Hands On with the KeyChainino


If you play with your keys while waiting on something: bus, subway, fish to bite, etc., the KeyChainino might be a good device to have handy. Creator Alessandro Matera was nice enough to send me one of these devices* to try out.

It’s a pretty neat device, and I really enjoy seeing the default Arkanoid-style game played on a 5×6 LED matrix. If you get tired of that, these LED devices can be programmed using an Arduino. Although it’s not as simple as programming an Arduino directly, the task shouldn’t be too hard to execute (I’ve programmed ATTiny chips before using an Arduino, as seen here).

Pins are provided with the board, so don’t discard them, or things will be slightly harder if you want to change the program around. Several programs, or sketches are available on the Keychainino site, though it would seem the real fun would be in creating or modifying your own programs. Granted, I just received this board and haven’t tried it yet, but that seems like the real fascinating thing about this little project.

Check out the video after the “read more” to see it in action: Read more »

PVC Man Conscripted to Work at Milling Machine

pvc-el-man-mill-light3Sure, there have been a lot of write-ups here on how to set up a little Zen Toolworks CNC router, but for heavier work, it’s great to have a little milling machine in the shop.  As readers may recall, Jeremy constructed a PVC man using 1/2 inch PVC pipe and EL wire a few months ago.  It may have been designed to be a prop, and used for such useless amusements as stop-motion videos, but I decided to put it to work instead.

PVC man never complains, because his mouth is made out of EL wire, but simply works whether day or night as shown in the pictures after the “read more.”  Some might call this treatment “sweat shop” conditions.  Fortunately, there is no water inside of PVC man, so “sweaty pipes” are not an issue.

If you’d like to build your own PVC man, check out these instructions.  I’ve been thinking of building an army of them, but the soft gloves with no fingers in them that it uses for hands may be an issue when wielding a weapon.  Perhaps the tubing that is used for arms can be sharpened into a pointy hand-spear.

I took these photos with my Canon DSLR (Amazon) so I could control the light levels.  As you can see, I’m still learning.  Jeremy’s been doing and featuring all kinds of camera experiments at his other site,  Be sure to check that out for more hackish camera projects, or better yet submit your own stuff to be featured!

Automated Cigar Box Wiring and Programming


Audio-responsive cigar box wiring

As mentioned in my introductory post, it takes quite a bit of work to make my audio-reactive cigar box “tick.”  The mechanical assembly comes in another post, but this is all about how it was programmed and wired.  If you’d like to just skip to the Arduino code, it’s listed here.  In case you forgot or missed it, here’s the video of this cigar box in action:

As for how everything works, keep reading, and I’ll try to explain what is going on in a bit more detail.

Microphone Input

Getting a correct signal from a microphone breakout is a bit more complicated than one might think;  Instead of just measuring the voltage, Read more »