Monday, March 3, 2014 - 13:00New Project: How To Make A Picket Fence Gate in about 30 Minutes
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 13:00Nanotubes Make Logic Circuits that Use Both Light and Current
IEEE Spectrum has the latest information on speeding up communication between computer chips.
Engineers trying to speed up communication between computer chips have been working on using beams of light to replace the copper traces that shuttle data between microprocessors. Now a pair of researchers at Northeastern University in Boston think they can turn up the speed even more by doing some of the computing with light as well.
Physicist Swastik Kar and mechanical engineer Yung Joon Jung lay belts of carbon nanotubes on top of a silicon wafer. The junction created by the intersection of the two materials proved to be highly sensitive to light; shining a laser spot on it caused a sharp rise in the light-induced current. That allowed the pair to build logic circuits that could be manipulated both electrically and optically.
“What we’ve done is built a tiny device where one input can be a voltage and the other input can be light,” Kar says.
The researchers built an optoelectronic AND gate and a two-bit optoelectronic ADDER/OR gate. They also built a four-bit digital-to-analog converter. Shining spots of light onto an array of these junctions converts the digital signal of the laser into an analog current, with the strength of the current depending on the on/off pattern of the laser.
Jung creates the nanotubes in solution, and they can then be placed on a patterned silicon/silicon oxide substrate, so the technology should be compatible with existing CMOS processes, he says. The process should also be reproducible and scalable to large numbers of junctions.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 12:00Project Tango: A Mobile Phone That Maps Your World
Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, Google is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.
What could I do with it?
What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?
Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world?
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 12:00Searching For Makers In Washington DC
Despite there being an inordinate amount of techies and tech companies in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, there aren’t really that many hacker/makerspaces, or really anywhere else for tinkering, building, and generally futzing around with a soldering iron. [Zach] thought it was time for a change and is now organizing the second Make DC an informal get together to show off your latest projects and builds. Here’s the best part: Hackaday is coming, and we’re bringing some sweet swag.
Right now [Matt] has two talks lined up focused on bringing APIs into the physical world. There’s space for plenty more speakers, so if you have something to show off be sure to sign up.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19, 6:30 PM, half a block away from the Dupont Circle Metro station. Be there. You’ll get a sticker at least.
Filed under: news
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 11:00Arduboy: The Interactive Digital Business Card #arduino
Kevin Bates shared with us his interactive digital business card project: “It is completely flush with the circuit board. I love your site I have learned virtually everything I know about micro controllers from you! Thanks!”
The primary trick of this design is having milled cutouts made for surface mount components to be press fit into, using the circuit board as a kind of frame. Components selected have a thickness near that of the circuit board (1.6mm). Furthermore, to minimize the board thickness, the Atmega328P is inverted so that the bulk of its height below the surface. The result of equal thickness and recessed installation provides a flush appearance. The primary benefit beyond the aesthetic quality is the device is easily slid from a wallet. The high quality boards and the excellent service from oshpark also makes this build possible.
…Inspiration struck when I was working with the OLED module. For some time I had been pondering the best method for protecting and otherwise accounting for the flex ribbon on the screen within the design of the circuit board. When prototyping, the screen laid flat against the breakout board and this felt like the most natural orientation for the display to be installed. Placing a circuit board next to the OLED screen revealed near identical height and in that moment I knew it was time to get to work….
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 10:01Hacking Dell Laptop Charger Identification
If you’ve ever had a laptop charger die, you know that they can be expensive to replace. Many laptops require you to use a ‘genuine’ charger, and refuse to boot when a knock off model is used. Genuine chargers communicate with the laptop and give information such as the power, current, and voltage ratings of the device. While this is a good safety measure, ensuring that a compatible charger is used, it also allows the manufacturers to increase the price of their chargers.
[Xuan] built a device that spoofs this identification information for Dell chargers. In the four-part series (1, 2, 3, 4), the details of reverse engineering the communications and building the spoofer are covered.
Dell uses the 1-Wire protocol to communicate with the charger, and [Xuan] sniffed the communication using a MSP430. After reading the data and verifying the CRC, it could be examined to find the fields that specify power, voltage, and current.
