How-To: Build a Serial-Controlled Power Switch

Here’s a relatively easy project that can save you some money, energy, and in this builder’s case, unnecessary trips to the basement. It’s a power outlet controlled by the serial port of a PC. The builder made it so that, whenever he printed anything out, the printer would turn on and stay on for 30 minutes, shutting down if no new jobs came through. This serial-controlled switch was especially useful in that the printer in question is in his basement not near his desk and prior to the switch, he’d have to go down there and turn the printer on before printing a job. This fix nicely automates the process.

He created a Perl background daemon to run on his Linux server which houses the serial port he used. He used a solid state and a mechanical relay to do the power switching.


[Via hackAday]

Draw and Print Furniture

I love some of the insanely great things that people are doing with rapid prototyping technology. Here, members of the Swedish design group FRONT use motion capture tech to record the free-handed strokes of their furniture drawing and then a rapid prototyping machine fabs the pieces they’ve drawn in liquid plastic. It’s something like this which reminds me I’m actually living in the 21st century.


How-To: Build a Time Fountain

This is an amazingly cool project that’s relatively easy to build with a high geek cred payoff: a “Time Fountain,” a fountain that appears to suspend the drops falling from it. Basically, it’s a little desktop pump-powered fountain with Fluorescein liquid (a fluorescent dye) in the water and UV LEDs controlled by a PIC16F628. By timing the strobe of the LEDs to the dye flow, you can appear to suspend the drops, make them go backwards, even manipulate them. Very cool.

You definitely want to watch the video. The project posting is followed by a nice long thread about the Time Fountain, where to find the parts, programming the PIC, and more.


O’Reilly Labs Code Quiz Game

Our pointillistic pals over at O’Reilly Labs are still trying to come up with cool things to do with the data in their XQuery database of all O’Reilly Books content. The latest offering is Code Quiz. To play, you’re presented with a code snippet from a book and a list of four possible O’Reilly titles. You get up to 10 points for each correct answer, but the values decrease to 1 possible point if your guess takes more than 10 seconds. Incorrect answers subtract the remaining points from your total score. It’s a fun way to test your casual knowledge of code and O’Reilly titles.

See our previous piece on O’Reilly’s Code Search engine