Cross-platform, open source media player VLC just became even more cross-platformy. Developers released updated versions of VLC for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android as well as for new versions of the app for platforms including Android TV, Windows Phone, and Windows RT. VLC has also returned to iOS. This marks the first time the VLC team […]
Last year tablet shipments were down for the first time since 2010. That’s led a lot of folks to try to come up with explanations. Maybe big-screened smartphones are eating into tablet sales. Maybe people who already own tablets don’t feel the need to upgrade to new models as quickly as they would upgrade phones. […]
Sony spun off its PC division in 2014, creating a new company called VAIO which sells computers exclusively in Japan. Now VAIO is getting ready to launch its first smartphones, which is kind of funny, since Sony is considering spinning off its own PC business. VAIO and wireless carrier Japan Communications plan to introduce the […]
VAIO’s first smartphones launching in Japan on March 12th is a post from: Liliputing
If you’ve ever lived in a building with manually controlled central heating, you’ll probably understand [Martin]’s motivation for this hack. These heating systems often have old fashioned valves to control the radiator. No Nest support, no thermostat, just a knob you turn.
To solve this problem, [Martin] built a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. This impressive build brings together a custom PCB based on the ESP8266 Wi-Fi microcontroller and a mobile-friendly web UI based on the Open Thermostat Scheduler. The project’s web server is fully self-contained on the ESP8266.
To replace that manual value, [Martin] used a thermoelectric actuator from a Swiss company called HERZ. This is driven by a relay, which is controlled by the ESP8266 microcontroller. Based on the schedule and the measured temperature, the actuator lets fluid flow through the radiator and heat the room.
As a bonus, the device supports NTP for getting the time, MQTT for publishing real-time data, and ThingSpeak for logging and graphing historic data. The source code and design files are available under a Creative Commons license.
Filed under: home hacks
Here’s a project that you don’t want to bring into an airport, ship through the mail, or probably even remove from your home. [ProjectGeek] has built himself a simple kitchen timer masquerading as a bomb. The build is actually pretty simple, but the end result is something that would look at home in a Hollywood action flick.
The timer circuit is built from four simple components. An 8051 microcontroller board is used as the primary controller and timer. The code is available on GitHub. This board is attached to a another board containing four momentary push buttons. These are used to program the timer and to stop the buzzing. Another board containing four 7-segment displays is used to show the remaining time on the timer. A simple piezo buzzer is used to actually alert you when the timer has run out. All of these components are connected with colorful jumper wires.
The physical part of this build is made from easily available components. Old newspapers are rolled up to form the “explosive” sticks. These are then covered in plain brown paper ordinarily used to cover text books. The rolls are bundled together and fixed with electrical tape. The electronics can then be attached to the base with some hot glue or double-sided tape.
Filed under: Microcontrollers
Who eats tomatoes while they run in the first place? No one… and Japanese ketchup company, Kagome would like to change that.
Dole has been sponsoring the Japan Marathon for years, supplying runners with ready to eat bananas to gnosh on-the-go for a quick boost of nutrients. Part of their advertising campaign this year is a Wearable-edible Banana that runners can eat hands free. Out of good humor and a desire to one-up the absurdity level, Kagome worked with known Japanese group, Maywa Denki to create the Tomatan, a smiling contraption that mounts on a runner’s shoulders and delivers tomatoes from a hopper directly into their face… as a reminder that though Japan could be eating wearable bananas, they could just as easily eat mechanically dispensed tomatoes instead.
Why is this awesome? When we’re talking about silliness and commercialism in Japan, the aforementioned Maywa Denki seems to always surface like a nonsense wielding genie. If you haven’t heard the name, this company is actually the identity of an artist group. They have a reputation for inventing mechanical gizmos that are humorously ridiculous, and then marketing them as serious products part of the Maywa Denki brand. The sixteen-pound piggy-back tomato feeder meant to help improve a runner’s stamina is just one example of their many “nonsense machines”.
When we bring the things we create to market, they are usually presented to the world as products of some sort. Maywa Denki bends this common concept of the product to create an identity around their works of art. Because why not solve an imaginary problem that doesn’t really need a solution?
