Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Useless Candle (A Candle That Blows Itself Out)

A while back, I saw "The Most Useless Machine" by Instructables user Frivolous Engineering. This is a machine whose only function is to turn itself off. When you flip the power switch to turn it on, an arm pops out of the box and turns the power switch back off.

I love the hilarious absurdity of this project. So I decided to make some "useless" devices of my own. In this project, I am going to share with you how to make a "Useless Candle." Whenever you light this candle, it automatically blows itself out.

This is done with a simple light sensor and a small air pump. When the sensor detects the increased light from the candle being lit, it turns on an air pump. The air pump pushes air through a tube that is mounted to the candle holder and blows the candle out.

For step by step instructions on how build this project, check out the Instructable:

Monday, November 24, 2014

3D Silhouette Light Box

In this project, I am going to show you how turn a photograph into a 3D silhouette light box. This is done by separating the picture into different layers based on how far away the objects are in the scene. Each layer is then turned into a silhouette cutout. The layers are reassembled with spacers in between each one. This gives the image the appearance of depth and creates a 3D effect. You can also add lights behind the cutouts to make your images glow and create shadows between the layers.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:

Monday, November 17, 2014

DIY Simon Memory Game

Electronics memory games like Simon can be a lot of fun. But it is even more fun if you add a second player and make it a competition. So I designed a two player version of the game that runs on Arduino. This lets you play Simon head to head.

To make it even more interesting, I added jacks that allow you to use external switches. This lets you use almost anything as a switch to play the sequence. All it has to do is connect the signal wire to ground. You can use large push button switches. You can hook up piezo vibration sensors to a drum set and play Simon with a drum set. You could even wire it up to the switches on a "Guitar Hero" style guitar. The choice is up to you.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Frozen Pipe Alarm

Winter is coming. So it is time to make preparations. If you live in a colder climate, you need to be concerned about the possibility of your pipes freezing. There are a lot of preventative measures that you can take such as insulating your pipes and leaving the water dripping. But for a little extra peace of mind, I designed a simple alarm that will notify me if the pipes are getting too cold and are in danger of freezing.

For step by step instructions on how to make it, check out the Instructable:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Color Recognition Lock Box

There are a lot of ways that you can activate an electronic lock. You can use passwords, radio signals, or even voice commands. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a lock box that opens and closes based on color recognition.

With a color recognition lock, anything can be a key. You can set the lock to recognize the color of a cereal box, or the cover of your favorite book. You could even use pictures on your phone as the key. With so many different color combinations, a color lock is also very difficult to break into.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spooky Window Silhouettes With Follow-Me Eyes

Halloween is almost here. But you still have time to put together some really spooky decorations. One great kind of decoration is the window silhouette. To make these, all you have to do set up a monster cutout in your window. This blocks some of the light behind it and casts a spooky shadow. You can even add eyes that follow a person as they walk by.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arduino Controlled Halloween Props

Animated Halloween props are a lot of fun. But the props that you buy at the store have some major limitations.
One problem is that each prop is activated by its own sensor. So it is difficult to get them to work together in unison. If the props are out of sync, the overall effect isn't as scary.
Another problem is that the built-in "motion sensors" aren't very effective. Most props are activated by a light sensor that detects the change in light when someone walks by. So in order for them to work, they need light to be shining on them. They won't work at all in the dark. They can also be falsely triggered if the lighting in the room changes.
So I worked out a system that lets you control all your animated Halloween props with a single microcontroller (such as an Arduino). This lets you exactly choreograph how and when each prop will turn on an off. It also lets you use external sensors that you can customize for your exact setup.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable: