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Planet hack-day

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 07:00
    Super Shoes Lead The Way

    Super shoe insole with a red sneaker

    Many of us spend so much time looking down at our phones that we miss the world all around us. [Dhairya] hopes to change that with Super Shoes, a pair of enhanced insoles that let your toes do the navigating while you enjoy the sights. Each insole has a Bluetooth radio and a microcontroller. Three coin cell vibrator motors act as an output device under the small toes, while a capacitive touch pad under the big toe handles input. Careful positioning of the electronics keeps the foam insoles flexible.

    Using the shoes is as simple as walking around. Say you needed walking directions. You would set the destination on your smartphone. The shoes would then tie in to your smartphone’s GPS and maps application. From there, it’s simply a matter of following your toes. If the toes on your left foot vibrate, turn left. Vibration on the right foot indicates a right turn. When your destination is at hand, both feet will vibrate rapidly to celebrate.

    [Dhairya] envisions a cloud service called ShoeCentral which will store a database of the user’s likes and dislikes. Based upon this data, ShoeCentral will guide the user to new restaurants or places they may like. All of this and hands free? Where do we sign up?

    Filed under: wearable hacks

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 04:00
    Digispark Pro, The Bigger Smaller Dev Board

    digi

    There has recently been a huge influx of extremely small dev board based on the ATtiny85. This small 8-pin microcontroller is able to run most Arduino sketches,  and the small size and low price of these dev boards means they have been extremely popular. The Digispark was among the first of these small boards, and now the creator is releasing a newer, bigger version dubbed the Digispark Pro.

    The new board isn’t based on the ‘tiny85, but rather the ATtiny167. This larger, 20-pin chip adds 10 more I/O pins, and a real hardware SPI interface, but the best features come with the Digispark Pro package. There’s real USB programming, device emulation, and serial over USB this time, and the ability to use the Arduino serial monitor, something not found in the original Digispark.

    There are also a few more shields this time around, with WiFi and Bluetooth shields available as additional rewards. Without the shields, the Digi Pro is cheap, and only $2 more per board than the original Digispark.

     

    Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, Crowd Funding

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 01:00
    Black Mirror, Black Hole: Kill Your Television

    don't waste your time TV screenWould you believe that some people think the internet is a time waster? Well, not at this particular address of course, but we can think of some other sites that are absolute rabbit holes without so much as a rousing game of croquet at the bottom. If you need help achieving what Tim Ferriss dubbed a Low Information Diet, there are browser extensions that will block your access to sites that keep you from getting things done. [Ivan's girlfriend] has taken this time management tack seriously and even created a simple web page that states “Don’t Waste Your Time!” that will show if she tries to get to Facebook.

    There’s one small problem with all this, and it’s been around for a long time. [Ivan's girlfriend] still watches TV. Out of love and respect for her goals, he decided to prank her by blocking her TV viewing. In a delightful twist, the TV will display her own web page to her after 30 seconds.

    They have digital and analog TVs, so he had to set up both in order to cover his bases. The digital TV is a monitor fed from a set-top box with HDMI out. As the STB can only be controlled via IR remote, [Ivan] used an HDMI switch to change from the STB input to a Raspi that will display the reprimanding web page and play Pink Floyd’s “Time“.

    The analog TV took  slightly more doing. He put a Raspi on the AV input, but connected it from the inside so nothing looked suspicious. The Raspi checks the TV status every second and switches to the Pi once the TV is on. Same deal: judgmental web page, Pink Floyd. The beauty part is that both of [Ivan]‘s setups also record her reaction; the digital TV uses a dash camera and the analog  uses an Android phone. Check out [Ivan]‘s tour of the analog TV Pi after the break.

    If you or [Ivan's girlfriend] need even more time management help, there’s always the roll-your-own-Pomodoro timer.

     

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 22:00
    Micro-Robots Are Scary Awesome

    microrobots

    A team of scientists at SRI international are creating real-life replicators from Star Gate SG1 — micro-robots capable of smart (and scary!) manufacturing. Thousands working in parallel will be able to achieve tasks previously unheard of, in a completely compact and integrated system.

