Category Archives: Projects

Hexbright Hacking

The Hexbright is an Arduino-compatible open source flashlight that was the subject of a very successful kickstarter campaign in 2011.

Today I spent a short time working on some custom firmware for it.

My firmware adds two new features:

  • Button presses cycle between modes (low, med, high brightness) as usual, but if you wait longer than CYCLE_DELAY (default 5 seconds) between presses, the next press turns the hexbright off.
  • If the hexbright is left on for longer than AUTO_OFF_MINUTES (defaults to an hour), the hexbright turns off.  Handy for when you prop the light somewhere and forget about it.

You can download my custom Hexbright Arduino sketch here.  If you’re new to the Hexbright, read these well-written instructions first.  You’ll need to install the required USB driver and Arduino board configuration file.

Amazon link: HexBright FLEX, 500 Lumen Programmable LED Flashlight

New podcasting setup for The Amp Hour

New Podcasting Setup

After being hassled by Chris about my audio quality on The Amp Hour for the past year, I finally broke down and upgraded my podcasting microphone setup.  Here are some photos of the new setup and some notes about my approach.

Here are most of the big (expensive) parts.  Clockwise from the upper left:

New Podcasting Setup

A few more miscellaneous bits:

Cables and Pop Filter

I got the idea to convert a swing-arm desk lamp (often called an Architect’s Lamp) into a mic boom from the awesome site IKEA Hackers.  (Today I discovered that ham radio guys have been doing this for years.)

The closest IKEA is 40 minutes away, so instead I went to Harbor Freight Tools and bought the cheapest swing arm lamp I could find.  I removed the lamp portion (after you remove the adjusting knob, the shoulder-bolt can be removed and the lamp pulls out).  Then I cut the power cord and unthreaded it from the lamp.

Swing arm lamp disassembly

The swivel mount on the Samson SP01 comes apart easily, exposing a handy flat mounting tab that could be used to bolt the spider mount to all sorts of things…

Shock mount swivel adapter disassembled

…including the desk lamp.  I used a 1/4″ nylon spacer to fill the gap left by the narrow tab on the shock mount and some lock-washers to keep the mount from rotating when the adjustment is tightened.  The original shoulder-bolt stripped (oops) so I replaced it with a beefier 10-32 bolt and corresponding nut.

Shock mount installed in swing arm

While my initial tests with just the AT2020 mic were promising, I found that the swing-arm sagged under the extra weight of the shock mount.  To solve this problem, I drilled two extra holes at 1″ intervals from the original spring perch on the swing-arm.  This allows me to adjust the spring tension to balance the arm.  Now the mic stays where I put it.

Modifying the swing arm lamp

Here is the finished setup.  I removed the heavy bracket and gooseneck from the pop filter and zip tied it to the front of the shock mount.  The spacing between the pop filter and the mic comes out just about right.

Pop filter installed.

Here’s the mic preamp.  It’s got tubes!  The microphone connects to the preamp through the XLR cable.  The output of the preamp is connected to my PC’s line input through the junkbox 1/4″ to 1/8″ cable.


The best part about the swing arm setup is that when I’m not using the microphone, I can just swing it out of the way:Mic stowed away

I’m really happy with the new setup, but you can judge it for yourself on this week’s episode of The Amp Hour (Xenomorphic Xerox Xebec).


Introducing the MightyOhm Geiger Counter Kit

Geiger Counter Kit - Finished

Look!  A new kit!

I admit that I’ve been working on this one for a while.  Sorry for the lack of updates, but I have been far too busy doing everything last minute and fixing bugs to post here!

I designed this Geiger Counter kit specifically so I could give a workshop at Chaos Communication Camp 2011.  I just couldn’t fly halfway around the world only to show up at a hacker conference empty-handed!

My workshops are tentatively scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.  I’m not bringing very many kits, so if you’re coming to Camp, sign up early!

More information about the kit is here.  I’ll be adding more documentation over the next couple weeks.

Hopefully I’ll also be showing off this kit next month at the OSHW Summit and the NY Maker Faire.