Tag Archives: mod

A Maker Wedding

Initially I wasn’t sure how much our wedding was truly going to represent my fiancée and I, after all, we wanted our family and friends to enjoy themselves and feel included — as with any large event there are a lot of expectations to manage. After deciding to craft my own Edison-style light fixtures for our reception I realized that the occasion was, in addition to a celebration of our life-long commitment to each other, an opportunity for us to showcase our creativity and perhaps introduce some of our family and friends to aspects of ourselves they may not have known existed.

In retrospect we probably took on too much, but it allowed us to feel the occasion was a true reflection of ourselves — for me this meant soldering, stripping, crimping, twisting, programming and no small amount of brow furrowing. None of these projects could’ve come together without the help of my wonderful wife Ester, who not only said yes, but also collaborated throughout and trusted me to deliver on some very important aspects of our big day. In addition, a big thanks to my dear old Dad who took time to help me with the lengthy task of wiring the Edison fixtures and to the friends and family who helped us setup and teardown these, and other installations.

Animated Arduino LED matrix lounge table top

Vinyl “flexi” record wedding invitations

XBee remote relay as photobooth RF camera trigger

Bachelor party wireless Arduino accelerometer Stab-O-Meter

JQuery Animated Wedding Website

Various puppet arms available at Obscura Antiques & Oddities, New York

“Spaghetti” IP Cam / Arduino Motion Detect Sprinkler

arduino motion detect sprinkler

After a neighbourhood dog decided my front lawn was a fantastic place to poop on and his owners decided that they don’t care for bylaws I set upon finding a solution. Sure you could try cayenne pepper, mothballs, ammonia or even marking your own territory (take that!) but I already had an IP camera monitoring my front yard for security purposes, so I figured I’d just hook up an Arduino and a sprinkler valve. This yard defense solution has two added benefits, it keeps my lawn healthy (I can set up timed watering through this system) and it sends offending dogs home stinkin’ wet. From me having to shovel dookie off my lawn to negligent owners having to deal with wet dog — perfect.

When the IP camera detects motion in configured regions of its video stream (the rectangles in the screenshot) it triggers one of its General Purpose Input/Output ports (GPIO). The Arduino is listening for this GPIO signal and once its received the Arduino triggers a relay which connects a 24v power supply to the sprinkler solenoid valve. The valve opens when 24v is applied to it and “sprinkles” whatever was responsible for the motion.

The TRENDnet IP camera I employed works great as it already records video of events to network or attached storage, sends email alerts with snapshots and allows manual triggering of its GPIO.

The TRENDnet monitoring plugin only works in IE but after some reverse engineering and C# coding I had an easy to use web interface for all browsers and mobile devices.

If there’s enough interest I’ll post circuit and wiring diagrams. Ensure the valves you get are non-latching 24v solenoids, some 9v valves seem tempting but are magnetic and require a more complex circuit.

Why Spaghetti? Watch more ATHF.


Update: Some folks have asked why not just trigger the valve relay directly from the GPIO on the camera. This could’ve been done, but then I wouldn’t have gotten as much control as I wanted. This way I can configure timing to prevent the sprinkler itself from setting off the motion detector, set up timed watering as well as trigger other devices at various timings (DSLR for reaction shots). Another addition may be an XBee based remote control or hardwired buttons for various functions.

Update: I’ve added a quick circuit diagram and simple Arduino code.

Arduino Code

int gpioPin = 1;       			// GPIO input
int val = 0;           			// value read from GPIO input
int trigPin = 13;      			// solenoid relay output

void setup()
	pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);

void loop()
  val = analogRead(gpioPin);		// read the GPIO input pin
  if (val > 500)
	// GPIO triggered, open the valve
	digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
	// GPIO off, close the valve
	digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);

30 Second iPad Stand

What can’t coat hangers do? I came up with the idea for this stand and made this video to help advertise my ohDisco! iPad app, a quarter of a million views ain’t bad.

Thingamagoop Alarm Clock Mod

You Tube Demo

Thingamagoop Alarm Clock Mod

Meet Bob. My favourite gal got me a Thingamagoop, from Bleep Labs for my birthday so I named him Bob ( after Mr. Moog ) and I’ve been listening to his chatter now and again day to day. However, I thought he’d make a really cool alarm clock, like waking up to an excited friend trying to tell you a thousand things at once, but in a good way

I also recently picked up a Neverlate Executive Alarm Clock. One of the cool features of the Neverlate Exec is that you can run audio in which it will play through it’s speaker as your alarm.

