Friday, October 30, 2015

Magic Wand Flashlight



This year for Halloween, my son wanted to be a wizard. To go with his wizard costume, I made him a flashlight in the shape of a magic wand. To make it even cooler, I designed the wand so that it is turned on with a magnetic reed switch built into the handle. That way when my son picks up the wand with a magnet hidden inside his glove or on a ring, the light will magically turn on. But when anyone else picks up the wand, it won't do anything. I had a lot of fun making this project and my son had a blast playing with it.

For full step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Magic-Wand-Flashlight/

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Controlling Halloween Effects with DIY Infrared Remote Controls



Halloween is the perfect opportunity to create fun special effects. When you want to be able to control props and effects remotely, one good option is to use an infrared remote control. So in this project, I am going to show you some simple remote controlled effects that you can set up in your haunted house this year.

For detailed step by step instructions on ho to build this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Controlling-Halloween-Effects-with-DIY-Infrared-Re/

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Giant Spider Web



One thing that a lot of people are afraid of is spiders. So spider webs make great decorations for Halloween. This year, I am making giant spider webs to decorate the trees around my house. These are really easy to make and all you need to make them is a whole of regular plastic shrink wrap.

For detailed step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Giant-Spider-Web/

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

System For Automatically Limiting TV Time



Most of us spend far too much time in front of the TV. So I designed a system that will automatically limit when and how much the TV can be on. The system works by controlling the input signal going to the TV. This is done by adding a relay switch to the input cable. When certain conditions are met, the relay is turned on and the TV is able to receive the input signal. Using an Arduino microcontroller, you can program the system to only allow the TV to be on for a certain amount of time each day or between certain hours. You can setup a pin code so that only certain people can turn it on. You could even set it up so that the TV will not turn on unless you have done a certain amount of exercise that day. The system is very versatile and can be customized to fit your needs.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/System-For-Automatically-Limiting-TV-Time/

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Remote Controlled Halloween Props


Animated Halloween props are a lot of fun. But the built-in motion sensors usually don't work very well (especially in low light conditions). There are a lot of times when it would be much more fun to be able to control these props with a remote control. That way you could set them off exact when you want them go off and actually scare people. So I worked out a simple way to activate Halloween props with a remote controlled relay. To see how to make it, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Remotely-Control-Your-Halloween-Props/

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Remote Controlled Confetti Cannon



Confetti cannons are a lot of fun. An explosion of confetti can make any celebration better. But it isn't always convenient to have someone next to the cannon to set it off. So today I am going to show you how to make a remote controlled confetti cannon that you can set off from anywhere.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Controlled-Confetti-Cannon/

Monday, August 17, 2015

High Resolution Panoramic Photography Rig



In this project, I am going to show you how to make an automatic camera rig that will allow you to shoot high resolution panoramas using a cheap point and shoot camera. The camera rig is made from three metal frames and three servo motors. The servo motors control the pan, tilt and shutter of the camera. The metal frames hold all the parts together and allow you to mount everything onto a camera tripod.

An Arduino microcontroller is set up to automatically adjust the position of the camera and takes pictures at set intervals. When the process is complete, you will have a grid or pictures that cover a wide area. These pictures are them stitched together to create a single high resolution panoramic image.

For detailed step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/High-Resolution-Panoramic-Photography-Rig/

Friday, August 14, 2015

I Will Be Guest Starring on the TV Show "Hack My Life"

The season premiere of Hack My Life airs Tuesday August 18th. I will be guest starring on the show and I will teach everyone how to use power tools to help in cooking. Here is a clip of the upcoming episode:

Monday, August 3, 2015

LED Matrix Dessert Tray



Everyone loves desserts like cake. But you can make them even better by adding LEDs. By setting up an LED matrix under your dessert, you can make it light up and play animations. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a dessert tray with a built-in LED matrix that you can control with an Arduino.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Matrix-Dessert-Tray/

Monday, July 27, 2015

How to Make Custom Microcontroller Shields



Microcontrollers such as Arduinos are a great way to control your custom electronics projects. But you always need some way to connect the external components to the microcontroller board. Jumper wires can work for this, but having too many loose wires running around is just asking for trouble. A good solution for this problem is to use some kind of a shield. This is a circuit board that uses a set of pins to connect directly to some (or all) of the pins on the microcontroller.

A shield is an easy way to connect all of your external components together. You can use shields to control motors, relays, LEDs, or anything else. You can even use proto shields to prototype your whole circuit directly on the board.

