Monday, April 21, 2014 - 13:00What’s Inside a USB Isolator?
In this acid powered teardown, [Lindsay] decapped a USB isolator to take a look at how the isolation worked. The decapped part is an Analog Devices ADUM4160. Analog Devices explains that the device uses their iCoupler technology, which consists of on chip transformers.
[Lindsay] followed [Ben Krasnow]‘s video tutorial on how to decap chips, but replaced the nitric acid with concentrated sulphuric acid, which is a bit easier to obtain. The process involves heating the chip while applying an acid. Over time, the packaging material is dissolved leaving just the silicon. Sure enough, one of the three dies consisted of five coils that make up the isolation transformers. Each transformer has 15 windings, and the traces are only 4μm thick.
After the break, you can watch a time lapse video of the chip being eaten by hot acid. For further reading, Analog Devices has a paper on how iCoupler works [PDF warning].
[Thanks to Chris for the tip!]
Filed under: teardown
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 10:00VoLumen — The Most Advanced Persistence of Vision Display Yet
Whoa. We’re just blown away by this new project by [Maximilian Mali] and [Sebastian Haushofer]. It’s a stacked Persistance of Vision display, with 9 layers — effectively creating a Volumetric 3D POV Display.
We recently shared one of [Maximilian's] other projects, The Ripper CNC Machine. As it turns out, the reason he built The Ripper was to aid in the manufacture of his VoLumen project. He’s been designing these Volumetric 3D displays for about 3 years now, with the first iteration called the viSio, capable of 40 fps 3D video without the need for any 3D glasses.
The new and improved VoLumen features 34 micro-controllers, each with 512MB flash memory for storing animation data. In total there are 1024 high power RGB LEDs, which draw a whopping 200W at full load, making it bright, crisp and visible even in direct sunlight. It’s an incredible project that [Maximilian] started when he was only 16 years old.
You have to see the video of this thing in action.
Today, [Maximillian] and [Sebastian] are finishing up a mechatronic engineering degree in Vienna, and are hoping to receive a grant to continue their studies abroad. So if there are any university coordinators in our midst — let’s get these guys some support!
Filed under: led hacks
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 07:00Sublime Text as an Arduino IDE
If you’ve played with an Arduino, you’ve probably been frustrated by the IDE. It works, but it’s not the best editor. It’s especially painful for bigger files and larger projects. The Stino plugin for Sublime Text aims to solve this issue by bringing the full functionality of the Arduino IDE to the Sublime Text editor.
Sublime Text is a powerful text editor with support for most programming languages. What it’s missing is support for compiling and uploading code to an Arduino. Stino bridges that gap. Sublime is a commercial product, and retails for $70 USD. However Sublime does have an indefinite trial period, so Stino can be evaluated for free. Stino itself is an open source plugin written in Python, and you can contribute to the project on Github.
After installing Sublime and Stino, you point the plugin at an Arduino install folder. It then allows you to build and flash directly from the editor. For anyone who’s been frustrated with the Arduino IDE, this looks like a slick solution.
[Thanks to Matt for the tip!]
Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 04:00The Raspberry Eye Sees All
[Roman Rolinsky] wanted to try to do something interesting with his Raspberry Pi and a 2.8″ LCD he had laying about… So he made a rather bulky version of Google Glass.
We’ve seen a few examples of home brew Google Glass before, or even real-life subtitle glasses used for translation on the fly, but what we really like about [Roman's] project (besides the fact he hosted it on our very own awesome project hosting site) is that he’s put together the projection system himself out of basic components.
To create the HUD, he’s using a semi-transparent mirror which he took out of an Eye of Horus Beamsplitter game – which is a really cool real-life puzzle board game like those games where you have to reflect the laser to solve a puzzle. He’s then using a 3x Fresnel magnification lens which is placed over top of his 2.8″ LCD in a 3D printed enclosure. This magnifies and reflects the image onto the mirror which is placed directly over his eye, allowing for a see through display.
We’ve asked for a demonstration video, so if you follow his project you’ll get all the future updates of his Raspberry Eye.
Filed under: Raspberry Pi
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 01:01Hackaday Links: April 20, 2014
[Josh] hit the same issue we’ve faced before: cable modems don’t match a form factor and usually don’t make themselves easy to mount on something. We could complain about routers as well, but at least most of those have keyhole slots so you can hang them on some screws. Inspiration struck and he fabricated his own rack-mount adapter for it. Velcro holds it in place, with a cutout bezel to see the status lights and an added fan to keep things cool.
