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Planet hack-day

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 03:01
    USB On The ATtiny10

    tiny10

    Atmel’s ATtiny10 is their smallest microcontroller in terms of physical size – it’s an SOT-23-6 package, or about the same size as surface mount transistors. The hardware inside this extremely bare-bones; three I/O lines, 1kB of Flash, 32 bytes of RAM, and a reduced AVR core with 16 registers instead of 32. With such a minimal feature set, you would think the only thing this micro would be good for is blinking a LED. You’d be right, but [cpldcpu] can blink a LED with the ‘tiny10 over USB.

    The V-USB interface usually requires about 1.5kB of Flash in its most minimal implementation, and uses 50 bytes of RAM. This just wouldn’t do for the ‘tiny10, and although [cpldcpu] is working on a smaller, interrupt-free V-USB, there were still some hurdles to overcome.

    The biggest issue with putting code on the ‘tiny10 is its reduced AVR core – on the ‘big’ 32-register core, direct memory access is two words. On the ’10, it’s only one word. AVR-GCC doesn’t know this, and no one at Atmel seems to care. [cpldcpu] worked around this problem using defines, and further reduced the code size by completely gutting V-USB and putting it in the main loop.

    It’s not much, but now [cpldcpu] can blink an LED with a ‘tiny10 over USB. If you’re wondering, 96.4% of the Flash and 93.8% of the SRAM was used for this project.

    Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, Microcontrollers

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 00:00
    Magnetic Propeller Balancer Takes Away the Shakes

    prop-balancer

    [Danijel0frk's] friends may call him unbalanced, but his propellers are always spot on. His well-balanced props are thanks to this magnetic balancer he built from scrap PC parts and pilfered office supplies. Propeller balance has always been important for radio controlled models. Flying for hours with a poorly balanced prop can wreak havoc on an air frame and the radio equipment within.  With today’s drones and R/C vehicles carrying cameras, accelerometers, and gyros, propeller balance has become even more important. A vibrating propeller can ruin a picture at best. At worst it can throw gyroscope and accelerometer readings off and cause a crash.

    [Danijel0frk's] balancer is based upon several commercial designs. A steel shaft from a CD-ROM drive is cut and the ends ground to points. A propeller to be balanced is mounted to the shaft. Propellers don’t all have the same hole size so two pen tips are pressed into service as self centering mounts. [Danijel0frk's] picture shows one tip pointing toward the prop hub while the other points away. The balancer will work better if both tips point inward, ensuring the shaft sits directly in the center of the propeller hub’s hole. Hard drive magnets suspend the prop and shaft from a drive rail and wood frame.  We should note that this type of balancer will only perform a static balance. Dynamic balance would require the propeller to be spinning on a motor with force sensors on the shaft. To perform a static balance, material is added to or removed from the propeller until it balances in any orientation. Click past the break for a good tutorial video on balancing.

    [via Instructables]

    Filed under: drone hacks

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 22:29
    Fluke Issues Statement Regarding Sparkfun’s Impounded Multimeters

    fluke-reponds-to-sparkfun-dmm-impounding

    Fluke just issued a response to the impounding of multimeters headed for market in the United States. Yesterday SparkFun posted their story about US Customs officials seizing a shipment of 2000 multimeters because of trademark issues. The gist of the response is that this situation sucks and they want to do what they can to lessen the pain for those involved. Fluke is providing SparkFun with a shipment of genuine Fluke DMMs which they can sell to recoup their losses, or to donate. Of course SparkFun is planning to donate the meters to the maker community.

    Anyone with a clue will have already noticed the problem with this solution. The impounded shipment of 2k meters will still be destroyed… eh. The waste is visceral. But good for Fluke for trying to do something positive.

    Before we sign off let’s touch on the trademark issue for just a moment. We can’t really blame Fluke too much for this. The legal crux of the matter is you either defend your trademark in every case, or you don’t defend it at all. In this case it was the border agents defending the filing, but for ease of understanding we’ll not go into that. On the other hand, speaking in general business terms, the way things are set up it is advantageous to acquire a trademark specification that is as broad as possible because it helps to discourage competitors from coming to market. So trademark is good when it keep hucksters from trying to rip off consumers. But it is bad if applied too broadly as a way of defending a company’s market share.