In this project, I am going to show you how you can make your own custom shields for your microcontroller.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Custom-Shields-for-Your-Microcontrolle/

Monday, July 13, 2015

Test Tube Chandelier


A while ago I picked up a bunch of glass test tubes that were being thrown out. At the time I didn't have a specific project in mind for them but I figured that I could come up with some way to use them. Then later I came across a design by Etsy user PaniJurek for a chandelier made from test tubes that were filled with colored water. I really liked the way that you can use the test tubes to make any color pattern that you want. So I decided to make my own version of the project.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Test-Tube-Chandelier/

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Motorized System for Raising and Lowering Hanging Plants



Hanging plants are a great way to add some green around your house. But there are a lot of great locations for hanging plants that are just too inconvenient to utilize. For instance if you have really high ceilings, you don't want to have to get up on a ladder every day to water them.

So I designed a simple system for raising and lowering hanging plants with an electric motor. That way you can raise them up to the desired height. Then whenever you want to water them, just press the button to lower them down to a convenient working height.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instrutable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Motorized-System-for-Raising-and-Lowering-Hanging-/

Thursday, July 2, 2015

31 Unusual Uses For Coconuts



When I was in college, I got a job as a student researcher in my Engineering department. My job was to research coconuts. My professor was trying to find ways to turn coconuts into value-added products. The goal was help promote economic development in countries like Papua New Guinea where coconuts are plentiful but are not fully utilized. We researched all aspects of coconuts and how they can be used. As a result, I gained a lot of random knowledge about coconuts. So I thought that I would share some of the more interesting things that I learned in a project on Instructables. You can check it out here: http://www.instructables.com/id/31-Unusual-Uses-For-Coconuts/


Monday, June 29, 2015

Add Light Up Effects to Backyard Games Like Cornhole



Backyard games like Cornhole are a lot of fun. But you can make them even better by adding lights and sounds. By hooking up some simple electronics, you can make the board light up and play a victory fanfare whenever someone scores. Here is how to make it.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Add-Light-Up-Effects-to-Backyard-Games-Like-Cornho/

Friday, June 19, 2015

Collapsible Cornhole Boards



I wanted to make a set of cornhole boards that I could take with me to picnics and cookouts. Unfortunately, my car is too small to easily transport a set of standard cornhole boards. So I designed a set of board that will fold in half. That made them a lot easier to transport and store. Here is how I made them.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Collapsible-Cornhole-Boards-1/

Monday, June 15, 2015

Electronic Water Tag Game



Everyone loves water gun fights in the summer. But you can always make something better by adding electronics to it. So I designed a set of water sensors and buzzers that will beep when they are hit with the spray of a water gun. This lets you play a game similar to laser tag but with water.

And if you want wondering, no it won't shock you or electrocute you. The circuit is well sealed in its housing and the amount of electricity that we are working with is so small that it couldn't shock you anyway.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Electronic-Water-Tag-Game/

Monday, June 8, 2015

Resistance Controlled Alarm



There are all kinds of locks and alarms that you can make. You can make alarms that are controlled with keys, keypads, remote controls, scanners, or anything else that you can think of. Just for fun, I designed an alarm that is controlled by resistors.

This is a basic motion sensing alarm that detects when someone enters the area. When an intruder is detected, it activates a siren. But what makes this system unique is that it is activated and deactivated by touching a resistor to a pair of metal contacts on the housing. This makes for an interesting kind of security system.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Resistance-Controlled-Alarm/

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Make Your Own Box Set




Box sets are a great way to organize and display your collections of books, movies and magazines. But you can only get the box if you purchase the whole set together (usually as a special collector's edition). But what if you want to have a box set of items that you purchased separately. Well, why not make your own custom box set.

In this project, I am going to show you a simple method for creating custom box sets of whatever kind of media you are collecting.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Box-Set/

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adjustable Temperature Controller For Heating Elements



There are a lot of different products that use heating elements. Unfortunately, many of them are not adjustable. For instance, most soldering irons are either on or off. It would be much more useful if you were able to change the temperature of the iron. This would allow you to use the soldering iron for lower temperature applications.

So I designed a simple control circuit that will let you adjust the output of a heating element.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the instructions:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Adjustable-Temperature-Controller-For-Heating-Elem/

Monday, May 18, 2015

Designing Circuit Board Layouts with Photoshop

The last step in building a new electronics project is to solder all the components onto a circuit board. You can use something as simple as a perf board or you can go all out and etch your own custom circuit board. Whatever you use, you need to figure out how the parts will be arranged on the board.