Here’s a pair of strange but possibly interesting ones that were sent in separately. The first is an analysis of how much energy short-run CNC prototyping consumes versus traditional manufacturing. The other is an article that [Liz] wrote about getting started with CNC mill bits. She says she compiled all that she learned as she was getting started in the field and wants to save others the effort.
This one goes back several years, but who doesn’t love to hear about a voice-controlled wheelchair?
So you can solder QFN parts but you can’t hammer a nail straight into a piece of wood? The answer, friend, is a laser guided hammer. Someone hire this [Andybot] person, because the solution to the problem shows the ability to out-think an interesting dilemma: how do you put a laser in a hammer head and still use it to hit things?
We’ve seen a lot of these long-range WiFi hacks over the years. This one is worth looking at because of the work done to create an outdoor mount that will stand the test of time.
And finally, we’re still really fond of this 2-bit paper processor that helps you wrap your brain around what’s going on with those silicon wafers that rule our everyday lives. [glomCo] liked it as well, and actually coded an emulator so that you can play with it without printing anything out on paper. We think it takes away some of the fun, but what an excellent programming exercise!
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 22:00Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Stargate
The 90s were a remarkable time for Sci-Fi movies, in that there actually were sci-fi movies, and not sequels to a reboot of yet another comic book movie. One of the breakout hits from this era was Stargate, the film and three syndicated television series. With a corpus this large, a few Stargate builds made it into our Sci Fi contest, and from the looks of things, they’re pretty cool.
The Ma’Tok Staff
The Ma’Tok staff is an energy weapon used by Jaffa warriors that fires a concentrated plasma bust over 70 yards. While we question the utility of a weapon that’s only accurate to 70 yards on the battlefield (like, arrows are better, man) [frankstripod] is making his own version. Instead of plasma bolts, it’ll be a hairspray-powered PVC potato cannon.
It’s totally not a tricorder™
The Ancients in Stargate Atlantis had a multifunction handheld device capable of detecting life signs, observing multiple frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, and finding power sources. Basically, it’s a smartphone that’s not from Star Trek. This scanner became an important piece of commandeered technology, and these guys are building their own. Qi wireless charging, touch screen, IR transceiver, and everything a real tricorder should be.
Wait. Where did he get Naquadah?
What good would a post on Stargate builds be without an actual Stargate? [shlonkin] and [dkopta] are doing just that, complete with a rotating right and light-up chevrons. Here’s a video. Video below, of course.
The Sci-Fi contest runs until the end of the month, so there’s still time for you to get in on the action and get your hands on some really great prizes. We’re giving away O’scopes, soldering stations, dev boards, some sweet Sci-Fi prizes, and awesome Hackaday T-shirts.
Filed under: contests
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 19:00Blinky LED Necklace That Actually Looks Chic
[Agy] a fabric hacker in Singapore has made a chic light sensitive LED necklace, and written up the tutorial on her blog Green Issues by Agy. The lovely thing about this hack is that it doesn’t look like a breadboard round her neck, and most of the non-electronic components have been upcycled. [Agy] even used Swarovski crystals as LED diffusers for extra bling.
Using a LilyPad Arduino with a light sensor and a few LEDs, [Agy's] circuit is not complicated. She seems to be just branching out in to wearable tech, so it is nice that she learnt to program different modes for bright and low light (see video below). Her background in sewing, refashioning and upcycling does show through in her crafty use of an old pair of jeans and lace scraps for this project.
We love tech focused jewelry like [TigerUp's] LED matrix pendants or [Armilar's] Nixie-ify Me Necklace, but they do scream Geek. DIY electronically enhanced accessories are becoming more commonplace with the variety of micro-controller platforms expanding rapidly. Low energy wearable boards like MetaWear are making it easy for the tech to be discreet and easily connected to your smartphone. 3D printing is enabling us to create durable enclosures, settings and diffusers like the ones used for LED Stegosaurus Spikes. With all these things, hobby wearable projects can not only be functional and durable, but can also look great too.
