Most fractals are recursive, and CSS rules can be applied to HTML objects that have already have rules applied to them. It’s not quite recursion, because there’s no way to dynamically generate HTML with CSS. However, with just a few tags, [Jim] can generate one level of a Pythagoras Tree. This method requires placing tags in the HTML for every level of the tree, greatly limiting the cool factor. That’s easily remedied by a few CTRL+Cs and CTRL+Vs.
Filed under: Software Development
Cable TV can be expensive, especially if you end up paying for dozens or even hundreds of channels you don’t watch. Sling TV could be a cheaper option. For $20 per month you can access a limited number of TV channels over the internet, including ESPN, CNN, Cartoon Network, and the Food Network. Sling TV […]
US cable TV and internet provider Cablevision plans to launch a mobile phone network in February. It’s called Freewheel, and existing Cablevision subscribers will be able to sign up for unlimited talk, text, and data plans for just $10 per month. Folks who aren’t already Cablevision customers will be able to use Freewheel for $30 […]
It’s winter, and that means terrible weather and very few days where flying RC planes and helicopters is tolerable. [sjtrny] has been spending the season with RC flight simulators for some practice time. He had been using an old Xbox 360 controller, but that was really unsuitable for proper RC simulation – a much better solution would be to use his normal RC transmitter as a computer peripheral.
The usual way of using an RC transmitter with a computer is to buy a USB simulator adapter that emulates a USB game pad through a port on the transmitter. Buying one of these adapters would mean a week of waiting for shipping, so [sjtrny] did the logical thing and made his own.
Normally, a USB simulator adapter plugs in to a 3.5mm jack on the transmitter used for a ‘buddy box’, but [sjtrny] had an extra receiver sitting around. Since a receiver simply outputs signals to servos, this provides a vastly simpler interface for an Arduino to listen in on. After connecting the rudder, elevator, aileron, and throttle signals on the receiver to an Arduino, a simple bit of code and the UnoJoy library allows any Arduino and RC receiver to become a USB joystick.
[sjtrny] went through a second iteration of hardware for this project with a Teensy 3.1. This version has higher resolution on the joystick axes, and the layout of the code isn’t slightly terrible. It’s a great project for all the RC pilots out there that can’t get a break in the weather, and is also a great use for a spare receiver you might have sitting around.
Filed under: peripherals hacks, radio hacks
Google hopes to launch a pilot program to sell modular smartphone kits based on Project Ara later this year. But a modular smartphone is only as good as the modules you can use to customize the device. Fortunately there are already third-party developers working on modules. The folks at Phonebloks are highlighting some of them, including […]
About a decade ago, Nintendo released a Game Boy Advance carrying case in the shape of a Game Boy Advance. It was the obvious answer to the original brick Game Boy carrying case every eight year old had in 1990. This jumbo-sized Game Boy Advance case also makes a really good platform for a console mod, which is exactly what [frostefires] got when he put an N64 in one.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this bit of old Nintendo paraphernalia used to house an N64. A few years ago, [Hailrazer] used the same GBA carrying case as the body of an N64 build. There were a few shortcomings in that build, most importantly the removal of the D pad. [frostedfires]’ build fixes this oversight.
Inside the GBA enclosure is a 4.3 inch screen, a replacement Gamecube joystick, an SNES D pad, and of course the entire N64 circuit board with a few modifications.
[frostedfires] entered this into a ‘Shark Tank’-ish competition at school, and this build was so impressive he won first place. Link to the full build thread here.
Filed under: nintendo gameboy hacks, nintendo hacks
[Matt], [Andrew], [Noah], and [Tim] have a pretty interesting build for their capstone project at Ohio Northern University. They’re using a Microsoft Kinect, and a Leap Motion to create a natural user interface for controlling humanoid robots.
The robot the team is using for this project is a tracked humanoid robot they’ve affectionately come to call Johnny Five. Johnny takes commands from a computer, Kinect, and Leap motion to move the chassis, arm, and gripper around in a way that’s somewhat natural, and surely a lot easier than controlling a humanoid robot with a keyboard.