    These tiny ant-like robot systems are magnetically controlled and can use tools, move at incredible speeds, and swarm over surfaces. SRI’s vision was “to have an army of ants under your control”. It’s actually been an ongoing project since the 1990′s — but a recent undisclosed chunk of funding from DARPA has helped accelerate the project — giving it a new title of the MicroFactory for Macro Products project.

    You have to see the video to believe it. Potential applications for these tiny swarm-bots include precise pick & place manufacturing, micro bio-technology, electronics manufacturing, and even rapid prototyping of high quality parts.

    We get shivers just watching them slide around effortlessly on almost any surface.

    [Thanks Matthew!]

    Filed under: robots hacks

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 19:01
    Video: Getting Your Feet Wet with Programmable System On Chip

     

    Ever since I received my PSOC 4 Pioneer kit from Cypress I have wanted to play with this little mixed-signal Programmable System-on-Chip (PSOC) developer board. I love developer boards, providing that they are priced in a way to entice me to not only open my wallet but also make time in a busy schedule. I think my kit was free after winning a swag bag from Adafruit that they themselves obtained at the Open Hardware Summit and gave away on their weekly streamcast. Ultimately it was the invitation to beta test datasheet.net which also was included in that pile of swag that led to my getting involved with Hackaday.

    Pioneer 4 Development Kit

    PSCO4 Development Board on Hackaday

    What is Programmable System On Chip?

    So what is a PSOC 4? A quick summary is that it’s based on an ARM Cortex reduced instruction set processor (RISC) and is somewhat capable of supporting shields based on the Arduino footprint, and it also uses a bright red PCB that I have come to associate with a Sparkfun PCB. What doesn’t show is the fact that this programmable system on chip has programmable analog function blocks in addition to programmable digital logic blocks. There is also some supporting input/output circuitry such as a multicolored LED and a capacitive touch sensor directly on the PCB.

    This is an intriguing amount of programmability, so much so that Newark/Element 14 highlighted a “100 projects in 100 days” event on it.

    Enter the IDE

    Over the years I have had to create or install many Integrated Development Environments (IDE) that linked hardware to software. Knowing that you had to, and how to, implement an IDE was part of being an engineer. Nowadays with the Arduino type environment the user has an IDE pretty much as soon as they click on the executable which I find to be one of the best aspects of the genre. It was so quick in fact that I was able to get my teenaged son into writing his first program even before he remembered to do massive eye-rolls and make sounds of utter disdain. He did give up however, just shy of learning how to have the Arduino make sounds of disdain on his behalf.

    PSCo4 Cypress Development Kit on Hackaday

    Closeup of a Programmable System on Chip Development System

    Love Your Developer Board

    So here  is why I love cheap developer boards, you have standard hardware that in theory is already working, and demonstration projects are readily available to feed the IDE. Loading untested software code into a project that probably has hardware issues can present a bit of a challenge. Starting with either hardware or software that is already known to be working is a big plus as you don’t necessarily have to troubleshoot the difference between a jump out of bounds of the memory map or a blown address line, or both.

    Setting up the IDE consists of downloading and installing PSoC Creator 3.0 from the Cypress website and clicking execute; I usually click “run as administrator” just because I can and it makes me feel superlative as if I have a role to play.

     

    PSOC Creator 3.0 Integrated Development Environment as shown by Bil Herd for Hackaday

    PSOC Creator 3.0 Integrated Development Environment

    As mentioned above, Newark hosted a 100 Projects event and I have decided to try circuit #2 as a way of exercising all of the steps from selection and compiling to download and use. Simply put this example changes the color of the multicolor LED based on where the user touches the capacitive sensor.

    Build and Run

    Compiling and running the example was accomplished by a rapid-fire succession of mouse clicks, with the only pause being for the “clean and build” step. A quick click on “Debug” and the “Program” completes the process and a quick test showed the color of the LED changing based on where the capsense (capacitive sense) slider gets touched. At this point both analog and digital components have been included and configured based on a one sheet schematic.

