Boing Boing 

Make a drawer that opens with your secret knock

A couple of years ago inventor Steve Hoefer wrote a how-to project for MAKE called the Secret Knock Gumball Machine. You record a special knock pattern by rapping your knuckles against the case. After that, only people who enter the correct knock pattern get a gumball.

Recently Steve made a Secret Knock Drawer Lock and wrote a tutorial for Adafrut’s learning site.

Steve remarks, "I’ve built this project a dozen times and every single time I finish it, it makes me incredibly happy to see it work. Even though I know every detail of it, it still feels a little bit magical." Indeed!

Below, a video of the lock in action.

3D printed, trainable robot arm with Arduino controller

Joly sez, "Maker navic09 demos a prototype trainable robotic arm, made from 3d printed parts, an Arduino, and Adafruit analog feedback servos. Inspired by the Baxter robot, this arm can be trained to move with your own hands. Once the train button is pressed, you move the arm and gripper as needed while the Arduino stores the positions in EEPROM. After that the arm will replay the motion as needed."

The gripper and arm are on Thingiverse.

Trainable Robotic Arm 1 (Thanks, Joly!)

AutoDesk announces free electronic circuit design app

DC Denison of MAKE says:

Autodesk today expanded its suite of free 3D tools by partnering with Circuits.io to launch an electronics design tool: 123D Circuits.

The program allows users to create virtual breadboard-based designs to build and experiment with circuits. A virtual Arduino board can be added to the design, and the code can be edited in a browser window and simulated. The code can also be edited collaboratively (“a Google Doc for electronics” Autodesk claims).

The program also provides hooks that allow users to have the virtual boards professionally manufactured.

Autodesk Partners with Circuits.io to Create Free Electronics Design Tool

Arduino Workshop: A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects

The Arduino is a low cost microcontroller that was made for artists and designers to add interactivity to their projects. If you are interested the Arduino microcontroller but have no experience with it, buy an Arduino and a copy of Getting Starting with Arduino. If you know a little about Arduino and are looking for project ideas, get Arduino Workshop: A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects. You'll learn how to use the Arduino to control motors, interface with GPS an IR remote control, and connect to the Internet.

Sample projects:

  • A digital thermometer that charts temperature changes on an LCD
  • A GPS logger that records data from your travels, which can be displayed on Google Maps
  • A handy tester that lets you check the voltage of any single-cell battery
  • A keypad-controlled lock that requires a secret code to open
  • An electronic version of the classic six-sided die
  • A binary quiz game that challenges your number conversion skills
  • A motorized remote control tank with collision detection to keep it from crashing

Arduino Workshop: A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects

Arduino-controlled pelvic-floor strength-tester, with light-up penis

Last September, Doctor Kristen Stubbs -- a roboticist who makes sex-gadgets for her Toymaker Project -- released a video (NSFW) demonstrating her prototype pelvic-floor strength-tester, called "The Hammer." The Hammer has a bulb that is internally inserted, containing a squeeze-sensor, and a penis-shaped, light-up readout that protrudes between the wearer's legs. The harder the wearer squeezes, the more the readout lights up.

Right now The Hammer has two modes: the test-your-strength game, where the more you squeeze, the more it lights up; and a demo mode which cycles through all of the colors of the LEDs.  Soon I hope to connect the Arduino to my Android phone, and then I’ll be able to do even more cool things!

I’ll be following up on this with more technical details over the next few weeks. (Update, 10/11/12: If you would like to hear me talk about how I made The Hammer, you can see some excerpts and my slides from my technical talk at Arse Elektronika 2012.) My plan is for The Hammer to become an Open Hardware project.  This is still very much a prototype, but I would be thrilled if anyone else wanted to build their own.

The Hammer: A Muscle-Controlled, Light-Up Dildo (via JWZ)

Gemma, a 1" diameter Arduino-compatible board for wearable electronics


Adafruit has announced "Gemma," a bite-sized, Arduino compatible board intended for use in wearable electronics projects. It measures 1" in diameter, and while it's not shipping yet, they're taking names for people who want to get 'em when they ship:

* Powered by the ATtiny85 with 3 available I/O pins, one of which is also an analog input and two which can do PWM output*
Progammable over the micro USB connection*
Onboard 3.3v Regulator and power LED*
Reset button*
Works with our Flora NeoPixels (can drive about a dozen - not much RAM!)*
Super tiny design, only 1" (25mm) diameter & 4mm thick

Adafruit Gemma - Miniature wearable electronic platform (Thanks, Matthew!)

