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Planet hack-day

  • Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 01:00
    A Light Painting Infrared Ray Gun

    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.

    Filed under: digital cameras hacks, led hacks

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 22:00
    Genetic Engineering Produces Desk/Computer Hybrid

    Desk Holds Computer Internally

    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.

    Computer Desk CAD Design

    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!

    If you like custom computer desks, check out the Heavy Metal, the 3 Monitor Corner or this Sit/Stand Conversion desk.

    Filed under: computer hacks

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 19:00
    Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: The Voight-Kampff Machine

    Voight-Kampff

    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 - 16:00
    A LIN Bus Signal Injector

    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.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 13:00
    The Pyro Board: A Two Dimensional Ruben’s Tube

     

    fire

    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 - 10:00
    BeagleBone Black + RAMPS

    CRAMPS

    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.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, cnc hacks

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 07:00
    Auto Roll-up Tool Storage

    Auto 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 - 04:00
    Leak-Proof Water Blob Provides Hours of Fun

    leak proof water blob

    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

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 01:00
    PenguinBot Follows Light, Goes Screech in the Night

    The Arduino Based Penguin Robot
    Ever have one of those weekend projects that takes on a life of its own? [Michael] did, and the result is this PenguinBot. While [Michael's] wife was away for the weekend he happened upon a broken toy penguin. The batteries had leaked inside, destroying the contacts. Rather than bin the toy, [Michael] made it awesome by turning it into an autonomous robot. [Michael's] goal was to create a robot that could roam around the house avoiding obstacles, or follow a light source like a flashlight.

    He started by pulling out most of the original electronics. Two dollar store toy trains gave their lives and their motors to replace the penguin’s original drive system. An Arduino Pro Mini became PenguinBot’s brain. Sensors consisted of two light sensing CdS cells, an AdaFruit sound sensor, and a MaxBotix ultrasonic sensor. With the ultrasonic sensor mounted on a servo, it can detect obstacles in any direction. The CdS cells and some software will allow PenguinBot to follow lights, like any good photovore robot should.

    Click past the break to see PenguinBot in action

    The PenguinBot's internals laid out for all to see

    [Michael] did preserve one part of the original toy. PenguinBot still has its sound module. This thing is so obnoxiously noisy it’s awesome. Between the screeching and the random songs, [Michael's] kids don’t have to worry about their new robot penguin sneaking up on them at night.

    PenguinBot’s code is still under development, but the latest version can be downloaded at Github.

     

    Filed under: robots hacks

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 22:00
    Low-Power Orientation Tracker and an Optimized Math Library for the MSP430

    MSP430 Orientation Tracker

    Orientation trackers can be used for a ton of different applications: tracking mishandled packages, theft notification of valuables, and navigation are just a few examples! A recent blog post from Texas Instruments discusses how to build a low-cost and low-power orientation tracker with the MSP430.

    Based on the MSP430 LaunchPad and CircuitCo’s Educational BoosterPack, the orientation tracker is very simple to put together. It can also be made wireless using any of the wireless BoosterPacks with a Fuel Tank BoosterPack, or by using the BLE Booster Pack with a built in Lithium Battery circuitry. TI provide all the necessary code and design files in their reference application for getting your orientation tracker up and running. Be sure to see the device in action after the break! This project not only involves building a low-power orientation tracker, but also showcases IQmathLib, a library of optimized fixed point math functions on the MSP430. One of the more challenging aspects of using small MCUs such as the MSP430 or Arduino is how inefficient built in math libraries are. Check out the IQmathLib, it greatly improves upon the built in math functions for the MSP430.

    It would be interesting to see this project modified to be a DIY pedometer or be used on a self-balancing robot. It would also be interesting to see the IQmathLib ported to other micros, such as the Arduino. Take a look and see how you can use this reference design in your own projects!

    Filed under: Microcontrollers

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 19:00
    DIY Gas Can Speakers Blast Your Tunes

    Gas Can Speaker

    Have you ever wanted to build your own speakers, but were a bit overwhelmed with all the information out there on cases and packaging? A recent Instructable by [Txje] goes over how to build a set of simple gas can speakers.

    While using gas cans as speaker housings will not result in the best audiophile quality sound or be the cheapest option out there, it sure looks awesome, and is a great way to get started with building your own speakers. After testing out the speakers and electronics, holes in the gas cans are cut and the terminals and speakers are installed. “As an added bonus, the pour spout serves to release pressure in the speaker can. You can get everything you need for ~$69 from Amazon and/or Home Depot.” Not a bad price point for two very cool looking speakers.  Once you have built the speakers, now you can experiment with different fill material to see what results in better sound quality.

    This is a simple, yet fun looking build. Something like this can make a nice gift for someone who spends a lot of time in their garage. What other crazy objects have you used for speaker enclosures?