    Post-build Pinout

    Post-build Pinout of PSCO4 on Hackaday

    So why do this? What is the significance of having analog compiled along with digital when the user can just utilize an add-on solder-less breadboard? The answerer is that you absolutely could implement the same designs using external analog components, especially since not all circuits can be realized with the PSOC architecture. However if you are into having more than one screwdriver in the box you will appreciate this version of having multiple answers to a problem. You might like the fact that you can re-implement a design by just pulling it from disc and not have to rebuild the solder-less breadboard (or keep the circuit built for two months in case you might need it, which you do 3.45 months later)

    You may also appreciate the cleanliness of a design where most of the support circuitry is tucked up in the chip itself, not to mention real life issues with noise and reliability.

    Or you might like it because it is kind of cool to compile analog.

    In my case I think it’s kind of cool.

    Filed under: ARM, Featured

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 16:00
    TherMOFOrmer

    Mofo

    3D printers are the tool of choice for all the hackerspaces we’ve been to, and laser cutters take a close second. There’s another class of plastic manipulating machines that doesn’t get enough credit with the hackerspace crowd – the vacuum thermoformer. Surprisingly, there haven’t been many – if any – vacuum formers on Kickstarter. Until now, that is.

    [Ben] and [Calvin] are the guys behind the MOFO, and built their machine around ease of use and reliability. After a few prototypes, they settled on their design of aluminum extrusion for the frame, a ceramic heating element for the heater, and an off-the-shelf PID controller for the electronics.

    The MOFO has so far been tested with polycarbonate, acrylic, PETG and styrene with good results. The Kickstarter has reward levels of $500 for a 12″x12″ work area, and $1000 for a 24″x24″ work area. That’s not too bad, and building your own similar thermoformer would probably cost just as much. Just the thing if you need to print out a few dozen sets of storm trooper armor.

     

    Filed under: Crowd Funding, tool hacks

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 13:00
    Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Science Nonfiction

    Yep, we have a Sci-Fi contest on our hands, with a week to go until entries are due. There are amazing prizes for the best Sci-Fi build, but in the spirit of the Internet, a few teams have elected to put together a science nonfiction project. We won’t hold that against them, because these builds are really, really cool.

    Rockin’ bogie, man

    rockerFirst up in the ‘real life science fiction’ category is an adorable little rocker bogie robot designed and built by a team at MADspace, the Eindhoven Hackerspace.

    A rocker bogie suspension is rather unique in that it can be used to drive over obstacles twice the size of the wheels, has a zero turning radius, and is found on every rover that has ever gone to Mars. The suspension system has articulated rockers on each side of the chassis , with pivoting wheels at each of the four corners of the robot. While this type of suspension can’t go very fast, it can go just about anywhere.

    The team loaded up their bot with a Raspberry Pi, a pair of webcams, 20Ah of batteries, gyro, and a web interface. The suspension works beautifully, and most of the parts are 3D printable. Very cool. There’s a pair of videos with this bot in action below.

    Spider bot. Just add two more legs.

    Hex

    Continuing on with the science nonfiction theme of this post is a cute little hexapod walker reminiscent of designs that have been proposed to visit the moon and asteroids.

    This is a rather unique hexapod, controlled entirely with 12 PWM channels on an ATMega1284. Although each leg only has two degrees of freedom (the software has support for 3 DOF, though) the movement is surprisingly smooth. It’s an inexpensive build, too, with 5 gram servos providing all the power to the legs. Video below.

    Filed under: contests

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 11:00
    Need An Idea For Your Next Kickstarter? Check Out This Kickstarter!

    META

    Kickstarter has become the most powerful force in kickstarting new hardware projects, video games, documentaries, and board games, and now everyone wants a piece of the action. The problem obviously isn’t product development and engineering; you can just conjure that up with a little bit of Photoshop and some good PR. The only you really need for a good Kickstarter is an idea, and META is just the tool for the job. It’s the Arduino-powered Motivational Electronic Text Adviser, the perfect device to generate the next big idea in the world of crowdfunding.

