stamp.”


Please note due to the nature of the subscription the winner will need a US address. Not to worry though if you win and you are not in the US we will offer you something that you can use.



An Arduino Pro Mini will be go to someone who is in need of adding some processing capability to their breadboard.

“The Arduino Pro Mini is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button, and holes for mounting pin headers. A six pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable to provide USB power and communication to the board.”

Christmas Light Project made using an Arduino

at 10:07 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


In this project by Ben Harben an Arduino monitors some motion sensors which will activate as people walk by some trees on the sidewalk. The Arduino plays a tune using the Wave Shield and lights the appropriate tree using a power switch tail. It looks and works great, hopefully there aren’t any mischievous kids in the area who want some free electronic parts!



Steam Punk Arm

at 8:03 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks


If you have a Christmas costume party to go to this Steam Punk Arm by William Jakespeare might be a fun costume to build. Some silver and black paint makes some plumbing parts instantly look very steam punk. You don’t need a ton of parts of tools to make it.


December 15, 2013

Bench Power Supply Feature Hack

at 11:30 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Ian Johnston hacked his CSI3003X5 Bench Power Supply to provide for a useful feature that he wanted. The stock system has a up/down push button that adjusts the max current when the power supply is in constant current mode. That is all well and good but there is no indication what you have it set to as you happily click away on the buttons. Of course you could put a short on the output as you adjust it to see what it maxes out at but Ian wanted something more useful. He had a look at the schematic and saw that the digital potentiometer output and the current shunt simply fed an op-amp to detect when the supply has reached the limit. By installing a switch he was able to divert the voltage from the potentiometer to the current display so that he was able to see what he was setting the power supply to without actually having to force it to limit itself. 

Of course there is always more than one way to solve a problem. Gerry Sweeney suggested that a timer could be added to allow the system to operate as Ian desired for a set period of time whenever an adjustment was made before reverting to normal operation, this would allow the new functionality to work without the need for a switch. Now Ian has the exact functionality that he wanted and it is completely transparent.  This is a nice feature that the manufacturer should implement since it does add some ease of use to the supply.

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