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Pop Goes the Haunted Jack-in-the-Box

Hackaday - 2 hours 44 minก่อน

Is Halloween sneaking up on you, too?  It’s less than two weeks away, but there is still plenty of time to build something that will scare the pants off trick-or-treaters and party guests alike. This year, Hackaday regular [Sean Hodgins] hacked his favorite holiday by taking something that ships with a base level of scariness and making it autonomous. What could be more frightening than a haunted toy?

The (decades-old) jack-in-the-box mechanism is simple. Turning the crank operates a mechanical music box that plays the traditional “Pop Goes the Weasel”. When the music box hits the high note, a jutting piece of plastic on the barrel of music box disturbs the other end of the latch, which frees the scary clown inside. [Sean] used a 100:1 DC motor to turn the crank from the inside, and a Pi camera to detect victims in the vicinity. Once the camera locks on to a face, the box cranks itself and eventually ejects the jester. Since most of the space inside is already taken up by the spring, [Sean] housed the electronics in a custom 3D-printed base with a hole cut out for the camera’s eye.

Many modifications are possible with a project like this. [Sean] is now in complete control of the latch operation, so he could make the clown pop appear instantly, or randomly, or sometimes not at all. Check out [Sean]’s entertaining build video after the break.

Want to make your own fright machine from scratch? We’ve got all the inspiration you need, from tabletop to trash can-sized monsters.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

Look what came out of my USB charger !

Hackaday - 5 hours 43 minก่อน

Quick Charge, Qualcomm’s power delivery over USB technology, was introduced in 2013 and has evolved over several versions offering increasing levels of power transfer. The current version — QCv3.0 — offers 18 W power at voltage levels between 3.6 V to 20 V.  Moreover, connected devices can negotiate and request any voltage between these two limits in 200 mV steps. After some tinkering, [Vincent Deconinck] succeeded in turning a Quick Charge 3.0 charger into a variable voltage power supply.

His blog post is a great introduction and walk through of the Quick Charge ecosystem. [Vincent] was motivated after reading about [Septillion] and [Hugatry]’s work on coaxing a QCv2.0 charger into a variable voltage source which could output either 5 V, 9 V or 12 V. He built upon their work and added QCv3.0 features to create a new QC3Control library.

To come to grips with what happens under the hood, he first obtained several QC2 and QC3 chargers, hooked them up to an Arduino, and ran the QC2Control library to see how they respond. There were some unexpected results; every time a 5 V handshake request was exchanged during QC mode, the chargers reset, their outputs dropped to 0 V and then settled back to a fixed 5 V output. After that, a fresh handshake was needed to revert to QC mode. Digging deeper, he learned that the Quick Charge system relies on specific control voltages being detected on the D+ and D- terminals of the USB port to determine mode and output voltage. These control voltages are generated using resistor networks connected to the microcontroller GPIO pins. After building a fresh resistor network designed to more closely produce the recommended control voltages, and then optimizing it further to use just two micro-controller pins, he was able to get it to work as expected. Armed with all of this information, he then proceeded to design the QC3Control library, available for download on GitHub.

Thanks to his new library and a dual output QC3 charger, he was able to generate the Jolly Wrencher on his Rigol, by getting the Arduino to quickly make voltage change requests.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

One Chip, Sixteen Times The RAM

Hackaday - 8 hours 44 minก่อน

Have you ever upgraded your computer’s memory sixteen-fold, with a single chip? Tynemouth Software did for a classic Sinclair micro.

For owners of home computers in the early 1980s, one of the most important selling points was how much RAM their device would have. Sometimes though there just wasn’t much choice but to live with what you could afford, so buyers of Sinclair’s budget ZX81 computer had to put up with only 1 kiB of memory. The system bytes took up (by this writer’s memory) around 300 bytes, so user programs were left with only around 700 bytes for their BASIC code. They were aided by Sinclair’s BASIC keywords stored as single bytes, but still that was a limit that imposed coding economy over verbosity.

Sinclair sold a 16 kiB upgrade, the so-called “Rampack”, which located on the ’81’s edge connector and was notorious for being susceptible to the slightest vibration. Meanwhile the mainboard had provision for a 2 kiB chip as a drop-in that was never sold in the UK, and enterprising users could fit larger capacities with soldered combinations of other chips piggybacking the original. And this is what the Tynemouth people have done, they’ve replaced their machine’s dual 1 kiB x 4 chips with a single 62256, and with a bit of pin-bending they’ve managed to do it without the track-cutting that normally accompanies this mod.

