Opto-isolated laser controller build


Scott Harden built his own opto-isolated laser controller and wrote a post on his blog detailing its assembly:

My goal was to utilize a free hardware output line to signal to a device that I build to modulate the laser in a special way. This way there would be no modification to any existing equipment, and no software to install. Further, since this hardware isn’t mine, I don’t like the idea of permanently modifying it (or even risking breaking it by designing something which could damage it by connecting to it). The specific goal is to allow the existing software to cause the laser to fire 20 ms pulses at 15 Hz for a few dozen cycles of 5s on, 5s off. It’s also important to have some flexibility to reprogram this firing protocol in the future if a change is desired.

Project info at SWHarden.com homepage.

Homebrew Raspberry pi shutdown button


Facelesstech made his own Raspberry pi shutdown button and wrote a post on his blog detailing its assembly:

One thing I learn from my last shut down button was that the raspberry pi has internal pull up resistors so I didn’t need a 10k and a 1k pull up resistor on this design. This would save me a lot of space and pins on the new revision.
The reason I have decided to use these pins is that it doesn’t block any important pins you might be wanting to use during prototype of your project. All the other shut down buttons cover over the pins at the top of the header which include the SPI pins and most of the power pins. I have to admit mine doesn’t seam to be a bit more difficult to place in the correct place but I think that its a small price to pay for not having the important pins covered.

More details at Facelesstech blog.

Homebrew Multimode Digital Voice Modem (MMDVM) adapter


Florian Wolters made his own version of MMDVM adapter:

During experiments with digital voice mode in hamradio I discovered a nice project describing an adapter for D-Star, DMR and other digital modes based on an Arduino Due and a little PCB to be put on top. This unit is called the Multimode Digital Voice Modem or MMDVM (see [1]). It seems that this is getting quite popular because hard- and software is Open Source.

Check out the video after the break.

VXO – based PLL frequency synthesizer for 7 MHz


Vasily Ivanenko made a VXO-based synthesizer:

To make a VXO to mix with a ~7 MHz VCO, you’ll need a crystal that is higher in frequency than the highest frequency you want to synthesize. Some rummaging revealed a bag of 21.4773 MHz crystals that I could divide by 3 to garner 7.159 MHz.
To afford a reasonable delta F, three were placed in the super VXO fashion and I applied the smallest amount of series inductance that would ensure a reasonable delta F with solid frequency stability.

Full info at QRP HomeBuilder blog.

Factory programming ESP8266 gadgets


Johan Kanflo’s Esprog pogo pin connector:

The FTDI connector can be found on just about any ESP8266 design. If you are building a gadget to be deployed somewhere and not a full blown development board, the FTDI connector is somewhat overkill. And it is quite large. A few pins could be shaved off but we still have a through hole connector invading the other side of the PCB.  I ended up designing my own connector and it has been used sucessfully in all of my recent projects. The connector consists of five test points providing power, GND, TXO, RXI and GPIO0 for boot control. It takes very little single sided PCB space and is inspired by the TagConnect I use at work. Note that the power provided through the connector is unregulated.
I also designed a pogo pin connector to mate the test points and a small board with a DC barrel connector and the FTDI connector. This board has two switches for power and boot mode selection.

More info at Johan Kanflo’s blog.

Georges F6DFZ’s very stylish homebrew version of the Scout Regen receiver


Dave Richards AA7EE has published an article about Georges F6DFZ’s homebrew regen receiver:

Several months ago, Georges F6DFZ sent me pictures of a Manhattan project he had just completed, using Rex’s MeSQUARES, and I have waited far too long to share it with you. It began life as a copy of the Ten Tec 1253 regen, but George said that the results and usability were very poor. One thing that must be said about regens is that the ones which don’t work well are very dispiriting. However, when you come across a good design and build it well, the performance can be very satisfying indeed. Luckily, Georges didn’t let his initial regen experience put him off, and he ended up turning the project into a receiver based on the Kitchin-inspired Scout Regen. He normally uses PCB software to design custom boards for his projects, but decided to try Manhattan construction for this receiver.
I like how his project was obviously the result of considerable careful planning

More details at Dave Richards AA7EE blog.



Matthew Reed writes:

HydroBot is a modular control system for automating hydroponic gardens. This system is designed with three objectives in mind. First, it will facilitate optimal growing techniques by using scheduling and feedback control loops to maintain state and adapt to changing conditions. Second, it will simplify controls interfaces, making setup and use easier for less tech-savvy gardeners. Finally, the components will be designed in a modular way to increase flexibility and support every imaginable garden configuration. HydroBot aims to bring sensors and actuators together through automation, which will allow hobby growers to focus on growing and not on constantly monitoring and adjusting the environment to keep their garden stable.

More details at Protofusion.org.

Reaction tester


Reaction tester project from Vagrearg:

The single gate-type NAND version was put onto a PCB and tested. It works like a charm. There were only 74AC00 chips available at the time, but they are just about the same as HC chips. You can get the design files, which are made with KiCad. The layout is kept as symmetrical as possible and the A/B buttons are next to the LEDs. Power is supplied using three AA batteries in a standard battery-holder and the PCB is stuck onto the battery-holder with double-sided sticky tape.

Full details at Vagrearg project page.

DIY smart glasses


Harris has been working on his DIY smart glasses:

The glasses themselves are based around an STM32F051K8 microcontroller (LQFP32 for easy soldering!). All the firmware is custom written though I got the LCD driver initialization codes from the BuyDisplay examples. The firmware is written using a somewhat “co-operative scheduling” with interrupts methodology and for most of the time, the microcontroller is sleeping until something needs to happen. Along side all the Bluetooth and LCD software, I’ve included my SoftTouch library for the two touch buttons on the side of my glasses. These are used to change screens and change items within the screen e.g. move to the next news entry.

Project info at Harris’ Electronics site.

Via Hacked Gadgets.