Monday, April 7, 2014 - 09:00Awesome new Jack White video shows paint reverberating inside speakers #MusicMonday
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 09:00Awesome new Jack White video shows paint reverberating inside a stack of amps #MusicMonday
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 08:00The Cumulus Parasol from toer is a Self-Inflating Solar Powered Umbrella
The Cumulus Parasol from the Dutch design firm toer is a self-inflating, solar powered umbrella. Now if only they could make a rain-activiated one!
The Cumulus Parasol is a solar powered parasol that inflates itself when the sun starts shining.
This artificial cumulus protects you from the sun. Whenever the sun comes out, this parasol inflates automatically to a cloud like shape using a solar panel at the top.
The Parasol inflates in about 20 seconds. The inflated Cumulus has a diameter of two meters. The cloud doesn’t have a metal core structure. The curved shape of the inflated cloud is aerodynamic, allowing it to withstand windy weather. The nylon surface of the Cumulus is durable, lightweight, and strong. The silicone coating makes it water proof.
Solar panels are positioned on top of the parasol. When it is sunny, these panels power a fan which inflates the body of the parasol. When the sun goes away the parasol deflates automatically. Also the parasol can be switched off using an additional switch which is integrated in the pole.
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 07:00From the Forums – A NeoPixel as a PHPUnit Status Indicator! #neopixel #arduino
This is a project for any PHP developers out there using PHPUnit as a test framework. I wrote some code to hook up a PHPUnit listener to an Arduino board, which changes the color of a NeoPixel based on the result of unit tests.
Here’s the code on GitHub.
A quick demo video (above).
Featured Adafruit Product!
Flora RGB Smart NeoPixel version 2 – Pack of 4: What’s a wearable project without LEDs? Our favorite part of the Flora platform is these tiny smart pixels. Designed specifically for wearables, these updated Flora NeoPixels have ultra-cool technology: these ultra-bright LEDs have a constant-current driver cooked right into the LED package! The pixels are chainable – so you only need 1 pin/wire to control as many LEDs as you like. They’re easy to sew, and the chainable design means no crossed threads. (read more)
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 06:00Editing circuits with focused ion beams #reverseengineering
[Andrew] has been busy running a class on hardware reverse engineering this semester, and figured a great end for the class would be something extraordinarily challenging and amazingly powerful. To that end, he’s editing CPLDs in circuit, drilling down to metal layers of a CPLD and probing the signals inside. It’s the ground work for reverse engineering just about every piece of silicon ever made, and a great look into what major research labs and three-letter agencies can actually do.
The chip [Andrew] chose was a Xilinx XC2C32A, a cheap but still modern CPLD. The first step to probing the signals was decapsulating the chip from its plastic prison and finding some interesting signals on the die. After working out a reasonable functional diagram for the chip, he decided to burrow into one of the lines on the ZIA, the bus between the macrocells, GPIO pins, and function blocks.
Actually probing one of these signals first involved milling through 900 nm of silicon nitride to get to a metal layer and one of the signal lines. This hole was then filled with platinum and a large 20 μm square was laid down for a probe needle. It took a few tries, but [Andrew] was able to write a simple ‘blink a LED’ code for the chip and view the s square wave from this test point. not much, but that’s the first step to reverse engineering the crypto on a custom ASIC, reading some undocumented configuration bits, and basically doing anything you want with silicon.
This isn’t the sort of thing anyone could ever do in their home lab. It’s much more than just having an electron microscope on hand; [Andrew] easily used a few million dollars worth of tools to probe the insides of this chip. Still, it’s a very cool look into what the big boys can do with the right equipment.
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 06:00Shoe factory converted into co-working space for hardware startups #makerbusiness
MakeWorks is a 10,000-square-foot, airy complex in a converted shoe factory, built into a half-height basement on Toronto’s College St. West. With desk space for 120 people, the sprawling facility looks a bit like other co-working spaces at first blush – there’s plenty of desks, along with a conference tables, and a kitchen, and an abundance of networking cable.
