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element14's The Ben Heck Show

106 posts

Throughout his time on element14, Ben has made a habit of generously gifting his completed builds to community members. His latest random act of kindness was to give cacope a medication reminder device to make his busy mornings a little easier. You've always got to be careful when giving stimulants to children to treat ADHD and if your mornings are as hectic as most people with children running around, there's always a risk you'll forget or in the case of a two parent household, double dose which isn't good for anyone especially small children. Its with this in mind that Ben Heck asked that element14 team to reach out to the community member came of with the suggestion and see to it that he received the device.


{gallery} My Gallery Title




While automatic pill dispensers exist, The Ben Heck Team built a device using load cells the box continuously to detect if pills are removed by weight. The Pill-Minder 2000 contained boxes for each day (AM and PM) of the week and logs the weight for each day. If the weight doesn't change for a given day then the device knows and can alert you by sounding an alarm. By using a real time clock, accessed via the 12C bus, the device knows what time of the week it is, and an am/pm alarm tells you what time to take your pills. cacope was happy to receive his gift, a free Ben Heck T-shirt, and some element14 swag! The Pill-Minder 2000 is a very useful build and its going to home where it can hopefully be put to good use!




Ben Heck's Pill-Minder 2000 Episode



Memorisation Hack Machine!

Posted by brakey2908 Feb 24, 2017

Hello, I hope this is the right place to post things like this. I drafted an email last year that I intended to send to you but didn't know where to send it, then got busy with coursework etc., but I finally thought I'd send you my idea and see what you think!


Dear Ben Heck,

I have recently come across your show on youtube, and during my easter break (which I should have probably been doing more coursework than I have) I have been binge watching your show... In order to help me to catch up on the work I have missed, I came up with an idea for a machine that could increase my productivity one-hundredfold! The idea is quite simple, but the creation of it is beyond what I am capable of, but I thought I would send it to you and see how you like the idea. Since VR has become this big thing in the last year or so, I thought that it would be interesting to devise a contraption that worked in a similar way to VR, by wearing a headset with a screen and audio, and using a tactile peripheral in order to aid learning by the rote memorisation of text. The idea being that you could have words show on a screen, have the same text turned into speech via software, and also a 'keyboard and gauntlet' peripheral which is attached to a series of strings and pulleys to move your fingers to where the letter would be on a keyboard. The most important thing I can think of in this is that all three function absolutely simultaneously, and that the word speed is variable.

Please respond, even if you don't think you will go ahead with the idea, and I have attached an image of some rudimentary sketches to attempt to detail this (but I must say that I am no graphic designer like you used to be!),

Thank you,

Matthew Brake




Ben Hecks Lunchbox Dev Kit Remixed

[Scrolle runter um die deutsche Version zu lesen / Scroll down to read the german version]

Have you ever wanted to recreate one of Ben Heck‘s projects in your own style?

I certainly did, and when I was given the opportunity to remix a project from the Ben Heck show, I had no time to waste.


I‘m Clemens Mayer , austrian maker and host of the youtube-channel MAYER MAKES (german language), which features content including electronics projects, 3D printing, reviews and maker community events and all kinds of DIY topics.

The video is in german but you can turn on english subtitles.




Recently I had the chance to remix one of Ben Heck‘s latest projects, the Lunchbox Dev kit.
I gave it the austrian treatment by massively overpowering it, while completing the project on the lowest budget possible.

The MAYER MAKES version of the Lunchbox Dev Kit supports up to 10 developement-kits or single board computers at once, while providing various networking options.
It features a built in VGA screen with CFFL-Backlighting, which is converted to accept HDMI signals from the connected devices. It took 3 VGA monitors, to create one working unit, due to weird power supply failures and strange glitches.
Did I mention it consumes up to 450W ? No chance to run it on batteries as long as you want to be able to lug it around.
Element 14 provided the most vital parts, for example the power supply, HDMI converter, Beaglebone Black boards and 3d printing filament.
When the space inside the case got really tight, they saved the project with a very compact keyboard/mouse combo.

If i would ever rebuild this unit I would take the extra time and replace the CFFL tubes with LED backlighting to cut down on power consumption. Maybe 5 dev-kits at once would be enough for IOT-developement,and some additional storage for components could be useful.
I guess the Lunchbox dev kit may help with covering the world in IOT-devices whatever they may be good for. ;-)

I would love to remix some more of Ben Heck‘s projects, like portable game consoles.Taking my spin on the junk keyboard, by digitizing a guitar or remixing the Nintendo-playstation prototype by actually building a game console that never was, but could have been.
With the Help of Element14 those ideas could turn into reality and great episodes.