    Filed under: digital audio hacks

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 16:01
    We’re Not Joking Around; Something BIG is Coming

    Hackaday Something BIG LogoCountdown timer, a special presentation on the first of this month, and now there’s been some weekly mystery posts. What are we playing at? We’re not playing. This is real.

    That timer is now below the 10-day mark and with every passing minute we become more giddy about the unrelenting awesome that is to come. Want to know what we’re talking about without waiting until the end? Are you a clever person? Then you might just be able to figure it all out. Try to unlock the clues from past weeks, and hit the Freenode ##hackaday channel on IRC if you need some hints (we’re certainly not going to post spoilers here).

    We wouldn’t mind some help with a whisper campaign as well. Spout your conspiracy theories, and your delight at solving our puzzles to whoever will listen. Get it right and you can do the “I told you so” thing for the rest of the…. oops, that would be telling.

    Filed under: Featured

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 13:00
    Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: No Tea

    thumb2

    In case you haven’t heard, we’re running a contest on Hackaday Projects for the best Sci-Fi build. We’re a little under two weeks until the deadline for the contest and so far there are a lot of great entries (and lots of great prizes still up for grabs).

    If there’s one thing this contest has taught us, it’s that Hackaday readers have impeccable taste in their choices of books, movies, TV shows, and video games. We were surprised at how many entries there are for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series not generally known for having cool gadgets such as giant mechs, lightsabers, and other impressively awesome stuff. Here’s a roundup of the current HHGTTG submissions for the Sci-Fi contest:

    Doors That Sass

    roundup-robot-doorThe doors in Hitchhiker’s Guide are insufferable self-contented sentient portals programmed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to love their simple lives. Upon everyone opening or closing one of these doors, they thank the person for validating their existence.

    The door in [Jarrett]‘s hackerspace wouldn’t stay closed, so what better way to fix the door than with a robotic door greeter? Actually, it’s just a weight tied to a pulley that keeps the door closed with a little bit of circuitry that plays an .mp3 file when the door moves. Still, self-contented doors. [Goug] is also making one of these self-satisfied doors, but there’s not much in the way of progress.

    Going Up?

    sentient-elevatorThe Happy Vertical People Transporter is HHGTTG’s answer to the common elevator. Like doors, they’re also sentient, but also have ‘defocused temporal perception’ to arrive at a floor before a passenger even realizes they need a lift. [DigiGram] and [Lolla] are working on one of these sentient elevators using a webcam, OpenCV, and some AVR-based electronics.

    Look Out!

    peril-sensitive-glassesThe Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses allow the user to adapt to danger by blacking out a the first signs of peril. [colabot] and [minimum effective dose] realized you can just buy glasses that can be blacked out electronically in the form of active shutter glasses for a 3D TV. With a few peril sensors, they’re working on finishing up their peril sensitive sunglasses.

    Remember, the Hackaday Projects Sci-Fi contest doesn’t end until April 29th. That leaves you plenty of time to enter your own build. May we suggest a Brownian motion simulation beverage?

     

    Filed under: news

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 10:00
    Sniffing Vending Machine Buses

    Sniffing the Multidrop Bus

     

    We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

    To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

    This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

    Filed under: Hackerspaces, Network Hacks

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 07:00
    Raspberry Pi Remote Audio Link

    Hardware for remote audio link

     

    In broadcast, lots of people are still using dedicated analog lines to connect remote sites. These operate like old telephone systems: you call up the operator and request to be patched through to a specific site. They’re also rather expensive.

    For a hospital radio station, [Marc] wanted to replace the old system with something less costly. The result is his Raspberry Pi STL in a Box. Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi, PiFace display, a pair of meters, and some analog hardware for the audio.

    On the software side, the system uses LiquidSoap to manage the stream. LiquidSoap uses a language to configure streams, and [Marc] has a write-up on how to configure LiquidSoap for this application. On the hardware side, SSM2142 ICs convert the signal from single-ended to balanced. The meters use the LM3915 bar drivers to control the meters.

    The Python script that controls the box is provided, and could be helpful for anyone needing to build their own low-cost audio link.

     

    Filed under: digital audio hacks

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 04:00
    Interactive Gloves Turn Gestures into Music

    Imogen Heap wearing her Mi.Mu gloves

    [Imogen Heap] is a UK-based musician who is trying to change the way we think about making music. She’s been working on a pair of gloves called the Mi.Mu, and they’re getting close to production.

    In the included interview she explains that while computers and technology have brought many new advances to music, twiddling dials and pushing random buttons “is not very exciting for me, or the audience”. With these gloves, the artist becomes one with the music and interaction.