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 04:01Arduino-Controlled Marquee Arrow Points the Way to Whatever You Like
Reader [pscmpf] really digs the scrolling light look of old marquee signs and as soon as he saw some Christmas lights with G40 bulbs, he was on his way to creating his own vintage-look marquee arrow.
We must agree that those bulbs really do look like old marquee lights or small vanity globes. [pscmpf] started by building, varnishing, and distressing the wooden box to display the lights and house the electronics. He controls the lights with an Arduino Pro and an SSR controller board. The 24 lights are divided into ten sections; each of these has its own solid-state relay circuit built around an MC3042 as the opto-coupler, with a power supply he made from a scrap transformer.
[pscmpf] shares some but not all of his code as it is pretty long. There are five patterns that each play at three different speeds in addition to a continuous ‘on’ state. In his demonstration video after the jump, he runs through all the patterns using a momentary switch. This hack proves that Arduino-controlled Christmas lights are awesome year-round.
Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 02:04The World’s Biggest Tetris Game (video)
The Drexel University professor Frank Lee and his team hacked into the lighting system of a 29-story skyscraper in Philadelphia to play Tetris on the building’s facade.
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 01:01Hackaday Links: April 6, 2014
Home automation is from the future, right? Well at [boltzmann138's] house it’s actually from The Next Generation. His home automation dashboard is based on the LCARS interface; he hit the mark perfectly! Anyone thinking what we’re thinking? This should be entered in the Hackaday Sci-Fi Contest, right? [via Adafruit]
PCB fab can vary greatly depending on board size, number of layers, number of copies, and turn time. PCBShopper will perform a meta-search and let you know what all of your options are. We ran a couple of tests and like what we saw. But we haven’t verified the information is all good so do leave a note about your own experience with the site in the comments below. [via Galactic Studios]
We recently mentioned our own woes about acquiring BeagleBone Black boards. It looks like an authorized clone board is poised to enter the market.
Speaking of the BBB, check out this wireless remote wireless sensor hack which [Chirag Nagpal] is interfacing with the BBB.
We haven’t tried to set up any long-range microwave communications systems. Neither has [Kenneth Finnegan] but that didn’t stop him from giving it a whirl. He’s using Nanobridge M5 hardware to help set up a system for a triathlon happening near him.
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 22:00VCF East: PetPix, Streaming Images To A Commodore PET
Thought the Vintage Computer Festival would just be really old computers with hundreds of people pecking 10 PRINT “HELLO” 20 GOTO 10? Yeah, there’s plenty of that, but also some very cool applications of new hardware. [Michael Hill] created PetPix, a video player for the Commodore PET and of course the C64.
PetPix takes any video file – or streaming video off a camera – and converts 8×8 pixel sections of each frame to PETSCII. All the processing is done on a Raspberry Pi and then sent over to the PET for surprisingly fluid video.
There is, of course, a video of PetPix available below. There are also a few more videos from [Michael] going over how PetPix works.
Filed under: classic hacks
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 19:01Reusable Vacuum Bag Saves you Money
Vacuum dust bags are annoying. They’re expensive, one time use, and if you have an older vacuum cleaner, good luck finding replacements! [Karl] got fed up so he decided to make his own reusable dirt bag instead.
He’s using an old t-shirt as the new bag material but notes that you can use any other sufficiently drafty material as well — as long as it stops the dust but lets air through, you’re good! To seal the bag he’s using a piece of rubbery vinyl with a hole cut in it to seal against the intake pipe. This is sewn to the t-shirt with a piece of cardboard sandwiching the fabric. From there it’s just a matter of adding a zipper or Velcro, and you’re done!
He’s been using this filter for over a year and hasn’t had any problems with it yet — you can even wash it! While you’re at it, why not make a wet-spill attachment for your vacuum cleaner too?