    The Arduino-powered META includes three buttons and an Arduino-controlled LCD display. Press a button, and the next big hardware project to wash across the blogs faster than the announcement of a campaign for a $300 3D printer will appear on the screen.

    Because META is Arduino-compatible, it’s compatible with existing Arduino sketches. This makes turning the META into the next home automated Bluetooth low energy 4.0 internet of things a snap. Because this is open hardware the laser cut enclosure can easily be upgraded to an RGB LED 3D printer robotic drone bluetooth boombox.

    If Kickstarters aren’t your thing, there’s also a cloud-based META that will generate ideas in the mobile app browser cloud. Bitcoin.

    Filed under: Crowd Funding

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 10:00
    I2S Audio And SPI Display With An Ethernet Module

    LCD[kgsws] is working on a small project that requires some audio and a display of some sort. While this project can be easily completed with a bigish microcontroller or ARM board, he’s taking a much simpler route: the entire project is built around a cheap router module, giving this project amazing expandability for a very meager price.

    The router module in question is the HLK-RM04 from Hi-Link, commonly found via the usual Chinese resellers for about $25. On board this module is a UART, Ethernet, and a WiFi adapter along with a few GPIO pins for interfacing with the outside world.

    [kgsws] is using the native SPI pins on this module to control the clock and data lines for the tiny LCD, with a GPIO pin toggling the chip select. I2S audio is also implemented, decoded with an 8-bit DAC, the MCP4801.

    It’s an extremely inexpensive solution for putting audio and video in a project, and since this board has Ethernet, WiFi, and a few more GPIO pins, it’s can do much more than whatever [kgsws] is planning next.

    Filed under: hardware

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 07:00
    Electromagnetic Spiderman Webshooter Railgun / Grappling Hook

    spiderman grapple hook rail gun

    As technology continues to advance, make-believe props and technology from movies are coming closer and closer to reality. [Patrick Priebe] has managed to put together a working Spiderman Webshooter with the help of electromagnets!

    He’s built a tiny coil gun that puts out 100 Joules of energy using a 350V capacitor bank, which straps cleanly to his wrist over top of a Spiderman costume glove. It makes the classic high-pitched hum as it charges, and launches a small barbed brass arrow capable of skewering Styrofoam.

    He didn’t stop there though! He’s created a handy little winch using a small high-powered brushless motor with an ESC. A weighted disk acts as a flywheel to increase the pulling power of the fishing line, and he’s built it on a pivot so when you launch it, the fishing line just slips off the end without resistance. To engage, you flip it back perpendicular to the line and turn on the motor.

    This isn’t his first ridiculously cool gadget either — remember his 1kW Laser Pulse pistol?  Or how about the 1W Iron Man Repulsor beam?

    [Thanks Tom!]

    Filed under: laser hacks, weapons hacks

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 04:00
    HummingBoard, The Vastly More Powerful Raspi

     

    Humming

    The Raspberry Pi has been around for a while now, and while many boards that hope to take the Pi’s place at the top of the single board ARM Linux food chain, not one has yet succeeded. Finally, there may be a true contender to the throne. It’s called the HummingBoard, and packs a surprising amount of power and connectivity into the same size and shape as the venerable Raspberry Pi.

    The HummingBoard uses a Freescale i.MX6 quad core processor running at 1GHz with a Vivante GC2000 GPU. There’s 2GB of RAM, microSD card slot, mSATA connector, Gigabit Ethernet, a BCM4329 WiFi and Bluetooth module, a real-time clock, and IR receiver. There’s also all the usual Raspberry Pi flair, with a 26 pin GPIO connector, CSI camera connector, DSI LCD connector,  stereo out, as well as the usual HDMI and analog video.

    The company behind the HummingBoard, SolidRun, hasn’t put a retail price on the board, nor have they set a launch date. You can, however, enter a contest to win a HummingBoard with the deadline this Friday. Winners will be announced in early May, so maybe the HummingBoard will be officially launched sometime around then.