Adding chips to a 36-year-old home computer for which there are plenty of available Rampacks might seem a bit of a niche, but in doing so they’ve made a standalone ’81 that’s just a little bit more useable. They’ve also brought a few other components up-to-date, with a composite video mod, switching regulator, and heatsink for the rare ULA chip. If you are of a Certain Generation, it might just bring a tear to your eye to see a ZX81 being given some love.

Did you lose your ZX81 along the way? How about emulating one in mbed?

Filed under: classic hacks

Low-Budget Hydroformer Puts the Squeeze on Sheet Metal Parts

Hackaday - 11 hours 44 minก่อน

Between manufacturing technologies like 3D-printing, CNC routers, lost-whatever metal casting, and laser and plasma cutters, professional quality parts are making their way into even the most modest of DIY projects. But stamping has largely eluded the home-gamer, what with the need for an enormous hydraulic press and massive machined dies. There’s more than one way to stamp parts, though, and the budget-conscious shop might want to check out this low-end hydroforming method for turning sheet metal into quality parts.

If hydroforming sounds familiar, it might be because we covered [Colin Furze]’s attempt, which used a cheap pressure washer to inflate sheet metal bubbles with high-pressure water. The video below shows a hydroformer that [Rainbow Aviation] uses (with considerably less screaming) to make stamped aluminum parts for home-brew aircraft. The kicker with this build is that there is no fluid — at least not until the 40,000-pound hydraulic press semi-liquifies the thick neoprene rubber pad placed over the sheet metal blank and die. The pressure squeezes the metal into and around the die, forming some pretty complex shapes in a single operation. We especially like the pro-tip of using Corian solid-surface countertop material offcuts to make the dies, since they’re available for a pittance from cabinet fabricators.

It’s always a treat to see hacks from the home-brew aviation world. They always seem to have plenty of tricks and tips to share, like this pressure-formed light cowling we saw a while back.

Thanks for the tip, [Noah Orr].

Filed under: misc hacks, tool hacks

Feather M0 express supersizing

dangerous prototype - 14 hours 7 minก่อน

Dastels writes, “In my last post I described how I hacked a 2Mbyte SPI flash onto a Trinket M0 to give it the memory space for CircutiPython of one of the M0 Express boards. This time I supersized an M0 Express board, specifically a Feather M0 Express, although the same hack should work on a Circuit Playground Express.”

More details at Curmudgeoclast site.

3D Printed Gear Serves Seven Months Hard Labor

Hackaday - 14 hours 44 minก่อน

Even the staunchest 3D printing supporter would have to concede that in general, the greatest strength of 3D printing is not in the production of final parts, but in prototyping. Sure you can make functional prints, as the pages of this site will attest; but few would argue that you wouldn’t be better off getting your design cut out of metal or injection molded if you planned on putting the part into service over the long term. Especially if the part was to be subjected to rough service in an industrial setting.

While that’s valid advice, it certainly isn’t the definitive word on the issue. Just because a part is printed in plastic on a desktop 3D printer doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be put into real service, at least for as long as it takes to get proper replacement parts. A recent success story from [bloomautomatic] serves as a perfect example, when one of the gears in his MIG welder split, he decided to try and print up a replacement in PLA while he waited for the nylon gear to get shipped out to him. Fast forward seven months and approximately 80,000 welds later, and [bloomautomatic] reports it’s finally time to install those replacement gears he ordered.

In the pictures [bloomautomatic] posted you can see the printed gear finally wore down to the point the teeth were essentially gone where they meshed with their metal counterparts. To those wondering why the gear was plastic to begin with, [bloomautomatic] explains that it’s intended to be a sacrificial gear that will give way instead of destroying the entire gearbox in the event of a jam. According to the original post he made when he installed the replacement gear, the part was printed in Folgertech PLA on a Monoprice Select Mini. There’s no mention of infill percentage, but with such a small part most slicers would likely have made it essentially solid to begin with.