What is your opinion on my remix of the Lunchbox dev kit?
Are there any projects you want to see remixed by MAYER MAKES?
Let me know on the Element14 community or social media:


Element14: @MAYERMAKES


GERMAN Version Deutsche Version


Ben Hecks Lunchbox Dev Kit Remixed


Wolltest du jemals eines von Ben Heck‘s Projekten in deinem eigenen Stil nachbauen?

Ich wollte das unbedingt und als Element14 mir die Möglichkeit dazu gab, hatte ich keine Zeit zu verlieren.



Ich bin Clemens Mayer, Maker aus Österreich und Hauptakteur auf meinem Youtube-Kanal MAYER MAKES (deutschsprachig), auf dem ihr verschiedene Videos zu Elektronik-Projekten, 3D-Druck, Reviews und Maker-Community-Events und vieles mehr rund um das DIY-Thema findet.


Das Video ist auf deutsch und es gibt englische Untertitel.




Vor kurzem hatte ich die Chance eines von Ben Heck‘s Projekten nachzubauen und zwar das Lunchbox Dev Kit.
Ich habe ihm die österreichische Behandlung gegönnt, nämlich gewaltig übertriebene Leistung bei möglichst kleinem Budget.

Die MAYER MAKES Version des Lunchbox Dev Kit unterstützt bis zu 10 Developement-Kits oder Einplatinenrechner auf einmal und verbindet sie mit verschiedenen Netzwerkmöglichkeiten.
Enthalten ist ein VGA Bildschirm mit CFFL-Hintergrundbeleuchtung, der modifiziert wurde um HDMI-Signale der angeschloßenen Geräte verarbeiten zu können. Ich habe auf dem Weg ein funktionierendes Gerät herzustellen dank merkwürdiger Netzteilfehler und seltsamer Schwierigkeiten beim Umbau 3 VGA-Bildschirme zerstört.
Habe ich schon erwähnt, dass das Lunchbox-DEV-KIT 450W verbraucht? Keine Chance, dass dieses Ding jemals auf Batterien läuft, ausser man verzichtet auf die Möglichkeit es noch transportieren zu können.
Element 14 hat die wichtigesten Teile zum Beispiel das Netzteil, HDMI-Converter, Beaglebone Black Boards und 3D-Druck-Filament für dieses Projekt zur Verfügung gestellt,
Als der Platz im Koffer wirklich eng zu werden drohte, haben sie das Projekt mit einer kompakten Tastatur/Maus-Kombination gerettet.

Wenn ich dieses Projekt noch einmal bauen könnte, würde ich mir die extra Zeit nehmen und die CFFL-Hintergrundbeleuchtung durch LED-Leisten ersetzen, um die Leistungsaufnahme zu verringern. Vielleicht wären auch 5 Dev-Boards genug und etwas Platz für Bauteile könnte auch nicht schaden.
Ich glaube das Lunchbox Dev Kit könnte durchaus dabei helfen die Welt mit IOT-Geräten einzudecken, was auch immer die dann genau für einen Zweck haben. ;-)


Ich möchte sehr gerne noch mehr von Ben Heck‘s Projekten remixen: zum Beispiel eine tragbare Konsolen. Ich würde meine Runde am Junk Keyboard durch eine digitalisierte Gitarre aufmotzen oder den Nintendo-Playstation Prototyp aufleben lassen in dem ich eine Konsole baue, die es nie gab, aber geben hätte können.
Mit der Unterstützung von Element14 könnten aus diesen Ideen bald echte Projekte und großartige Episoden werden.


Wie findet ihr mein Lunchbox Dev Kit?
Welche Projekte würdet ihr gern von MAYER MAKES remixed sehen?
Schreibt mir in der Element14-Community oder in den sozialen Medien:


Element14: @MAYERMAKES


Hey Ben

I was recently going through some of my old stuff and I came across my sega game gear and tv tuner (broken by the way) but it got me thinking that you and your awesome tech wisdom could make the tv tuner that can only pick up analog signals receive digital so the turner can have a purpose again. Please let me know what you think.




