The Chase-A-Mouse Cat Toy!

I love Cats! I have three of them and I love playing with the youngest one, Jayfet. This week’s hack is all about fun with the Cats! The idea for this came to me one day a month or so back and I decided that it was time to build it.

I used an electric motor from a Roomba robot which shouldn’t surprise folks too much as I use a lot of Roomba stuff in my hacks. After a few hours of tinkering I came up with something that works as I had envisioned. The motor moves a string tied in a loop with a Fisherman’s knot between two pulleys. A toy mouse is tied to the string which zips back and forth enticing kitteh to “chase-a-mouse”!

Jayfet is a great “beta tester” for my Cat toys. He’s always willing to try things out and this project is no exception.

Enjoy the video, Happy New Year and…
Keep on hackin!

New Year Mini Ball Drop LED Timer

It’s New Years and it’s time to celebrate! The Ball Drop in Times Square NYC is an annual event marking the beginning of the new year in a rather unique way. I’ve always wondered about the tech behind the scenes in the NYC ball drop. Well, this year I was inspired to build my own mini version of a ball drop complete with a one minute action time followed by the playing of Auld Lang Syne.

I used some 10mm LEDS because I have a bunch of them in several different colors. I mounted them inside Ping Pong balls to help diffuse the light and to add some bulk to the color emitted. The lights count down from one minute in 15 second intervals each until it gets to the one minute mark, then the bottom light with eight LEDs lights up and 2012 starts to flash at the base of the whole thing. The LEDs in the ping pong balls are controlled and driven by an Arduino micro controller on pins 1-5. The flashing 2012 is powered up by the output of pin 3 on a 555 astable circuit on a separate perfboard. The 555 is turned on by 5 volts over pin 6 of the Arduino.

This can be a project that you can configure as you wish. I used a salvaged “electron gun” from the broken CRT of an oscilloscope to mount the LEDs on!! Your “LED’s” could be anything you can trigger with an Arduino so get creative and share your project with me via email if you build one!

Happy New Year and …
Keep on hackin!

Parts List:
2 – 1.2K resistors
1 – 220 uF electrolytic capacitor
1 – LM555 timer chip
1 small piece of perf board
1 – Arduino or compatible micro controller
LEDs of your choosing with matching resistors is needed.
1 – 8 ohm speaker
9 volt battery
9 volt battery clip
1 – SPST switch
Some hook up wire

Click here for the Arduino code.

The USB Powered Christmas Card

This one came to me out of the blue the other day while I was at work. A Christmas card with some LEDs inside that got power from a USB port. How geek is that?!

I decided that the LEDs needed to blink so I dug out my supply of 555 timer chips and built an astable circuit to to the job. I connected two different colors of LEDs to the output on pin 3 of the 555. The green ones have the anode (positive) side connected to pin 3 and the cathode (negative) connected to ground. The red LEDs have the cathode connected to pin 3 and the anode connected to the 5 volt positive rail. This allows the red LEDs to light when pin 3 is high, and the green LEDs to light when pin 3 is low. The blue LEDs are connected directly to the 5 volt power supplied from the USB cable. When you plug the cable into a USB port on a computer that is powered up, the LEDs flash.

Below you’ll find a parts list, a schematic, a build video with an explanation of the circuit and JPEG files of the templates to build the paper box. This is an easy and fun holiday project to build for the geek in your life!

Merry Christmas, have fun and…
Keep on hackin!

2 – 1.2K ohm resistors
1 – 470 ohm resistor on pin 3 output
1 – .01 uF ceramic capacitor
1 – 220 mF electrolytic capacitor
1 – LM555 timer chip
1 – USB cable
15 – Green LEDs
13 – Red LEDs
Hookup wire
4 – Sheets 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock paper
Two sided adhesive tape
Hot glue and glue gun
Small perf board.

Lisa Learns How To Solder

Last week my girl friend Lisa had a birthday so I bought her a neat LED Menorah kit made by the folks at Evil Mad Science. I bought the kit from the Maker Shed which offers all kinds of cool electronics kits. This one was very well documented with easy to follow instructions written up in a comic book style that made it lots of fun!
Lisa didn’t know how to solder but she wanted to learn which was one of the reasons I decided on this kit as a birthday gift. Kind of like two gifts in one… a fun electronics project to build and a soldering lesson. I love teaching people things I know how to do which meant I got to have fun too!
Watch now as Lisa learns how to solder and in no time makes it evident that she’s a natural!

Keep on hackin!

Rehearsal Room Sound Treatment

Most empty rooms have a very “live” sound to them when music is played. This can sometimes be a good thing, but in most cases, it makes for a very noisy rehearsal area for musicians. In this weeks project I explain the concepts behind adding “sound treatment” to a room and even install some acoustic panels and bass traps in my music room.

This room starts out quite “ringy” but once the sound treatment was added it ends up sounding a lot less “live” and a lot more listenable.

Follow along now and you’ll learn the basics of sound treatments.

Keep on hackin!