The team has also released all their software onto Github under an open source license. You can grab that over on the Gits, or take a look at some of the pics and videos from the Columbus Mini Maker Faire.
Filed under: Kinect hacks, robots hacks
[Christian Finklea] was inspired by a glow in the dark table, and decided to try his hand at making his own… and it’s absolutely fantastic.
He designed the table using SketchUp Make, and overlaid the continents of our planet on a grid of hexagons — Though it looks like he left Antarctica out of the mix — poor Antarctica! Why hexagons you might ask? Well, his CNC machine isn’t that big, so he had to choose a smaller work piece size in order to make the table. Kind of gives off a Settlers of Catan vibe too…
Once he had all the intricate hexagons milled out, he began assembling the table. Lots of wood glue later the table started looking like a table. Now here’s the fun part — making it glow.
Using what looks like a kind of glow-in-the-dark epoxy, [Christian] filled in all of the country cutouts and waited for it to cure. Bit of sanding later, some more lacquer, and boom — he has an awesome coffee table.
Now if only he had stuck some LEDs in there too like one of these RGB coffee tables we’ve seen — Then you could also play Risk anytime!
Filed under: cnc hacks
Finally, a real hack! [PodeCoet] wrote in to tell us about a little fun he had recently in the workplace… He discovered the label makers everyone uses are all IP-enabled… and well, he took advantage of that.
His long but utterly delightfully written blog post is actually a tutorial on how to hack into Zebra-brand printers. From the realization of this possibility, to the first test print, to spoofing his MAC address, [PodeCoet] had a blast doing this — evident in his lovely descriptions of the events — like after he made first access to a printer over IP.
I’m now tripping absolute balls with excitement, and time seems to dilate as I rush to get to the car to drive home.
Unable to contain my excitement during the 20 minute drive, I pull over into a laneway, browse Zebra’s website on my smartphone, and download a copy of the “Zebra ZPL Programming Guide”.
Talk about excitement! Oh and did we mention he originally planned on getting fired by doing this?
He may have reconsidered though and decided on a more neutral-friendly label to mass print at work (which is an assembly line by the way). This is what he came up with:
In the end his “printer attack” lasted about 15 seconds, in which all the printers managed to spit out the same label at about the same time. He wishes he could have gotten a video clip of his coworkers reactions, but obviously this may have given him away.
Here’s a screen cap of his lovely hacking application.
In conclusion, [PodeCoet] advises you to secure your network:
Always assume someone is trying to break into your s#%t, even if you think your staff are knuckle-dragging neanderthals struggling to make ends-meet.
Filed under: computer hacks
Misumi is doing something pretty interesting with their huge catalog of aluminum extrusions, rods, bolts, and nuts. They’re putting up BOMs for 3D printers. If you’ve ever built a printer with instructions you’ve somehow found on the RepRap wiki, you know how much of a pain it is to go through McMaster or Misumi to find the right parts. Right now they have three builds, one with linear guides, one with a linear shaft, and one with V-wheels.
So you’re finally looking at those fancy SLA or powder printers. If you’re printing an objet d’arte like the Stanford bunny or the Utah teapot and don’t want to waste material, you’re obviously going to print a thin shell of material. That thin shell isn’t very strong, so how do you infill it? Spheres, of course. By importing an object into Meshmixer, you can build a 3D honeycomb inside a printed object. Just be sure to put a hole in the bottom to let the extra resin or powder out.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer invented an automatic hammer? It’s been reinvented using a custom aluminum linkage, a freaking huge battery, and a solenoid. Next up is the makeup shotgun, and a reclining toilet.
[Jan] built a digitally controlled analog synth. We’ve seen a few of his FM synths VA synths built from an LPC-810 ARM chip before, but this is the first one that could reasonably be called an analog synth. He’s using a digital filter based on the Cypress PSoC-4.
