Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 13:00Lego Robot Plays Games For You As You Sleep
[Uli Kilian] — best known for solving 100 Rubik’s cubes during the 2011 London Marathon — got addicted to a free iPad game called Jurassic Park builder. Being the efficient man he is, he soon realized the game could be automated — after all, you just have to tap on dinosaurs every few minutes to earn in-game currency…
He’s using a Lego Technic set with an old iPad, and an Arduino connected to a Windows laptop. Wheels roll the iPad back and forth as the robot plays the game. The “finger” of the robot is wrapped in tin-foil and connected to a ground pin to simulate a human finger for the iPad. The article doesn’t explain how it works, but by looking at the robot it appears to just randomly tap away back and forth across the screen — which we guess works for this game?
He hasn’t played with Lego since he was 8, and only just learned about the Arduino a few weeks prior to building this. As a 3D artist he was intrigued to do something in the real-world — nice!
[Thanks Aurelio and William!]
Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 10:00Awww Shoot! My Spool Doesn’t Fit My Holder
The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. Filament spools certainly do not deviate far from this sarcastic saying. So what are we 3D Printer folks to do? Here are a couple completely different DIY options:
[Mark] made a spool holder that can accept 2 different width spools. This design uses skate bearings to support the spool on two points at each end. There are 3 sets of bearing blocks to accommodate the 2 different width spools. When either size spool is installed, one of the bearing block sets goes unused.
[Ben] took a different approach to the same problem. His design holds the spool on its side making the spool width have no affect on the holders’ functionality. The parts for this spool holder are recycled from an old computer CD drive. If we’d have to suggest anything, it would be to add a little resistance to the spinning turntable to prevent uncontrolled filament unraveling (we’ve all been there).
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 07:00Hackaday Retro Edition: Parallel Port Ethernet
It’s time once again for a roundup of ancient hardware that has successfully loaded our retro edition. Up this time is a completely random and totally not planned roundup of parallel port to Ethernet adapters.
First up is [Tom Moss] with his IBM 5150 – the first ‘IBM Compatible’ home computer, progenitor of the i7 boxxen warming your ankles as you read this. This machine comes standard with a 4.77 MHz 8088 CPU, 8087 FPU, 512k RAM, two 360k 5.25″ floppy drives, and a few very cool additions: an ISA to CompactFlash card adapter, giving [Tom]‘s box 4GB of storage.
How is [Tom] connecting to the Internet? A Xircom PE3-10BT Network Adapter. This neat device turns any parallel port into an Ethernet. With a Telnet program, [Tom] was able to connect to a Unix system and use Lynx to browse over to the retro site. He’s yet to get a DOS browser working, but FTP is go, allowing him to download ancient software directly onto his huge CF card.
The next one isn’t exactly vintage, but it does carry the spirit of antiquated hardware onto the web. [Valentin] is using a FleaFPGA and a 186 over at OpenCores. The FPGA board gives him VGA output, an SD card, A PS/2 keyboard, but no options for networking. That’s no problem for [Valentin], as he wired up a Xircom PE3 parallel port to Ethernet adapter. Yes, the same adapter as the 5150 above. [Valentin] says his parallel port hack is a bit of a mess with non-bidirectional and no dedicated IRQ hardware support. It works, though, so we can’t fault him for that.
We’re always looking for people who have loaded our retro edition on old hardware. If you have some outdated hardware sitting in the attic, get it out, load up Hackaday Retro, and send it in.
Pics from [Tom] and [Valentin] below.
Filed under: classic hacks
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 04:00Kyub MIDI Keyboard Puts a Piano in Your Pocket
[Keith Baxter] loves making electronic instruments. His latest vision has come to life as Kyub, an open-source MIDI keyboard. [Keith] has previously graced our site and cracked Popular Science with his servoelectric guitar.
[Keith] wanted to make a completely open source instrument that’s elegant, useful, and a bit more accessible than the servoelectric guitar, so he teamed up with a hacker/electronic music expert and an industrial designer. He built the early prototypes around an Arduino Uno. The current iteration uses a Teensy 2.0 and is available in various forms through Kickstarter. [Keith] opened the Kyub up to crowd funding in an effort to obtain volume pricing on some of the parts as well as an Eagle license to make the PCB files available commercially.