There are a number of programs that you can download to help you design a circuit board layout (examples: 123D, EAGLE Light and PCB Artist). But you can also use everyday programs such as photo editors that you might already have on your computer. So today I am going to show you a simple way that you can use programs like Photoshop to design a circuit board layout.

For step by step instructions on how to complete this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Design-Circuit-Boards-Using-Photoshop/

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Automatic Race Timer



Racing is a lot of fun. But if you want to compare the results of multiple races, you need be able to accurately record the finishing times of each one. To do this, I designed a timer circuit that will automatically record the finishing times.

Two light sensors are mounted on a track. The first one is positioned just in front of the starting line. The second is located at the finish line. When the car crosses the first sensor, it starts the timer. Then when the car crosses the second sensor, it stops the timer. This lets you automatically record the finishing time of each car.

The system that I built is tailored to toy car races (such as pinewood derby or CO2 Dragsters), but it can easily be adapted for other kinds of races.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Race-Timer/

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wind Powered Music Box



Wind chimes are a great way to improve the atmosphere of a garden. But I wanted to see if I could find a way to make the wind play a melody instead of just random notes. So I designed a simple wind powered music box. Now whenever the wind blows, it plays a whole song.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Wind-Powered-Music-Box/

Monday, April 20, 2015

Motion Activated Gun Turret



In this project I am going to show you how to use motorized nerf guns and water guns to make automated gun turrets that you can use to shoot your friends.

The gun is controlled with an Infrared Motion Sensor and an Arduino microcontroller. The motion sensor detects when someone walks in front of the gun. The Arduino then activates a relay that is connected to the trigger and fires the gun. You can set it up in a hall or in a doorway and it will shoot anyone who walks by. This is a fun way to prank your friends.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Motion-Activated-Gun-Turret/

Monday, April 13, 2015

Recycle Plastic Bags Into Usable Plastic Sheets



Plastic bags are something that we all have lying around. Most of these bags can be recycled. You can even recycle them yourself at home. In this project I am going to show you how to fuse plastic bags together to make thick sheets of plastic that you can use in your craft projects.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycle-Plastic-Bags-Into-Usable-Plastic-Sheets/

Monday, April 6, 2015

Power Washer Art



Spring is finally here. That means it is time to power wash the sidewalks. But there is no reason why you can't have some fun in the process. In this project, I am going to show you several ways that you can draw pictures on sidewalks and buildings using a pressure washer.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Power-Washer-Art/

Monday, March 30, 2015

Emergency Lighting System



Many people keep a supply of candles and flashlights on hand for when the power goes out. But you still have to find your way around in the dark to get them. In situations like this, it might be helpful to have some kind of emergency lighting system that would automatically turn on when the power goes out.

So in this project, I am going to show you how to build a DIY emergency lighting system that will do just that.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Lighting-System/

Monday, March 23, 2015

How To Make Dinosaur Footprints



What if you walked out into your backyard one day and saw a trail of giant dinosaur footprints? After a few seconds of confusion and disbelief, the excited little kid inside you would take over. You would grab your safari hat and go chasing after that dinosaur.

In this project, I am going to show you how to make giant dinosaur footprints. You can make them as decorations for a party. You can use them to prank people. The choice is up to you.

For step by step instructions for this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Dinosaur-Footprints/

Monday, March 16, 2015

Automatic Dimming Lamp



Light plays an important role in sleep. Bright lights keep us awake and dim lights help us get to sleep. One of the best tricks for getting to sleep is to start turning off lights before you actually go to bed. By gradually reducing the amount of light, it helps you to more gently and easily fall asleep.

But unfortunately, most lights aren't dimmable. And it is pretty inconvenient to have to be constantly adjusting the lights. So I designed a simple LED Lamp with a sleep timer that will automatically dim itself over a set amount of time.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Lamp-With-Sleep-Timer/

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Custom Project Enclosure



So you have just finished building an awesome electronics project. Now you need to find a housing for it. You could just stick it in a plain plastic box. But project enclosures that you buy from a store are expensive and are rarely the right size.

So why not build your own custom project enclosure. You can save money. You can make it exactly the right dimensions. And it is one more thing to be proud of.

In this project, I am going to show you a simple way to make custom project enclosures from wood.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Project-Enclosure/

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Solar Panel Tripod Mount



Solar panels are great for getting power in remote locations. But you always need to find a way to set up the panel once you get there. A great way to do this is with a tripod mount.

A standard camera tripod is light weight and collapses to a very small size. So it is easy to transport. It is also adjustable. So you can always get your panel into the optimal position to catch the sunlight. All you have to do is make a simple adapter so that you can mount a solar panel to the tripod.

