Monday, March 3, 2014 - 01:00Hackaday Links: March 3, 2014
If you’re playing along with Twitch Plays Pokemon, you might as well do it the right way: with the smallest Game Boy ever, the Game Boy Micro. [Anton] needed a battery replacement for this awesome, discontinued, and still inexplicably expensive console and found one in a rechargeable 9V Lithium battery. You get two replacement cells out of each 9V battery, and a bit more capacity as well.
Every garden needs garden lights, right? What does every garden light need? A robot, of course. These quadruped “Toro-bots” react to passersby by brightening the light or moving out of the way. It’s supposed to be for a garden that takes care of itself, but we’re struggling to figure out how lights will do that.
Flexiable 3D prints are all the rage and now resin 3D printers are joining the fray. The folks at Maker Juice have introduced SubFlex, a flexible UV-curing resin. The usual resins, while very strong, are rock solid. The new SubFlex flexible resins are very bendable in thin sections and in thicker pieces something like hard rubber. We’re thinking custom tank treads.
Have a Google Glass? Can you get us on the list? [Noé] and [Pedro] made a 3D printed Google Glass adapter for those of us with four eyes.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 22:38Cartoon: Who are you wearing? …Okay, what version?
One last thing: if you’re discerning enough to know about the good folks atAdafruit Industries, then the version below is for you. (It’s also for them, because their customer service is freaking awesome.)
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 22:00Making OLEDs In The Kitchen Sink
When [Ian] first set out to create a homebrew OLED, he found chemical suppliers that wouldn’t take his money, manufacturers that wouldn’t talk to him, and researchers that would actively discourage him. Luckily for us, he powered through all these obstructions and created his own organic LED.
Since at least one conductor in an OLED must be transparent, [Ian] settled on ITO – indium tin oxide – for the anode. This clear coating is deposited on glass, allowing it to conduct electricity and you can buy it through a few interesting suppliers. For the cathode, [Ian] is using a gallium-indium-tin eutectic, an alloy with a very low melting point that allowed him to deposit a small puddle in his OLED stack.
With the anode and cathode taken care of, the only thing left was the actual LED. For this, [Ian] had some success with MEH-PPV, a polymer that is capable of electroluminescence. On top of this is a film of PEDOT:PPS, another polymer that serves to block electrons.
The resulting yellow-green blob of an OLED actually works, and is at least as good as some of the other homebrew semiconductor illumination projects we’ve seen around here. This is only a start, though, and [Ian] plans on putting a whole lot more time into his explorations of organic LEDs.
Filed under: chemistry hacks
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 19:17Moteur Stirling, deuxième prototype 3/…
Bon, ce mois-ci aura été assez chargé, côté pro. Ca ne m’aura pas empêché d’avancer certains projets, mais un peu moins vite qu’espéré, et surtout peu de temps pour poster ici. Voici donc l’état d’avancement de mon moteur à fin février. Les choses se présentent plutôt bien, mais il reste encore pas mal de travail…
27/01 : 4 heures d’usinages sur centre. Ca a bien avancé aujourd’hui ! J’ai terminé les pinces de serrages pour les cylindres (4 pièces assez complexes finalement), et ai bien avancé les supports d’arbre. Il me reste un montage à faire pour terminer le détourrage, et je pourrais terminer ça. Je met de côté tous les petits usinages (arbres, soudures et autres) pour plus tard car je risque de ne plus avoir accès au centre pendant quelques temps, donc j’optimise !
29/01 : 2h d’usinage sur centre, et Strato. J’ai commencé par réaliser le montage servant de support a mes pièces, de manière à pouvoir les serrer correctement, puis fait le détourrage des supports d’arbres au centre. Tout s’est passé comme sur des roulettes
Semaine du 3 au 9/02 : pas beaucoup de temps pour bosser sur ce projet cette semaine. En cause, du retard sur certains projets professionnels qui m’obligent à le passer au second plan. J’ai tout de même réussi à assembler les différents morceaux usinés jusque là, passer commande pour les morceaux manquants, et usiner les deux axes des articulations des bielles.
semaine du 10 au 29/02 : environ 6h d’usinage. Bon, j’ai un peu déconné sur le relevé des heures passées ces dernières semaines. Un planning très chargé y est pour beaucoup. Bon, vu que j’étais très occupé, je n’y ai pas non plus passé trop d’heures, mais j’ai quand même avancé un peu. J’ai terminé les bielles, assemblage compris. J’ai commencé à travailler le régénérateur : perçage du rond d’inox, et usinage des brides de serrage. J’ai 4 brides à réaliser, plus un montage, j’ai actuellement réalisé les premières faces de deux d’entre elles… Et passé 4 heures d’usinage à essayer de faire le montage, sans succès : les 3 tentatives ont abouties à un foret cassé et coincé dans la matière, rendant le tout inutilisable
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 19:00Reverse Engineering Candle Flicker LEDs, Again
Flickering candle LEDs are seemingly everywhere these days, and like all fads, someone has to take a very close look at the engineering behind them.