    It’s an amazing board with more than enough power to rival the extremely powerful BeagleBone Black, with the added bonus of being compatible with so many of those Raspberry Pi accessories we all love dearly.

    Filed under: hardware, Raspberry Pi

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 01:00
    Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Doctor Who

    doctor-who-logo

    What’s a Sci-Fi contest without entries from the longest running sci-fi TV show, Doctor Who?

    Sonic Screwdriver Door Lock

    Sonic Screwdriver Lock

    Ah yes, the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, able to get the Doctor out of almost any jam — with style.

    Started this project over a year ago, [Daniel] figured a Sci-Fi contest was a good enough excuse to get around to finishing it.

    Using a Raspberry Pi and a microphone, the lock unlocks when the python script detects a sound signature that matches previously recorded Sonic Screwdriver’s hums — meaning friends with novelty Sonic Screwdrivers can join in the fun too — if he lets them.

    When the correct sound sample FFT is detected, the door is unlocked using a transistor that is connected to an electronic door strike. When completed you’ll be able to show off your true Whovian nature, and impress your friends!

    Head Tracking Augmented Reality Police Box

    Head Tracking TardisInspired by the augmented reality TARDIS that is actually bigger on the inside, [Mike] and his wife are working on creating one that doesn’t need a smart phone to enjoy.

    Instead it uses head tracking and an LCD inside the door to create the illusion of a cavernous inside! A head tracking Tardis!

    A webcam tracks your head’s position, which then changes the perspective of the interior of the TARDIS on the LCD — we’re getting giddy just thinking about it!

    EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE!!!

    Dalek

    While there isn’t too much information on this project, [th3c4rd] is planning on creating a Doctor Who Voice Modulator which will allow you to sound like your favorite villains with the press of a button!

    Using a ring modulator for the effect, [th3c4rd] plans on making his own, since commercial ones will run you upwards of $200!

    He’s still looking for a team-mate for the project so if you’re interested in helping out, get in touch!

    Still haven’t entered the contest? Don’t worry — there’s still time for you to put an awesome Sci-Fi project together to win some crazy cool prizes!

     

     

     

    Filed under: contests

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 22:00
    2048: Embedded Edition

    Embedded touch version of 2048 tile gameHow ’bout that 2048 game? Pretty addictive, huh? Almost as addictive as embedded systems are, at least if you’re [Andrew]. Armed (pun intended) with a Nucleo F4 and a Gameduino 2 shield, he decided to have a go at making an embedded version of the popular tile pusher web game.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the Nucleo boards from STMicroelectronics, check out our post on the Nucleo family from a couple of months ago. The Gameduino 2 shield ships with a 4.3″ touchscreen driven by an FT800 GPU EVE. [Andrew] wrote his own driver for it and his blog post goes into great detail about its programming model and the SPI read, write, and command functions he wrote. Full code is available from [Andrew]‘s repo.

    He started by generating a blank screen based on clues found in the Gameduino 2 source. Pretty soon he had rendered a rectangle and then a full 2048 board. A minor difference between [Andrew]‘s creation and the original is that his always creates new tiles as ’2′ while the web game cranks out the occasional ’4′.

    We were unable to embed [Andrew]‘s gameplay videos, but you’ll find two on his blog.

     

    Filed under: ARM, handhelds hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 19:01
    Retrotectacular: The Science of Derailing Trains

    retrotechtacular-derailing-trains

    Look closely above and you’ll see there’s a section of track missing. There are actually two, a section from each side has been plucked out with a pair of eight-ounce plastic explosive charges — and yet the train keeps barreling onward. The World War II era reel is demonstrating some military testing of the effect of damaged tracks on a train. The amount of missing track the train can stand up to came as quite a surprise for us!