30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius

I had a lot of time on my hands this holiday season and decided to get an arduino kit (I have solar panels I want to aim for max efficiency during the day, on a VW van.) A lot of intro titles seemed interesting but Simon Monk's 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius grabbed my attention. Good title!

Sadly, this is no guide to building shark-mountable lasers. There are however a lot of simple, short projects that help you understand building with an arduino controller. Monk uses very clear pictures and schematics to show what needs doing. His text is precise and understandable. The steps are easy to follow and the thing you should learn from an exercise is blatantly obvious. Most importantly these projects are fun! I'm not just making an LED blink or a speaker chirp when I work with this book. Projects like the temperature monitor and computer controlled fan are giving me the foundation I need to aim my solar panels. The results and functions are easy to apply to the types of things I want to do with an arduino.

Lasers would have been nice.

30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius by Simon Monk

Burrito Bomber: open source hardware-based drone autonomously delivers Mexican food

The good folks at Darwin Aerospace have figured out how to use drones to parachute burritos directly onto your property. They await pending FAA reforms before they can go into business, however. Here's how it works:

It works like this:

  1. You connect to the Burrito Bomber web-app and order a burrito. Your smartphone sends your current location to our server, which generates a waypoint file compatible with the drone's autopilot.
  2. We upload the waypoint file to the drone and load your burrito in to our custom made Burrito Delivery Tube.
  3. The drone flies to your location and releases the Burrito Delivery Tube. The burrito parachutes down to you, the drone flies itself home, and you enjoy your carne asada.

We built Burrito Bomber using a handful of open source projects and some new bits we created ourselves. All the code and 3D models we created for Burrito Bomber are on our GitHub page so you can build one too!

Burrito Bomber - Darwin Aerospace (via JWZ)

Esplora - new Arduino device for learning and play

Marc De Vinck says:

The Arduino Esplora is a ready-to-use, easy-to-hold controller that lets you explore the infinite possibilities you have in the world of Arduino, without having to deal with breadboards or soldering. Shaped like a game controller, it’s designed to be used out of the box without extra parts since it comes with many sensors and actuators already on it.

For the time being, it's available at RadioShack stores.

Arduino Esplora

Video profile of co-creator of Arduino, Massimo Banzi


The Braun Lectron was an electronics kit designed in the 1970s by Dieter Rams, whose minimalist aesthetic was hugely influential to Steve Jobs and Jonny Ives. The Lectron was also Arduino co-creator Massimo Banzi’s “Rosebud.” It not only got him interested in electronics, it also shaped his ideas about design. This fascinating 20-minute documentary about Arduino was produced by Wired Italy. It’s in Italian but is subtitled in English.

Open source, sonar-controlled vibrator you play like a theremin, with your whole body

Scanlime's Beth modded a remote control vibrator, replacing the interface with an Arduino-based sonar controller that she can activate with any part of her body, playing it like a theremin. The result is pretty cool -- it "closes the feedback loop" between the vibrator's intensity and the user's physical response. The post includes a detailed technical breakdown of the reverse-engineering steps that she used to work out how to hijack the control mechanism, and the steps that went into building the remote, including a 3D printed chassis. The plans are open source hardware (CC-BY-SA), and posted to Github.

This toy serves as a kind of analog bridge between two remote spaces: the column of ultrasonically-oscillating air in front of the remote, and whatever body part happens to be in contact with the vibrator. Touch that invisible space above the remote, and the vibrator touches you.

In fact, it does start to feel like there’s a palpable object in space above the remote’s sensors. Move your body close to it, and it reacts. Press into it lightly, or tease the edges. Flick your hand through it, or make graceful waves back and forth. You can use your whole body to touch it, almost like a big fuzzy vibrating cone floating in air.

If the sensor can see your body’s rhythms, it responds in kind, effortlessly synchronizing to its frequency. This is exactly the sort of closed-loop control I was after.

Hacking My Vagina (via Reddit)

Keyboard made from beer-cans

Here's a cute way to gimmick a keyboard out of a grid of beercans, using Raspberry Pis and Arduinos:

We did this at Webstock, event which took place in Bucharest in September. Staropramen, one of the sponsors of the event asked us for an innovative way to offer a trip to Prague to one of the event's guests.

So, we came up with a keyboard made out of 44 Staropramen beer cans. Each beer can was a key, and whenever someone touched it, the corresponding letter appeared on a large plasma screen (just like any regular computer keyboard).

And the surprise was fantastic! The user experience and engagement overcame any expectation. Every single person who attended Webstock tried the keyboard and participated to the contest.