    Where does Fluke come down in all of this? Who knows. There is literally no right answer and that’s why the discussion around yesterday’s post was full of emphatic arguments. A Fluke meter is a cream-of-the-crop device and they have the right (and obligation) to ensure that reputation is not sullied. SparkFun serves a market that probably can’t afford a Fluke at this time but may some day in the future. And this is the reason we can feel okay about this outcome.

    [via Twitter]

    Filed under: news, rants

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 21:00
    Fail of the Week: The Demise of Lil’ Screwy

    fotw-demise-of-lil-screwy

    The subject of this Fail of the Week installment is entertaining if nothing else. [Chris] decided to see what kind of forces his home-built 100 ton press could stand up to. Turns out the press failed at punching a 1.5″ hole through 1/2″ plate steel.

    If you didn’t see it back in February make sure you take a gander at the premier of Lil’ Screwy. The diminutive press packed quite a bit of punch, using four hand-cranked screws to knock out holes in metal. [Chris] decided to tie-one-on and take his lathe for a spin to machine the larger 1.5″ punch set.

    He probably should have known when he switched from a 4-foot ratchet to a crescent wrench with a 12-foot pipe for leverage that this was going to be more than the press could handle. The bottom plate seen in the image above is beginning to cup, which in turn jams up the screws in the off-kilter threads.

    We fell a bit guilty in admitting we love to see equipment pushed to the point of failure like this. But perhaps that’s part of what this column is all about. Our favorite is still the PCB shear failure, but this comes in at a close second. Check out the video presentation after the break; just be warned that there’s a bit of rough language as part of the narrative.


    2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story – or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

    Filed under: Fail of the Week, Hackaday Columns

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 18:00
    MRRF: Roundtable And Roundup

    Last weekend Hackaday made a trip out to the Midwest RepRap Festival in Goshen, Indiana. We met a ton of interesting people, saw a lot of cool stuff, and managed to avoid the Amish horse and buggies plying the roads around Goshen.

    We’ve already posted a few things from MRRF, including [Jordan Miller] and co.’s adventures in bioprinting, a very cool printable object repo that’s backed by a nonprofit LLC, some stuff from Lulzbot that included a new extruder, stretchy filament, and news of a 3D scanner that’s in development, ARM-based CNC controllers including the Smoothieboard and capes for the Beaglebone, 3D printed resin molds, the newest project from [Nicholas Seward], creator or the RepRap Wally, Simpson, and Lisa, and 3D printed waffles. It really was an amazing event and also the largest DIY 3D printer convention on the planet. How this happened in Goshen, Indiana is anyone’s guess, but we’d like to give a shout out to SeeMeCNC for organizing this event.

    With so many famous RepRappers in one place, it only made sense to put together a round table discussion on the state of RepRap, 3D printers, and microfabrication. We have a 40-minute long video of that, which you can check out after the break.

    The video above is a Q&A session with [Johnny Russell] of Ultimachine, developer for the RAMPS and RAMBo electronics boards, [Prusa] of Prusa Mendel and i3 fame, [Mike] a.k.a [Maxbots] of Maker’s Tool Works and developer of the MendelMax 2, and [Aeva], robot psychologist at Lulzbot (seriously, that’s what her card says). It’s not a lie to say these guys have had a hand in the stuff that has gone into 90% of all the RepRaps out there.

    We highly suggest getting a cup of coffee and opening that video up in a new tab. There are some great comments between the four of them, and some very insightful questions from the audience. Here’s a list of the questions asked:

    • What are the economics of open source and cheap clones?
    • Where is the RepRap community going this year?
    • How should companies incentivize less glamorous projects?
    • When do we get functional mechanical parts in 3D printing?
    • What are some recommendations for subtractive manufacturing toolchains?
    • Where is RepRap popular around the world?
    • What will happen with SLS patents expiring?
    • How did you get started and how can someone new contribute?
    • Can RepRap indefinitely fend off DRM?
    • What are some recommendations for open source 3D modelling programs?