Raspberry Pi tablet

Posted by asdf2345 Dec 3, 2016

I picked out a part list to make it a real tablet (if you could find similar parts for cheaper reply with links to them (no ebay))


Battery charger



Raspberry Pi

And Cellular NeeCoo Bluetooth V4.0 Dual SIM Card Adapter-29.99 Online Shopping|

In the Power Glove Teardown episode, Ben turned the power glove into a "functioning" computer mouse. Here are the results of us trying to draw in MS Paint using the glove.

Ben's drawing

Here's Ben's drawing. I think he was going for Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm not really sure anymore.


Max's drawing

Max decided to create more of a landscape. Not bad. Not bad.


Karen's drawing

Here's my drawing. At first it was a face going "whaaaaa?". And then I drew a tree. Sorta.



So overall, I would not recommend using a Power Glove as a mouse. Looks like it needs a bit more work before we can truly be like Tom Cruise.

Ben's a pretty good artist. He can whip this kinda stuff up in minutes. Here are some concepts for the sci-fi movie prop we built for this week's episode.

Space Movie

How are you celebrating?

Alien Day.JPGAlien Day Cakes.JPG

Last weekend was the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee, WI. Ben was able to rush back from his TEDx talk to attend on Sunday, so Max and I met him there for some gaming and fun. One of the most interesting things we happened upon at the Classic was a father-son duo that suddenly found themselves in possession of a rare Playstation/Super Nintendo prototype.


We really wanted to get this thing onto the show so we could take it apart and see what the insides looked like. Ben couldn't handle the anticipation while waiting for the pair to finish up their presentation.


TBHS Crew w-prototype.jpg

We got to take a picture with the prototype while we waited to talk to the owners.



Of course I had to snag a selfie. Like ya do.


They weren't able to get it up and running, so they played the cartridge that came with it on another SNES. The prototype looked like it was mostly a regular SNES, but with a disc drive added to the top. The disc drive appeared to be disabled so hopefully we can convince them to bring this fine piece of gaming history onto the show so we can crack it open, show our wonderful viewers what's inside, and maybe even get that disc drive functioning again.

Stay tuned to find out if we get the chance to hack this fascinating piece of tech!




When I attended Eurogamer Expo last year, there was a great talk with Shuhei Yoshida, who gave an interview where he mentions involvement with Nintendo in the early days. Though he doesn't necessarily give a direct nod to the collaboration, he does subtley admit that they worked together.


Pretty relevant for the latest Ben Heck Show episode, I thought.

Electronic Jungle was crowned this years’ overall winning team for Music Tech Fest Berlin’s ‘element14 Hack Camp’.


element14 proudly sponsored this year’s event hosted in Berlin at the internationally renowned Funkhaus with thousands of pounds of components and software, supporting also with our resident web series star, Benjamin Heckendorn (AKA Ben Heck). Ben and the team interviewed, judged - and, in some cases, joined teams addressing the challenges in the hack camp.


Out of the 5x 24hr Challenges set by the events promoters, over 75 people competed from around the world forming teams to race the clock and build the best, fastest music hack.


The Challenges:

1. Transhumanism

2. Music as an Extension of the Human Body

3. Mod Devices Linux Challenge

4. Giant Steps

5. Hack the Bus


Perhaps best of all, the hack presentations on the Sunday afternoon at #MTFBerlin (27th May, 2016) were more than simply demonstrations of music-basic ideas. Teams crafted performances for the main festival stage that brought together top science and high quality artistic expression.


The overall winners of the element14 Grand Prize for Best Hack went to the brilliant team Electronic Jungle, who seamlessly paired element14's components with the #MusicBricks R-IoT board and wove it into an interactive and otherworldly performance using fashion wearable technologies, animal masks, gesture-driven music and reactive visuals, whilst winning the individual Transhumanism Challenge on the day.


Congratulations to the entire team awarded our grand prize shopping spree: Eyal Weisz, Francisca Rocha Gonçalves, Andrew Hlynsky, Stefan Flecke, Maryam Khatoon, Ylenia Gortana, Esther Zahn, Miguel Cabrera and Katariina Nyberg for their incredible #MusicBricks powered project. They've won $2500 worth of element14 components to build whatever they like!




Watch The Ben Heck Show: Ben Visits Berlin #MTF Hack Camp - Episode 243 featuring the most innovative projects and our winners!