Do you think this necklace would look out of place in a non-geeky gathering? Have you got any helpful tips for [Agy's] code? Have you tried using gems or crystals as diffusers and what were the results? Let us know in the comments below.
Filed under: wearable hacks
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 16:00The Computer Without A CPU
[Jeff Laughton] was contacted by a customer that was interested in adding some automated functions to a printing press. Before eventually settling on a microcontroller for the job, [Jeff] went old school and started looking at logic gates, counters, and flip-flops. This lead him to the Motorola 14500 industrial control unit, a minimal processor with only 16 instructions. After a few ‘back of the napkin’ sketches, he came up with an extremely minimal computer that doesn’t use a microprocessor. It’s an interesting design notable not only for its electronic brevity, but also because it only uses one instruction.
The only instruction this computer will ever execute is an input test, the result of which controls a two-way branch. Instructions consist of an input address, output address, and a single bit of data. If the data bit is true, the computer jumps to one location in ROM, and if the data bit is false, a jump to another location is executed.
A computer really isn’t a computer without some form of memory, and this design is no exception. [Jeff] managed to add two bits of data between the 8-bit latch and 8-bit multiplexer in the design. This is enough to call a few subroutines which test the I/O-mapped memory to decide what the next instruction should be.
It’s a truly bizarre design, but actually much closer to a true Turing machine than the computers in your pocket, on your wrist, on your desk, and in your car.
Thanks [James] for the tip!
Filed under: misc hacks
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 13:00Make a 3D Scanner for 60€ Using Old Hardware
[Till Handel] just put the finishing touches on a paper he wrote about how to build a cheap 3D scanner — mostly out of spare parts.
Using parts from old printers and notebooks, he’s cobbled together this rather rough-looking laser scanner. But don’t be fooled by its looks! It’s capable of scanning 360° around itself at distances from 0.3 – 5m, making it an excellent candidate for scanning rooms.
It uses a line laser and a webcam mounted on an arm driven by a stepper motor, which looks like it’s out of an old optical drive. An Arduino Uno and an A4988POW stepper driver control the system. The paper (Caution: PDF) is very detailed and published under GPLv3 (a general public license).
It works the same as many 3D scanners — a line laser provides a 2D profile/outline of the object being scanned that the camera picks up. As the system (or object) rotates, new profiles are recorded and sewn together to form a complete 3D image.
To increase the resolution and accuracy of the scanner, you can always put a better camera on the end!
Filed under: laser hacks
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 10:00Filament Extruder Pumps Out 1kg/hour!
3D printers are awesome, and while the plastic filament may not be as much as a rip off as printer ink (yet), it’s still marked up at least 500%! If you really want to break free, you’re going to need your own filament extruder.
ABS, a typical printing material, will run you about $30 USD per kilogram. Don’t get us wrong, that will go a long way — but did you know ABS pellets (technically processed MORE than filament) can be as cheap as $3-4/kg?
What if you could buy the pellets, and make your own filament with them? If you do a lot of printing, this could save you a lot of money. We’ve seen lots of different filament extruders here on Hackaday, and here’s yet another iteration — capable of extruding at an extremely fast rate of 1kg per hour! [Ian McMill] was inspired by [Xabbax's] Low Cost Filament Extruder, and has put together an excellent Instructable guide on how to make your own — with his own flair of course.
Take a look!
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 07:00Flexible Arduino Sure to Be A Hit
Wearable, lightweight hacks have long been dominated by the Lilypad. This will probably change with the introduction of the Printoo. Using printable circuit technology, the Printoo takes a modular approach to enable hackers, makers, and engineers alike to construct flexible circuits that can be put on almost anything, including paper!
Powered by the all too familiar ATmega328, the Printoo core module is fully compatible with the Ardunio IDE. The modular design enables functionality with several other printed devices including displays, batteries, sensors and even LED strips to make many different projects possible. One of the most interesting modules is the 1.5 volt, 500 micron thick electrochromic display.
Be sure to check out their Kickstarter, which has a nice video that demonstrates the project. If funded, they will be available in October in case you want to get your hands on one. Or feel free to make your own. Just be sure to let us know if you do!
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 04:01Prototyping Brief Case Would Be Fun To Take Through Customs
[Baldor] prototypes electronic circuits all the time, but unfortunately he doesn’t really have a dedicated work space to do this! Annoyed at having to get all his tools ready and then put them away again after every project, he’s come up with his very own electronics prototyping briefcase.