While surviving seven tortuous months inside of the welder is no small feat, we wonder if hardier PLA formulationstreatment of the part post-printing, or even casting it in a different material couldn’t have turned this temporary part into a permanent replacement.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, hardware, repair hacks

Free PCB coupon via Facebook to 2 random commenters

dangerous prototype - 16 hours 7 minก่อน

Every Friday we give away some extra PCBs via Facebook. This post was announced on Facebook, and on Monday we’ll send coupon codes to two random commenters. The coupon code usually go to Facebook ‘Other’ Messages Folder . More PCBs via Twitter on Tuesday and the blog every Sunday. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • We’ll contact you via Facebook with a coupon code for the PCB drawer.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month, please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see it first is to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Pixel 2’s Active Edge squeeze controls can do more than just launch Assistant (unofficially)

Liliputing - 17 hours 3 minก่อน

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have a feature called Active Edge that Google borrowed from the HTC U11. Squeeze the sides of the phone and you can launch Google Assistant. Or squeeze when a call is incoming and you can silence the phone. And… that’s it. That’s all Active Edge does for […]

Pixel 2’s Active Edge squeeze controls can do more than just launch Assistant (unofficially) is a post from: Liliputing

Everything Worth Knowing about Lockwire

Hackaday - 17 hours 44 minก่อน

We were tipped off to an older video by [AgentJayZ] which demonstrates the proper use of lockwire also known as ‘safety wire.’ In high vibration operations like jet engines, street racers, machine guns, and that rickety old wheelchair you want to turn into a drift trike, a loose bolt can spell disaster. Nylon fails under heat and mechanical lock washers rely on friction which has its limits. Safety wire holds up under heat and resists loosening as long as the wire is intact.

Many of our readers will already be familiar with lockwire since it is hardly a cutting-edge technology — unless you are talking about the cut ends of lockwire which [AgentJayZ] warns will slice up your fingers if you aren’t mindful. Some of us Jacks-or-Jills-of-all-trades, with knowledge an inch deep and a mile wide, may not realize all there is to lockwire. In the first eight minutes, we’ll bet that you’ve gotten at least two inches deep into this subject.

[Editor’s Note: an inch is exactly 25.4 mm, if the previous metaphors get lost in translation. A mile is something like 2,933.333 Assyrian cubits. Way bigger than an inch, anyway.]

Now, those pesky loose bolts which cost us time and sighs have a clear solution. For the old-hands, you can brush up on lockwire by watching the rest of video after the break.

Thank you [Keith Olson] for the tip, and we’ll be keeping an eye on [AgentJayZ] who, to date, has published over 450 videos about jet engines.

If safety isn’t your highest priority, consider this jet engine on a bicycle or marvel at the intricacies of a printable jet engine.

Filed under: car hacks, Engine Hacks

Samsung launches Galaxy Tab Active2 ruggedized tablet

Liliputing - 18 hours 41 minก่อน

Samsung’s latest Android tablet is a ruggedized model designed for business users, although I suppose the Galaxy Tab Active2 could also appeal to accident-prone home users or folks who want a tablet to take hiking or camping. Like the company’s Galaxy Active smartphones, the tablet is MIL-STD-810 certified for pressure, temperature, vibration, and drop protection. […]

Samsung launches Galaxy Tab Active2 ruggedized tablet is a post from: Liliputing

Hackaday Prize Entry: Two Leg Robot

Hackaday - 19 hours 13 minก่อน

If you’re working on your own bipedal robot, you don’t have to start from the ground up anymore. [Ted Huntington]’s Two Leg Robot project aims to be an Open Source platform that’ll give any future humanoid-robot builders a leg up.

While we’ve seen quite a few small two-legged walkers, making a pair of legs for something human-sized is a totally different endeavor. [Ted]’s legs are chock-full of sensors, and there’s a lot of software that processes all of the data. That’s full kinematics and sensor info going back and forth from 3D model to hardware. Very cool. And to top it all off, “Two Leg” uses affordable motors and gearing. This is a full-sized bipedal robot platform that you might someday be to afford!

Will walking robots really change the world? Maybe. Will easily available designs for an affordable bipedal platform give hackers of the future a good base to stand on? We hope so! And that’s why this is a great entry for the Hackaday Prize.

