Project Ideas


In progress: I have a big spider, and I want to rig it up on 2 spools so it can “crawl” all over the side of my garage or something.  Kind of like this plotter.  And this one. This one too. Also this. I probably need to know a bit about PID control to do it, too. Maybe it should crawl around on a big EL-wire web?  And, of course, the spider will have glowing red LED eyes…8 of them!

Last year, I bought a motorized ghost thing that makes sounds & “flies” along a rope.  Unfortunately, it’s sound activated, and has a pretty high threshold.  I should modify this to either always be on, or to have a lower noise threshold.

I also got a cheap fog machine.  The fog wouldn’t stay put very well, though.  I should try to enclose my porch a little more to keep the fog in, and maybe run the fog over some ice (or dry ice) to see if it can be more like ground-clinging fog instead of haze.

Someday, I’d like to make some sort of Pepper’s Ghost illusion, and Jacob’s ladders are always cool!  And this laser tornado thing would be cool for a Mad Scientist lab!  Eventually, my garage will probably turn into a haunted house type thing.

iPod dock

When we attach an iPod to the stereo, the “next” and “previous” buttons on the remote that would be used with the CD do nothing.  I could build an iPod dock with an IR receiver that sends the appropriate commands to the iPod from the remote.  And, you know, provide power & line-out for the iPod.  Depending on the characteristics of the line-out, I might want some sort of preamp thing, too.

Stereo Auto-off

We always forget to turn off the stereo when the iPod finishes its playlist.  I should make something so that the stereo turns off after some amount of time without any sound.

Car iPod dock

Similar to above, when the car’s radio is set to AUX input, the CH+/- buttons do nothing. This post shows someone listening in on the CAN bus of their car to determine when steering wheel buttons are pressed. (and maybe this one, too, or this…maybe info here too)  Then, I could control previous track & next track from the steering wheel!  Of course, like above I’d also do line-out, power in & maybe preamp.

Whole-home power monitor – easier

My city recently installed a “smart” power meter on my house.  It looks like it has an IR data port on the front, so I’d like to figure out how to gather usage data from that.

Whole-home power monitor – hard

It’d be really cool to put a current transformer on each circuit in my breaker box to gather per-circuit usage data.  Really, some company needs to get their act together & make “smart” breakers.

Media Center PC

So, I already have the PC set up with MythTV (need to update it, though) and XBMC…but it could be better.  For instance, there’s a spare optical drive slot that I’m not using.  I think it’s be cool to put an LCD in there that displays info about what’s playing…title, timestamp, time left, something like that. Inspiration here.

I also have an IR remote for the PC that works decently well to control MythTV and XBMC, but every once in a while I need a real keyboard in XBMC.  For instance, the remote doesn’t have a button for “C” to get a context menu, nor “W” to mark something watched.  I don’t know if I can change this just by loading a new keymap or something…or if I need to roll-my-own IR receiver to decode the remote commands into custom keystrokes.  If I do roll-my-own, this article about USB on AVR micro-controllers might be useful.


This adapter would be nice so I don’t drain batteries doing time-lapse photos.  I also need to repair the wired remote shutter release that I have.  Also, making an IR remote would be neat.

I’ve already done some, but more high-speed photography would be fun, too.


I bought an old oscilloscope on eBay a while ago that needs some attention (the traces don’t center vertically).  I might need to build a capacitance meter like this one, or maybe an ESR meter to trace down the problem(s).

Rechargeable Batteries

I have a bunch of NiMH batteries, but I don’t know what their capacities are any more.  Something like this could solve that!

Vacuum former

I don’t know what I’d do with it, but this would be pretty cool.

Electric Imp

Again, no ideas for a project, yet, but it seems pretty neat.

Sterling Engine

Again, not really useful, but neat nonetheless.

IOT stuff

I have several enhancements for my IOT outlets (which control my gutter heaters) and my IOT garage door that I’d like to do… Additionally, I’d like to create a little weather forecasting box by my back door, something to switch off my stereo when I’m no longer using my Google Cast on it, a smart thermostat with remote temperature sensors (remotely opening and closing HVAC vents would be really neat, too!), and I could use more IOT outlets for things like Xmas lights (outdoor and on the tree) and perhaps my interactive Halloween decorations.

If I ever want to write an android app to interface to this stuff via MQTT, then this link might be useful.

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