He started with a very old hand-made wooden tool briefcase and added some fun stuff. His case features four breadboards, all with individual positives, and each pair with common grounds. Banana clips allow for various setups with different wiring. He has 5 integrated volt meters, along with 5 buck-boost DC-DC voltage regulators, each set for 3V, 5V, 9V, 12V, and 18V. It’s an ingenuous setup and would make prototyping a breeze compared to most work benches!
In addition to the basic prototyping tools, he’s also got a development board and a place for his Pickit2. Underneath the main prototyping area he stores the power supply, and a veritable army of jumpers. We’re impressed.
Now all he needs is a portable electronics lab in a box once his prototypes are proven!
Filed under: tool hacks
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 01:00A Light Painting Infrared Ray Gun
[Noe] over at Adafruit has a really great build that combines the Internet’s love of blinkey LEDs and rayguns with the awesome technology behind extraordinarily expensive thermal imaging cameras. It’s a light painting infrared heat gun, used for taking long exposure photographs and ‘painting’ a scene red or blue, depending on the temperature of an object.
While this isn’t a proper FLIR camera, with a DSLR and a wide open shutter, it is possible to take pseudo-thermal images by simply ‘painting’ a scene with the light gun. This is an absurdly clever technique we’ve seen before and has the potential to be a useful tool if you’re looking for leaks around your windows, or just want to have a useful cosplay prop.
The circuit inside this raygun is based on a contactless infrared sensor connected to an Adafruit Gemma, with the LEDs provided by a NeoPixel ring. There are two 3D printable cases – your traditional raygun/blaster, and a more pragmatic wand enclosure. With either enclosure, it’s possible to take some pretty heat map pictures, as seen in the video below.
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 22:00Genetic Engineering Produces Desk/Computer Hybrid
Computers and Desks go together like peanut butter and jelly. After many years of modding computer cases with windows, lights and the like, [Cameron] decided it was time to try something new and combine his next custom case with a desk.
The main desk is from Ikea. The computer case portion is made from wood. No one wants to lose leg room, this case was made to be shallow and wide so it would be out of the way when bolted underneath the desk’s work surface. If any serious maintenance has to be done the case can be easily unbolted and lowered for easy access. Speaker grill cloth is used on the front of the case for 2 reasons; hide the case and keep out the dust.
This project wasn’t just slapped together, many hours went into the concept and design. There are 3 specially designed compartments to keep components separate and optimize the airflow. [Cameron] measured the pre- and post-build processor temperatures and found that the design of the new case resulted in a 15°C reduction from his previous tower case. Not too shabby!
Filed under: computer hacks
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 19:00Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: The Voight-Kampff Machine
You’re watching a stage play – a banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entrée consists of boiled dog stuffed with rice. The raw oysters are less acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog.
The Voight-Kampff Machine, or VK, from Blade Runner is an extremely advanced form of lie detector that functions on blush response, pupil dilation, respiration, heart rate, and other physiological factors in response to emotionally charged questions to determine if the interrogation subject does or does not dream of electric sheep. It’s also an awesome prop, making it a great subject for our Sci-Fi contest.
You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?
[Aven] is building a Voight-Kampff Machine built around a Raspberry Pi with a few small LCDs to display simulated vital signs. There will, of course, be a small webcam showing the subjects face or eye, and a few LEDs that will flash with the same pattern the original had.
You’re reading a magazine. You come across a full-page nude photo of a girl.
[Aven] still has a little bit of work to complete the VK, but there’s still a week and a half left in the contest. More than enough time for you to come up with your own Sci-Fi project and get your grubby mitts on some really awesome prizes.
Filed under: contests
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 16:00A LIN Bus Signal Injector
[Zapta] tipped us about his latest project: a LIN bus signal injector. For our unfamiliar readers, the LIN bus is a popular automotive bus that is used to interface with buttons, lights, etc. As [Zapta] was tired of having to press the Sport Mode button of his car each time he turned the ignition on, he thought it’d build the platform shown above to automatically simulate the button press.
The project is based around an ATMega328 and is therefore Arduino IDE compatible (recognized as an Arduino Mini Pro), making firmware customization easy. In the car, it is physically setup as a proxy between the LIN master and the slave (which explains the two 3-wires groups shown in the picture). It is interesting to note that the injection feature can be toggled by using a particular car buttons press sequence. The project is fully open source and a video of the system in action is embedded after the break.