In this project, I am going to show you how to make a tripod mount for your small solar panels.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, you can check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Panel-Tripod-Mount/

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Solder Without Electricity (or a Soldering Iron)



Soldering is a valuable skill. There are a lot of situations where the ability to repair or modify electronics can really save the day. But most people don't carry a soldering iron around with them. And even if you did have a soldering iron, there is a good chance that you might not have access to electricity.

So today I am going to show you how to solder using random objects that you might find lying around (and a little bit of solder).

For detailed instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Solder-Without-Electricity-or-a-Soldering-I/

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Heavy Duty Helping Hands Tool



If you have ever done much soldering, then you are probably familiar with the "Helping Hands" tool. Essentially it is just a pair of articulated clamps on a base that sit on your desk and hold a circuit board for you while you work on it. It may also have a few additional tools such as a magnifying glass mounted to it. This kind of tool is pretty useful but due to its size, its potential applications are very limited.

So I decided to build a bigger and stronger version of the helping hands tool using an adjustable floor lamp and some large spring clamps. This lets you hold larger and heavier objects and gives you a much greater range of motion.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Heavy-Duty-Helping-Hands-Tool/

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Heavy Duty Pole Grabber



Reacher/grabber tools can be pretty helpful, especially if you have limited mobility. But the typical grabber tool that you find in stores is pretty short and can only pick up very light objects. What if you wanted to reach something that is far away or heavy. In that case, I recommend building your own pole mounted grabber tool.

In this project, I show you how to make your own heavy duty grabber tool that can be mounted to the end of a broom handle or painting pole.

For step by step instruction on how to build this project, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Heavy-Duty-Pole-Grabber/

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Joule Thief Battery Charger



A "Joule Thief" is a simple voltage booster circuit. It can increase the voltage of power source by changing the constant low voltage signal into a series of rapid pulses at a higher voltage. You most commonly see this kind of circuit used to power LEDs with a "dead" battery. But there are many more potential applications for this kind of circuit.

In this project, I am going to show you how you can use a Joule Thief to charge batteries with low voltage power sources. Because the Joule Thief is able to boost the voltage of a signal, you are able to charge a battery with a power source whose output voltage is actually lower than the battery itself.

This lets you take advantage of low voltage power sources such as thermoelectric generators, small turbines and individual solar cells.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Joule-Thief-Low-Voltage-Battery-Charger/

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Audio Treasure Hunt



Everyone loves treasure hunts. Running around on a quest to find your present makes any gift better. So just for fun, I designed my own variation of the game. I combined an Arduino microcontroller with an Adafruit Wave Shield to make an audio treasure hunt box.

The treasure hunters are given a code. When they enter the code into the box, it will play a short audio clip that gives them a clue as to where they should go next. When they arrive at this location, they will find another code, which they will enter and get another clue. This continues until eventually they arrive at the final location and find their present.

For step by step instructions on how to make this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Audio-Treasure-Hunt/

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot Wire Ice Cutter



Have you ever wanted to sculpt something out of ice? Well here is an easy way to do it that doesn't require a chainsaw. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a "hot wire ice cutter."

The design for this project is very similar to other types of hot wire cutters. Electricity is sent through a piece of Nichrome wire. This heats the wire above the melting temperature of the material that you are working with. The wire can then be used to "cut" the material by melting it along a narrow line.

Because ice sculptures are often larger and more difficult to handle, I designed my cutter to be handheld rather than stationary on a table. I based my design largely on the "Hot Wire Foam Cutter" by Instructables user FlyWoodKB. I made a few modifications to make it safer and easier to use with ice.

For step by step instructions on how to  build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Hot-Wire-Ice-Cutter/

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

3D Printing Pen Tutorial



In this project, I am going to give you a basic introduction to 3D printing pens and how to use them.

For a detailed walkthrough, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printing-Pen-Tutorial/

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wearable Temperature Sensor and Alarm



When working in extreme temperatures it is important to monitor your body temperature. In freezing weather, your fingers and toes get numb and you can develop frostbite without even noticing it. Likewise, if your core body temperature can drop too low and you can start to start to suffer the effects of hypothermia before you are aware of it.

So I designed an automatic temperature sensor that will monitor the temperature of your fingers, your toes, your torso as well as the outside temperature. This can help you to stay safe when working in extreme cold.

For step by step instructions on how to build this project, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Wearable-Temperature-Sensors-For-Working-in-Extrem/