The hip thing to do with 3D printers is low-poly Pokemon. I don’t know how it started, it’s just what the kids are doing these days. Those of us who were around for Gen 1 the first time it was released should notice a huge oversight by the entire 3D printing and Pokemon communities when it comes to low-poly Pokemon. I have corrected this oversight. I’ll work on a pure OpenSCAD model (thus ‘made completely out of programming code’) when I’m sufficiently bored.
*cough**bullshit* A camera that can see through walls *cough**bullshit* Seriously, what do you make of this?
Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links
Looking for something unique to spice up his music room [Est] decided he wanted to try making a light that responds to the music — kind of like a VU meter, but a little different. He calls it the Light Effect Tower.
The main structure of the tower was cut out of 6mm acrylic using [Est’s] homemade CNC router. He used a V router bit to do the engraving, which when combined with light, produces a high contrast dynamic with the plastic.
He designed the circuit to fit into the triangular base, which uses a PIC micro controller to sample a microphone to produce the lighting effect. The cool thing is, he’s designed it to calculate the max level of noise, to scale the sample accordingly — that way if you’re playing loud music or quiet music, it’ll still work without any adjustments to the microphone gain.
Oh yeah, did we mention this thing is big? It’s actually 1.5 meters tall! Check out the different modes he programmed in — it’s pretty bumping.
For more musical lighting goodness, you’ve gotta see this giant water and light VU meter we covered a few years ago.
Filed under: led hacks
After years of playing DnD, it’s finally [Mike]’s turn to be a DM. Of course he can’t draw maps with his hands, so that means building a tabletop plotter.
[Mike] is basing his tabletop game plotter on the Makelangelo, a polar plotter that draws images on a vertical platform with the help of two motors in the corner. This is a tabletop plotter, so the usual vertical arrangement wouldn’t work, but there are some projects out there that use the CoreXY system for a similar horizontal build.
The tabletop CoreXY system is built from rigid aluminum yard sticks, 3D printed parts, two very cheap stepper motors, an Arduino, and a whole lot of string. It’s a very inexpensive build and because [Mike] is using metal rulers for the frame, it’s also very low profile – a nice advantage for table top sessions.
So far, [Mike] has the axes of the plotter moving, with a servo and pen mechanism next on the build plan. He has a few neat ideas for how to plot these dungeon maps by vectoring bitmap images and sending them to the Arduino, something we’ll probably see in a an upcoming build log.
You can check out a video of [Mike]’s build below.
Filed under: cnc hacks
This year Intel will launch its first NUC mini-desktop computer to feature an Intel Core i7 processor. The NUC line of computers are tiny desktop PCs with Intel chips. They’ve been around for a few years, but up until now you haven’t been able to find one with anything more powerful than a Core i5 chip. […]
A few years ago, [Paul]’s son got a simple electronic toy that plays funny noises and sings to him. The son loves the toy, but after months and months of use, the toy was inevitably broken beyond repair. Figuring an ‘electronic box that plays sounds’ wouldn’t be a hard project to replicate, [Paul] set out on making his own. The electronics weren’t hard, but custom membrane keypads are hard to come by. No matter, because it’s actually pretty easy to build your own.
Membrane switches are usually made with silkscreen conductive inks on fancy plastic, but that’s not a requirement to build your own. All you really need are four layers – a ‘front decal’, a ‘top foil’ layer for the rows, a ‘bottom foil’ layer for the columns, and a ‘cutout’ layer that provides enough separation between the rows and columns.
[Peter] laid out the four layers in Illustrator, printed the layers, and covered the rows and columns with copper tape. The cutout layer is the crucial part that keeps the layers separated until the button is pressed, and that was just a piece of card stock with strategically placed holes.
Once the rows, columns, and other layers were glued up, [Peter] could connect this keypad up to a microcontroller. The code is very easy with the Arduino keypad library, and should stand up to the rigors of being handled by a child.