The HackadayPrize2017 is Sponsored by:
Filed under: robots hacks, The Hackaday Prize

Deals of the Day (10-20-2017

Liliputing - 19 hours 55 minก่อน

Google’s new Pixel smartphones are pretty good. But so are last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL. If you don’t feel like buying a brand new phone you can save a few bucks by picking up last year’s model. Unfortunately, Google has only marked down the prices by about $100, which means you’ll still have to […]

Deals of the Day (10-20-2017 is a post from: Liliputing

Cable Bots, Arise! Domination of the Universe is at Hand

Hackaday - 20 hours 43 minก่อน

Most CNC robots people see involve belts and rails, gantries, lead screws, linear bearings, and so forth. Those components need a rigid chassis to support them and to keep them from wobbling during fabrication and adding imperfections to the design. As a result, the scale is necessarily small — hobbyist bots max out at cabinet-sized, for the most part. Their rigid axes are often laid out at Cartesian right angles.

One of the exceptions to this common configuration is the delta robot. Deltas might be the flashiest of CNC robots, moving the end effector on three arms that move to position it anywhere in the build envelope. A lot of these robots are super fast and precise when charged with carrying a light load, and they get put to work as pick-and-place machines and that sort of thing. It doesn’t hurt that delta bots are also parallel manipulators, which means that the motors work together to move the end effector, with one motor pulling while the matching motor pulls.

But while Cartesian CNC bots are sturdy workhorses, and deltas are fly-weight racehorces, neither can really cut it when you want to go gigantic. In terms of simplicity and scale, nothing beats cable bots.

Cable Bots

Cable bots use wires or strings pulled by reel-mounted motors, with dimensions limited only by the room to mount the motors and the tensile strength of the cables used. When the strings are tensioned you can get a surprising degree of accuracy. Why not? Are they not computer-controlled motors? As long as your kinematic chain accounts for the end effector’s movement in one direction by unwinding another cable (for instance) you can very accurately control the end effector over a very wide scale.

The following are some fun cable bots that have caught my eye.


Forget merely room sized — Skycam is the brand-leader of stadium sized cable bots. If you’ve watched any NFL you’ve seen the camera robots that zip overhead, following the action from close up thanks to a gimbal-mounted camera.

Each reel is controlled by its own computer, with a two-operator control rig centering around a Linux box. The 600-lb cables are kevlar-jacketed optical fiber and copper, and addition to moving the camera module (the “spar”) the wires transmit power and data. The 3.4 kW motors are equipped with encoders that ensure 1/100th of an inch in resolution.

If anything would tell you that cable bots scale up insanely it should be Skycam. What’s next? City-sized cable bots? World-sized CNC?

Trammel Hudson’s Polargraph

Way at the other end of the spectrum are two-stepper drawbots sometimes known as polargraphs or hanging v-plotters. They consist of a pair of stepper motors with reels controlling strings hanging down, with a module at the bottom equipped with a pen. Gravity provides tension, allowing the polargraph to make surprisingly precise lines.

Despite Trammel’s great results, it’s actually quite a simple rig; the project uses a TinyG CNC controller with two random steppers found at NYC Resistor. A polargraph’s toolhead can be made with nothing more complicated than a sharpie with a servo attached to it with a binder clip — the servo’s horn simply pushes back against the work surface and lifts the pen off of it. However, he went even simpler and his toolhead is simply a 3D-printed sleeve for a dry erase marker — no lift mechanism, so the drawings always include stray lines where the pen was moved. Check out Trammell’s web site to follow along with the Polargraph project, as well as assets on Flickr and GitHub.

The drawings in this post were created by Hackaday regular [Trammell Hudson]. His simplified polargraph uses a 3D-printed pen holder that has no lifting mechanism — the G-code just calls for the pen to draw from one point to the next even if that results in stray lines. [Trammell] has explored using his drawbot to make mathematically modeled patterns, like the space-filling Gosper and Hilbert curves, a visualization of a Lorenz attractor, and even mapping sine waves. My favorite is the wall-sized map of Paris.

Despite [Trammel]’s great results, it’s quite simple; the project uses a TinyG CNC controller with two random steppers found at NYC Resistor. In fact, a polargraph can be quite simple. Its toolhead can be made with nothing more complicated than a Sharpie with a servo attached to it with a binder clip — the servo’s horn simply pushes back against the work surface and lifts the pen off of it. Check out [Trammell]’s web site to follow along with the Polargraph project, as well as assets on Flickr and GitHub.

Scanlime’s Tuco Flyer

[Micah Elizabeth Scott]’s cat, [Tuco], apparently needs his own robot to keep a camera focused on his feline glory. It’s a winch bot called the Tuco Flyer.