    Also at the MRRF was mUVe 3D, makers of a very cool resin printer, and the only people in the RepRap community that have seen the light of coroplast for making non-structural panels on their machines. We also grabbed a video of them:


    Once again, we’d like to thank everyone who came out, SeeMeCNC for putting this event together, Makers Tool Works for 3D printed waffle irons, and everybody else who headed out to Goshen for the largest convention dedicated to RepRaps in the world.

    If you didn’t make it out, here’s some aerial footage courtesy of [Phil Briski] and his tiny quadcopter. Be sure to check out the 5 foot by 8 foot Jolly Wrencher flag, something we’re now considering putting in a Hackaday store. Hope to see you there next year!

    flag
    Simpson3
    simpson
    A vertical H-bot
    air1
    video
    This man was on the cover of Forbes magazine
    tant
    taz
    screw
    simpson2
    air2
    Custom waffles.
    mill
    scan
    Rules for the venue. No beer kegs *on the carpet*.
    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Hackaday Columns

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 15:01
    Piezoelectric Crystal Speaker for Clock Radio Is Alarmingly Easy to Make

    cockadoodledooLet’s face it: most of us have trouble getting out of bed. Many times it’s because the alarm isn’t loud enough to rouse us from our viking dreams. [RimstarOrg]‘s homeowner’s association won’t let him keep a rooster in the backyard, so he fashioned a piezoelectric crystal speaker to pump up the volume.

    [RimstarOrg]‘s speaker uses a Rochelle salt crystal strapped to a bean can diaphragm. In his demonstration, he begins by connecting an old clock radio directly to the crystal. This isn’t very loud at all, so he adds a doorbell transformer in reverse. This is louder, but it still won’t get [RimstarOrg] out of bed.

    Enter the microwave oven transformer. Now it’s sufficiently loud, though it’s no fire bell alarm. He also demonstrates the speaker using a piezo igniter from one of those long barbecue lighters and a crystal radio earpiece. As always, the video is after the jump. [RimstarOrg] has a lot of relevant linkage in the summary so you can learn how to grow your own Rochelle crystals.

    [via Dangerous Prototypes and Hacked Gadgets]

    Filed under: how-to

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:01
    You are Fined 1 Credit for a Violation of the Verbal Morality Statute

    demolition-man-verbal-morality-monitor

    Some citizens can control their language and others cannot. What is a civilized society to do? In a dystopian future you can count on electronic monitoring. But wait, the future is now… or it will be in a few weeks. [Tdicola] is building the verbal morality monitor from Demolition Man as his entry in Hackaday’s ongoing Sci-Fi Contest.

    Currently the project is in the early planning phase, but holy cow this is a fantastic idea! For those that didn’t see the glorious 1993 feature film, the young [Stallone] pictured above is accepting a ticket (as in: he must pay for his violation) from the tattle-tale wall-mounted computer. Everything about this device is completely feasible using today’s tech. It needs voice recognition and a list of naughty words, a way to play a pre-recorded message, and a printer to spit out the tickets. The build log for the project outlines all of this, as well as possible cost and sources for each.

    We’ve been wondering who it was that injected an Artificial Intelligence into our project hosting system. We see both [tdicola] and [colabot] are on the team for this build. The names are too conveniently similar to be a coincidence, don’t you think?

    Filed under: contests

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 09:01
    KamerMaker Begins Printing a House

    kamermaker-wordpress182-1024x723-634930_610x431

    The KamerMaker is the world’s largest portable 3D printing pavilion built out of a shipping container — it has started printing an entire house out of plastic.

    We first shared the KamerMaker (literally “Room Maker” in Dutch) a few years ago when it was first designed and built as a collaboration project between Utilimaker and Architectburo DUS. Their intention was the ability to print 1:1 architectural designs, and now it has begun its biggest project yet — an entire house along the canal in Amsterdam.