Next, a custom PCB was made with two Dell DC jacks and an MSP430. This passes power through the board, but uses the MSP430 to send fake data to the computer. The demo shows off a 90 W adapter pretending to run at 65 W. With this working, you could power the laptop from any supply that can meet the requirements for current and voltage.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 10:00Cities in motion: how slime mold can redraw our rail and road maps
Most people see slime mold and think “gross”. But researchers have discovered a new use for the substance- urban planning. Via The Guardian.
When asked, slime mould would reroute the M6. For years now, researchers in the field of urban transport have looked at biomimicry as a tool for establishing the most efficient routes around congested cities, typically by road or rail.
The use of naturally occurring living organisms to solve spatial design problems has, in this area, variously been explored by mimicking the foraging process of ants or the growth of crystal structures. But it is a particular form of slime mould, Physarum polycephalum (the “many-headed slime”), that has shown particular promise, having been applied to cities around the world and now offering the potential for mimicking regularly occurring events, such as rush hours.
P polycephalum is a plasmodial, single-celled organism which grows outward from a single point, searching for food sources. Once these have been located, the many branches it has sent out die back, leaving only the most efficient route between food source nodes.
By arranging pieces of oatmeal on a Petri dish to represent railway stations, researchers at the University of Hokkaido in Japan successfully grew a slime mould model of the Tokyo rail system in 2010. Since then, slime has mapped the optimum transport networks of numerous cities, as well as the Silk Road and a full global trade route.
In a comparison of 14 countries’ motorway networks, a global team of researchers led by Professor Andrew Adamatzky – director of the unconventional computing centre at the University of the West of England – used oat flakes and slime to establish that cities in Belgium, Canada and China had existing transport networks most similar to the slime model, and thus were most efficient, while networks in the US and Africa were indicated to be the least efficient.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 09:00Bicolor Square Heart/Valentines Necklace #ArduinoMicroMonday @arduino #arduino
Bicolor square heart/valentines necklace
I use a micro, but just about anything will do. There’s some Sugru on there to keep the sharp bits from catching on clothing/pockets. Usb battery powers the whole thing. It’s pretty bright, definitely not subtle.
Here is the official press release for the Arduino Micro in collaboration with Adafruit.
Arduino Micro in collaboration with Adafruit
Arduino Micro board – Based on the technology behind the Leonardo board, its main feature is the very small size.
The Arduino Micro packs all of the power of the Arduino Leonardo in a 48mm x 18mm module (1.9″ x 0.7″).
It makes it easier for makers to embed the Arduino technology inside their projects by providing a small and convenient module that can be either used on a breadboard or soldered to a custom designed PCB.
The Micro has been developed in collaboration with Adafruit Industries, one of the leaders of the Maker movement. Adafruit is already developing a series of accessories for the new board that will complement its power and simplicity.
Throughout the month of November the product is available exclusively from Adafruit online and Radio Shack in retail stores.
Main features of Arduino Micro:
- The Arduino Micro is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega32u4.
- Like its brother the Leonardo board, the Arduino Micro has one microcontroller with built-in USB. Using the ATmega32U4 as its sole microcontroller allows it to be cheaper and simpler. Also, because the 32U4 is handling the USB directly, code libraries are available which allow the board to emulate a computer keyboard, mouse, and more using the USB-HID protocol.
- It has 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a micro USB connection, an ICSP header, and a reset button. It contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a micro USB cable to get started.
- This allows the Micro to appear to a connected computer as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.
- Microcontroller: ATmega32u4
- Operating Voltage: 5V
- Input Voltage (recommended): 7-12V
- Input Voltage (limits): 6-20V
- Digital I/O Pins: 20
- PWM Channels: 7
- Analog Input Channels: 12
- DC Current per I/O Pin: 40 mA
- DC Current for 3.3V Pin: 50 mA
- Flash Memory: 32 KB (ATmega32u4) of which 4 KB used by bootloader
- SRAM: 2.5 KB (ATmega32u4)
- EEPROM: 1 KB (ATmega32u4)
- Clock Speed: 16 MHz
Arduino, the first widespread Open Source Hardware platform, was launched in 2005 to simplify the process of electronic prototyping. It enables everyday people with little or no technical background to build interactive products.
The Arduino ecosystem is a combination of three different elements:
- A small electronic board manufactured in Italy that makes it easy and affordable to learn to program a microcontroller, a type of tiny computer found inside millions of everyday objects.
- A free software application used to program the board.
