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  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 22:01
    Open Source Power Line Communication

    Power Line Communication Filtering

     

    Since we all have wires running throughout our houses to provide mains power, there’s a number of devices that piggyback on mains lines for communication. For his thesis project, [Haris Andrianakis] developed his own power line communication system.

    The basic principle of the system is to inject a signal onto the power lines at a much higher frequency than the 50 or 60 Hz of the AC power itself. Using both active and passive filters, the signal can be separated from the AC power and decoded. This system uses frequency-shift keying to encode data. This part is done by a ST7540 modem that’s designed for power line applications. The modem is controlled over SPI by an ATmega168 microcontroller.

    [Haris]‘ write up goes into detail about some of the challenges he faced, and how to protect the device from the high voltages present. The final result is a remote display for a weigh scale, which communicates over the power line. Schematics, PCB layout, and software are all available.

    Filed under: hardware, home hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 19:01
    The Mobile Phone PixelSWaLL

    mobile pixel wall

    As much as we hate to admit it, smart phones have become somewhat of a disposable item in today’s society. People upgrade their phones constantly and simply chuck their old ones. Of course, there’s plenty of things you can do with slightly out of date phones… Here’s one we haven’t seen before — a wireless multi-phone display!

    It’s called the PixelSWaLL, and according to the author,  his software can control up to 240 Android devices! To run this demo with just 9 phones, he’s using an old Apple Macbook running Windows 7 bootcamp, which sends the display info using an old Telmex router. Each phone or tablet runs the Android terminal application  using Eclipse ADT which renders OpenGL in real-time. The server application was made with Delphi 7 and uses the DSPack library to read video files in order to send them over UDP via Indy 10. It’s a bit of a mouthful to explain, but the resulting display array is pretty cool!

    Time to start collecting phones…

    [Thanks Axel!]

    Filed under: Android Hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 17:04
    Site updates and more today!


    Adafruit Maintenance

    Site updates and more today! We appreciate your support and patience as we update and upgrade Adafruit! See you soon!

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 16:01
    Bike Pedals in Both Directions, Gets You to Your Destination AND Back

     

    pedalbackward

    [punamenon2] has built an interesting bike that moves forward regardless if it is pedaled forward or backwards! What? Yes, you read that correctly. Pedal forward or backwards and the bike goes forward. This project started off as any old cruiser with a free-wheeling rear hub. To pull off this mod a second free-wheel and sprocket had to be added to the current wheel assembly. One free-wheel and sprocket set is used when pedaling forward, the other set is used when pedaling in reverse. There is also a new chain tensioner that serves to not only keep the chain taut but also allows for the chain to change directions which ultimately allows this novel idea to work.

    Confused? Here’s how it works:

    When pedaling in the forward direction, the bike acts as a normal bike does where top of the Crank Sprocket pulls the chain and the chain then pulls on the top of the Large Wheel Sprocket. This turns the rear wheel in the forward direction. The portion of the chain that wraps around the Small Wheel Sprocket is traveling in the backward (CCW) direction which doesn’t cause a problem because it is a freewheel, just like how you can pedal backwards on a bike while coasting forward. Since there are two different sized Wheel Sprockets, pedaling in the forward direction is the higher of the two gears.

    When pedaling backwards the chain moves in the opposite direction. The bottom of the Crank Sprocket pulls the chain forward which in-turn pulls on the top of the Small Wheel Sprocket. This also turns the rear wheel in the forward direction. The portion of the chain that wraps around the Large Wheel Sprocket is now traveling in the backward (CCW) direction, and again doesn’t cause a problem because it is freewheel.

    pedalforward

    Why did [punamenon2] decide to do this? Just for fun! And that is a good enough reason in our book.

    [via Reddit]

    Filed under: transportation hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 13:01
    Taking Pictures with a DRAM Chip

     

    DRAM Image

    This picture was taken by using a DRAM chip as an image sensor (translated). A decapped 64k DRAM chip was combined with optics that could focus an image onto the die. By reading data out of the DRAM, the image could be constructed.

    DRAM is the type of RAM you find on the RAM cards inserted into your motherboard. It consists of a massive array of capacitors and transistors. Each bit requires one transistor and one capacitor, which is quite efficient. The downside is that the memory needs to be refreshed periodically to prevent the capacitors from discharging.

    Exposing the capacitor to light causes it to discharge faster. Once it has discharged past a certain threshold, the bit will flip from one to zero. To take a picture, ones are written to every bit in the DRAM array. By timing how long it takes a bit to flip from one to zero, the amount of light exposure can be determined. Since the DRAM is laid out in an array, each bit can be treated as a pixel to reconstruct the image.

