building a remotely controlled flashlight:
For another attraction held during a Halloween party already mentioned in episode #025, I also built a flashlight which can be remotely controlled.
This is ideal to put the participants in complete darkness and have glowing clowns chase them.
For this I added a tiny micro-controller and IR receiver in off-the-selves flashlights, and used a camera shutter remote control.
We will see how to deal with the size constraints using parametric search.
For more details about the Halloween party and infra-red theory, watch episode #025.
building a remote controlled strobe light:
For an attraction held during a Halloween party, I built a device which allows to send strobes of light.
Combined with a ghost apparition, this was the ideal setup for a scare jump.
The strobe controller uses an LED flood light, a solid state relay, and an infrared remote control.
We will see what mechanical and solid state relays are, how to operate them, how infrared remote controls work, and how receive decode their signal.
The Halloween party is called Balloween. It take place in Paris, and is mainly French. An entrance fee is required, but it barely covers the cost of the consumables. I and all the staff helped in our free time and at our own expenses, but it is a lot of fun and nothing beats scaring innocent victims ;).
P.S.: To create light strobes a stroboscope might be the more appropriate, but I did not have one at the time I built this device. I am also not sure how I would control the couple of kV required to fire the flash tube. Flood lights are more ubiquitous, and can also be switched on continuously.
building a spot welder to replace batteries in Game Boy cartridges:
Game Boy game cartridges require energy from an internal battery to keep the save state. When this battery is depleted you can replace it using a coin cell and some copper tape. For better connections through metal tabs I also built a small spot welder using a super capacitor.
I got all parts from AliExpress (100F super capacitor, LM2596 battery charger, nickel strip).
Spot welders can also be built using a car battery and relay solenoid/starter, or a micro-wave transformer and solid state relay. This solution is larger and costs a bit more, but allows controlling the weld duration for repeatable results (instead of requiring experience).
For even more professional spot welding (with energy control), have a look at the kWeld or Arduino Spot Welder (sources). Published: 2018-08-22 by King Kévin
building a digital clapperboard:
Clapperboards are often used to synchronize audio and video recordings. I'm also using such a tool for the podcast, so I decided to make my own digital version of it. After all I only have to show the scene, take, video and audio recording numbers. This can easily be done using electronics instead of having to write everything down myself.
For that I used a DS1307-based RTC module using the I²C protocol, seven TM1637-based 7-segment 4-digit displays using an I²C incompatible protocol, two MAX7219-based 7-segment 8-digit displays using a SPI compatible protocol, a piezoelectric element, and a custom power control circuit. We will also see how these communication protocol work.
energy monitoring for 3-phase 4-wire mains:
In episode #014 I presented the spark counter, my custom wireless electricity meter. This electricity meter will only work for 1-phase 2-wire power distribution systems though. Since I have a 3-phase 4-wire system it was time to do it right, with the spark abacus.
We will explore the different ways to collect electricity consumption measurements: using the S0 impulse output from a 3-pahse 4-wire electricity meter (DDM100TC), using the UART interface of 3 cheap power meters (peacefair PZEM-004T, one per phase), and using the Modbus/RS-485 bus of 3 nice power analyzers (Eastron SDM120-Modbus, one per pahse).
A micro-controller (STM32F103) will collect the measurement values and store then using a WiFi module (ESP-01, ESP8266) into a time series database (influxDB) on a single board computer (Orange Pi PC).
adding DCF77 time synchronisation to the LED clock:
By adding a DCF77 receiver to the LED clock presented in episode 16, the clock can automatically update the time (in Europe) in order to compensate for the RTC drift.
I've also used the opportunity to find out how the "analog" clock works.
use LEDs on a wall to show time progress:
The LED clock is an add-on for round wall clocks. The purpose is to have LEDs on the circumference of the clock to show the progress of the time using coloured light.
For that you will need:
a WS2812b RGB LEDs strip (long enough to go around the clock)
a development board with a STM32F103 micro-controller and 32.768 kHz oscillator for the Real Time Clock (such as the blue pill)
a coin cell battery to keep the RTC running (optional)
a GL5528 photo-resistor to adjust the LED brightness (optional)
driving a vacuum fluorescent display:
The vacuum fluorescent display I salvaged from a Samsung SER6540II was only waiting to get used. This was the ideal opportunity to learn how these retro style displays work (through Supertex HV518 drivers) and get familiar with a new micro-controller (ARM Cortex-M3 based STM32F103).
my custom wireless electricity meter:
While renewing my distribution board the land lord decided to remove the electricity meter. Now I can't note how much electricity I am using. So I decided to build and install my own electricity meter: the spark counter.
Using a cheap power meter (i.e. peacefair PZEM-004), a microcontroller (i.e. Arduino Nano 3.0), radio transceivers (i.e. nordic nRF24L01+), a single board computer (i.e. Raspberry Pi), and some storage and visualization tools (i.e. influxDB and grafana) I am now able to measure, log, and monitor my electricity consumption.
warning: the electricity meter I am presenting will only work for 1 phase 2 wires power distribution systems. I have a 3 phases 4 wires system and I am doing it wrong. Published: 2015-10-29 by King Kévin