    The test setup itself is neat. An old derelict locomotive is used. It, as well as a number of trailing cars, is pushed by a functioning engine from behind. Once up to about 26 MPH the pusher stops and the rest keep going. There are many tests, starting with just a few inches of track missing from one side. This gap is increased, then gaps are added both sides, then the two sides are offset. Even a 5-foot gap is crossed easily by the locomotive. The weak link turns out to be the empty cars. We suppose their mass is small enough that they can’t rely on inertia to keep them on the straight path.

    If you don’t appreciate the destructive nature of this Retrotechtacular installment, you can still get your train fix. There is another offering which shows off the modernization of a signaling system.

    [Thanks LC]

    Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.

    Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Retrotechtacular

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 16:00
    [Balint]‘s GNU Radio Tutorials

    Waterfall

    [Balint] has a bit of history in dealing with software defined radios and cheap USB TV tuners turned into what would have been very expensive hardware a few years ago. Now [Balint] is finally posting a few really great GNU Radio tutorials, aimed at getting software defined radio beginners up and running with some of the coolest hardware around today.

    [Balint] is well-known around these parts for being the first person to create a GNU Radio source block for the implausibly inexpensive USB TV tuners, allowing anyone with $20 and enough patience to wait for a package from China to listen in on everything from 22 to 2200 MHz. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in that band, including the ACARS messages between airliners and traffic control, something that allowed [Balint] to play air traffic controller with a minimal amount of hardware.

    Right now the tutorials are geared towards the absolute beginner, starting at the beginning with getting GNU Radio up and running. From there the tutorials continue to receiving FM radio, and with a small hardware investment, even transmitting over multiple frequencies.

    It’s not much of an understatement to say software defined radio is one of the most versatile and fun projects out there. [Balint] even demonstrated triggering restaurant pagers with a simple SDR project, a fun project that is sure to annoy his coworkers.

    Filed under: radio hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 13:00
    Self-Learning Helicopter Uses Neural Network

    model helicopter attached to boom

    Though this project uses an RC helicopter, it’s merely a vessel to demonstrate a fascinating machine learning algorithm developed by two Cornell students – [Akshay] and [Sergio]. The learning environment is set up with the helicopter at its center, attached to a boom. The boom restricts the helicopter’s movement down to one degree of motion, so that it can only move up from the ground (not side to side or front to back).

    The goal is for the helicopter to teach itself how to get to a specific height in the quickest amount of time. A handful of IR sensors are used to tell the Atmega644 how high the helicopter is. The genius of this though, is in the firmware. [Akshay] and [Sergio] are using an evolutionary algorithm adopted from Floreano et al, a noted author on biological inspired artificial intelligences. The idea is for the helicopter to create random “runs” and then check the data. The runs that are closer to the goal get refined while the others are eliminated, thus mimicking evolutions’ natural selection.

    We’ve seen neural networks before, but nothing like this. Stay with us after the break, as we take this awesome project and narrow it down so that you too can implement this type of algorithm in your next project.

     


    chart showing different points
    Consider the image above. The goal is for the helicopter to start at Point A, go to Point C and hover. Allotted time is 10 seconds per run. It has to teach itself how to do this and do it as quickly as possible. Remember, it knows where these points are via IR sensors.  [Akshay] and [Sergio] developed an equation using a piecewise function to determine which runs were closest to Point C for the longest amount of time.

     

    fitness equation for helicopter

     

    Each of the points in the above equation is known via a voltage from the IR sensors, with Point A being 0.1 volts and Point D being 3.7 volts.  The equation is designed to give the greatest value for the longest time spent at Point C. This value is known as a Fitness Value.

    A neural network is used to determine at what level the throttle should be at to achieve the highest Fitness Value. This network is apart the Evolutionary Algorithm that runs in the firmware. Basically, it starts off with random values that generate random levels of throttle. The values that achieve the highest Fitness Value get ‘mutated’, while the others are discarded.

    The mutations in the values are done at random, and the process repeats. In the end, the firmware learns the best throttle levels to achieve the goal of being at Point C for the longest time in the allotted 10 seconds.

    Be sure to check out this linked project for full details on these mutations are carried out in the source.