[Micah]’s YouTube videos focus on her expertise in mechanical and electrical engineering, plus a lot of kitty shots, so a 3D-printed, cable-bot flying camera rig is just the ticket.

The project includes a lot of great details, like her refurbished camera gimbal and the from-scratch winches, one of which can be seen to the right. In many cases she stores the electronics inside the infrastructure, making for a very elegant build.

It doesn’t appear that the project is at the “moving stuff in the air stage” so follow the project on Hackaday.io to keep up with the latest developments.

Gravity-Defying Parallel Robots

A few days back we mentioned another work in progress, the Arcus3D, a 3D printer that uses tensioned cables to move the toolhead around, much the way the polargraph works but in three dimensions. Based off the Flying SkyDelta reprap model, [Daren]’s printer uses stepper-driven cables to move the toolhead around.

The toolhead keeps low and level thanks to a “Super Gravity Pole”, a yard-long steel pole that anchors it; otherwise it would want to fly around uselessly. This highlights the fact that gravity as a tensioning element is part of what makes cable bots as simple as they are — otherwise you’d need more cables pulling down on the end effector.

But what happens if you do just that? I haven’t seen many hobbyist-level projects involving 6-motor cable bots but there are a few commercial products they are quite simple, incredibly fast, and scarily precise. I want to close out this piece by sharing an insane cable bot project, the CableEndy. It was [Andrej Rajnoha]’s master’s thesis at Brno Institute of Technology, and it packs some pretty insane specs — just to name a couple, it accelerates the toolhead at 10 G, and with 1 mm precision.

[SkyCam photo by Despeaux, CC BY-SA 3.0. Trammel Hudson’s photos used with permission.]

Friends, share your favorite cable bot pr0n and projects in comments.


Filed under: cnc hacks, Hackaday Columns

About the Pixel 2 XL display…

Liliputing - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 23:57

So you may have heard that the Pixel 2 XL has some display issues. It’s true… kind of. There are actually a few things going on here. The first is that Google set the default color profile on the Pixel 2 XL to sRGB. Some folks may consider that a good thing… but Google didn’t […]

About the Pixel 2 XL display… is a post from: Liliputing

Supercon Badge Hacking Quick-Start

Hackaday - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 22:31

The hardware badge Mike Harrison designed for this year’s Hackaday Superconference is begging to be hacked. Today, I wanted to help get you up and running quickly.

The Hacker Village atmosphere of Supercon is starting up a day early this year. On Friday, November 10th badge pick-up starts at noon and badge hacking continues throughout the afternoon, followed by a party at Supplyframe HQ that evening. Plan to get to town on Friday and join in the fun. Of course, you need to grab a Supercon ticket if you haven’t already.

Check out the 2017 Superconference Badge project page for full documentation that Mike has put together during his development process.

Hardware Hacking This is the first prototype, the finished badge will have solder mask

What to Note: prototyping area, 2×6 expansion header, ISP Header, TTL232 Header

Verbose Hardware Hacking Details: Project log

Those who want to spin a board, look to the expansion header. It breaks out the I2C lines, plus serial lines for RX1/TX1, and four additional GPIO lines. This header is through-hole 2×6 with 0.1″ space. These badge headers are unpopulated but can be soldered in the badge hacking area at the Superconference.

If you’re hardcore you can use the prototyping area on the board to solder your components. Just above this header you’ll find a row of pads providing I2C and power.

The badge will have two populated headers that may be of interest whether you’re hacking hardware or software. Next to the battery holder, you can see 0.1″ SIL pins with the ISP Header (program using a PICkit instead of copy to SD card and using the bootloader) at the top and a TTL232 header below which is helpful for monitoring debugging info.

Mike has included some helper functions in the firmware to control the pins on the breakout header. Check out the hardware hacking section linked above for more on that.

Software Hacking Screenshot of apptemplate.c

What to Note: You need to install the free MPLAB-X IDE and the XC32 compiler on your computer. Compiled HEX code can be copied to the badge micro SD card and flashed with the bootloader, or using a programmer (ie: PICkit3).

Verbose Software Hacking Details: Project log

Mike has written a fantastic software framework that makes getting started with the badge quite easy. His code tends all of the hardware and provides an apptemplate.c file that can be used as the start of each of your hacks. He even has a simple way for you to add each of your hacks to the badge menu for easy display.