Filed under: green hacks
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 16:00VCF East: The Swyft Card
Ninety five percent of the population will say Apple computers is the brainchild of [Steve Jobs]. The other five percent will be right, but what nearly no one knows is that the Macintosh project was originally conceived by [Jef Raskin]. He holds the honor of turning the Mac into an, ‘information appliance’ and being one of the first people to seriously consider how millions of people would interact with computers.
The Mac wasn’t [Jef]‘s first project at Apple, though. Before the Mac project he was working on something called Swyft – an easy to use command line system that was first implemented as a firmware card for the Apple IIe. [Mike Willegal] was kind enough to bring one of these Swyft cards to the Vintage Computer Fest this weekend, and did a demo of it for us.
The basic idea behind the Swyft card was to have an integrated word processor, calculator, and access to Applesoft Basic. Holding down a ‘leap’ key – in the case of the Apple IIe add-on, the open apple key – allowed the user to search for text and perform operations on any result. It’s odd, but it just makes sense in some strange way.
[Mike] is doing a build class at the VCF today where anyone attending can build their own Swyft card. He also has instructions for building your own, should you want to experiment with one of the ‘could have beens’ of user interface design.
Filed under: classic hacks
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 15:08Why UPS Trucks Don’t Turn Left #makerbusiness
UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents. By mapping out routes that involved “a series of right-hand loops,” UPS improved profits and safety while touting their catchy, environmentally friendly policy. As of 2012, the right turn rule combined with other improvements — for the wow factor, UPS doesn’t separate them out — saved around 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars of the road for a year.
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 14:39Controlling a lock with an Arudino and Bluetooth LE
This project allows you to open a solenoid lock from a PhoneGap app using theBluetooth Serial Plugin and the new Adafruit Bluetooth LE break-out board for the Nordic Semiconductor nRF8001 chip.
Our Adafruit Bluefruit LE (Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0) nRF8001 Breakout allows you to establish an easy to use wireless link between your Arduino and any compatible iOS or Android (4.3+) device. It works by simulating a UART device beneath the surface, sending ASCII data back and forth between the devices, letting you decide what data to send and what to do with it on either end of the connection.
And pick one up in the Adafruit store!
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 14:35Open Source Hardware and the Future of Embedded Systems – Bunnie’s slides from EELive! (PDF) #oshw
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 13:01CPLD Tutorial: Learn Programmable Logic the Easy Way
The guys over at hackshed have been busy. [Carl] is making programmable logic design easy with an 8 part CPLD tutorial. Programmable logic devices are one of the most versatile hardware building blocks available to hackers. They also can have a steep learning curve. Cheap Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) are plentiful, but can have intricate power requirements. Most modern programmable logic designs are created in a Hardware Description Language (HDL) such as VHDL or Verilog. Now you’ve got a new type of device, a new language, an entirely new programming paradigm, and a complex IDE to learn all at once. It’s no wonder FPGAs have sent more than one beginner running for the hills.
The tutorial cuts the learning curve down in several ways. [Carl] is using Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLD). At the 40,000 foot level, CPLDs and FPGAs do the same thing – they act as re-configurable logic. FPGAs generally do not store their configuration – it has to be loaded from an external FLASH, EEPROM, or connected processor. CPLDs do store their configuration, so they’re ready as soon as they power up. As a general rule, FPGAs contain more configurable logic than CPLDs. This allows for larger designs to be instantiated with FPGAs. Don’t knock CPLDs though. CPLDs have plenty of room for big designs, like generating VGA signals.
[Carl] also is designing with schematic capture in his tutorial. With the schematic capture method, digital logic schematics are drawn just as they would be in Eagle or KiCad. This is generally considered an “old school” method of design capture. A few lines of VHDL or Verilog code can replace some rather complex schematics. [Carl's] simple designs don’t need that sort of power though. Going the schematic capture route eliminates the need to learn VHDL or Verilog.
