traffic light

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The Traffic Light Hack is a simple interface for controlling lights inside a traffic light enclosure. No, not a real light out on the street. This one was picked up at a flea market, and it`s hanging in my room. It is designed to be an ambient information device. When it is under computer control, you can run programs that collect information and

traffic light
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output it on the traffic light. This "push" of information is supposed to keep you informed without your intervention. The original Traffic Light Hack was a huge success, being featured on Hack a day and in the book Makers. However, the original design was cumbersome, requiring multiple power outlets and a host computer with a parallel port for controlling the system. The Traffic Light Hack Mark II is a complete design of the traffic light hack. It is run by a microcontroller that has a set of predefined light sequences in addition to a USB interface for direct computer control and in-circuit reprogramming of the microcontroller. The circuit is based on the open Arduino platform. The embedded AVR ATmega168 can autonomously cycle the lights through any number of predefined patterns, or be controlled directly from a computer over an Arduino MiniUSB adapter. This circuit requires connecting to mainline power (120 V AC in the U. S. ). This is quite dangerous, and you can easily hurt yourself or damage your computer. Always check all circuit continuities before plugging anything in. If you mess up, it`s not my fault. It has been suggested by the ever-civil commenters at Hack a day that driving relays directly from a microcontroller is, in short, a Very Bad Idea. The inductive coils can cause a high kickback voltage when they are suddenly closed, possibly damaging the microcontroller. They also require a large current draw, which...

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