- A vibrant community, true expression of the enthusiasm powering the project. Every day on the www.arduino.cc website thousands of people connect with other users, ask for help, engage and contribute to the project.
About Adafruit Industries
Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Since then Adafruit has grown to over 25 employees in the heart of NYC. Adafruit has expanded their offerings to include tools and equipment that Limor personally selects, tests and approves. Adafruit has one of the largest collections of free electronics tutorials, open-source hardware and software to help educate and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 09:00This app could train your brain to see in 20/7.5 vision #apps #biology
20/20 vision isn’t good enough apparently! Popular Mechanics has the story on an app that could take your vision to a whole new level.
When a major league baseball pitcher throws a 95-mph fastball, only about 400 milliseconds—the duration of a blink—pass before the ball rockets over the plate. And a batter gets less than half that time to decide whether to swing, and where. Baseball players, then, could reap huge benefits from being able to probe a baseball farther from their eyes. And that inspired Aaron Seitz, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Riverside, who has created a new, publicly available app that conditions users to see farther on or off the baseball diamond.
In a study published this week in the journal Current Biology, Seitz worked with 19 players on the University of California, Riverside, baseball team, and showed that his app UltimEyes lengthened the distance at which the players could see clearly by an average of 31 percent. After using the app for 30 25-minute intervals, players saw an improvement that pushed many of them beyond normal 20/20 vision, including seven who attained freakishly good 20/7.5 vision—meaning that at a distance of 20 feet, they were clearly seeing what someone with normal vision could see at no farther than 7.5 feet away…
Despite its name, UltimEyes has little to do with improving the physical eye or eye muscles. Rather, the app works by exploiting recent insights into when and how the adult brain can be fundamentally rewired—a concept known as neuroplasticity.
UltimEyes exercises the visual cortex, the part of our brain that controls vision. Brain researchers have discovered that the visual cortex breaks down the incoming information from our eyes into fuzzy patterns called Gabor stimuli. The theory behind UltimEyes is that by directly confronting the eyes with Gabor stimuli, you can train your brain to process them more efficiently—which, over time, improves your brain’s ability to create clear vision at farther distances.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 08:00World’s Largest Wave Energy Farm Coming Soon
Lockheed Martin will build the world’s largest wave energy farm off the coast of Victoria, Australia, via engineering.com:
The PowerBuoy is a piston style wave energy harvester. Most of it is below sea level, anchored to the ocean floor. A piston is connected to a floating island – the Take Off Unit – that bobs up and down with the waves. Those movements are converted to rotational motion that spins a generator. The 600 Volt outputs of several PowerBuoys are connected to an Underwater Substation Pod whose output goes to shore through a subsea cable.
The project will roll out in three phases, with the first phase producing 2.5 MW peak. It’s likely that they’ll use Mark 3 PowerBuoys, which have been thoroughly tested off the coasts of Hawaii and Scotland. Each Mark 3 weighs 180 tons and can be towed to its location by a standard tugboat. It has a peak output of 866 kW and a projected life of 25 years.
Under development is the Mark 4 PowerBuoy, with a peak output of 2.4 MW. As part of the agreement, Lockheed Martin will assist OPT with the design and manufacturing of its product line, so we’re likely to see the Mark 4 in later phases of this project.
Compared to offshore wind power, wave energy offers several advantages. First, the converters only stand 38 feet (11.5 m) above the ocean surface, so they’re barely visible from the shoreline. According to the US Department of Energy, “The size of the PowerBuoys when viewed from shore would be [equivalent to] approximately 1.6 millimeters when viewed from arm’s length.” They also produce less noise and have practically no impact on ocean life, including birds. Wave energy can be predicted up to 72 hours in advance, giving grid operators plenty of notice regarding changes in electricity production.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 07:00USB Keyboard And Mouse For The PS4
If you’d like to play BattleCallSpaceMarine on the Playstation 4 with a keyboard and mouse – and have an unfair advantage over everyone else playing on a console – you’d normally be out of luck. Sony implemented a fair bit of software to make sure only officially licensed controllers are able to talk to the console. It took a while, but [Frank Zhao] has figured out why keyboard and mouse doesn’t work on PS4, and created a device to enable these superior input devices.