The Kyub has eleven pressure-sensitive capacitive keypads on five sides of the cube. The accelerometer can be used to vary note volume, bend the pitch, or whatever else you program it to do. Of course, you’ll need a computer with a synthesizer program, but [Keith] says it is compatible with most software synth programs, some of which are free.
There’s a demo video of an early prototype after the break. Videos of the Kyub in its current form are available on the Kickstarter page.
Filed under: musical hacks
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 01:00Wearable flames with fur and LED strips
[Finchronicity] over on Hackaday Projects has made a pretty awesome furry LED Vest to keep him warm and well lit at this year’s Burning Man. He is using a Teensy 3.0 that drives strips of 470 WS2811 LEDs.
The vertically aligned strips run on a continuous sequence which reaches up to 31 frames per second using precompiled animations. The effects rendered in Processing or video mapped, are captured frame by frame and stored as raw color data to an SD card. Playback uses the NeoPixel library to control the strips. The high resolution LEDs, with the video mapped fire and the long pile fur, create one of the nicest flame effects we have seen on clothing.
We’ve also seen the Teensy 3.0 and WS2811 LEDs used as a popular combination for building huge displays, a 23ft tall pyramid, and more recently in the RFID jacket at Make Fashion 2014. Have you made or seen a great Teensy/WS2811 project you would like to share with us? If so, let us know the details in the comments below.
Filed under: wearable hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 22:00Re:load Pro, an Open Source Active Load
Open source test equipment has to be one of the best gifts open source hardware has given back to the community. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of [Nick's] Re:Load Pro over on Kickstarter. Unlike resistors or similar dummy loads, an active load will always draw the set amount of current regardless of voltage. Active loads are often used to test power supplies and batteries. Is that 2500 mAh LiPo battery overstating it’s capacity? Can the power supply you just designed handle 2.5A at 12V? Both of these are jobs where active loads would come in handy.
The Re:Load Pro is actually the third version of the Re:Load. [Nick] designed the original Re:Load after becoming frustrated at the lack of a cheap active load for testing a power supply. Plenty of people showed interest in the Re:Load, but they wanted more features. That’s where the Re:Load Pro comes in. More than a straight analog design, the Pro has a Cypress PSOC 4 Arm Cortex M0 processor running the system.
[Nick] and his company, Arachnid Labs, are no strangers to us here at Hackaday. When we last covered [Nick], he was asking the USB Implementers Forum about a low cost Vendor ID option for open source hardware projects. Fittingly, the Re:Load Pro is an open source project. The schematics and source code are available on Github.
Filed under: tool hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 19:01Building the Internet of “Thing” at FTF2014
It’s official: all the hype around IoT is starting to get a bit annoying. Not because there’s anything wrong with building Internet-connected devices, but because so many people are trying to jump on the bandwagon with the same old “Future: brought to you by Megacorp #07″-mindset. Recycled visions of estranged professionals, with their homes, offices, business meetings and hotel rooms, all powered by the latest “one IoT platform to rule them all” – are back on. Even though the mythical “Smart” refrigerator didn’t changed the world back in 2001, I guess that there’s no harm in trying it again. After all, we have seen this working out great in software, with redos of dot-com era ideas turning into massive successes a decade later.
