BBQ blower v4

Somehow this project is never ending for me. Just 4 years ago I made a third version of it and it helped a lot, even though it was ugly inside and not powerful at all, but I didn’t think of making a new one because it was enough. But just the other day I was disassembling an old server and inside it there was two powerful centrifugal fans (12V 1.85A, ~25W) and thought I make an upgrade with one of these…

And this time I also wanted to have a metal pipe, not PVC. The fan is 12V, so a larger battery is needed, I made it using a spot-welder after assembling all the parts I needed.
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Temperature checking and logging with WEMOS D1

This is a simple solution to a simple problem that I’ve been having at work. We have a small, basic server room with air conditioning that is somewhat broken but in a weird way that no one knows how to fix, so far. The air conditioner sometimes decides to shut down with an obscure error code and the room temperature then rises very quickly.
With this project, I wanted to have some sort of temperature measuring at two locations – top and bottom of the rack and have it connected to the network, so that using our information system (and possibly zabbix) we could monitor the temperature, log it, draw pretty charts and most of all send us a message whenever then air conditioner shuts down again (indicated by the rising temperature).
Also the thing should have a small screen showing relevant information on it for times when it can’t be reached through LAN and for a quick glance when I visit the server room. Also it has a small UI to set things up.

For this I used a WEMOS D1 microcontroller and a 16×2 LCD screen. I made the box for it from laser-cut plywood and for probe connections I used 3.5mm audio jacks. Of course after assembly it needs to be calibrated against a known constant temperature (such as boiling water). Calibration values are then put into the device using its web UI.
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Re-making Makita LXT batteries

It’s no surprise that Makita tools are very popular and they are everywhere. Their batteries are pretty durable and good quality as well. But as good as they are the batteries will die someday and when that happens you’ll need a new one and new genuine batteries cost a lot. Or you can fix the old one by changing cells inside… which would be the case if Makita didn’t adopt the no-fixing policy for their batteries and that makes me (and probably many others) mad.

Turns out that LXT series batteries are protected by a complicated control board that bricks itself whenever it senses that a cell in the pack is bad. All other cells could be in great condition, but the pack won’t work anyway even if you replace the faulty cells.
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Soldering station DIY kit STC T12 assembly

At a local makerspace that I visit so often very long time ago was decided to upgrade current soldering stations. The ones that we have are old, expensive to buy iron tips or just not very friendly to use. The upgrade project was started years ago, even before I came to this place, but as it happens with some projects – it was done up to about 95% and then put away for one reason or the other. Recently I was introduced to this project with hopes to help finish it already…

These soldering station kits are quite popular it seems, you can find loads of articles and videos about them, but no consistent documentation since they are Chinese clones and there exists MANY of them.

The ones that we bough are labeled “Mini STC T12”. Others might be labeled differently but all of them are similar if not the same. Though some versions have an OLED display. They can be easily bough on AliExpress with or without a case, or even assembled already.

I agreed to help and here we are. What needed to be done to finish this was to adjust a 3D model from previous attempts, laser-cut the case for it, assemble electronics and put everything together. In total we needed to make three stations.
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Monster fog machine remote controller

Last year I wrote about how we built a monster fog machine in Kaunas Makerspace for a NoTrollsAllowed hackercamp and during that event we noticed that sometimes it’d be nice to have it automatically dispense smoke so that we wouldn’t have to always be around to do it. Now that this year’s hackercamp is coming we thought of making this add-on until the event.

We wanted to make it as simple as possible and to be able to control it remotely with any device. For those reasons we chose ESP32. It would need to have a web interface and a captive portal for easy access.

The features that we wanted are pretty basic – to manually release smoke by pressing a button and to make it do that automatically by setting delay and duration times.

For it to actually work, ESP32 needs to communicate with the machine somehow. That is the controller needs to see when the heating blocks are ready and needs to see the liquid status.
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Offroad go-kart, part 2

Well, it finally happened – the engine kicked the bucket. Like I wrote in a previous post, I didn’t think it would hold but I expected to at least have some kinda action out of it, but it just exploded when I tried it for the first time after assembling it together. Rear wheels were lifted and I was reving it up a couple of times and then I heard a thud. Then I saw that a hole opened under the petrol tank.