Associated Links:

In our last episode, we mentioned that we were unable to get our hands on a Raspberry Pi Zero when they were released. We've gotten a lot of build ideas revolving around the RPZero, but no Pis around for the making. Two wonderful fans of the show DID have some and they were gracious enough to mail them to us. Special thanks to Blacksheep32  and YouTube user, stryk187, aka Rob Lada for sending us your Raspberry Pi Zeros!


So now it's really time to submit your build suggestions! What would you like to see us build with these two fine pieces of electronics here? Let us know in the comments below.

The first blog was getting a little big so I decided to split it up and post updates in a new one and as it progresses have a little series on this journey if that's ok with you all. For those just catching on, you can read Part one here.


Just a highlight of what I have currently left to do:

  • Rewrite the SD code to attempt to make it faster for load times etc.
  • Write more functions into the LCD object to draw more graphics and handle different image drawing, as well as coming up with some alpha routines as well.
  • Write a Touchscreen object to drive the Resistive touch panel on the LCD.
  • Write some objects that use the data from the touch screen with positioning of paired images on the screen to make buttons, menus, sliders, etc. For a GUI interface.
  • Beg people for some sound ideas to work with my Piezo buzzer to give some audio feedback as well.
  • Write an object to access the font chip to utilize the text to go with the screen.
  • Write some more objects and finish others to allow text to be added to them, e.g. msg boxes, labels, etc.
  • Write code for the Flash chip cause I have no idea what to do with it but it was available, so by golly I'm gonna do something with it..... Just gotta figure out what :-/
  • Take a tea and/or coffee break.
  • Go back to same people and beg for graphics ideas.
  • Set up a local Ethernet network with a switch and build a linux server.(Got the system, just need to get a hard drive for it)
  • Install MQTT and some other server components that might be needed for my home automation system. The MQTT server can act as a good conduit to interface between the Interface panel, automation system, and various sensors and actuators.(Future projects planned.)
  • Continue work on the Network code and program it to interface with the server and poll it for data.
  • Write a sensor object to store retrieved data to utilize withe the GUI.
  • Use all objects I have built up to this point to set up a GUI system to display sensor data, allow the user to make adjustments to various parameters, and make alerts to any changes or problems that should come to my attention.
  • Design a case that can be 3D printed to house this screen with it's board.(I don't have a 3D printer so this part may be on hold for a while.)


I have improved on the SD code, still using the library but got it down to 3 second load time for a full 800x480 image off the SD compared to 7 before.


I have written more functions for graphics, however I still have much more I want to add, just needed a break from it. So far, I can draw points, triangles, lines, rectangles and circles. To make progress and not reinvent the wheel, I refered to the TFT GFX library for these functions. First one, I worked on was a circle, and I must say I was absolutely......Disappointed with the function. Not sure how it works on smaller screens but it says it draws circles but instead I got it to draw diamonds. So I trashed it and scoured the net for a new one. I did find one and it draws the circles beautifully. So I moved on.