That’s all fine, and we wish everyone the best of luck, but the future we’re the biggest fans of is a hackable, community-built, open-hardware one. So when the guys from FTF2014 called us to host a two-day “lab” in which engineers would play around and try to come up with an interesting IoT product, we were more than happy to jump in and try to do it our way. We got roughly two dozen engineers to drop lectures and training classes and hang out with us in the lab. We got Freescale to hand out a whole bunch of FRDM-K64F boards and a couple of mbed.org guys to join us on-site and help out with the dev tools. Two days later, we had our winner – “Don’t Not Enter” by David Isbister and Ernie Aguilar. They did an amazing job, both in hacking up a great product (elaborate internet-connected cat flap door), but more importantly, in fixing a whole bunch of issues in the hardware/firmware/tools stack that we had on our hands. However, a true disruptive technology that came out of the whole event was our second-prize winner – Eli Hughes, and his project called: The Internet of “Thing”. You’ve guessed it – it’s the (Internet-connected) Thing from The Adams Family! In this ultimate display of subversive playful cleverness, Eli did more than just creating an interesting project. He called out a large audience of otherwise buttoned-up “professional” engineers to start thinking beyond RFID and obvious Smart devices and try to bring back a little bit of that wacky hacker spirit back into their work. Eli’s project is pretty interesting on the implementation side too. He did some clever surgery on Fantasma Toys Hand Runner to boost the power and created a circuit that interfaces Thing’s built-in IR remote to the WiFi. He also built a cool command line interface and a touchscreen app, which communicate with the Thing via TCP server running on K64 board with RX-XV module. This setup allows for endless hours of fun, either by controlling the Thing via touch interface, or more importantly – by scripting its movement using the DSL shell. For more details, check out his project entry at hackaday.io. Hopefully, this project will serve as a great reminder for all of us that the future is not going to be just a “photorealistic version of Second Life” and if we’re to build projects that define it, we will have to try harder and come up with some truly creative and original ideas. And make sure we’re having fun along the way.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 16:00Building a Mesh Networked Conference Badge
[Andrew] just finished his write-up describing electronic conference badges that he built for a free South African security conference (part1, part2). The end platform shown above is based on an ATMega328, a Nokia 5110 LCD, a 433MHz AM/OOK TX/RX module, a few LEDs and buttons.
The badges form a mesh network to send messages. This allows conversations between different attendees to be tracked. Final cost was the main constraint during this adventure, which is why these particular components were chosen and bought from eBay & Alibaba.
The first PCB prototypes were CNC milled. Once the PCB milling was complete there was a whole lot of soldering to be done. Luckily enough [Andrew]‘s friends joined in to solder the 77 final boards. He also did a great job at documenting the protocol he setup, which was verified using the
open sourcetool Maltego. Click past the break to see two videos of the system in action.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 13:00Homemade Gravity Light Doesn’t Last Long but Proves the Concept!
After being inspired by the Deciwatt Gravity light, [Steve Dufresne] decided he wanted to try making his own as a proof of concept.
The Gravity Light by Deciwatt is an innovative device designed for third world countries to help eliminate expensive lighting like kerosene lamps. It has a small weight on a pulley which can be lifted up in under 3 seconds. During its slow descent down the weight provides light for 25 minutes! It’s affordable, sustainable, and reliable. It’s also mechanically impressive, which is exactly why [Steve] decided to try making his own.
He’s using a single LED, a small DC motor, a few pieces of wood, an old bicycle wheel, some bicycle chain, and a few jugs of water. The water is connected to the chain which is looped over the smallest gear on the bike. The generator is then powered by a belt wrapping around the outside of the rim. This gives the motor enough speed to generate electricity for the LED. His current design only lasts for about 3 minutes, but he’s already working on the second iteration. Testing systems like this really give you an appreciation for the effort that must have gone into the real Gravity Light.
Stick around after the break to see it in action.
Filed under: misc hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 10:00Inkjet Transfers to Wood
You can’t feed a piece of wood through a stock inkjet printer, and if you could it’s likely the nature of the material would result in less than optimal prints. But [Steve Ramsey] has a tutorial on inkjet transfers to wood over on his YouTube Channel which is a simple two-step method that produces great results. We really love quick tips like this. Steve explains the entire technique while creating an example project – all in under 2 minutes of video. We don’t want to get your hopes up though – this method will only work on porous absorbent surfaces like bare wood, not on PC boards. We’ve featured some great Inject PCB resist methods here in the past though.