Makes you wonder what kind of obnoxious contraption you’d build to wear in a crowd, huh?:
Dole Japan’s Wearable Banana propaganda:
Filed under: misc hacks
There are robots that will vacuum your house, mow your lawn, and keep their unblinking electronic eyes on you at all times while hovering hundreds of feet in the air. How about a robot that plays a violin? That’s what [Seth Goldstein] built. He calls it a ‘kinetic sculpture’, but there more than enough electronics and mechatronics to keep even the most discerning tinkerer interested.
There are three main parts of [Seth]’s violin-playing kinetic sculpture. The first is a bow carriage that draws the bow across the strings using an electromagnet to press the bow against the strings. The individual strings are fingered with four rubber disks, and a tilting mechanism rotates the violin so the desired string is always underneath the bow and mechanical fingers.
As far as software goes, the Ro-Bow transforms MIDI files into robotic mechanization that make the violin sing. From what we can tell, it’s not quite as good as a human player; only one string at a time can be played. It is, however, great at what it does and is an amazing mechanical sculpture.
Filed under: robots hacks
[Seandavid010] recently purchased a 2004 Volvo. He really liked the car except for the fact that it was missing some more modern features. He didn’t come stock with any navigation system or Bluetooth capabilities. After adding Bluetooth functionality to the stock stereo himself, he realized he would need a secure location to place his iPhone. This would allow him to control the stereo or use the navigation functions with ease. He ended up building a custom iPhone mount in just a single afternoon.
The key to this project is that the Volvo has an empty pocket on the left side of the stereo. It’s an oddly shaped vertical pocket that doesn’t seem to have any real use. [Seandavid010] decided this would be the perfect place to mount his phone. The only problem was that he didn’t want to make any permanent changes to his car. This meant no drilling into the dash and no gluing.
[Seandavid010] started by lining the pocket with blue masking tape. He then added an additional lining of plastic wrap. All of this was to protect the dashboard from what was to come next. He filled about half of the pocket with epoxy putty. We’ve seen this stuff used before in a similar project. He left a small opening in the middle with a thick washer mounted perpendicular to the ground. The washer would provide a place for an off-the-shelf iPhone holder to mount onto. [Seandavid010] also placed a flat, wooden paint stirrer underneath the putty. This created a pocket that would allow him to route cables and adapters underneath this new mount.
After letting the epoxy putty cure for an hour, he removed the block from the pocket. The stick was then removed, and any gaps were filled in with putty. The whole block was trimmed and smooth down for a more streamlined look. Finally, it was painted over with some flat black spray paint to match the color of the dashboard. An aftermarket iPhone holder allows [Seandavid010] to mount his cell phone to this new bracket. The cell phone holder allows him to rotate the phone into portrait or landscape mode, and even is adjustable to accommodate different sized phones.
Filed under: car hacks
Children’s TV provider Nickelodeon is launching a new subscription-based streaming video service that will let toddlers (or adults with childish tastes) watch kid’s shows on a smartphone or tablet. Noggin launches March 5th, and subscriptions for the ad-free service run $5.99 per month. At launch Noggin will be iOS-only, which means you’ll need an iPhone, […]
Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet is set to launch in April, but if you like living on the edge you can try the first beta version of the operating system, which was released today. Well, sort of. There are several different official flavors of Ubuntu. The main version uses the Unity desktop environment, and while you […]
Back in the 70s, industrial control was done with either relays and ladder logic or new programmable logic controllers. These devices turned switches on and off, moved stuff around a factory, and kept the entire operation running smoothly. In the late 70s, Motorola came out with an Industrial Control Unit stuffed into a tiny chip. The chip – the MC14500 – fascinated [Nicola]. He finally got around to building an ICU out of this chip, and although this was the standard way of doing things 30 years ago, it’s still an interesting build.
[Nicola]’s ICU is extremely simple, just eight relays, eight inputs, the MC14500, a clock, and some ROM. After wiring up the circuit, [Nicola] wrote a compiler, although this chip is so simple manually writing opcodes to a ROM wouldn’t be out of the question.
To demonstrate his ICU, [Nicola] connected up an on/off switch, a start button, and a stop button. The outputs are a yellow, green, and red lamp. It’s a simple task for even a relay-based control scheme, but [Nicola]’s board does everything without a hitch.