So I added a switch for Bob’s LEDacle ( can’t have him strobing all night ) and I added a 9 volt adapter jack which runs to the battery leads so I can power him from an adapter. Now I turn him on, switch off his LEDacle, run his 1/4″ to the Neverlate’s 1/8″ input and he wakes me up in the morning, bleeping and blooping depending on the sunlight ( the Neverlate will also increase volume of the alarm if you try to ignore it, or don’t hear it ).

While not the most difficult of mods by far I found it tons of fun! So here’s how it goes.

Parts List


  • Soldering iron
  • Wire cutters
  • Drill
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Unibit ( this is not required but makes drilling alot easier ), Small Bear Electronics

Step 1

First take your Thingamagoop apart by removing the two screws on each side. The back then slides out, careful as there is a ribbon connector which is hard wired and should be handled delicately. I love gadgets that come apart so easily.

Step 2

I installed the jack at the back of the Thingamagoop just below and beside the battery. Start drilling with a very small bit and move up in size until the unibit fits in, then enlarge the hole with the unibit.


Then solder two 6″ lengths of wire to the jack, there are two positive leads and one negative lead, solder black wire to the negative lead and red wire to either of the positive leads. These wires should be long enough to reach the top of the Thingamagoop where the battery leads are.

Step 3

Next solder the positive red wire to the positive battery lead on top of the circuit board above the battery. In turn solder the negative black wire to the negative battery lead on the same circuit board. If you’re confused as to which is which, look at the sides of a battery and then plug the battery in and see which side is positive and which is negative. The jack is now installed and your Thingamagoop should be able to run off any standard 9 vold adapter, as well as a battery.

Step 4

Now drill a hole for the switch, I put the switch on top beside the LEDacle, which actually turned out to be a bad idea since it is a little big on the inside and I had to trim the leads for Bob to fit back together. Sooooo look around as to where you can maybe fit this switch better. Again drill a small hole and work up to the unibit. Then unsolder either of the LEDacle leads from the circuit board and solder it to the center lead on the switch.

Then cut a 3″ length of wire and solder it to the circuit board where you unsoldered the LEDacle lead. Solder the other end of this wire to one of the remaining leads on the siwtch, doesn’t matter which.

Step 5

  • Put your Thingamagoop back together
  • Plug your Thingamagoop into the wall beside your Neverlate Exec Alarm Clock
  • Plug the output of your Thingamagoop into the AUX input of the clock using the 1/4″ to 1/8″ cable, or using a cable and an adapter
  • Set the input of the clock to AUX ( read the Neverlate manual )
  • Turn off the LEDacle using your new switch
  • Turn on your Thingamagoop
  • Set your alarms ( read the Neverlate manual )

You should be able to test the whole thing by selecting the AUX input and turning on the radio of the alarm clock. You’re all done, you can now wake up to your Thingamagoop bleeping on about this or that.

Converting the Canon TC-80N3 for use with the Rebel XT (and others)

After having fun with some infrared and macro photography I wanted to try some time lapse. Some cameras have built in intervalometers ( big word for interval timers ) which allow you to do time lapse with little effort. Sadly the Canon Rebel XT does not, so I searched around for solutions, most of which are quite expensive.

I found out some useful information:

  • the Rebel XT has a 2.5mm stereo jack connection for remote operation
  • connecting the ring and base of this jack trigger the autofocus
  • connecting the tip and base of the jack triggers the shutter

With this information I hacked together a makeshift solution with a 12v relay, 12v wall adapter and an X10 appliance module. This system sucked and wasn’t portable, but it was all junk I had laying around. Anyhow, I went back to searching and found out about the TC-80N3, a Canon wired remote which does all sorts of fun timer stuff, including time lapse and goes for under $100 on eBay now and then. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with the Rebel XT, the connector is different, out of the box at least.

I found out that it has three leads on the connector, as the Rebel does, so perhaps they function the same? It seemed to be the case so I went and purchased one, hoping to just swap the connector out.

Once it arrived I went straight to hacking it up. Chopped off the old connector, found out that there are two wires and a ground wire, sweet. With the help of my multimeter I determined that the red wire is the shutter and the white wire is the focus. So, to attach the new connector:

  • solder the red wire to the tip of the 2.5mm jack
  • solder the white wire to the ring of the 2.5mm jack
  • solder the ground to the base of the 2.5mm jack

Slip the cover back on or tape up the connector, whatever, and it’s all done. The Canon TC-80N3 modified to connect to and control a Canon Rebel XT. Doesn’t need much know how at all to pull this off.