    So far the KamerMaker has printed one corner of the Canal House, which features part of a staircase. It weighs about 400lbs and took a week to print. To increase the strength of these 3D printed parts, the company uses a honeycomb infill and before assembly will fill the gaps inside the piece with a type of foam that becomes as hard as concrete.

    The project is estimated to take three years for completion, and until then you can visit it at Tolhuisweg 7, 1031 CL in North Amsterdam, where it is open to the public for a small fee of €2.50 — this is a tourist city after all! When completed it will be a design museum, although the team at DUS hope it will be only the first of many 3D printed buildings.

    To learn more about the project, stick around for the following video.

    [via CNET]

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 06:01
    Heated Build Chambers Don’t Have to be That Complex

    800px-HBC_open_door_view

    Looking to improve the quality of your 3D prints? Worried about peeling, warping, and de-laminating layers? All you need is to do is make a heated build chamber!

    The heated build chamber is one of the patents that the big 3D printer company owns (we won’t point any fingers), and that’s why you don’t see it as a feature on any of the “consumer” grade 3D printers. But that won’t stop people from making their own!

    [Repkid] just finished a wiki page on this topic, and it’s a great way to build a heated chamber — if you have the space for it! He’s built a large wooden enclosure for his RepRap out of MDF sheets. Double-ply cardboard is used as thin insulation, although we imagine if you’re building something this large you might as well use some commercial insulation.

    The chamber is heated by a blow dryer which is mounted off the back of the box, and the heat is controlled by changing the speed setting of the dryer. A laser cut vent allows for further adjustment. If you want to get really fancy, it would be very easy to install a thermostat PID controller that could regulate the temperature more accurately. To prevent overheating the electronics, all the control boards are also outside of the box.

    [Repkid's] RepRap does not have a heated bed, but with the heated build chamber he can print ABS without any warping — just take a look!

    800px-HBC_result1

    The white piece is with the HBC, and the red, without. Not bad!

    Do you have a heated build chamber for your 3D printer? If so, we’d love to see it!

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 03:01
    Meet Lynx, a (costly) Offline Password Keeper

    Maybe because he didn’t want to wait for the Mooltipass to be produced, [davidhend] built himself his own offline password keeper, named Lynx.

    It is based around an Arduino Pro 328, a 2.8″ TFT touch screen, an RFID card reader, an FTDI basic breakout and finally a li-ion battery. Lynx is therefore self-powered and uses an RFID card to later read the XOR-encrypted passwords located in a SD card. A USB serial connection is used to send the passwords to the computer, which also charges the battery. The current BoM cost is around $220 but we’re quite sure it can be made for much cheaper when not using pre-made boards. Looking at the official GitHub repository tells us that the XOR key is stored inside the microcontroller and that Lynx checks the RFID card code to allow encryption/decryption.

    On a side note, we recently published a FAQ on the official Mooltipass GitHub. You’re welcome to let us know what questions we may have forgotten.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:34
    Multimeters Without A Country: Fluke’s Broad Trademark Bans Yellow Multimeter Imports

    fluke-killing-sparkfun-for-being-yellow

    Check out this SparkFun Digital Multimeter. Does it make your blood boil to see them ripping off Fluke by using the color yellow? From SparkFun’s side of the story that’s exactly what’s happened here. They have a shipment of 2000 of these things stuck in customs. The trademark being infringed upon can be found in their article. Fluke owns the trademark on multimeters with a dark face and yellow border. Great. This seems like a wonderful idea, right up there with Apple owning tablets that are shaped like a piece of paper.

    Okay, so if you’re not crying big fat tears for Fluke being taken advantage of in this way let’s talk about more immediate issues than fixing trademark, patent, copyright, and all of the other screw-the-little-guy type of laws (not that SparkFun is necessarily the little guy but you know what we mean). The DMMs sitting in a warehouse are costing SparkFun $150 per day. We believe they have no option of choosing a warehouse with a lower cost as we must be talking a pallet or two, right? The only two options they do have are shipping them back to China where they were manufactured, or having them destroyed. The former will cost more in re-import tariffs than the cost of the product, and the latter comes with a $150/hour disposal fee and no metric on which to judge how long it would actually take. We hate seeing this kind of waste, but sure enough 2000 DMMs are headed for the shredder in a couple of days.