If you’re looking for something a little more complex, we saw the MC14500 being used as an almost-CPU last year.
Filed under: classic hacks
Imagination Technologies is launching its most powerful graphics processor yet. The PowerVR GT7900 GPU features 512 ALU cores, 16 shader clusters, and when clocked at 800 MHz, the GT7900 run at speeds of up to 800 gigaflops in floating point 32 mode, or 1.6 teraflops in the low-power FP16 mode. Don’t expect to find this chip in […]
French electronics company Archos has unveiled 4 new low-cost smartphones the company will launch at Mobile World Congress next week. The new phones are all powered by MediaTek processors, feature screen sizes ranging from 5 inches to 6.3 inches, and they’re all priced under $200. The top-of-the-line model is a 5 inch phone called the […]
Archos to launch budget smartphones, phablets at MWC 2015 is a post from: Liliputing
An Apple iPad Air 2 with 16GB of storage normally sells for $499. But there are a few ways to save money on Apple’s latest 9.7 inch tablet: you can pick up a 64GB model for $499 (which is $100 off the normal price), or save $80 on any model if you order from Best Buy before […]
Who doesn’t like Star Wars, LEDs, and music? [Stathack] was looking for a unique piece of art to put in his living room… so he decided to make his own Vader EQ.
The EQ is a massive 4′ x 5′ piece made from plywood and MDF. [Stathack] traced the familiar helmet onto it by using a projector to project the outline onto the surface. Not having access to an extra large CNC or laser, he then painstakingly used a jigsaw to cut out all the white pieces of the design — holy cow.
This process only took weeks and weeks of sanding, filling and sanding again due to the excellent precision of a jigsaw.
Once that was all done, he created the backing plate out of MDF to provide structural support and mounting locations for the LEDs. Bit of spray paint later and a simple circuit with the Arduino and it’s both done, and awesome.
Too bad he filmed the video vertically… sigh.
Need more Vader? How about your own Sous Vadar?
Filed under: Arduino Hacks, led hacks
Motorola’s Moto Maker tool lets smartphone shoppers customize the design of smartphones like the Moto X before placing an order. Soon you’ll be able to customize Motorola smartwatches the same way. Wired reports Motorola will launch a new version of Moto Maker in March, and this time it will have an option that lets you create a […]
LG has announced that one of the first smartphones with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor will begin shipping in March. The LG G Flex 2 is a 5.5 inch phone with a curved plastic OLED display and Android 5.0 software. As the name suggests, it’s the second member of the G Flex family, and the […]
LG G Flex 2 smartphone with Snapdragon 810 ships in March is a post from: Liliputing
You may think of Google as a company behind a search engine, mobile operating system, web browser, and self-driving cars. But Google makes most of its money through advertising… so it’s no surprise that the company is often looking for new ways to deliver ads. This week we learned that Google may be working on […]
It’s a wee bit cold in Finland right now. And while dog sledding is always an option (though mostly for tourists), one gentleman who goes by [Jibjorkl] on YouTube decided to try making his own motorized sleigh — and it’s freaking awesome.
Unfortunately our Finnish language skills aren’t exactly up to snuff so we’ll just have to describe the invention; perhaps one of our Finnish readers could add some insight if we miss anything?
It appears that [Jibjorkl] has taken a hub motor with a wheel from a standard e-bike and mounted on what looks like a store-bought sleigh. The wheel has something which looks kind of like duct tape wrapped around it to help give it extra traction in the snow. There are two lead-acid batteries sitting atop the motor assembly, but we can see an e-bike Li-on pack mounted on the side too (likely 48V 20+aH).
Regardless of how it works — it’ll take two passengers pretty damn fast through the snow. We want to build one asap.
Now which would you prefer? A motorized sled like this one (that you can sit on!), or a snow-scooter?
Filed under: transportation hacks
LG is introducing a new smartwatch that can double as a phone. The LG G Watch Urbane LTE supports phone calls and text messages, works with LTE data, and supports push-to-talk for walkie-talkie style communication on supported networks. It also features an NFC chip and software that lets you use the watch for mobile payments. […]