    Filed under: Microcontrollers, misc hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:00
    Aluminum LED Matrix Looks Professionally Made

    IMG_1073

    [David Donley] has wanted to make a LED matrix for a while now, and has decided to finally pull the trigger — after all, that many LEDs certainly aren’t cheap!

    He’s using a set of 16 Adafruit 8×8 NeoPixel LED Matrices (almost $600 worth of LEDs) and a BeagleBone Black to control them. To mount the LED matrices he bought a sheet of 6061-T6 aluminum for two purposes — one to act as a giant heatsink, and two, to look cool. All he had to do was drill some holes in the sheet for the connectors, and then use 3M 300LSE double-sided adhesive to stick the NeoPixels to the surface. The result is a border-less display that looks clean and professional.

    To power the array he’s using a 5V 90A power supply — at full brightness these LEDs can consume around 325W, or 65A at 5V!  Taking notes from the opensource LEDscape code on GitHub he’s made his own software to control the display — stick around after the break to see it in action.

    A cheaper version (albeit, not full color) can be had using Chinese LED arrays for a fraction of the price – 96 x 48 resolution!

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 09:16
    Final Transmission

    View from inside a space ship

    Filed under: major tom

    Read the rest

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 07:00
    Building a Final Key

    Final Key

    Remembering passwords is a pain, and there’s a number of devices out there to make it easier. If you’re looking to roll your own, this guide to building a Final Key will walk you through the process.

    We talked about the Final Key before. It’s a one button password manager that encrypts and stores your password. It acts as a virtual serial port for configuration. When you hit the button, it becomes a keyboard and types in the correct password.

    The creator has no intentions of making this a commercial project for a number of reasons. Instead, easy build instructions are provided based on the Arduino Pro Micro. The 24LC512 EEPROM can be soldered directly to the Arduino by bending out the DIP legs. A few resistors, a button, and an LED finish off the project. The last step is to fill it with hot glue to prevent tampering.

    The Final Key firmware is available on Github, and the case can be ordered from Shapeways. If you’re interested in hardware password management, you can also check out the Mooltipass which is being developed on Hackaday.

    [Thanks to Lars for the tip!]

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, security hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 04:00
    Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: The Valve Universe

    653px-Source_engine_logo_and_wordmark.svg

    While most of the entries to our Sci-Fi contest come from movies and TV shows, a select few are based on the Valve universe, including a few builds based on Portal and Team Fortress 2.

    Deadly neurotoxinGLADOS

    Who wouldn’t want a gigantic articulated sociopathic robot hanging around? Two groups are building a clone of GLaDOs from the Portal series. and already the builds look really great.

    [AmarOk], developed an open-source personal assistant called RORI that intends to be a more helpful version of GLaDOs, without all the testing and killing. He, along with [Peterb0y] and [n0m1s] are turning this personal assistant software into a GLaDOs replica.

    Taking a slightly different tack, [Eric] and [jjyacovelli] built a GLaDOs-like robot with a camera in the ‘face’. This camera connects to a Google Glass and tracks the user’s head movements. There’s also a Nerf gun attached to the end of the robot body, triggered by double winking. Yep, it’s a heads-up display GLaDOs, perfect for punishing your test subjects.

    Heavy load comin’ through!

    Sentry

    Not to be out done by a malevolent, hyper-intelligent artificial intelligence, [Tyler] and [Ryan] are building the cutest gat’ dern weapon in all of west Texas. It’s the level one sentry from Team Fortress 2, and the guys are turning one into a paintball sentry.

    The TF2 sentry is a cute little bugger capable of motion tracking and perimeter defense, filling enemies with lead should they ever come too close.

    While the end result probably won’t be as large or as heavy as the “official” real-life turret, a smaller table-top sized model is probably a little more practical. Even if it doesn’t live up to expectations, upgrading the sentry is simply a matter of whacking it with a wrench a few times.

     

    There’s still time for you to cobble together an awesome Sci-Fi project and have a chance to win some awesome prizes.

    Filed under: contests

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