I did manage to start work on the Touch Screen object, for those wondering, is an XPT2046 4 Wire Resistive Touch. It was fairly simple and strait forward to get up and going. Had some speed issues I needed to address but I finally got it spitting out valid data for the touch panel. Had to flip the x value of course as it was backwards. All I had to do now, was to convert the analog data to pixel coordinates to be useful for my code. Simple right? ........  NAH! My research showed me and everyone obviously knows this, you need calibration data for that analog data to be any use to you in regards to pixel conversion. In my research, most every high end document using resistive touch technology, used the same calibration equations. Made sense and was clearly the most accurate way to calibrate your screen. So I looked at what I would need to do to plug those into my code. To shave a little time, I decided to refer to the Arduino XPT2046 Touch library. Again, I was rather disappointed. It had absolutely nothing close to everything I've been researching. Now mind you the way it mapped the data, not sure how efficient it is at it compared to what I've already seen, heck it might even work. Dunno. Dun care. I shook my head and moved on. Spent many hours on it over the past few days, I got the equations put in, however I ended up encountering errors. Not sure if anyone else has had what I'm fixing to describe and this doesn't just count for this touch panel, this can count for anyone getting undesired figures and can't figure out why. I finally located the problem. About 1 hour ago to be precise. Anyways, it was outputting linear data for the analog touch sensing. the calibration routines was even producing valid values. However when I passed data thru the analog to pixel equation that was needed, I was getting erroneous pixel data.  I'm talking positive to negative numbers based on where I touched the screen counting backwards, etc.The equation basically had me feed the values into an equation that looked like this (CoeffA * xval + CoeffB * yval + CoeffC) / CommonDivisor = XCoord, (CoeffD * xval + CoeffE * yval + CoeffF) / CommonDivisor = YCoord. Before someone scratches their heads and say umm.... believe me, if you solve those equations on paper they do work properly. the 6 different Coeffs are calibration data from the Calibration routine necessary to even get the pixels in the first place, and you need both vals to get each pixel data. This allows for scaling and rotation data if you have different screens. And you don't have to specify the screen dimensions and scale factor. You just got to tell it 3 points to calibrate to and it uses those 3 pixel data points in conjunction with their respective touch data to come up with vector coefficients stated above. Again solve the values on paper and it works. However, tell the Due to solve them and see what you get. I guarantee you the 2 numbers don't match. EVER! It frustrated the crap out of me, but there was a valid reason why it did it to, and I ended up breaking everything down to see which step it was failing at. OK enough suspense. Here's the trap. You must understand, first when dealing with an 800x480 screen and a Touch panel driver with a 12bit ADC providing you anywhere from 0-4096 on either plate, getting your coeffs get a little big. No problem a signed long holds it just fine. But when you solve the equation with the coeffs and the touch data to get your pixel, half way thru the calculation, before it gets divided by the divisor, the number gets big. I mean REALLY BIG. What is happening is the number exceeds the maximum value of the long variable and basically truncates the bits that are outside the bounds of the data type. Before the calculation is finished, your data just became invalid, producing the error I was seeing. Again, I got it fixed, but after thought, I think the only data type that would stand a chance is most likely the double data type, and that's only on the Due as it's 8 bytes long. And I'm not fixing to change and find out.There was another trick I discovered, and it rendered the divisor useless afterwards. What I ended up doing was dividing each coefficient byt the divisor individually. This drastically reduced the size of the data so instead of dividing a 100billion number by a 1million number, you were just doing the above calculations with a fraction and the touch data and it came out the same on the Due and on paper as if you performed the original calculation. Problem solved.


Little math lesson:


Here's why it works. For the sake of simplicity I will shorten the above variables.


XC = (A * X + B * Y + C) / D is the same as XC = A * X / D + B * Y / D + C / D Truthfully, it dosen't matter if you multiplied or divided first, your outcome will be the same either way. If you ever heard of Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally( Parentheses, Exponent, Multiply/Divide, Add/Subtract) In the order of solving your equation Multiply and divde are done in the same step, traditionally left to right, although you don't have to go left to right as long as you solve in the steps mentioned in this scheme.


So our equation now reads:XC = A * X / D + B * Y / D + C / D which you can reword to XC = A / D * X + B / D * Y + C / D. As you can see A, B, and C just became fractions. Smaller than the original equation and will not exceed the bounds of the variables you are trying to store them in. No here's also why I reversed them around. A, B, C, and D are all known at the time of calibration. X and Y are not, they are real time. If you go ahead and solve A / D, B / D, and C / D at calibration time, you end up storing it's result in A, B, C and saving you precious clock cycles when you convert the user input into screen coords a bagillion times.


Now all you are left with is:

XC = A * X + B * Y + C


Process is the same for YC with D, E, and F.


Needless to say, where I'm at right now, each time I start the Due up, it allows me to calibrate the touch, and everywhere I touch, it's providing me with pixel data. It has a little error now and again, and by that I mean when I calibrate, the outer edges might extend past the borders of the 800x480 screen datawise, but will not be noticeable anyways when you detect objects. And I figured out what I'm going to use the extra flash chip on the lcd for. It's going to store my calibration data and any other configuration I want this thing to remember when it cycles power. I hope this update will help anyone struggling with data problems that this could be a possible culprit for. These kind of errors can be frustrating and take some time to find. If I can finish this project and know that even if no one cared about why I'm doing this or the fact I'm sharing it with them, but if at least just 1 person read these articles and said AHA that's the problem I'm having, that's what I need to fix it, this just saved me a lot of time and aggravation. I'll be happy. Until next time guys


The XboxOne Tablet Teardown

Posted by ipv1 Top Member Mar 15, 2016