The app template includes a state machine which will run some setup code (s_ start) when your program is launched, then a different block of code runs in a loop (s_run). There is a tick flag set every 20 ms which makes for easy timing.

User inputs include 6 buttons, an accelerometer, and the camera and outputs include a 128×128 color OLED screen and one white LED (the camera “flash”) plus the data buses described in the hardware section above. The processor is very fast and there is a lot of flash and RAM available.

Get Started and Consider Teaming Up!

A great idea is always the hardest part of any hack. Start throwing around some ideas on the Superconference Chat.

Filed under: cons, hardware

The first Cortana-powered smart speaker launches Oct 22nd for $200

Liliputing - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 22:24

As expected, the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker goes on sale this Sunday for $200. While there’s no shortage of smart speakers on the market, this is one is kind of special, because it’s the first to use Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. It’ll go up against Amazon’s $99 Echo speaker and Google’s $129 Google Home. But […]

The first Cortana-powered smart speaker launches Oct 22nd for $200 is a post from: Liliputing

Huawei has a folding phone in the works too

Liliputing - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 21:42

This week ZTE launched a dual-screen smartphone that you can fold in half, letting you use just one screen at a time or both together for a larger, tablet-like experience. But next year phone makers are expected to start shipping foldable phones that have only one screen. The difference is that they’ll have flexible OLED display […]

Huawei has a folding phone in the works too is a post from: Liliputing

Artificial Intelligence at the Top of a Professional Sport

Hackaday - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 21:01

The lights dim and the music swells as an elite competitor in a silk robe passes through a cheering crowd to take the ring. It’s a blueprint familiar to boxing, only this pugilist won’t be throwing punches.

OpenAI created an AI bot that has beaten the best players in the world at this year’s International championship. The International is an esports competition held annually for Dota 2, one of the most competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games.

Each match of the International consists of two 5-player teams competing against each other for 35-45 minutes. In layman’s terms, it is an online version of capture the flag. While the premise may sound simple, it is actually one of the most complicated and detailed competitive games out there. The top teams are required to practice together daily, but this level of play is nothing new to them. To reach a professional level, individual players would practice obscenely late, go to sleep, and then repeat the process. For years. So how long did the AI bot have to prepare for this competition compared to these seasoned pros? A couple of months.

So, What Were the Results?

Normally, a professional Dota 2 game is played on a stage with 5v5 teams. This was the bot’s first competition, and the AI only had a couple of months to learn how to play Dota 2 completely from the ground up. It seemed more fair to start off simple with 1v1 matches. Those first matches were against [Dendi], one of the top players in the world, who lost to the bot shown below in the first match within about ten minutes, resigned in the second match, and then declined to play the third.

The OpenAI team didn’t use imitation learning to train the bot. Instead, it was put up against an exact copy of itself starting with the very first match it played. This continued, nonstop, for months. The bot was constantly improving against itself, and in turn it would have to try that much harder to win. This vigorous training clearly paid off.

While the 1v1 results are stellar, the bot has not had enough time to learn how to work in a cohesive manner with 4 other copies of itself to make a true Dota 2 team. After the roaring success of the International, the next step for OpenAI is to form an ultimate 5 bot team. We think it will be possible to beat the top players next year and we’re eager to see how long that takes.

What Does OpenAI Like to do When it is Not Busy Crushing Video Game Competition?

OpenAI has worked on a number of projects before the Dota 2 effort. They explored the effect of parameter noise to learning algorithms which has proven to be advantageous across the board. During exploratory behavior used in reinforcement learning, parameter noise is used to increase the efficiency of the rate at which agents learn.

The left diagram represents action space noise, traditionally used to change the likelihood of each action step by step. The right diagram represents the newly implemented parameter space noise:

“Parameter space noise injects randomness directly into the parameters of the agent, altering the types of decisions it makes such that they always fully depend on what the agent currently senses.”

By adding this noise right into the parameters, it has shown that it teaches agents tasks far faster than before. It’s part of a wider effort focusing on new ways to optimize learning algorithms to make the training process not only faster, but also more effective.

They are not done with Dota 2 either. When they come back with their five bot team next year, it will undoubtedly require a level of teamwork never before seen in artificial intelligence. Think of the possibilities. Will this take the shape of a collective hive mind? Will team dynamics among AI look anything like those of their human counterparts? This really is the stuff of science fiction being developed and tested right before our eyes.

