Good Old Fashioned Mixtape

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This is something I think my generation is missing: mixtapes made by friends. You can show friends new music, or show someone you care. Anyhow, my girlfriend and I are really big fans of Perks of Being a Flower, and in there Ponytale Derek gives a mixtape, so I thought I would make a modern version of this.

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Hardware for this one was pretty easy. Components include an old cassette tape and an old flash drive. Remove the flash drive from its housing. Measure it, and file away a spot for it on the cassette tape. Taking apart the cassette tape is easy, its just four screws located on each corner, and one screw in the middle. Just be careful, there’s a lot of little parts that you can accidentally lose and the cassette tape won’t look right upon reassembly.

Bonus points for adding a personal engraved message. I wrote it backwards on the inside so it looks nicer and feels smooth on the outside.

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As for making an actual mixtape, I used Audacity and imported some of my favorite songs and recorded some commentary from me. And since a flash drive (mine was a 4gb) can hold a lot more than a cassette tape, I included the original audio files, some pictures, and a movie.

Tina’s Sign

My sister Tina’s birthday is in a couple days so I thought I would make something for her.

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It’s pretty simple, just a sign made of cardboard, duct tape, hot glue, and LEDs.

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I cut out a piece of cardboard (it’s weird cardboard, almost wood. I forget the name for it), and wrote my sisters name backwards (since this is the back, and I want it to be forwards on the front!)

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Then I drilled two holes for place I wanted an LED.

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Covered the front in decorative duct tape. She likes pink and I thought the checkerboard design would give it some flair.

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I re-poked the wholes with what I like to call pointy thing (it’s actually a soldering assist tool).

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I then placed the LED leads in their respective wholes and bent the LEDs 90 degrees so they face each-other.

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Then I actually soldered the LEDs together. I decided to power the device from four AA’s (since I had a 4 AA holder sitting around). Since that is 6V, and each LED needs about 3 volts, I wired two LEDs in series (whichever LEDs were facing each other) and then wired all of those sets of two in parallel. Here’s a video of me doing all of the soldering and gluing (and yes, I do move that fast in real life).

As for the method where I use hot glue to, here’s a video of me doing part of the T.

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Finally I added the battery holder and a slide switched and glued it all on there. Looks pretty neat in the dark. Hope she likes it!

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Adding Bumper Sensors

Today I decided to ditch the old bumper sensors since they were built into the original motherboard of the robot, and added new ones in their place.

Design is simple, a push button where the old sensor used to be. I filed down a protoboard to fit in the location, soldered a push button onto the board and attached leads to it. I carefully hot glued the boards in the location (lots of hot glue in hopes they might actually stay.

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To test if the sensors were working I wrote up a quick sketch to check. It just serial rights left or right depending on which button is pushed.

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Code below:

int rightSensor = 2;
int leftSensor = 3;

void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600);
pinMode(rightSensor, INPUT);
pinMode(leftSensor, INPUT);
}

void loop() {
if(digitalRead(rightSensor)){
Serial.println(“right”);
}
if(digitalRead(leftSensor)){
Serial.println(“left”);
}

delay(1);
}

New Life to Old Radio

My mother recently recovered her father’s old radio. It’s from either the 40’s or even prior to that. It’s beauty inspired me to bring new life to it.

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Being that I’m an electronics novice, I didn’t know how to repair the old electronics. It looked like the plug had disintegrated and at least one of the vacuum tubes looked shot. On top of that, the inners of it looks like a mess of electronic components. I gave up on trying to revive the old, and gutted it for the new. I didn’t want to make a whole large project, so I took the easy way out on all of the electronics.

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After removing the old electronics, I installed a car speaker from my old car, which fit rather well. For an amplifier, I used a car amp, which also fit snug. Add a switch and an old DC adapter and I have sound! It supplies pretty good sound quality, allows me to easily hook up an iPod or other device, and there is plenty of extra space in the case for modification (possible rasPi with pandora and NPR player?). Hopefully this is only the first chapter in this project.

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The video quality does a poor job showing how it actually sounds.

Recycled Electronics Flower

I have a lot of old and now useless electronics. It seems sad that all of this stuff just ends up in a landfill. So recently I took apart a few things and found pretty parts.

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The outer rings are from in between hard drive disks, superglued together. The ring just inner of that is part of the stepper motor that spins the disk. The innermost ring is what I believe to be a filter from an old printer power supply. The stem is a thick wire I had sitting around, and the colorful wires around that are from an Ethernet cable.

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Then to make it really pretty I added some color changing LEDs. They are just hot-glued in, but that seems to hold them well. These are really great because they don’t require any microcontroller, just apply 3V and they change colors. The large solid wire I used for ground, and the spiraling green wire I used for 3+ volts. Right now I’m just using a battery, but I’m hoping to make it work off of old solar cells from broken outdoor solar lights.

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Roomba Hacking Day 2

They are dirty. Turns out my free Roombas came with dirt pre-installed! A little bit of cleaning up and I’m in business! Since two of the roombas are identical, I’ve decided to keep one of them unaltered to refer back to, and complete take apart the other. Also good news: the battery works. My multimeter tells me that it off 16.59 volts at full charge. ImageImageImageImageImage

Many screws later, I have a shell of a robot. I’m trying to figure out what each device does. The yellow, orange, green, two wire juction tells the robot whether or not all of the wheels are down. When the robot is on the ground the circuit is open, and when even one wheel is lifted it is a closed circuit.

The wheels are rather easy to interface with. Just apply power to the orange and red wire (yellow and red on the other side) and the dc motor turns a belt which turns a gear which turns the wheels. There’s a fair bit of torque!

Just to see if I’m on the right track, I hooked up the battery, and had that applied to a breadboard which went to the two wheels. I hooked the motors with reversed polarity so the robot would just spin instead of run away from me. As you can see, it worked out fine.

I tried to hook up an Arduino with a simple circuit to control the motors, but embarrassingly, I hooked up a wrong wire and caused a wire to catch fire. Oops. No real harm done. After checking the circuit, I also noticed I was using the wrong kind of diode, so I’ll be waiting for my digikey shipment to come in before continuing on the motor front.

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While opening up the wheels, I did make a few observations. Inside each wheel is a set of sensors which seems to be some sort of trip beam to tell how fast the wheel is going. I really have no idea how to interface with this. I think I might end up scrapping all of the old sensors and installing my own (ones that I understand).