Behind the scene, the system is built around an Arduino board and a few capacitive controllers (just like the ones which are inside smartphones' touch screens), connected to a Raspberry PI board which controls the plasma screen display.

The Beer Cans Keyboard Movie (via Hacker News)

Electromagnetic Field: a UK geek/maker/hacker weekend campout


Jonty sez,

Electromagnetic Field is a three day camping festival for hackers, geeks, scientists, engineers, artists, and crafters. From the 31st August to the 2nd September we'll be taking over a field in Milton Keynes and turning it into a place for makers and breakers to meet, build and learn from each other.

Throughout the event there will be talks and workshops on a huge variety of things, from gene therapy to welding, lock picking to electronics, DNSSEC to drones, and crocheting to carpentry. The camp is fully equipped with power and internet to every tent, and each attendee receives an Arduino-compatible wireless camp badge to hack on. We are encouraging people to set up campsites with friends, and we'd like to offer a limited number of discount tickets to Boing Boing readers!

Electromagnetic Field (Thanks, Jonty!)

Makie doll with expressive animal ears

Katsideswide has modded her alpha-version Makie doll with a pair of expressive animal ears. She drilled holes in the head of her custom, 3D printed dolls, used the head-cavity to house a controller, and went to town.

Ok, i've just started tinkering around with some tiny servos to get Suekat expressing herself. I'm yet to get the drill out to perform amateur surgery on her skullcap but I'm hoping the results will be exciting! I don't want to promise anything yet but I've hooked up an arduino pro mini, and the conveniently sized head cavity means I think i can get a fair amount in there. It looks like there's a handy hole in the neck leading to what looks suspiciously like a space for a battery in Suekat's back. Unfortunately I can't get a standard 9V battery into the space! It's a fraction too small. I was wondering what battery it was designed for? And if there's any chance I can get 9V out of it?

Batteries?

(Disclosure: I'm proud to say that my wife co-founded MakieLab, manufacturers of the Makie dolls)

HOWTO open an electronic hotel-room lock without a key


Cody Brocious -- a Mozilla dev and security researcher -- presented a paper on a vulnerability in hotel-door locks last month at Black Hat. Many electronic hotel door-locks made by Onity have a small DC power-port that also supplies data beneath them. Brocious showed that if he plugs an Arduino into these locks, reads out the 24-bit number sitting there, and re-transmits it to them, some appreciable fraction of them (but not all of them) spring open.

Testing a standard Onity lock he ordered online, he’s able to easily bypass the card reader and trigger the opening mechanism every time. But on three Onity locks installed on real hotel doors he and I tested at well-known independent and franchise hotels in New York, results were much more mixed: Only one of the three opened, and even that one only worked on the second try, with Brocious taking a break to tweak his software between tests.

Even with an unreliable method, however, Brocious’s work–and his ability to open one out of the three doors we tested without a key–suggests real flaws in Onity’s security architecture. And Brocious says he plans to release all his research in a paper as well as source code through his website following his talk, potentially enabling others to perfect his methods.

Brocious’s exploit works by spoofing a portable programming device that hotel staff use to control a facility’s locks and set which master keys open which doors. The portable programmer, which plugs into the DC port under the locks, can also open any door, even providing power through that port to trigger the mechanism of a door lock in which the battery has run out.

Hacker Will Expose Potential Security Flaw In Four Million Hotel Room Keycard Locks

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination at TEDGlobal 2012


Massimo Banzi is the co-creator of the popular electronics prototyping system called Arduino. He spoke at TEDGlobal 2012 about the cool things people are making with Arduino.

Massimo Banzi helped invent the Arduino, a tiny, easy-to-use open-source microcontroller that's inspired thousands of people around the world to make the coolest things they can imagine -- from toys to satellite gear. Because, as he says, "You don't need anyone's permission to make something great."

Massimo Banzi co-founded Arduino, which makes affordable open-source microcontrollers for interactive projects, from art installations to an automatic plant waterer.

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination at TEDGlobal 2012

Modkit: a simple graphical programming system for Arduinos and other microcontrollers

Alexandra sez, "I'm writing to tell you about Modkit, a new interface for microcontrollers like Arduino. Modkit uses a graphical programming language based on the kids' programming language, Scratch. To write an Arduino program, you simply snap little blocks of code together. Basically, I think Modkit will make microcontrollers accessible to a much wider audience (younger, less tech-savvy, etc.). Modkit also has a lot of other cool features, like automatic hardware detection, both an in-browser and desktop version, and lots of supported hardware. They're running a Kickstarter campaign right now, so I thought I would pass along their website!"

(Thanks, Alexandra!)