    We know you already have your flaming sword in hand, but simmer down for just a second. Fluke makes great products, ask anyone. And companies the world over defend their trademarks. Hopefully there will soon be a positive response from Fluke on this one. If you would like to politely encourage them to do the right thing we found Fluke’s Facebook page URL in the SparkFun comments thread. Both are worth browsing.

    [Thanks Chris via Reddit]

    Filed under: news, rants

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 00:01
    Ask Hackaday: Auto Bed Leveling And High Temperature Force Sensitive Resistors

    FSR

    Automated bed leveling on a 3D printer is now a solved problem. [Johann] over on the RepRap wiki has an ingenious solution for making sure a borosilicate glass bed is completely level before printing anything on his Kossel printer: take three force sensitive resistors, put them under the build platform, and wire them in parallel, and connect them to a thermistor input on an electronics board. The calibration is simply a bit of code in the Marlin firmware that touches the nozzle to the bed until the thermistor input maxes out. When it does, the firmware knows the print head has zeroed out and can calculate the precise position and tilt of the bed.

    Great, huh? A solution to bed leveling that doesn’t require a Z-probe, uses minimal (and cheap) hardware, and can be retrofitted into just about any existing printer. There’s a problem, though: these force sensitive resistors are only good to 70° C, making the whole setup unusable for anything with a heated bed. Your challenge: figure out a way to use this trick with a heated bed.

    The force sensitive resistors used – here’s a link provided by [Johann] – have a maximum operating temperature of 70° C, while the bed temperature when printing with ABS is around 130° C. The FSRs are sensitive to temperature, as well, making this a very interesting problem.

    Anyone with any ideas is welcome to comment here, on the RepRap forums, the IRC, or anywhere else. One idea includes putting an FSR in the x carriage, but we’re thinking some sort of specialized heat sink underneath the bed and on top of the FSRs would be a better solution.

    Video of the auto bed leveling trick in action below.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Ask Hackaday

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 21:01
    Massive LED Display Makes Use of Reused Soda Bottles

    BcbiT1IIEAAUXFK

    What better way to make a giant LED display than out of old empties and bottle crates? This is the Mate Light (pronounced Mah-Tay).

    We were first introduced to the ever popular Club-Mate soda at one of the first hackerspaces we visited during our Hackerspacing in Europe Tour. It’s a soft drink produced in Germany, which seems to be the exclusive non-alcoholic drink of choice for almost all hackerspaces in Western Europe. The spaces in the Netherlands and Belgium would even make road trips to Germany just to load up a van with the drink to bring back home. Personally we didn’t really understand what was so special about it, but maybe we just didn’t drink enough!

    Anyway, this impressive display makes use of 640 empties arranged in 4 rows of 8 crates for a decent 16 x 40 resolution. Each bottle is wrapped in aluminum foil and contains one RGB LED with a WS2801 driver. Each row of crates is connected to a TI Stellaris Launchpad, which has four hardware SPI interfaces — conveniently the number of rows of crates used! From there, an ancient ThinkPad T22 laptop runs the control program over USB to the microcontroller board. Their first software implementation used a Python script which was painfully slow — they’re now putting the finishing touches on using a C script instead.

    Stick around to see the display in all of its awesomeness.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIAmsq1D7eI

    Or how about playing a giant game of Snake?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs3FFawl3Nk

    And if there’s any Bronies in the crowd…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xy4i5JZ1jVs

    [Thanks Stu]

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 18:01
    Etching designs into denim with a laser cutter

    JeansEtchLaser

    Finding new uses for your tools and equipment can be very exciting. [Foamy] wrote in to tell us about a blog post by [qbotics] that demonstrates etching designs into denim with a laser cutter. What a cool unexpected use for a laser cutter!

    According to the Epilog laser cutter’s website, “we have engraved everything from denim to acrylic with fantastic results”. This inspired the author of “Science with denim” to try engraving jeans. After some experimentation,  [qbotics] found that setting the 75W laser cutter to 15% power at 100% speed worked best. The results are quite impressive; the engraved pattern looks like naturally faded jeans. Amazing.