The transfer technique is dead simple. [Steve] uses the backing from a used sheet of inkjet labels (the shiny part that normally gets thrown away). He runs the backing sheet through his inkjet printer. Since plastic coated backing sheet isn’t porous, the ink doesn’t soak in and dry. He then presses the still wet page onto a piece of wood. The wet ink is instantly absorbed into the wood. A lacquer clear coat seals the image in and really make the colors pop. We’d like to see how this method would work with other porous materials, like fabrics (though the ink probably wouldn’t survive the washing machine).
Click past the break for another example of [Steve's] work, and two videos featuring the technique.
Filed under: misc hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 07:00The HellZXchreiber
Hellschreiber – German for ‘light pen’ – was developed in the 20s as a way to transmit text in a way that was much more robust than the teletypes of the time. These devices were used to great effect by the Germans in WWII, and later became popular with wire services and was used until the 80s. The fax machine then happened, and no one really cared about Hellschreiber, save for a few plucky amateur radio enthusiasts.
In the early 90s, a few of these amateur radio enthusiasts realized they could use their personal computers to communicate with this extremely simple protocol that’s also very resilient against interference and weak radio links. [Danjovic] is following in their footsteps by decoding Hellschreiber on an old ZX Spectrum clone.
[Danjovic] tested his code with the sound sample found in the Hallschreiber wiki article and some text generated by Fldigi. Everything works beautifully, an [Dan] can even change the intensity of the text with the volume control – a very useful feature should the HellZXchreiber ever make it out into the field.
Source and image files available for all you strange Speccy fans. Everyone else can check out the videos below.
Filed under: classic hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 04:00Frozen Instruments Played at Swedish Music Festival
[Tim Linhart] wanted to do something different for this Swedish music festival — so he decided to carve all the instruments by hand, out of ice.
The festival consists of seven bands playing very different musical styles, with over 40 concerts occurring during the festival. [Tim Linhart] has painstakingly carved each instrument from violins to cellos out of individual sheets of ice. He adds strings and fret-boards to complete each piece, and if the temperature goes above zero it’s game over. The concerts are held in a building made of ice to make sure this doesn’t happen.
And since they are built out of layers — he’s also thrown in some RGB LEDs to give the instruments a bit more pizzazz. They actually sound pretty good too!
[Tim] is kinder to his instruments than [Matz Robert Eriksson] was to his ice drums. For some other unconventional instruments, do you remember our controversial piece on Disarm? Turning guns into a mechanized orchestra! Typewriters make interesting instruments as well.
Filed under: musical hacks
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 03:01The Hacklet #1
With the launch of hackaday.io, our project hosting site, we’ve seen quite a bit of interesting hacks flowing in. While we feature some of our favorite projects on the blog, we’ve decided it’s time to start a regular recap of what’s going on in the Hackaday Projects community. We call it The Hacklet, and the first issue is now available.
This installment starts off with information on our Sci-fi Contest and improvements to the Hackaday Projects site. We talk a bit about the various projects relating to the Mooltipass password manager being developed on Hackaday. The Mooltipass has its own project page, but there’s also separate projects for the low level firmware being developed. Next we look at a pair of NFC rings for unlocking Android devices, and finish off with advice on soldering tiny packages.
Check it out and let us know what you think. Our goal is to summarize some of the neat things going on in the community, and we’re always happy to get constructive feedback from the community itself. Or you can flame us… whichever you prefer.
Filed under: Hackaday Columns
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 01:00A 3D Printed Cryptex
Once you’ve dialed in your 3D printer calibration settings, you enter the phase of printer ownership where you’re eager to show off what you can make, and you’re sure to impress with [pjensen's] 3d printed cryptex spinning around in your hands.
If you’re a regular reader of our 3D Printering column, then the behind-the-scenes screengrabs should look familiar: [pjensen] used Autodesk Inventor to sculpt the shapes, staring with the cryptex’s individual rings. After embossing the alphabet across each ring, [pjensen] adds slots into the inner loops for pins to slide through. An outer chamber holds the rings in place and prohibits access to the interior chamber, which is held in place on both sides by an end cap.