Sony engineers decided – or were told – that the PS4 shouldn’t be able to connect to any old USB device. To that end, they made the console issue challenges to a DualShock controller to make sure the official controller is always connected over Bluetooth.
[Frank]‘s device solves this problem by taking the USB output from a keyboard and mouse, doing the CRC calculations, and sending them out over Bluetooth. Because the PS4 constantly issues challenges and responses of the authentication procedure, a real DualShock controller needs to be connected to the device at all times. Still, if you want a keyboard and mouse on the PS4, this is the way to do it.
All the sources and layouts are up on [Frank]‘s github where you’re free to create your own. This isn’t a finished product quite yet; [Frank] still needs to do a redesign of the circuit. Judging from the response of his earlier attempt at keyboards and mice on the PS4, though, this may be a successful product in the works.
Filed under: playstation hacks
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 07:00dweet.io paired with Arduino gives table game a live scoreboard #arduino #CC3000
dweet.io paired with Arduino gives table game a live scoreboard. Features the Adafruit CC3000 WiFi Shield. Thanks to Thomas for the tip!
We used dweet.io to connect a foosball table to the Internet during an IoT workshop at Hyperwerk Basel. The main advantage of the service is that it also works without authentication, that it’s trivial to use for everyone who can send a simple Web request, that it’s based on the open JSON standard and that it adds timestamps to entries. As we used Arduinos with either an Ethernet shield or CC3000 WiFi modules, SSL encryption was not an option for us. When we found that dweet.io enforces SSL through redirects and contacted support, the nice folks at Bug Labs immediately adapted their service to enable our use case.
Here’s how it works: Each goal bay is equipped with an Internet-connected Arduino, a PIR sensor to detect goals, and a button to “undo” goals that do not count under the local foosball rules. On startup or reset, the goal counter is set to 0. If a goal is detected, the counter is incremented….
Featured Adafruit Product!
Adafruit CC3000 WiFi Shield with Onboard Ceramic Antenna: The CC3000 hits that sweet spot of usability, price and capability. It uses SPI for communication (not UART!) so you can push data as fast as you want or as slow as you want. It has a proper interrupt system with IRQ pin so you can have asynchronous connections. It supports 802.11b/g, open/WEP/WPA/WPA2 security, TKIP & AES. A built in TCP/IP stack with a “BSD socket” interface. TCP and UDP in both client and server mode, up to 4 concurrent sockets. It does not support “AP” mode, it can connect to an access point but it cannot be an access point. We carefully wrapped this little silver module into an Arduino shield. We also added a microSD socket and a reset button. It has an onboard 3.3V regulator that can handle the 350mA peak current, and a level shifter to allow 3 or 5V logic level. The antenna layout is identical to TI’s suggested layout and we’re using the same components, trace arrangement, and antenna so the board maintains its FCC emitter compliance (you’ll still need to perform FCC validation for a finished product, but the WiFi part is taken care of). Even though it’s got an onboard antenna we were pretty surprised at the range, as good as a smartphone’s. (read more)
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 06:00TechGirls Canada’s Portraits of Strength
TechGirls Canada is running a series called “portraits of strength” featuring women role models in STEM. Pictured above is Natalie Panek whom we have featured before for Ada Lovelace Day. Hop over to the TechGirls site to see the other women they have nominated and to read more about them!
Portraits of Strength features women in STEM who have helped break barriers and achieved great things within their industry. These are the movers and shakers making a better world for future female leaders in STEM. Here are the stories of how they’re changing the ratio, serving as role models for girls and young women across Canada, and inspiring us all.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 04:00The Stepper Driver Driver
The Stepstick and Pololu motor drivers are the heart of just about every Reprap electronics board, but they can go bad. The usual way of testing these things is to rig up a microcontroller on a breadboard, grab some cables, and wire something up. [Ken]‘s Easy Stepper Motor Controller is a much simpler solution to the problem of testing these drivers and could, with a bit of practice, be constructed on a single-sided homebrew PCB.
The Easy Stepper Motor Controller is a very simple board with connections to a motor, a power supply, and headers for a single Pololu or Stepstick motor driver. Two buttons and a pot control the rotation of the motor with the help of an ATtiny10, and jumpers for up to 16x microstepping are right there on the board.
There’s a video after the break showing what this stepper motor driver driver can do. It’s not much, but if you’re just testing a driver, it’s all you need.
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.