    Sure, modern CCDs are better, cheaper, and faster, but this hack is a neat way to totally re-purpose a chip. There’s even Turbo Pascal source if you’d like to recreate the project.

    Thanks to [svofski] for the tip.

    Filed under: digital cameras hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 10:01
    Web Interface for the FRAM LaunchPad

    webUILaunchpad The Internet of Things is here in full force. The first step when adding to the Internet of Things is obvious, adding a web interface to your project. [Jaspreet] wrote in to tell us about his project that adds a web interface to his MSP430 based project, making it easy to add any project to the internet of things.

    Creating a web interface can be a bit overwhelming if you have never done it before. This project makes it easy by using a dedicated computer running Linux to handle all of the web related tasks. The LaunchPad simply interfaces with the computer using USB and Python, and the computer hosts the webpage and updates it in real time using Node.js. The result is a very professional looking interface with an impressively responsive display that can control the on-board LEDs, read analog values from the integrated ADC, and stream accelerometer data. Be sure to see it in action after the break!

    We could see this project being expanded to run on the Raspberry Pi with a multitude of sensors. What will you add a web interface to next? Home automation? A weather station? Let us know!

    Filed under: internet hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 07:01
    Robot Cage Fighting is Still a Thing!

    1463025_550690488347294_1038503674_n

    Remember Battlebots? Turns out it is alive and well in Southern California at the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) Robotics League. That’s right — high school students are getting to build remote controlled weaponized robots to battle to the death inside a poly-carbonate octagon arena. Awesome.

    [Bradley Hanstad] wrote to us today to inform us of the 2014 Regional Competition — happening tomorrow at 10AM (PDT). We can’t make it there ourselves, but there is a live stream for everyone to see!

    The league started just this fall which currently consists of 15 area high schools, community colleges, and technical schools. The goal of the league is to spark an interest in engineering and manufacturing in young students, while at the same-time providing hands-on education on the applied side of the sciences. It’s sometimes tricky to get students engaged in engineering competitions — but as soon as you say fighting robots you will have most peoples’ attention.

    To see a teaser trailer for what is to come at these competitions, stick around after the break!

     

    Filed under: robots hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 07:00
    There Are More Ways To Arrange a Deck of Cards Than Atoms on Earth #SaturdayMorningCartoons


    There Are More Ways To Arrange a Deck of Cards Than Atoms on Earth. via Andrew Liszewski

    When you’re shuffling a deck of cards, you’re trying your best to ensure everything gets as mixed up as possible. But it turns out you might not have to try so hard. In this wonderful TedEd animation, Yannay Khaikin outlines the staggering number of ways a deck of 52 cards can be arranged.

    But just how staggering are we talking? It turns out there are 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (67 zeros) ways to arrange a deck of 52 cards. And as Khaikin explains, “Any time you pick up a well shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again.” Amazing.

    Read more


    Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 06:00
    Tech Time Warp of the Week: Watch Intel Supercharge Homer Simpson’s Brain #SaturdayMorningCartoons


    One of the funniest marketing attempts by Intel involved the Simpsons. In this 1998 commercial Homer Simpson is made smarter with a Pentium II chip implant. via DANIELA HERNANDEZ at Wired

    Intel chips have run our desktop PCs and laptops for decades. They drive the hundreds of thousands of computer servers that underpin websites like Google and Facebook. And they’re now heading towards the new wave of wearable computers. But the chip maker’s greatest triumph was putting a microprocessor inside the head of Homer Simpson.

    It happened in November of 1998, during a commercial break mid-way through the season premiere of the The X-Files. You can see the footage above.

    For years, its technicians had been working to make PCs smarter, Intel told the world in this wonderfully funny TV spot, but now they were facing their greatest challenge yet. And then it cuts to Homer on the operating table, as bunny-suited Intel engineers prepare to implant a Pentium II chip in his brain.

    ‘No one messes with my brain — until I get sprinkles.’

    — Homer Simpson

    “No one messes with my brain,” Homer says. “Until I get sprinkles.” And then he whips out a doughnut. So one of the bunny techs fires some anesthetic into Homer’s favorite snack, and the operation commences. “Now anyone can have all the brain power they want,” says our narrator, that Simpsons mainstay, Harry Shearer.

    In just two weeks, the 7.5-million transistor Pentium II chip transforms Homer into a world-class expert in organic chemistry. And naturally, he uses his newfound smarts to engineer the world’s densest doughnut. Of course, Intel wants everyone to know what’s now powering his brain. As the ad pans to the back of his head, we see that familiar “Intel Inside” logo.