Needless to say I was very disappointed. Seems like these engines were designed to work for a guarantee period and then just die, like many things, of course only when used within set limits and not on a go-kart.


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VEF Spidola 232 retrofitting

This project derived from another one I made some time ago which was a portable music player, though I had this radio much before I made that other project, but I didn’t know what I would want to do with it.

The radio that I have is a VEF Spidola 232. It was to be thrown out as trash, but I thought I could maybe add some modern stuff to it, and stashed it in a corner until I figure out what I’d like to do with it.

On the internet there are some people that do this and they have pretty cool ideas turning these radios into things that can play from various sources leaving the whole shell and buttons original. Some even remake them to be used with FM frequencies.

My idea was similar, but I only wanted it to have bluetooth and I don’t need anything else. Also I wanted it to have a better sound quality (original speaker is just shit) and leave everything else original as much as possible.
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TVIP S-Box v.410 LibreELEC installation

Hello all. A few days ago I was gifted a TV box to do whatever with it. It was being thrown out because it didn’t work anymore the way it was supposed to when bought.

The TV box is sold by a Russian company TVIP. This model has been discontinued some time ago (dunno when exactly) and all support is dropped, but it uses an Amlogic S805 CPU which was revealed in 2014, so you can say this device was being sold for at least a few years after.

This is my second device that I bring back to life. The first one was the MXQ S805 with pretty much the same hardware. Until I got it, I didn’t know anything about these things, but they seemed like small computers and the one I got had Android installed on it. Needless to say it was shit with Android – it lagged so much and the user wanted to throw it out also because he didn’t have any need for it anymore. Installing LibreELEC on it wasn’t much of a hassle and worked right away.
Before I got the MXQ, I was using LibreELEC on RPi1. It wasn’t great experience – RPi1 isn’t capable of running the system very well, but it worked. I am so happy with the MXQ device now – it’s fast and works flawlessly.
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Airsoft bomb prop

You might guess that I’m an active airsoft player and like to bring in some innovative stuff to gain advantage for myself, like the foldable slingshot and just recently I wrote about remote detonation device that proved to be quite useful. This time I wanted to make some game prop because sometimes me and my team make a game to play for ourselves and we have no proper way of controlling our matches.

It’s not something new, but it sure adds new experience and makes for a better game. And the game prop is a bomb… with multiple modes. There exists many versions and ideas, some are very cool indeed, but I wanted to keep mine simple in regards to how it looks and universal in how it works, but not too much.

Everything will have to be connected to a custom PCB (to save space and to look more cool :D) and controlled by ATmega328p microcontroller (don’t need no arduino for this kek).
But if you want to make it even simpler, you can just go ahead and use an Arduino Nano or something on a perfboard. But if you have access to PCB manufacturing tools, then that’s the easier way to go and if anyone wants, I can send you my PCB and schematics.

I didn’t want this project to become a feature creep and tried to only filter out the ideas and features that I and my team would use in games that we do.
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All-in-one 360 lightbox

This project idea was born from another project that we at makerspace did, as sometimes happens, when you make something to work temporarily, but later see how well it worked you realize it’d be cool to have a proper thing.

And this time it was when we were photographing Makerspace Hack’n’Tell transitional prizes.

Hack’n’Tell is an event we host every first Saturday of each month where anyone can come and present projects that they did. After presentations, everyone who came can vote for the best project and the winner gets a prize for a month (until next event) and in that time he can add something or modify the prize however he wants and at the end of the year the prizes become something really impressive :)

Anyway, we made a lightbox and began planning how could we photograph them in a way to show most of them. Since the prizes have something to look at on every angle, it’s pretty difficult to photograph it in such a way to show everything in a few photos. After a few tries one makerspace member remembered a project he did about ten years ago for a similar reason. It’s supposed to rotate an object 360 degrees with high precision and automatically take photos on every turn. It was perfect for this. We placed it inside our temporary lightbox and shot everything we needed.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any progress article of that rotator (named “Sukeklis v2” btw), but there are progress photos which can be seen below. It’s pretty nicely built and control is simple too – a few http commands to control and get info fully.
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