Now, Why Might a Billion Dollar AI Startup Be Meddling in a Video Game Competition?

OpenAI is an open source company dedicated to creating safe artificial intelligence and working from a $1 Billion endowment established in 2015. On their website, they state that the Dota 2 experiment was, “a step towards building AI systems which accomplish well-defined goals in messy, complicated situations involving real humans.” The International was proof of concept that they could in fact implement AI that handled random situations successfully — even better than humans.  It leaves us wondering if the next field AI dominates in won’t be something quite as trivial as a video game competition. It is notable that OpenAI’s chairman, Elon Musk, gave a warning statement directly after the victory:

“If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.”

This is not the first time that Musk has conveyed hesitations towards the upcoming dangers of our superior Dota 2 players. In fact, he has a history as a leading doomsayer:

“With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”

It is clear why someone so worried about the future of AI has devoted his time and resources to a company dedicated to ensuring its safety for humanity with this advancing technology. But it almost seems paradoxical. Teaching an AI to compete better than humans appears to be marching that dreaded outcome one step closer. But at the same time, you can’t temper the advancement of technology by refusing to take part in it. The company’s approach is to make sure everyone can study and use the advancements they are making (the “Open” in OpenAI) and thereby prevent an imbalance of power presented if the best AIs of the future were to be privately controlled by a small number of companies, individuals, and state actors.

Earlier this year, Hackaday’s own Cameron Coward wrote up an in-depth article about the potential future of artificial intelligence. He delves into one of the hotly debated topics with this subject: the ethics of strong AI. Will they be malevolent? What rights should they have? These questions will be answered in the upcoming years — whether we want them to be or not. It is our job to make sure that the answers to these questions in the near future are not answered for us. OpenAI is debugging AI before it debugs us.

Filed under: Current Events, Featured, Interest, news, Original Art, Software Development

Google Pixel 2 smartphone review

Liliputing - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 20:00

The Google Pixel 2 is probably the next phone I’m going to buy. It’s a powerful phone with an excellent camera, well thought-out software, sturdy (if rather mundane) design, and decent battery life. As a Pixel device, it also comes with a few perks including a guaranteed 3 years of security and feature updates and […]

Google Pixel 2 smartphone review is a post from: Liliputing

DIY Nintendo Switch May Be Better Than Real Thing

Hackaday - ศุกร์, 10/20/2017 - 18:00

Nintendo’s latest Zelda-playing device, the Switch, is having no problems essentially printing money for the Japanese gaming juggernaut. Its novel design that bridges the gap between portable and home console by essentially being both at the same time has clearly struck a chord with the modern gamer, and even 8 months after its release, stores are still reporting issues getting enough of the machines to meet demand.

But for our money, we’d rather have the Raspberry Pi powered version that [Tim Lindquist] slaved over for his summer project. Every part of the finished device (which he refers to as the “NinTIMdo RP”) looks professional, from the incredible job he did designing and printing the case down to the small details like the 5 LED display on the top edge that displays volume and battery level. For those of you wondering, his version even allows you to connect it to a TV; mimicking the handheld to console conversion of the real thing.

[Tim] has posted a fascinating time-lapse video of building the NinTIMdo RP on YouTube that covers every step of the process. It starts with a look at the 3D model he created in Autodesk Inventor, and then goes right into the post-printing prep work where he cleans up the printed holes with a Dremel and installs brass threaded inserts for strength. The bulk of the video shows the insane amount of hardware he managed to pack inside the case, a true testament to how much thought was put into the design.

For the software side, the Raspberry Pi is running the ever popular RetroPie along with the very slick EmulationStation front-end. There’s also a Teensy microcontroller on board that handles the low-level functions such as controlling volume, updating the LED display, and mapping the physical buttons to a USB HID device the Raspberry Pi can understand.

The Teensy source code as well as the 3D models of the case have been put up on GitHub, but for a project like this that’s just the tip of the iceberg. [Tim] does mention that he’s currently working on creating a full build tutorial though; so if Santa doesn’t leave a Switch under the tree for you this year, maybe he can at least give you a roll of filament and enough electronics to build your own.

While this isn’t the first time a Raspberry Pi has dressed up as a Nintendo console, it may represent the first time somebody has tried to replicate a current-generation gaming device with one.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, handhelds hacks, nintendo hacks
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