Filed under: toy hacks
Cyanogen Inc produces a custom version of Android for smartphones including the OnePlus One and Micromax Yu line of devices. Right now that means users get some special features and more control over settings than they’d get if they were running a phone running the stock version of Android that runs on phones like the […]
Cyanogen wants to make Google-free version of Android is a post from: Liliputing
HP introduced two tiny desktop computers at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and now select models are available for purchase. The HP Stream Mini is an entry-level model with a starting price of $180, while the HP Pavilion Mini has more powerful hardware and a starting price of $320. Update: As of January 25th, 2015 the […]
Researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute have created “Scotty,” a so-called teleportation system. While the name is a clear homage to the famous Star Trek character, this is not the Sci-Fi teleporting you may be expecting. The system is composed of two 3D printers (they used a pair of MakerBot Replicators). The “sender” printer has a camera and built-in milling machine. It uses deconstructive scanning – taking the picture of an object’s layer, then grinding that layer down to expose the next layer – and then sends the encrypted data to a “receiver” printer with a RasPi to decrypt the data so that it can immediately print the object. The ultimate idea behind this is that there is only one object at the end of the process.
It’s a disservice describing Scotty as a teleporter. By the researchers’ definition of a teleporter, the lowly fax machine is on par with Scotty – and it doesn’t destroy the original. The researchers claim that this destructive-reconstuctive method preserves the uniqueness of a given object, as long as any sentimentality. We can agree with the unique aspect: the less copies of something means it retains it intrinsic value in the marketplace. The sentimentality – not so much. We’ve all had a moment in our lives where a treasured item of ours, worthless to everyone else, was destroyed. Either we’d get a replacement or someone else would give us one to silence our wailing, but it wasn’t quite the same. If you could clone your dead pet, subconsciously you’d know it’s not going to be the same Fluffy. It’s that exact thing, atoms and all, that has the emotional attachment. Trying to push that psychological perspective onto Scotty’s purpose is irksome.
Focusing on sales for Scotty is more appropriate, though not without it’s problems. Ideally, for online sales, it’s a way to preserve licensing. You buy a cube, you get one cube; you don’t keep the file to make a hundred cubes without giving the vendor their due. However, from a vendor’s perspective, it is far more profitable for them to keep a prototype file and send a one-time use file rather than go through the process and cost of manufacturing dozens of objects that will be destroyed anyway. Plus, as any owner of a 3D printer is well aware of, prints don’t always come out perfect the first time out. What happens when there’s a screw-up on the receiving printer; you don’t have the opportunity to start over, because the original object is destroyed. There is a fabrication log that prevents completed objects from being reprinted, but nothing is said about it allowing reprints of failed runs or of error detection. Neither the vendor nor customer benefits from that scenario. And as for a sentimental object – now it’s ruined. If this system was to be explored further for a marketplace, these are issues that need to be considered, especially since there are plenty non-destructive ways to scan the innards of an object.
Scotty is an interesting project, and does use a novel approach to 3D printing. It requires a robust system to ensure successful prints on the first try, but it’s going to be a long time before something like this is practical. We see it more an artistic piece and proof-of-concept, but it falls short of the “teleporter” hype.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
It’s a counterintuitive result that you might need to add noise to an input signal to get the full benefits from oversampling in analog to digital conversion. [Paul Allen] steps us through a simple demonstration of why this works on his blog. If you’re curious about oversampling, it’s a good read.
Oversampling helps to reduce quantization noise, which is the sampling equivalent of rounding error. In [Paul’s] one-bit ADC example, the two available output values are zero volts and one volt. Any analog signal between these two values is rounded off to either zero or one, and the resulting difference is the quantization error.
In oversampling, instead of taking the bare minimum number of samples you need you take extra samples and average them together. But as [Paul] demonstrates, this only works if you’ve got enough noise in the system already. If you don’t, you can actually make your output more accurate by adding noise on the input. That’s the counterintuitive bit.
We like the way he’s reduced the example to the absolute minimum. Instead of demonstrating how 16x oversampling can add two bits of resolution to your 10-bit ADC, it’s a lot clearer with the one-bit example.
