PVC Laundry Hamper + Towel Rack

I decided to make a laundry hamper for my bathroom last weekend. For some reason I didn't want to just buy a hamper, I guess I had specific ideas about durability, shape, and size that weren't available. I also wanted a place to put my towels, and I don't think any hampers have built-in towel racks, and no towel racks have a place to put a hamper. Home Depot is within sight of my front door, so I walked over and wandered the aisles with the familar blank expression of home-improvement pondering. I walked back with 40 feet of 1/2" PVC tubing, various connectors, zip ties, and plastic garden mesh. The result in the photo took about 1-1/2 hours. Aesthetics aside, it definitely works, doesn't take up much space, will never rot or warp like my original wood construction idea, is a little bigger than expected but will be able to hold all my laundry even on a day I wash blankets. PVC tubing is only like $1.89 per 10 foot piece, so it's a cheap construction material and pretty strong in lengths shorter than 3 feet.

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 04/05/2008 - 09:29.

Maker Faire Project Update: Grow Lamps

Over at Darker Technologies they're making good progress on the Maker Faire projects that we're exhibiting in the same booth this May. The first LED grow lamp array has been built and tested. It uses red and blue LEDs, since those are the wavelengths plants absorb (they reflect green, so no need to waste power emitting that color). He'll be testing the arrays on live plants this month, using other light sources as a control. If you're in the SF Bay Area this May, stop by the Maker Faire in San Mateo and check out all the great projects and exhibits! There's a lot to do! It's fun!

Submitted by Garrett on Fri, 04/04/2008 - 14:59.

Stealth USB CapsLocker

* Source code and Eagle PCB files: CapsLockerPCB&Code.zip *

Just in time for April Fool's Day! I built a device that has the potential to drive a computer user insane.

This device plugs into a USB port and implements a USB HID keyboard. Instead of doing anything useful, it waits between 30 seconds and 8 minutes and sends the scancode for the Caps Lock key. This will toggle the Caps Lock status on or off. Since the operating system controls the LED on the keyboard, the Caps Lock light also toggles. This makes it appear the user has accidentally pressed the Caps Lock key...until it happens 20 or 30 times and they get suspicious. Then they might see the Caps Lock light turn on by itself. Next is a sequence of reboots, bashing the keyboard on the desk, clicking through the Control Panel, possibly even replacing the keyboard. Unless they notice the tiny little device sitting in one of the USB ports on the back of their computer, nothing will help.  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 16:02.

Ball throwing robot

I like this ball throwing robot and the dog operating it. Unfortunately I can't find any build details, it looks like a lot of work was invested in the mechanism and controller.

Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 03/17/2008 - 10:12.

Project: 16x24 RGB LED Array

This project is an array of LEDs, sized to fit an alcove in my apartment living room, about 35 inches wide by 58 inches tall. The LEDs will be RGB, with fullcolor pixels arranged 16 wide by 24 tall. Each pixel will be 2 1/8 inches square. There are a total of 384 pixels, and 1152 individually controlled LEDs. The array will be used to display informational graphics, audio visualizations, and tunable ambient lighting.  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 18:49.

Project: ShiftBrite

ShiftBrites in stock now.

Click here to purchase online. 

ShiftBrite is a simple device I am designing and producing. It allows easy control of a bright RGB LED. The interface is a straightforward clocked serial data line and a latch input. All signals are buffered and passed through for good performance over long cables and daisy chaining many devices. Many ShiftBrite devices can be controlled from any type of controller that supports clocked serial data output, which is practically all microcontrollers and even PC parallel port or FTDI bitbang adapters.

The above images are renders of the revision 1 design. These were created by exporting PCB images from Cadsoft Eagle, and using the images as textures in a Sketchup model.  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 00:50.

Silicon Valley Electronics Flea Market

I took a trip down to De Anza College for the monthly electronics flea market. Lots of interesting parts, gizmos, tools, and random clutter. Click on the photo above to view my Flickr set of the event!

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 20:25.

Cheap Wireless Camera Review

In the past few months, cheap wireless video cameras have been showing up on a lot of auction and discount electronics websites. Claims of range and transmission quality vary, but there seem to be a few main types. Prices, depending on whether you order from a local distributor or direct from China, seem to range from the low $20's to the high $40's. I decided to grab one and see how well it works. The camera was purchased on eBay for about $25. I didn't expect much quality for that price. This version has audio and video transmission...many only have video.  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 02:49.