[Carl's] tutorial starts with installing Altera’s Quartus II software. He then takes the student through the “hardware hello world” – blinking an LED. By the time the tutorial is done, the user will learn how to create a 4 bit adder and a 4 bit subtractor. With all that under your belt, you’re ready to jump into big designs – like building a retrocomputer.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 10:01Creative Continuity Tester Made For a Few Bucks
No multi-meter? For troubleshooting most household things, a continuity tester is extremely handy. And as it turns out, you can make your own from the dollar store for next to nothing.
[Carlyn] shows us how to make two different styles of continuity testers — a light up version using a bicycle light, or a buzzer version using one of those cheap window alarms. The leads are made of 1/8″ audio cables — and everything for both these testers cost less than $5 from their local dollar store. It’s a very simple build process that you can probably figure out just from this one photo, but [Carlyn] has also taken pictures of every step along the way.
Compared to building one of these out of components from Radio Shack, this method is much more MacGyver, and cheap! Hooray for taking advantage of mass produced consumer products!
Filed under: tool hacks
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 08:00Computers teaching other computers how to play Pac Man
Would you like to play a game… of Pac Man? Researchers from Washington State University have developed a way for a computer to “teach” another computer how to play the video game.
Researchers have developed a method to allow a computer to give advice and teach skills to another computer in a way that mimics how a real teacher and student might interact. Researchers had the agents — as the virtual robots are called — act like true student and teacher pairs: student agents struggled to learn Pac-Man and a version of the StarCraft video game. The researchers were able to show that the student agent learned the games and, in fact, surpassed the teacher.
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 07:01University Attempts to Break 3D Printing World Record
LeTourneau University attempted to set a 3D printing Guinness World Record yesterday. They had 50 3D printers print the same thing at the same time. Impressive? Kind of, but not really.
LulzBot — our favorite 3D printer company — saw this and thought “that’s cute — we run over 50 printers a day on a normal basis!”. So just for lulz, they decided to film a little counter-record video featuring 109 LulzBot 3D printers running simultaneously.
To be honest, we kinda feel sorry for LeTourneau University — but it looks like LulzBot really takes the cake here. The university has a really cool policy for their engineering students though — all incoming freshmen students are required to build their own 3D printer for school. Whoa! To be honest it is a really cool way to force you to get out of your comfort zone and learn a bit about several different engineering disciplines.
To follow along the discussion and status of the record, a thread is going on over at 3Dprintboard.com. Stick around to see the video of LulzBot’s drool worthy server racks filled with identical printers.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 07:00E-Tattoos Can Now Store Data and Administer Medication
E-tattoos, ultra thin, stretchable electronics worn on the surface of the skin, are now capable of more than just basic biometric readings like heart rate monitoring. Now, researchers have made developments that allow them to store data and even automatically administer medicine. From Motherboard:
The problem with e-tattoos so far has been powering them and allowing them to do long-term data storage. The advancement of nanotechnology, however, has allowed researchers to create e-tattoos that use less power and are finally able to store data.
Powering the thing is still a problem—Son’s e-tattoos are connected to an external power source worn on the body (say, a battery placed in your pocket), but the data storage problem has been solved by using what’s known as resistive random access memory (RRAM), created using exceedingly small nanomembranes. For the first time, e-tattoos can actually store and use information.
That’s a big deal, because it opens up new possibilities for the usefulness of e-tattoos, especially in diagnostics and drug delivery. Instead of sticking one on so that you can use Bluetooth to connect the vibrations of your throat with your phone for better voice-command clarity, we can imagine a scenario where e-tattoos are used to trigger the release of drugs into the bloodstream or something like that.
Similar to the nanovolcano concept shown a few months ago, such devices could be useful for people with chronic conditions. In fact, Son even designed a wearable skin patch that could automatically deliver drugs when necessary and tested it on pigs.