[Paul’s] demo is great because it makes a strange idea obvious. But it got us just far enough to ask ourselves how much noise is required in the system for oversampling to help in reducing quantization noise. And just how much oversampling is necessary to improve the result by a given number of bits? (The answers are: at least one bit’s worth of noise and 22B, respectively, but we’d love to see this covered intuitively.) We’re waiting for the next installment, or maybe you can try your luck in the comment section.
Filed under: misc hacks
When using any CNC machine the system has to understand where the part to be machined is physically located. This is most commonly done by jogging the tool to a position relative to the part and then indicating to the controller that the tool is indeed at that position. Hobby CNC enthusiasts [Jeremy] and [Yakob] wanted an easy, convenient (and even fun) way to zero their plasma cutter. They decided to make a wireless jog pendant capable of moving and zeroing their machine….. and it’s built into a retro game controller!
The housing is a wireless Atari 2600 controller. Most of the innards were taken out and replaced with a BlueFruit EZ-Key module that takes input signals from the stock joystick and button switches and, in turn, emulates a Bluetooth keyboard signal that is understood by a PC. Most PC-based CNC Control Software’s have keyboard shortcuts for certain functions. This project takes advantage by using those available keyboard shortcuts by mapping individual pin inputs to specific keyboard key presses.
The X and Y axes are controlled by pushing the joystick in the appropriate direction. Pressing the ‘fire’ button zeros the axis. Even though the remote is working now, these two guys want to add a rotary encoder so that they can make minor Z axis height adjustments on the fly since sometimes the metal they are plasma cutting isn’t completely flat.
If you’re interested in making CNC Pendants out of old tech, check out this once-was TV remote.
Filed under: cnc hacks
Some of the first popular printers that made it into homes and schools were Apple Imagewriters and other deafeningly slow dot matrix printers. Now there’s a laser printer in every office that’s whisper quiet, fast, and produces high-quality output that can’t be matched with dot matrix technology.
In case you haven’t noticed, 3D printers are very slow, very loud, and everyone is looking forward to the day when high-quality 3D objects can be printed in just a few minutes. We’re not at the point where truly silent stepper motors are possible just yet, but with the Trinamic TMC2100, we’re getting there.
Most of the stepper motors you’ll find in RepRaps and other 3D printers are based on the Allegro A498X series of stepper motor drivers, whether they’re on breakout boards like ‘The Pololu‘ or integrated on the control board like the RAMBO. The Trinamic TMC2100 is logic compatible with the A498X, but not pin compatible. For 99% of people, this isn’t an issue: the drivers usually come soldered to a breakout board.
There are a few features that make the Trinamic an interesting chip. The feature that’s getting the most publicity is a mode called stealthChop. When running a motor at medium or low speeds, the motor will be absolutely silent. Yes, this means stepper motor music will soon be a thing of the past.
However, this stealthChop mode drastically reduces the torque a motor can provide. 3D printers throw around relatively heavy axes fairly fast when printing, and this motor driver is only supposed to be used at low or medium velocities.
The spreadCycle feature of the TMC2100 is what you’ll want to use for 3D printers. This mode uses two ‘decay phases’ on each step of a motor to make a more efficient driver. Motors in 3D printers get hot sometimes, especially if they’re running fast. A more efficient driver reduces heat and hopefully leads to more reliable motor control.
In addition to a few new modes of operation, the TMC2100 has an extremely interesting feature: diagnostics. There are pins specifically dedicated as notification of shorted outputs, high temperatures, and undervolt conditions. This is something that can’t be found with the usual stepper drivers, and it would be great if a feature like this were to ever make its way into a 3D printer controller board. I’m sure I’m not alone in having a collection of fried Pololu drivers, and properly implementing these diagnostic pins in a controller board would have saved those drivers.
These drivers are a little hard to find right now, but Watterott has a few of them already assembled into a Pololu-compatible package. [Thomas Sanladerer] did a great teardown of these drivers, too. You can check out that video below.
Filed under: Hackaday Columns