[cpldcpu] had earlier taken a look at the controller chip in these candle flicker LEDs by measuring the current used and developing a statistical model of how these LEDs flicker. That’s math, of course, and much more fun can be had by decapsulating one of these flicker LED controller chips. It’s not very advanced tech; the LED controller is using a 1 or 2um process and a pair of RC oscillators, but it appears there could be a hardware random number generator in the silicon of this chip.
Earlier, [Cpldcpu] had taken a look at the tiny controller in these flickering LEDs and determined they used a linear feedback shift register to generate pseudorandom LED intensities. The new teardown seems to confirm that a linear feedback shift register is being used to drive the flickering LED.
Custom chips are only one way to skin a cat, or flicker a LED, and PICatout used the the tiniest PIC microcontroller (French, translation) to create his own flickering LED. Seems like making a few custom flickering LED throwies shouldn’t be too hard.
Filed under: led hacks
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 16:22Metropolis II (The Movie)
A film about a sculpture by Chris Burden.
Now on view at the Los Angeles Museum of Art.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 16:13March is national craft month – #Cre8time @Cre8time
Did you know that crafting can reduce stress, build self-esteem and increase physical dexterity? In fact, recent studies from NYU and Harvard have shown that activities ranging from scrapbooking to knitting can actually improve concentration, while enhancing health and mental wellness.
Since March is National Craft Month, there is no better time to try a new craft or hobby. Throughout the month, (store name) will explore the many different benefits of crafting by hosting numerous demonstrations, displays and exciting opportunities that highlight the many ways you, friends and family can spend time creating items that provide both joy and fulfillment.
“There is nothing more satisfying than creating something on your own,” says (store owner). “The activity is not only engaging, it’s fulfilling on so many different levels. Plus, there are so many ways to approach crafting. There is literally something for everyone. So, drop by and let us help you find the ideal craft and hobby that best fits your lifestyle.”
Please visit (store name) during National Craft Month in March and learn first-hand about the joys and pleasures of crafting.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 16:00This Desktop Air Conditioner Is Really Cool!
[Mike] works in a 50+ year old building with unreliable air conditioning. It often reaches 80°F inside during the summer, and he once measured it at 98°F. Rather than burn sick days, he became the envy of the office when he built this awesome desktop air conditioner.
The problem with knocking holes in the office walls and installing window units is that they must vent heat somewhere. [Mike] has overcome adversity and harnessed the power of the heatsink, only in reverse. His desktop a/c unit is made from two 28oz cans plus a 20oz can for the ice bucket. [Mike] used a side-vented CPU fan, which is vital to his design. He secured the heatsink to the base of one 28oz can with a self-tapping screw. This can is the upper chamber. [Mike] made a base from the other 28oz can, drilling holes for the CPU fan wires, the power cord, and a sweet light-up rocker switch. He used Gorilla Glue to affix the CPU fan to the base can.
Hot, stale office air is drawn through the ice in the 20oz can, which is nestled in aluminum foil to maximize heat transfer to the heatsink. The heat in the air gets absorbed by the heatsink, and the CPU fan kicks out cool air in 20-30 seconds.
Filed under: lifehacks
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 13:00Software USB On The STM8
Thanks to V-USB, software-based USB is all the rage now, with a lot of uses for very small and low power microcontrollers.[ZiB] wondered if it would be possible to implement a USB controller on the STM8 microcontroller (Google translation) in software and succeeded.
The STM8 is a bit of a change from the usual 8-bit micros we see like AVRs and PICs. [ZiB] chose the STM8S103F3, although any chip in the STM8 family will work with this project when a 12MHz crystal is attached.
The code isn’t quite there yet, but [ZiB] has proven a software-based USB implementation on the STM8 is possible. All the code is available for download (comments in Russian) and a video demoing the project available below. If anyone cares to translate this project to English, we’ll post a link to your work here.
