Water Out Of Thin Air

Due to the advances of technology, we are able now to produce water out of thin air without using the resources usually applied like mains utilities. Such approach would be perfect in places that lack natural resources like deserts. Working from the effects of direct solar radiation, a group of researchers at UC Berkeley had designed such a device with minimum mechanical parts and simple embedded systems.


Using a structure known as a Metal Organic Framework (MOF), these researchers have been harvesting water directly from the air (at humidity levels as low as 20%). This humidity level is commonly found in dry regions of the world. The prototype was able to extract 2.8 liters of water per day at an air humidity of 20 to 30%.

MOFs are network-like structures composed of organic compounds and metallic units and have been around since their invention about 20 years ago. Depending on the MOF composition and base materials, certain molecules can be deposited particularly stably into voids in the structure. Gases from hydrogen to methane are possible. Their storage density per volume is actually higher than if the gases were compressed into large hollow tanks. 

MOF structure: The yellow balls represent voids in the structure that collect water. Source: UC Berkeley / Berkeley Lab

The water harvester is shown clearly in the first picture, where there is within about 1 kg of MOF crystals pressed between an upper light absorbing layer and a lower condenser plate.

“As ambient air is drawn through the porous MOF, water molecules attach themselves to the interior surfaces. Sunlight entering through a translucent window in the top of the unit heats up the MOF and drives the bound water toward the condenser, which is at ambient temperature via a heat pipe and radiator arrangement below the unit. The vapor condenses and the water drips into a collector.” – Elektor

Knowing how best is this technology can be used and scaling it up with the right parameters, it is predicted to make a breakthrough in the world of regenerating natural resources using solar energy without solar PV cells. More details about this new technology is available at UC Berkeley News.

Source: Elektor

Soldering pen for Weller RT tips with OLED display

vlk @ hackaday.io build a very nice soldering pen with a OLED display.

I found some projects where is used Weller soldering tips designed for WMRP soldering iron with standard 3.5mm jack and inside the tip is also thermocouple for sensing temperature. These tips are not so cheap but the quality is really great, especially for fine soldering.

Hardware design is based on similar projects but with some modifications and improvements. Also my request was to make the hardware small as possible to fit into handle and capable to supply from hobbyist LiPO battery.

Soldering pen for Weller RT tips with OLED display – [Link]

Digital Battery Operated Powersupply

ThomasVDD @ instructables.com writes:

A while back I built a powersupply from an old ATX PSU, and while it works great, I wanted to step up my game with a digital powersupply. As already said, it is powered by batteries (2 lithium cells to be precise), and it can deliver a maximum of 20 V at 1 A; which is plenty for most of my projects that require a precise powersupply.

Digital Battery Operated Powersupply – [Link]

Orthrus – SD card secure RAID USB storage

Nick Sayer @ hackaday.io build a SD card RAID USB storage board. He writes:

This project is a hardware mechanism to provide secure “two man control” over a data store. It is a USB microSD card reader, but it requires two cards. The data is striped in the style of RAID 0, but the data is also encrypted with a key that is stored in a key storage block on each card. In essence, each card is useless without the other. With possession of both cards, the data is available without restriction, but with only one, the remaining data is completely opaque.

Orthrus – SD card secure RAID USB storage – [Link]

LoRa IOT Home Environment Monitoring System

RodNewHampshire @ instructables.com writes:

The LoRa IOT Home Environmental Monitoring System consists of an Arduino Mega based IOT-to-Internet gateway and Arduino Feather based remote stations with environmental sensors. The remote stations communicate wirelessly with the gateway using LoRa radios.

LoRa IOT Home Environment Monitoring System – [Link]

Spectrum Next, A New of ZX Spectrum

In 1982, the UK’s best selling computer, ZX Spectrum, was released by Sinclair as 8-bit personal home computer highlighting the machine’s color display. And today, a group of makers are introducing the Spectrum Next, an updated and enhanced version of ZX Spectrum.

The Spectrum Next is fully compatible with the original one. It enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It also comes with a new software to make use of the new hardware, including new graphics modes and faster processor speeds.

As it is implemented with FPGA technology, it can be upgraded and enhanced using special memory chips and a clever design, while remaining compatible with the original hardware. It has a Z80 within, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz, and an optional 1Ghz co-processor.

Technical Specifications:

  • Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
  • Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8×1 mode etc.
  • Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
  • Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
  • Network (optional): Wi Fi module
  • Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)

Spectrum Next has three graphical modes; “Radastan”, “Layer 2” and Sprites. Radastan is a 128 x 96 with 16 colours per pixel from an enhanced palette. “Layer2” is a Next exclusive mode that supports a “layer screen”, a 256 x 192 with 256 colours per pixel. Sprites are exclusive to the Next too and can be used over the other modes. A “sprite” is a 16×16 image with 256 colours per pixel that can be drawn anywhere on screen, including the border area. Sprites can also be moved incredibly fast over the screen, because the job is done by hardware, not software.

ZX Spectrum Next in action

Next is a “esxDOS ready” that uses the system designed by Miguel Guerreiro, and it’s one of the most powerful OS available at this time, including support for the .TRD format widely used in Russia and required for some of the most advanced programs currently available for the Spectrum.

Three days remaining of Spectrum Next crowdfunding campaign, where they already reached 215% of their goal. The current cost is about $225 and you can pre-order your board through the kickstarter campaign. More details about Spectrum Next is available on the official website.

PICTIL – Remake of the TIL311 hex LED display

Yann Guidon @ hackaday.io rebuild the TIL311 hexadecimal display using a pic microcontroller. He writes:

The TIL311 is a nice but expensive, obsolete, power-hungry hexadecimal display. It would be cool to make a tiny module with similar functionality which solves its shortcomings. A 20-pins PIC is a solution but other decoding chips could work too. The PIC16F527 is one of the cheapest 20-pins PICs (sub-dollar), but it can’t implement the latch pin as fast as the original TIL311.

PICTIL – Remake of the TIL311 hex LED display – [Link]

RX/TX sequencer

Lukas Fässler has designed and built an RX/TX sequencer based on a PIC16F18325,  that is available on github:

Much like the beacon keyer presented here earlier, this RX/TX sequencer is a simple but useful little device. Its typical use is in ham radio applications when a separate power amplifier (PA) and/or a sensitive low-noise pre-amplifier (LNA) is used. Care has then to be take to safely transition between RX and TX states – and that’s where this sequencer comes in.

RX/TX sequencer – [Link]

SystemView PRO – Analyze your Firmware Behavior Like a PRO

Segger Microcontroller is known for J-Links device about debugging and programming lots of architectures: ARM, Microchip PIC32 and Renesas RX. Segger provides a lot of other software and hardware tools for debugging and programming purposes; SystemView is one of these tools.

SystemView gives a complete insight of what is going inside the MCU graphically and in real time. All recorded data is fetched using J-link adapter with no extra hardware or extra pins. SystemView app requires small software module (< 2 KB) to be included in the device.

SystemView app GUI

The SystemView module collects the data and passes it to Real Time Transfer (RTT). The RTT module stores the data in the device buffer, which enables continuous recording. SystemView has the ability of analyzing which interrupts, tasks and software timers executed, how many times and when.

Segger announced a new PRO version for SystemView; with unlimited recording and creating custom filters for event, SystemView PRO extends the normal version. However, the free version “SystemView” is limited up to 1 million event recording and analyzing. Last but not least, buying the PRO version costs about 1,200 USD. Another option, is that you can purchase a J-Link and it will be shipped with a SEGGER SystemView PRO license (seems more economical option) .

Source: electropages