    The current iteration of gloves use flex sensors along each finger to determine the movement (along with motion sensors for other gestures). She’s been through many designs and hopes to integrate e-materials into the next — using the actual glove as the sensor (not physical flex sensors).

    She’s been working with both developers and musicians mapping the various motions of the gloves to music which makes sense in an intuitive way, and it’s very unique to see in action.

    [Imogen Heap] was also on Letterman a few years ago! For more information about the Mi.Mu gloves, she has a website under construction, but offers an email signup mailing list.

    [Thanks Aaron!]

    Filed under: musical hacks

  • Friday, April 18, 2014 - 01:00
    The Persistence of Jumping Rope

    POV Jump Rope

    [Antonio Ospite] recently took up jump rope to increase his cardio, and also being a hacker decided to have some extra fun with it. He’s created the JMP-Rope — the Programmable Jump Rope.

    He’s using the same principle as a normal POV (Persistence of Vision) display, but with a cool twist. He’s managed to put the microcontroller (a Trinket) and battery into the handle of the jump rope. Using a slip ring system, the RGB signal gets passed to the rope, which contains the LEDs. It’s a pretty slick setup, and he’s written another post all about how he did the hardware.

    To create the images for his JMP-Rope, he’s outlined the steps to a successful POV image on his blog. These include re-sizing the image to a circle (duh), reducing the color palette, and then performing pixel mapping using a discrete conversion (from polar to Cartesian coordinates). After that it’s just a matter of representing your new-found pixel map in a 1D animation, played column by column. [Antonio] stores these frames on the micro-controller as an RLE (run length encoded) indexed bitmap.

    Stick around to see how he made it, and some other cool examples of what it can do!

     

    Diagram of Persistence of Vision Jump Rope

    Diagram of Handle

    The resulting images from his JMP-Rope are pretty impressive — it almost looks like Firefox was made for a POV display!

    JMP-rope-Firefox

    Firefox!

    [Thanks Alan!]

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 22:00
    Interactive 3D Projection is Foggy At Best

    fog proj

    Have a projector and a smoke machine handy? You might want to give this fog projection thing a shot! It’s called the MisTable and it’s a three-dimensional playground for interactive manipulation of images.

    It’s a project by Bristol Interaction and Graphics group of the University of Bristol, and it’s an interesting twist on 3D projection. They’ve created what they call the MisTable which features a smoke machine, “smoke screens”, and three projectors. What it results in is an interactive table for two people. The tabletop surface is a display, as is the see through fog in front of each person (the “fog screens”).

    While it is fairly easy to understand and explain, there’s a handy diagram after the following break showing how the system works. Our question is, when are one of you guys or gals going to try making one?

    fog

    For a much clearer hologram-esq projection, there’s always glass like in the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion! But we have to admit being able to reach through the screen with the MisTable is pretty neat too.

    [Thanks Douglas!]

    Filed under: Tech Hacks, video hacks, Virtual Reality

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 19:00
    Using Non-Crappy Software With The Da Vinci Printer

    davinci

    The Da Vinci printer from XYZprinting is turning out to be one of the best buys in the world of cheap, consumer printers. Sure, it uses chipped filament, but that’s an easy fix for anyone who knows what a .hex file is. And yes, the Da Vinci host software is a mess of proprietary garbage with limited functionality, but [Mark] has figured out a way around that.

    When [Mark] received his Da Vinci, he immediately started snooping around inside the printer’s guts, like any good tinkerer should. He found an SD card holding all the sample prints that ship with the printer, all in a convenient Gcode format. Inside these sample .STL files were all the calls you would expect – setting the temperature, changing the layer height, and all the other good stuff you’d find in any other RepRap.

    With a little bit of modification to .STL files generated by any slicing program, [Mark] isn’t limited any more by the terrible host software that ships with the Da Vinci. Combine this with the ability to reset the chip inside the filament cartridge, and [Mark] has a printer at least as functional as any open hardware model.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 16:00
    Measuring Frequency Response with an RTL-SDR Dongle and a Diode

    [Hans] wanted to see the frequency response of a bandpass filter but didn’t have a lot of test equipment. Using an RTL-SDR dongle, some software and a quickly made noise generator, he still managed to get a rough idea of the filter’s characteristics.

    How did he do it? He ‘simply’ measured his noise generator frequency characteristics with and without the bandpass filter connected to its output and then subtracted one curve with the other. As you can see in the diagram above, the noise generator is based around a zener diode operating at the reverse breakdown voltage. DC blocking is then done with a simple capacitor.

    Given that a standard RTL-SDR dongle can only sample a 2-3MHz wide spectrum gap at a time, [Hans] used rtlsdr-scanner to sweep his region of interest. In his write-up, he also did a great job at describing the limitations of such an approach: for example, the dynamic range of the ADC is only 48dB.

    Filed under: hardware, wireless hacks

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