Filed under: Microcontrollers
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 10:00Microcontroller Speech Synthesis Lets Your Project Be Heard
[Aditya] had a project that called for spoken output. He admits that he could have built a PC-based solution, but he found that adding speech by using a microcontroller was not only a cheap and portable alternative, it was also a fun and easy build.
His design uses an ATMega128. Many microcontrollers would work, but his major requirements were PWM generation and plenty of memory to store the file(s). The output is cleaned up in a simple low pass filter before going to the 8Ω speaker.
[Aditya] lays his tracks in WAV format and then compresses it to 8-bit/8kHz. He found a C++ function that converts the track data into a huge arrays and then digitizes it. He uses two timers, one to generate the waveform and second one to time the square wave. [Aditya] has a zip of samples available on his site that will speak the digits 0-9.
Filed under: Microcontrollers
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 09:54Best Buffet in Las Vegas? Pinball Machines!
For most people, “old school gaming in Vegas” means table games Downtown — Blackjack, Craps, Roulette. For some of us geeks and makers, it’s a little different…
Far off the Strip in a nondescript building, the nonprofit Pinball Hall of Fame houses the collection of the Las Vegas Pinall Collectors Club…primarily pinball machines from the 1950s through 1990s, but with a fair number of 1980s arcade video games and a smattering of vintage mechanical games of the pre-video era.
The games are all playable, costing one or two quarters. The restorations aren’t always perfect — sometimes you just have to use whatever parts you can find — but it’s a treat to have these games out for the public and not locked away in a private collection. And the dollar-to-fun ratio is far better here than anything on the Strip!
I love that the work area is out in the open. Look at that mess. Maker heaven!
The boneyard, where games await restoration…or are scrounged for increasingly rare components.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is located at 1610 East Tropicana Avenue, open daily from 11 am to 11 pm (Sunday–Thursday) or to 12 midnight (Friday and Saturday).
Just a stone’s throw away in the adjacent strip mall, A Gamer’s Paradise deals in games of all varieties, with a collection varying from Atari 2600 cartridges to pen-and-paper RPGs to fully-restored arcade games costing upward of a couple grand. The place is a bit of a museum in itself, with specimens on display of nearly every gaming console you can think of (and probably even some you’ve never heard of).
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 09:00Rise of the Soft Robots
Chinese engineers Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang and Jing Liu at Tsinghua University in Beijing manipulate liquid metals with electric fields. via medium:
In the science-fiction classic, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the T-1000 is a robotic assassin with a liquid metal endoskeleton that can assume the form of any object or person. Its liquid nature makes it immune to attack by bullets and impervious to mechanical damage in general.
The T-1000 is an entirely fictional device that might as well be magic as far as conventional manufacturing techniques are concerned. And yet this might be about to change thanks to the pioneering work of Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang and Jing Liu at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
These guys have taken the first tentative steps to making liquid machines that work like the T-1000. Their first attempts can assume various shapes, move around and then transform into other shapes more or less without limit. And they say the work has profound implications for the design of robots, future machines and the nature of manufacturing.
While the most familiar liquid metal is the toxic mercury, there are other metals and alloys that are liquid at room temperature and much more benign. In particular, a gallium-indium-selenium alloy, with a melting point of around 10°C, has received much recent attention because it can be used for cooling microprocessors and even for liquid metal printing techniques.
Now Lei Sheng and co have made this liquid metal assume simple shapes by placing a thin film of it in water and applying an electric field.
With careful arrangement of the voltages and electrode geometries, these guys can make the metal form into a sphere. They say this is the result of the balance between the surface tension in the liquid metal and the electronic forces applied to its surface.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 08:00“Plain Sight” takes you on a trip through optical illusions
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 07:00Turning A Tiny CRT Into A Monitor
[GK] picked up a few tiny 2″ CRTs a while back and for the longest time they’ve been sitting in a box somewhere in the lab. The itch to build something with these old tubes has finally been scratched, with a beautiful circuit with Manhattan style construction.
[GK] has a bit of a fetish for old oscilloscopes, and since he’s using an old ‘scope tube, the design was rather simple for him; there aren’t any schematics here, just what he could put together off the top of his head.
Still, some of [GK]‘s earlier projects helped him along the way in turning this CRT into a monitor. The high voltage came from a variable output PSU he had originally designed for photomultiplier tubes. Since this is a monochrome display, the chrominance was discarded with an old Sony Y/C module found in a part drawer.