    In the past, we have seen lasers engrave everything from calculators to wood. We would be curious to see if some of the DIY laser cutters could engrave denim as well. Give it a try and tell us about it!

    Filed under: laser hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 15:01
    Mug Music Is Good to the Last Drop

    [Bonnie] is majoring in CS at Princeton and minoring in Awesome. She is taking an electronic music class and had to produce a digital instrument for her midterm project. She and her friend [Harvest] came up with Mug Music, which turns a ceramic mug of water into an instrument.

    The circuit is very easy to replicate with an Arduino, a coil, and a few resistors and capacitors. [Bonnie] wanted to experiment with Disney Research Lab’s Touché method of touch detection, and Mug Music is based on this Touché for Arduino Instructable. The inputs are turned into MIDI notes with ChucK, a real-time sound synthesis language developed at Princeton.

    As you may have guessed and will see in the demonstration video after the jump, you aren’t limited to touching the water. The entire mug will produce sounds as well. [Bonnie] says you can trigger a thunderclap if you touch the water and a grounded surface simultaneously.

    This would be a great project to explore with kids, especially as a music therapy vehicle for kids on the autism spectrum. It isn’t as physical as these portable musical stairs, but it may draw less attention from lawyers.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, musical hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 12:00
    GEVCU – an Open Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit

    At Hackaday we’re very happy to see the increasing number of open hardware devices that appear everyday on the internet, and we’re also quite thrilled about open-source electric cars. Pictured above is the GEVCU, an open source electric vehicle control unit (or ECU). It is in charge of processing different inputs (throttle position, brake pressure, vehicle sensors) then send the appropriate control commands to electric motor controllers (aka inverters) via CAN bus messages or digital / PWM signals.

    The project started back in December 2012 and was originally based on an Arduino Due. Since then, the GEVCU went through several revisions and ultimately a complete custom board was produced, while still keeping the Cortex M3 ATSAM3X8E from the Due. As you may have guessed, the board also includes a Wifi transceiver so users may adjust the ECU parameters via a web based platform. All resources may be downloaded from the official GitHub.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, ARM, hardware

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 09:00
    3D Printers Can Only Make Trinkets — What About Kayaks?

    kayak_001

    Wow. [Jim Smith] of Grass Roots Engineering has just put the finishing touches on his entirely 3D printed kayak. And it floats.

    The individual parts were printed on [Jim's] massive home-made 3D printer, which is loosely based off a RepRap — except that its maximum build volume is a whopping 403 x 403 x 322.7mm.

    The kayak itself is made of 28 printed sections, and to hold it all together, he has installed brass threaded thermoplastic inserts, which then allow the pieces to be bolted together. Silicone caulking is applied before assembly to ensure a watertight seal.

    It was originally based off of a Siskiwit Bay kayak by [Bryan Hansel] but [Jim] has heavily modified it to suit 3D printing. It was printed at a layer height of 0.65mm to reduce print time, which still ended up being over 1000 hours! He even optimized the design to improve performance based on his own height and weight.

    The hull is 6mm thick, with a custom rib structure to increase strength — you can also see the method of fastening the sections together in the following image:

    greng_2031

    In total it weighs around 65lbs, with 58lbs of that being ABS plastic — it used 7lbs of screws and brass inserts — wow! Oh and since the whole thing was 3D printed, [Jim] also added some handy features like camera mounts on the bow and stern. Talk about a big project!

    Have you seen anything else this big printed on a hobby 3D printer? Our first thought is the Replica DB4 project by [Ivan Sentch] — He’s building an Aston Martin DB4 using a donor car… and a lot of 3D printed parts.