Lining up the rings to spell the correct word allows the inner chamber to slide free of the whole assembly, revealing whatever goodies may lie inside. You can follow [pjensen's] step-by-step guide to build your own cryptex, or just download his model and start printing.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 23:30Developed on Hackaday: Olivier’s Design Rundown
The Hackaday writers and readers are currently working hand-in-hand on an offline password keeper, the Mooltipass. A few days ago we presented Olivier’s design front PCB without even showing the rest of his creation (which was quite rude of us…). We also asked our readers for input on how we should design the front panel. In this new article we will therefore show you how the different pieces fit together in this very first (non-final) prototype… follow us after the break!
This is the bottom PCB, containing the main micro-controller, the Arduino headers and the FPC connector for the OLED screen. Finding low profile standard .1″ female connectors was one of our longest Google searches. The ones you can see above are pass-through connectors, which means that the pins can go through the PCB.
This is the CNC-milled prototype case. On the bottom you may notice two slots having a smaller depth to the other end, positioned right on top of the Arduino connectors. As previously mentioned in our Developed on Hackaday articles, we want to give the final users the ability to convert their secure password keeper into an Arduino platform. As you may have guessed, converting the Mooltipass will be as simple as cutting this thin plastic layer (see top of the picture) to access the Arduino headers and unlock the platform.
This is how the bottom PCB fits into the case. 4 screws can be used to keep everything in place. The large elevated plastic area serves as a flat surface for the smartcard:
The OLED screen then rests on the case’s sides:
Enough space is left behind the screen for the flex PCB to comfortably bend. Finally, the top board fits in the remaining space and the acrylic panel is put on top of the assembly:
As our last article stated, we obviously still have some things to perfect. In the meantime, we are going to hand solder a few prototypes and ship them out to our current developers.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 22:00Step Into the Ring with Fight Coach
As MMA continues to grow in popularity, the competition is getting tougher. There’s always someone else out there who’s training harder and longer than you are. So how do you get the advantage over your competitors? More push-ups? Sit-ups? Eat more vegetables? What about installing custom 2 by 1 inch, 5 gram PCB’s armed with an ATmega32U4, a MPU-6050 6 axis accelerometer and an RN-41 Bluetooth module into each of your gloves? Now that’s what we’re talking about.
[Vincent] and [Jooyoung] of Cornell joined their classmates in turning out another cool piece of electrical engineering. Fight Coach records data from the fighter’s gloves so that it can not only be analyzed to improve performance, but also interact with the fighter in real-time. Though not quite as immersive as some fighter training techniques we’ve seen, Fight Coach might just give a fighter a slight edge in the ring.
Fight Coach offers 3 modes of training: Defense mode, Damage mode and Free-Training mode. As usual with Cornell projects, all code, schematics and a wealth of information on the project is just a click away. And stick around after the break for a video demonstration of Fight Coach.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 19:01Retrotechtacular: The Cryotron Computer
Have you ever heard of a Cryotron Computer before? Of course not. Silicon killed the radio star: this is a story of competing technologies back in the day. The hand above holds the two competitors, the bulkiest one is obviously the vacuum tube, and the three-legged device is what became a household name. But to the right of that tube is another technological marvel that can also be combined into computing machines: the cryotron.
[Dudley Allen Buck] and his contributions to early computing are a tale of the possible alternate universe that could have been cryotrons instead of silicon transistors. Early on we find that the theory points to exotic superconductive materials, but we were delighted to find that in the conception and testing stages [Buck] was hacking. He made his first experimental electronic switches using dissimilar metals and dunking them in liquid helium. The devices were copper wire wrapped around a tantalum wire. The tantalum is the circuit path, the copper wire acts as the switch via a magnetic field that alters the resistance of the tantalum.
The name comes from the low temperature bath necessary to make the switches work properly. Miniaturization was the key as it always is; the example above is a relatively small example of the wire-wound version of the Cryotron, but the end goal was a process very familiar to us today. [Buck] was searching for the thin film fabrication techniques that would let him shoe horn 75,000 or more into one single computing platform. Guess who came knocking on his door during this period of his career? The NSA. The story gets even more interesting from there, but lest we rewrite the article we leave you with this: the technology may beat out silicon in the end. Currently it’s one of the cool kids on the block for those companies racing to the quantum computing finish line.