    The Silicon Valley chip giant unloaded so many “Intel Inside” ads over the years, but this is one of the best. It has part of a broad marketing blitz in support of the Pentium II, the 1997 follow-up to the hugely successful Pentium. As pointed out by Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst at TIRIAS Research and a member of the Computer History Museum’s Semiconductor Special Interest Group in Mountain View, California, the Pentium II was based on a beefy computer workstation chip called the Pentium Pro, but unlike the Pro, it was meant for mainstream desktop PCs. It was not meant for your brain. But we’re fine with Intel taking some poetic license — especially when the Simpsons are involved.

    Read More


    Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 04:01
    Powering a RPi with Hydrogen

    raspberryHy

    Looking for a new way to power your Raspberry Pi? The raspberryHy project aims to develop a small fuel cell designed for powering the credit card sized computer. It adds a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, a battery, and custom control electronics to the Pi.

    The system takes hydrogen in from a compressed hydrogen cartridge and feeds it through a regulator. This passes the hydrogen into the PEM fuel cell at the correct pressure, and creates a potential. The control electronics boost that voltage up to the 5 V required on the Pi’s USB port. There’s also an electronically controlled purge valve which periodically exhausts the fuel cell.

    There’s a few reasons you might want to run your Pi with hydrogen. Run time of the fuel cell is limited only by the amount of hydrogen you can store. In theory, you could connect a large cylinder for very long run times. Combined with a battery, this could be quite useful for running Pis in remote locations, or for long-term backup power. The raspberryHy will be presented at Hannover Fair 2014 this month.

    Filed under: green hacks, Raspberry Pi

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 01:02
    NEW PRODUCT – Cupcade: the Raspberry Pi-Powered Micro Arcade Cabinet Kit – Beta


    1783 hands

    NEW PRODUCT – Cupcade: the Raspberry Pi-Powered Micro Arcade Cabinet Kit – Beta: Never be bored again with an adorable little arcade cabinet you can fit in your bag! This Raspberry Pi-powered kit combines our sharp PiTFT 2.8″ display, mini thumbstick, and mini arcade push buttons and a whole bunch of components to create the most adorable MAME cabinet in the known universe.

    Comes as a big kit with lots of parts including all electronic components, the laser cut case, power adapter, and a pre-burned SD card that is plug-and-play ready. You provide a Raspberry Pi model B, a soldering iron, solder, wire, basic electronic hand tools, tape, etc. This is the beta kit, which works great but is a little advanced and not good for beginners! We’ll be planning out a version with more of the circuitry pre-built in the future. For now we only recommend this project for people who have soldered before and even better, have a little Raspberry Pi/Linux hacking under their belt in case some configuration-file-editing is required. Give yourself a nice long Saturday afternoon to put together (about 4-6 hours altogether).

    We played a bunch of memorable old arcade games, like Ms Pacman, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Arkanoid, DigDug, etc with squee success but some games that are more advanced might be too slow even with overclocking the Pi. There are four buttons total, two next to the joystick for “fire” and “jump” and two in front for “coin” and “start”.

    Many details stand out here that show the love and care PaintYourDragon put into this kit.

    • First: you can configure it for either vertical (Ms Pac-man! Arkanoid!) or horizontal screen (Joust! Qix!). The controls can be set to either joystick-in-center or to the side. We include plastic for both configurations just pick which you want during construction.
    • Second: The SD card comes with a text-based MAME ROM selector screen that works in either V or H mode, with nicely printed out names and joystick/button selection.
    • Third: Pressing the two front buttons for three seconds simulates the Esc key, so you can quit games and safely shut down the Pi without use of a keyboard.
    • Fourth: To load new ROMs, simply plug in the SD card into any computer and drag the zipped up files into the directory, no need for WiFi, logging in or any other nonsense!
    • Fifth: What’s gaming without the noise? There’s a mono speaker and audio amp so you can relive all the bleeps

    Excited? You should be! And since you’re so interested, check out the ultra-detailed tutorial with build photos, instructions, and more!

    Don’t forget, a Raspberry Pi Model B is NOT included!

    In stock and shipping now!

    1783 joust

    1783 parts

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 01:01
    Building an Inductive Loop Vehicle Detector

    [Trax] was asked by a friend to build a device that could detect the presence of a car in front of his garage gate for it to open automatically. After searching the web for such a project and trying many of them, he decided to build his own detector based on an induction loop. As you may have guessed, this kind of detector works by detecting an inductance change in a wire loop (aka coil) buried in the road. Having a car pass several inches on top of it produces such an effect.