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 13:00The Pyro Board: A Two Dimensional Ruben’s Tube
Like visualizing music? Love fire? If so, you’re going to want to take a look at this Pyro Board.
What happens when you take a tube, put some holes along it, add a speaker on one end, pump some propane in, and then light it on fire? You get an awesome fire visual – also known as a Ruben’s Tube. It works because the sound pressure from the speakers causes the flow rate of gas leaving the holes to vary, which results in a visible “standing frequency” of flames, i.e. a flaming VU meter.
The folks over at [Fysikshow] decided to step it up a notch by building a 2-dimensional Ruben’s tube with 2500 holes. They have a steel box with the evenly spaced holes on the top, and two speakers attached to the sides. And it works amazingly well — see for yourself after the break.
Based in Denmark, [Fysikshow] travels to schools teaching kids about physics using the Pyro Board and many other fun experiments.
[Thanks Eren via This Is Colossal]
Filed under: misc hacks
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 10:00BeagleBone Black + RAMPS
The BeagleBone Black, with an impressive amount of computing power and a whole bunch of I/O, would make an impressive CNC controller, save for two shortcomings: The BBB isn’t in stock anywhere, and CNC capes are a little on the pricey side. [Marc Peltier] can’t do anything about finding a distributor that doesn’t have the BeagleBone on backorder for you, but he did come up with an adapter for the very popular RAMPS-FD 3D printer controller board (Forum, French, Here’s the Google translation matrix).
The RAMPS-FD is an extension of the RAMPS board and a shield for the Arduino Due. Both the Due and BBB work on 3.3 V, meaning controlling the RAMPS-FD is simply a matter of finding the correct wiring diagram and pin assignments on the BeagleBone. [Marc] solved this problem by using the settings from the BeBoPr cape and using the existing BeBoPr LinuxCNC configuration.
The end result of [Marc]‘s tinkering is something a lot like [Charles Steinkueler]‘s CNC capes for the BeagleBone Black we saw at the Midwest RepRap Fest. [Charles] isn’t selling his capes, but no one else seems to be selling BeagleBone Blacks, either.
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 07:00Auto Roll-up Tool Storage
[Anred's] got the right idea. Everybody and their mother has a toolbox: rectangular, wooden, crowded. You’re not impressing anyone with that old thing. Instead, why not spice it up by rolling it up, with a tool case that spins to store in style?
This storage hack seems to draw its inspiration from field medic roll-up bags, where everything’s laid out for easy access with a quick toss. [Anred] started by taking inventory of all the items he wanted to use on a regular basis, organizing them across a sturdy fabric. Next, he marked all the mounting spots and affixed some elastic material with needle and thread to hold each tool in place. The tools then roll up around a center rod, like an upside-down pull curtain.
To be honest, we’re not entirely sure how [Anred] rigged the center bar to roll, but it seems to be spring-driven. Perhaps one of our discerning readers can work it out and clue us in with a reply in the comments. Our favorite feature, however, is the clever use of the pull-out rod. To unroll the tools, you grab the top rod and pull it tight, securing it to something above. When you lower it back down to close up the roll, however, the top rod fits under two brackets, providing a convenient handle to carry the whole assembly. Check out the videos below.
Filed under: tool hacks
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 04:00Leak-Proof Water Blob Provides Hours of Fun
With the warm weather slowly creeping back it’s time to think of warm summer days, and with that comes this rather interesting leak-proof water… blob?
[Leisha] over at Homemade Toast has come up with a super inexpensive way to make a water blob – or a giant outdoor waterbed? It certainly looks cool, and apparently keeps children entertained for hours playing on it. We wonder how bouncy you could make one for bigger kids (i.e. us).
It’s made out of a roll of painter’s plastic drop sheet, and instead of trying to tape, glue or otherwise seal the edges, [Leisha's] figured out an easy way to melt the seams together using a clothes iron. By sandwiching parchment paper over the two pieces of plastic, you can gently run the iron along the edge, creating a very strong bond, without melting a hole in the plastic.
Seriously — we want to see someone make a giant version of this for some extreme waterbed bouncing!
[via Viral Nova]
Filed under: toy hacks