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Clap on 👏👏, Clap off 👏👏

June 12, 2017

The offices next to Elmwood's must be wondering what we've been up to over the last couple of days. They would have heard sudden bursts of applause, then giggling, then more applause, and so on. There is, I can now reveal, a very good reason for this odd behaviour. We've been testing Verbal Machines' Hand Clap Sensor VM-CLAP1. While it might look a bit like a cheap “noise detector” board, VM-CLAP1 has a bunch of clever signal processing built in so that almost all background noise is filtered out. Only handclaps or finger snaps will make the sensor trigger, and will do so over a range of a few metres. We tried it with a speaker blaring right next to the microphone,...

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Build your own retrogaming joystick

June 05, 2017

Tracking down old Atari-style joysticks for retrogaming can expensive, and it’s hard to tell if you’ll get something reliable. So I made one for less than the cost of a used stick on eBay. To build this, you will need: 8-way joystick , or any stick compatible with the industry standard Sanwa JLF-P1 mounting plate. This has M4 holes at 84 × 40 mm. Two concave momentary arcade push buttons. DE-9 (DB-9) Female Socket Connector Terminal block, with at least seven connectors. You’ll likely want more, so this 12 position screw terminal block should work. 4× M4 countersunk (oval head) machine screws with nuts and lots of washers. You’ll need washers to act as spacers between the box and the...

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Raspberry Pi Powered Temperature Logger

May 23, 2017

We just moved to a new office, which has been great, but as the outside temperature reached 30°C the other day, we realized that our air conditioning was not working! Our landlord is great and we suspect he will fix the AC quickly, but we figured it would be a good idea to track the temperature.  There are many ways to do this, but we thought it would be most fun to use Python on a Raspberry Pi.   We really like the DS18B20 temperature sensor, as you can communicate with them via I2C.  We have several flavours of these sensors, they all work the same:  bare sensor, waterproof, and high temp waterproof. We started with Adafruit's excellent tutorial on the DS18B20...

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Escape Room Part 4: Keypad Lock

May 11, 2017

This post is part of a series I am writing about my senior thesis project. Please check out the other parts of the series to learn even more about my project: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. One of the common components that can be found in almost any escape room are locks. The reason they are so common in escape rooms is because they can easily fit into almost any puzzle. From standard number locks for math related puzzles to letter locks for word puzzles, the perfect lock exists for almost any type of puzzle. They also work well in escape rooms because they make it easy to hide clues until the time comes for...

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