    [Trax]‘s write-up shows a very well thought and professional design. All the detector parameters can be adjusted using DIP switches and buttons: detection type (presence/pulse), signal filtering, main frequency and sensitivity. The wire loop is isolated from the main sensor electronics using a 1:1 isolation transformer and a Colpitts oscillator is used to drive the latter. Moreover, gas discharge tubes are also used for lightning protection.

    The change in inductance translates to a change in resonant frequency which is later detected by the main microcontroller. The board is 24V AC powered and a diode bridge + LM2596 SMPS step-down converter are in charge of generating the required +5V in an efficient way.

    As if this was not enough, [Trax] also made a PC-based tool that can change other platform settings using a serial connection. All the resources can be downloaded from his website and a few videos are embedded after the break.

    Filed under: hardware, transportation hacks

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 01:00
    A Splendid Day in Eindhoven

    Oculus Rift demos. Photographer Leo BakxA photo tour from last weekend's first Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire in the Netherlands.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 00:55
    Tutorial – Make your CupCade: the Raspberry Pi powered Micro Arcade Cabinet! @Raspberry_Pi #Raspberrypi #piday


    1783 Lrg
    Tutorial – Make your CupCade: the Raspberry Pi powered Micro Arcade Cabinet! @ The Adafruit Learning System. A tiny tribute to classic 1980s games.

    One of my Maker Faire displays once incorporated a Pac-Man theme “for the old-timers.” It was a surprise then to see young kids all recognized the characters too. How? Smartphones! Thanks to emulation — running old code byte-for-byte on modern hardware — these classic games are still played and relevant a generation later.

    Much of the mystique of the originals lied in the cabinets and controls. Anyone can load a game on a smartphone or tablet…but the physicality of the arcade machine and controls made them rare objects of desire back in the day. We wanted to capture a small taste of that, using the tiny Raspberry Pi computer. The result is a DIY kit we call Cupcade!

    Cupcade isn’t the first, but it’s notable for using the Adafruit PiTFT display. The direct digital interface delivers a pixel-perfect rendition of classic games with none of the blurriness you’d get with a composite screen.

    Learn more!

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 00:32
    NEW PRODUCT – Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank


    1765 dunktank

    NEW PRODUCT – Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank: Goldie Blox is a fun combination of storybook and engineering. Follow the leading lady, Goldie, in her quest to solve problems with engineering skills!

    In GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank, Goldie has to find a way to get Nacho clean. The only problem is: Nacho hates water and loves being a dirty dog. After many tries to get Nacho clean, Goldie finally comes up with the perfect contraption.

    • A book series plus construction set where Goldie and friends devise a plan to get Nacho clean in time for the carnival.
    • Builds spatial skills, engineering principles (hinges and levers), and confidence in problem-solving.
    • Comes equipped with 3 design ideas, and unlimited building possibilities.
    • Compatible with all other GoldieBlox toys.
    • Age range: 6+
    • Skill concept: Hinge and Lever
    • INCLUDES: Storybook, 1 animal figurine, 1 bouncy ball, 2 wheels, 9 short axles, 18 long axles, 12 blocks, 10 spacers, 2 targets, 3 design templates

    

In stock and shipping now!

    1765 back

    http://www.adafruit.com/product/1765

  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 00:09
    Open Source Vehicles and Dancing Robots at Maker Faire Shenzhen

    Venue of Maker Faire (9)Maker Faire Shenzhen is bringing a whole new show to China's industrial city.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 00:09
    Open Source Vehicles and Dancing Robots at Maker Faire Shenzen

    Venue of Maker Faire (9)Maker Faire Shenzhen is bringing a whole new show to China's industrial city.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Friday, April 4, 2014 - 23:37
    NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit “Music Maker” MP3 Shield for Arduino – TWO VERSIONS with 3W Stereo Amp & without 3W Stereo Amp – v1.0


    1788 boardonly

    Adafruit “Music Maker” MP3 Shield for Arduino – TWO VERSIONS w/3W Stereo Amp and without 3W Stereo Amp (MP3/Ogg/WAV…) – v1.0

    Bend all audio files to your will with the Adafruit Music Maker shield for Arduino! This powerful shield features the VS1053, an encoding/decoding (codec) chip that can decode a wide variety of audio formats such as MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, MIDI, FLAC, WAV (PCM and ADPCM). It can also be used to record audio in both PCM (WAV) and compressed Ogg Vorbis. You can do all sorts of stuff with the audio as well such as adjusting bass, treble, and volume digitally.