It’s a great piece of work that, in the words of someone we highly respect is, “worth more than a gazillion lame Hackaday posts where someone connected an Arduino to something, or left a breadboard in a supposedly “finished” project.” Love ya, [Mike].
Filed under: hardware
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 07:00Marine Staff Sergeant is First to Receive Revolutionary Prosthetic Implant
Sergeant James Sides lost his right arm in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Now, he’s the first patient to receive an muscle connected implant to control a prosthetic limb. From Popular Science:
The implanted myoelectric sensors (IMES) in Sides’ right arm can read his muscles and bypass his mind, translating would-be movement into real movement. The IMES System, as its developers are calling it, could be the first implanted multi-channel controller for prosthetics. Sides is the first patient in an investigational device trial approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“I have another hand now,” he says.
It uses the residual muscles in an amputee’s arm — which would normally control and command muscle movement down the hand — and picks up their signals with a half-dozen electrodes. The tiny platinum/iridium electrodes, about 0.66 inches long and a tenth of an inch wide, are embedded directly into the patient’s muscle. They are powered by magnetic induction, so there would be no need to swap batteries or plug them in — a crucial development in making them user-friendly, according to Dr. Paul Pasquina, principal investigator on the IMES system and former chief of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Walter Reed.
It translates muscle signals into hand action in less than 100 milliseconds. To Sides, it’s instantaneous: “I still close what I think is my hand,” he says. “I open my hand, and rotate it up and down; I close my fingers and the hand closes. It’s exactly as if I still had a hand. It’s pretty gnarly.”
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 06:00Scientists Create Mind Controlled Music Software
Scientists at the University of Malta have created music software that allows its users to play tracks, fast forward, and adjust volume simply by looking at the screen! Wearing electrode-studded caps, users are fed controlled stimuli: in this case, flickering boxes on a screen. As the frequency of flickering changes, so too does each brain’s electrical response pattern. The subsequent electrical patterns their brains elicit are recorded and assigned a task like play, pause, or fast forward and the software is programmed to take those actions when their respective patterns are detected.
As amazing as this might appear as a stunt, brain-reading as a whole is still not without it’s share of limitations. However, the implications and potential future applications of this are still exciting to consider. From Singularity Hub:
The brain-reading apparatus is cumbersome (if you think Google Glass unsightly, imagine Sergey Brin in an EEG cap), and the readings are still fairly low resolution. Greater control would require more detailed readings.
The larger concept, however, is viable. And for folks who’ve lost the ability to physically control their environment—quadriplegics or sufferers of ALS (Steven Hawking, for example) and locked-in syndrome—such methods might offer a non-invasive way to regain some sense of control, freedom, and easier communication with the world.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 04:00Photosphere’ing Made Easy and Cheap
Android phones have a cool function called Photo Sphere — unfortunately, unless you’re very steady and can manipulate the phone around its camera’s axis… the results aren’t that amazing. Unless you make a cheap 360 degree panorama head for your tripod that is!
[Oliver Krohn] designed this super simple adapter which you can mount on any tripod. It’s a U-shaped bent piece of aluminum, a bottle cap with a 1/4-20 nut, a thick piece of wire, and a cellphone case. The wire is bent with a notch to sit just below the camera’s lens on the cellphone — it is also placed directly above the tripods panning axis. This puts the nodal point in the perfect place, which allows for a great photo sphere every time.
To see how it works (and the amazing results!) stick around for the following video.
Looking to record video in 360 degrees? You’re going to need a second camera…
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 01:00Hackaday Retro Edition: AppleTalk
If you do a survey of what makes and models of classic computers manage to pull off a Retro Success by loading our Web 1.0 retro site, you’ll notice a disproportionate number of classic Macintosh computers, the cute, small all-in-one boxes with a nine-inch black or white screen. Part of this is the nigh indestructible nature of these boxes, and part of this is the networking built into every classic Mac – AppleTalk.
The physical connections for AppleTalk is just a small breakout box with two Mini-DIN connectors (or RJ11 phone jacks for PhoneNet) attached to one of the serial ports on the Mac. This isn’t just a null modem connection, though. An AppleTalk network can support up to 32 nodes, file transfer, networked printers, and in later updates booting an Apple IIGS from a networked drive. Whenever you have a few classic Macs in one room, an AppleTalk network is bound to appear at some point, especially considering the limitations of an 800kB disk drive for sneakernetting and the fact the AppleTalk software is supplied with every version of the operating system.