     

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, transportation hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 06:01
    Prophet 600: A Classic Synthesizer Gets Processor Upgrade

    proph-600

    We love classic synthesizers here at Hackaday. So does [gligli], but he didn’t like the processor limitations of the Prophet 600. That’s why he’s given it a new brain in the form of a Teensy++. The Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 was a big deal when it was released back in 1982/1983. The 600 was the first commercially available synthesizer to include a MIDI interface. The original design of the 600 could be called a hybrid. A Zilog Z80 microprocessor controlled modular analog voice chips. The Z80 was a bit stressed in this configuration though, and a few limitations were evident. An 8 bit processor just wasn’t quite enough for software driven envelopes and a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) control. This was further exacerbated by the fact that everything was driven through a 14 bit DAC.

    [gligli] discovered most of the limitations in the 600 were due to the processor. By beefing up the processing power he could really unlock the potential within 600. Since he didn’t actually have a Prophet 600, he started with the schematic. [gligli] created a PC based emulator for the digital circuits, learning the whole system as he worked. With that phase complete, [gligli] bought a used Prophet and started hacking. The Teensy++ required a few hardware mods to fill the Z80′s shoes, including cutting off a pin and adding a few jumper wires. We really like the fact that no changes to the Prophet 600 itself are required. Pull out the Teensy++, drop in the Z80, and you’re ready to party like it’s 1982 again.

    The new processor interfaces directly with the Z80′s 8 bit bus. Since the AVR on the Teensy has built-in RAM and ROM, it simply ignores the ROM and RAM address spaces of the original system. Interfacing a fast micro with older parts like an 8253 timer and a 68B50 UART does have its pitfalls though. The system bus had to run slow enough to not violate timing requirements of the various peripheral chips. To handle this, [gligli] added a number of wait statements in his firmware. Once the system was working, [gligli] was free to start adding new features. He began by smoothing out the stepped envelope and filter generators, as well as adding new exponential modes. From there he added new keyboard polyphony modes as well as pitch and mod wheel changes. The full lineup of new features are listed in the instruction manual (PDF link). Since this is an open source project, adding a feature is as simple as cracking open your favorite editor and writing it up.

    [Thanks Kiss]

    Filed under: musical hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 03:01
    Homemade Ball Mill Tumbles Along Like a Champ

    [Mike] enjoys doing all kinds of things with glass. He likes to melt it and fuse it into new things, so it’s perfectly understandable that he wanted to make his own glass. Doing so requires finely ground chemicals, so [Mike] put together this awesome homemade ball mill.

    The design is wonderfully simple. The mill is powered by a robust 12VDC motor from a printer that he’s running from a variable power supply in order to fine tune the speed. [Mike] built a scrap wood platform and attached four casters for the drum to spin against. The drum is rotated by a round belt he had lying around from various other projects. [Mike] already had a couple of those blue containers, which formerly held abrasive grit for use in vibratory tumblers.

    [Mike] had some trouble with the drum walking off the casters so he attached scrap piece of aluminum to form an end stop. All he had to buy for this project were the 5/8″ steel balls and the casters. The mill can also be used as a rock tumbler, though the bottle isn’t quite water tight as-is. He does not recommend this type of setup for milling gunpowder or other explosives, and neither do we.

    Make the jump to see the mill in action and get the grand tour. If you need more tumbling power, use a dryer motor!

    Filed under: tool hacks

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 00:01
    We Asked For It — An Arduino Bowel Gauge

    toilet

    Well, we asked for it, and [TV Miller] delivered this hilarious and surprisingly accurate bowel gauge.

    Between our recent Wiping Your Bum with an Arduino feature and how to Measure Poop for a Better Sanitation Service, we guess we should have seen this coming. And you know what? It’s pretty awesome.

    He’s using an Arduino Uno with a home-made resistance sensor to “hack our bowels”. After all, how can you have a proper diet without knowing exactly what is coming out of you? Two copper or aluminum strips make up the resistance sensor with a few known resistors, a capacitor and a potentiometer for adjustment. He’s even included an LCD display as well so you can see the volume of your excrement in real-time! Classy.

    To see it in action (don’t worry, not that kind of action) stick around for the following video:

    We particularly enjoy the use of our logo:

    HackADay “Skull and Wrenches” logo used with(out) permission by HackADay.com

    We’ll let it slide… this time. He’s also included the code, you know, if you’re serious about this kind of thing.

    Filed under: home hacks

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