    All this functionality is implemented in a light-weight SPI interface so that any Arduino can play audio from an SD card. There’s also a special MIDI mode that you can boot the chip into that will read ‘classic’ 31250Kbaud MIDI data from an Arduino pin and act like a synth/drum machine – there are dozens of built-in drum and sample effects! But the chip is a pain to solder, and needs a lot of extras. That’s why we spun up the best shield, perfect for use with any Arduino Uno, Leonardo or Mega.

    We believe this is the best MP3 playing shield you can get, and at a great price too.

    Here are some specs:

    • Features the VS1053B codec chip – decodes Ogg Vorbis, MP3/MP2/MP1, MP4, AAC, WMA, FLAC, WAV/PCM, MIDI. Encodes Ogg or WAV/PCM
    • Stereo audio out with proper audio filter caps and ground reference so it can be safely connected directly to headphones, a stereo system or other powered speakers
    • 7 extra GPIO’s that can be written or read through the Arduino Library for reading buttons or lighting LEDs

      MicroSD card socket, for any FAT16/FAT32 formatted SD card from 64Mb or greater.
    • Full 3.3/5V level shifting for SD and MP3 chipsets
    • Works with Arduino Uno, Mega, or Leonardo
    • Built in MIDI synth/drum machine with dozens of instruments
    • Plenty of optional breakouts for pins like the card-detect and microphone input

    Each order comes with one fully-assembled and tested shield, 2 2-pin terminal blocks, a stick of 0.1″ male header and 2×3 female header for the ICSP connection. Some light soldering is required to attach the through-hole headers to the PCB for plugging into the Arduino as well as the terminal blocks for the speakers. Speakers, $1 headphones, SD card and Arduino not included!

    We’re wrapping up the full tutorial with photos of the shield, but for now we have a detailed tutorial with lots of information about the VS1053 as well as instructions for how to use our Arduino library that will get you playing sound effects in under 30 minutes.

    1788 with speakers

    Adafruit “Music Maker” MP3 Shield for Arduino w/3W Stereo Amp – v1.0: This version of the shield includes an onboard 3W/channel stereo audio amplifier that can drive 4 or 8 ohm speakers. It’s the same amplifier as in our TS2012 breakout, a great class D amplifier that sounds good and is power-conscious for portable/battery usage. Volume control is handled by the VS1053 chip. (read more)

    1790 headphones

    Adafruit “Music Maker” MP3 Shield for Arduino (MP3/Ogg/WAV…) – v1.0: This version of the shield only has stereo line/headphone output. (read more)

    In stock and shipping now for with 3W Stereo Amp and without 3W Stereo Amp!

  • Friday, April 4, 2014 - 23:30
    Sci-Fi Contest: Source Universe Roundup

    sci-fi-contest-universe-roundup

    The Hackaday Sci-Fi contest has 36 entries so far. Since there are fifteen prizes available, you stand an excellent chance of winning; but you can’t win if you don’t play. It’s pretty easy to be considered for the contest. You simply need to hack together something Sci-Fi related and show off your work. Head over to the contest page and check out the details. Ten of the prizes are popularity-based, so posting early is the best bet! For those that were put-off by the team requirement, there’s a hack to get around that.

    Since this is a themed contest we thought we’d give you an update on where inspiration is coming from. Below is the break-down of each Sci-Fi universe that has been so-far adopted by the entrants. We’d like to point out that this isn’t limited to movies, as the bulk of inspiration is to be found in literature. Why don’t we get a comment thread going here to help brain-storm for people who want help locking onto an idea?

    Oh, and if you’re wondering about the banner images. These were taken from three of the contest projects. The upper left is a GLaDOS replica controlled by Google Glass (complete with Nerf dart gun) inspired by Portal. Bottom left is a pair of Peril-Sensitive sunglasses inspired by A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And the bottom right is a life-sign scanner inpired by Stargate Atlantis.

    • Unknown (genre or misc themes) 9
    • A Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy 4
    • Back to the Future 3
    • Star Wars 3
    • 2001 A Space Odyssey 2
    • Doctor Who 2
    • Stargate 2
    • Thor 2
    • Blade Runner 1
    • Demolition Man 1
    • ET: The Extra Terrestrial 1
    • Futurama 1
    • Harry Potter 1
    • Knight Rider 1
    • Portal 1
    • Prometheus 1
    • Start Trek 1

    Filed under: contests

  • Friday, April 4, 2014 - 23:03
    Sin City Welcomes Makers Tomorrow

    Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 2.01.35 PMDoes what you make in Las Vegas stay in Las Vegas?

    Read more on MAKE


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