[Chris] had an old dual disk Macintosh SE he had brought back from the dead, but his modern expectations of Internet On Every Computer meant this cute little compy was severely lacking. Yes, SCSI to Ethernet adapters exist, but they’re surprisingly expensive. Modems are right out because of landlines. How did he solve this problem? With AppleTalk, of course.
After picking up a pair of PhoneNet adapters, [Chris] plugged one into a PowerPC mac running OS 9. MacTCP, the Apple TCP/IP control panel for classic Mac operating systems, is able to encapsulate IP traffic into AppleTalk Packets. After turning the PowerPC mac into a router, [Chris] managed to get his all-in-one SE on the internet.
The only problem with this setup is the browser. NCSA Mosaic doesn’t have the ability to send traffic to a proxy server, but another classic Mac browser, MacWeb 2.0c does. This allowed him to load up our retro site using forgotten and long unsupported technologies.
If you have an old computer sitting around, try to load our retro site with it. Take a few pictures, and we’ll put it up in one of our Retro Roundups
Filed under: classic hacks
Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 22:00Pocket Dart/Spitball Gun for Wet/Dry Combat
What can you do with needles, disposable syringes, superglue, cotton swabs, and scissors? If you answered ‘get hassled by TSA agents’, you’d be right, but you could also do what [Mski] did and make a pocket dart gun!
[Mski] used a 10mL syringe and a clear BiC pen body. He glued the pen barrel to the needle adapter on the syringe to make the chamber. He made the darts by cutting cotton swabs in half and inserting glue-covered needles. If you’ve never cut a cotton swab in half, they are hollow inside. What he has there are actually straight pins, which are cheaper than needles and come in larger quantities. The good news is you can make a bandolier of darts without breaking the bank.
Load your gun by shoving spitballs and/or darts up the chamber with a thin wooden stick, like a bamboo skewer. If you use your wife’s knitting needle, we recommend putting it back where you found it.
Do you prefer flaming projectiles and find clothespins easier to come by? Are you a hemophiliac or needle-phobic? Make this mini matchstick gun instead.
Filed under: misc hacks
Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 19:00Atmel Announces SmartConnect WiFi Modules
This week we talked with Atmel about their new WiFi solutions targeting Internet of Things applications. Back in 2012, Atmel acquired Ozmo, a company focused on point-to-point WiFi solutions using WiFi Direct. These devices are known as SmartDirect, and have been available for some time.
Atmel has just announced a new product line: SmartConnect. This moves beyond the point-to-point nature of WiFi Direct, and enables connections to standard access points. The SmartConnect series is designed for embedding in low cost devices that need to connect to a network.
The first devices in the SmartConnect line will be modules based on two chips: an Atmel SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and an Ozmo 3000 WiFi System on Chip. There’s also an on-board antenna and RF shielding can. It’s a drop in WiFi module, which is certified by the FCC. You can hook up your microcontroller to this device over SPI, and have a fully certified design that supports WiFi.
There’s two ways to use the module. The first is as an add-on, which is similar to existing modules. A host microcontroller communicates with the module over SPI and utilizes its command set. The second method uses the module as a standalone device, with application code running on the internal SAMD21 microcontroller. Atmel has said that the standalone option will only be available on a case to case basis, but we’re hoping this opens up to everyone. If the Arduino toolchain could target this microcontroller, it could be a great development platform for cheap WiFi devices.
At first glance, this module looks very similar to other WiFi modules, including the CC3000 which we’ve discussed in the past. However there are some notable differences. One major feature is the built in support for TLS and HTTPS, which makes it easier to build devices with secure connections. This is critical when deploying devices that are connected over the internet.
Atmel is claiming improvements in power management as well. The module can run straight from a battery at 1.8 V to 3.3 V without external regulation, and has a deep sleep current of 5 nA. Obviously the operating power will be much higher, but this will greatly assist devices that sporadically connect to the internet. They also hinted at the pricing, saying the modules will come close to halving the current price of similar WiFi solutions. SmartConnect is targeting a launch date of June 15, so we hope to learn more this summer.
We’re always excited to see better connectivity solutions. If Atmel comes through with a device allowing for cheaper and more secure WiFi modules, it will be a great part for building Internet of Things devices. With a projected 50 billion IoT devices by 2020, we expect to see a lot of progress in this space from silicon companies trying to grab market share.