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.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 16:00Automated Bed Leveling For 3D Printers Is Now Solved
The latest and greatest feature for 3D printers – besides being closed source, having no meaningful technical specs, and being on track towards pulling in $10 Million on a Kickstarter – is automated bed leveling. This amazingly useful feature makes sure your prints have proper adhesion to the bed, reduce print errors, and put even inexpensive printers into the realm of extremely expensive professional machines. Automated bed leveling has been extremely hard to implement in the past, but now [Scottbee] has it figured out with a working prototype on his Makerbot Replicator 2X.
Earlier attempts at automated bed leveling used some sort of probe on the tool head to measure the build plate, calculate its flatness and orientation in space, and compensate for any tilt in software. [Scottbee]‘s solution to the problem took a different tack: instead of trying to compensate for any odd orientation of the build surface in software, he’s simply making the bed level with a series of springs and cam locks.
[Scottbee]‘s device levitates the build plate on three springs, and replaces the jack screws with three “gimballing pins” and pin locks. With the pin locks disengaged, the bed plate is pressed down with the printer’s nozzle. By moving the extruder across the build plate and locking the pins in place one by one, [Scottbee]‘s device defines the plane of the build plate along three points. This makes the build platform parallel to the extruder nozzle, and also has a nice benefit of setting the distance from the build platform to the nozzle precisely with incredible repeatability.
The mechanics of locking the three gimballing pins in place only requires a single DC gear motor, driven by an extra fan output on the Makerbot’s electronics. It’s simple, and with a bit of rework, it looks like most of the device could also be 3D printed.
An awful lot of RepRaps and 3D printers out there already use three points to attach the build plate to a frame. With a little bit of effort, this same technique could be ported and made a bit more generic than the Makerbot-based build seen above. It’s amazingly simple, and we can’t wait to see this applied to a normal RepRap.
Thanks [Josh] for the tip.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 13:00Extracting Gesture Information from Existing Wireless Signals
A team at the University of Washington recently developed Allsee, a simple gesture recognition device composed of very few components. Contrary to conventional Doppler modules (like this one) that emit their own RF signal, Allsee uses already existing wireless signals (TV and RFID transmissions) to extract any movement that may occur in front of it.
Allsee’s receiver circuit uses a simple envelope detector to extract the amplitude information to feed it to a microcontroller Analog to Digital Converter (ADC). Each gesture will therefore produce a semi-unique footprint (see picture above). The footprint can be analyzed to launch a dedicated action on your computer/cellphone. The PDF article claims that the team achieved a 97% classification accuracy over a set of eight gestures.
Obviously the main advantage of this system is its low power consumption. A nice demonstration video is embedded after the break, and we’d like to think [Korbi] for tipping us about this story.
Filed under: wireless hacks
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 10:00The Egg-Bot Gets A Little Wax Stabby
With Easter just around the corner, [Windell and Lenore] over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories have come out with a new upgrade for their Egg-Bot. It’s called the Electro-Kistka and it allows your Egg-Bot to do wax-resist egg dying — in the same style as Ukranian Pysanky.
This isn’t the first time someone’s strapped a kistka to an Egg-Bot, but after seeing how much fun their customers were having, [Windell and Lenore] decided to make their own. It consists of two main components, a heater assembly that attaches to the Egg-Bot’s arm, and a power control board. To apply the wax they are using a kistka tip (looks like a soldering iron tip with a hole through it) which feeds molten wax onto the egg through capillary action.
It works almost exactly the same as the regular Egg-Bot arm, but allows you to dye your eggs with a very stark contrast as the wax repels dye perfectly. Just take a look at the following intricate designs.
Still — using the EggBot kinda seems like cheating. Of course it would be fun to make a whole bunch of super intricate eggs, take them to the extended family get-together on Easter, and convince everyone you’re a master egg decorator.
Filed under: cooking hacks