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Using Facebook Ads to Prank your Friends

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 21:00

Most tech savvy individuals are well aware of the vast amounts of data that social networking companies collect on us. Some take steps to avoid this data collection, others consider it a trade-off for using free tools to stay in touch with friends and family. Sometimes these ads can get a bit… creepy. Have you ever noticed an ad in the sidebar and thought to yourself, “I just searched for that…” It can be rather unsettling.

[Brian] was looking for ways to get back at his new roommate in retaliation of prank that was pulled at [Brian's] expense. [Brian] is no novice to Internet marketing. One day, he realized that he could create a Facebook ad group with only one member. Playing off of his roommate’s natural paranoia, he decided to serve up some of the most eerily targeted Facebook ads ever seen.

Creating extremely targeted ads without giving away the prank is trickier than you might think. The ad can’t be targeted solely for one person. It needs to be targeted to something that seems like a legitimate niche market, albeit a strange one. [Brian's] roommate happens to be a professional sword swallower (seriously). He also happens to ironically have a difficult time swallowing pills. naturally, [Brian] created an ad directed specifically towards that market.

The roommate thought this was a bit creepy, but mostly humorous. Slowly over the course of three weeks, [Brian] served more and more ads. Each one was more targeted than the last. He almost gave himself away at one point, but he managed to salvage the prank. Meanwhile, the roommate grew more and more paranoid. He started to think that perhaps Facebook was actually listening in on his phone calls. How else could they have received some of this information? As a happy coincidence, all of this happened at the same time as the [Edward Snowden] leaks. Not only was the roommate now concerned about Facebook’s snooping, but he also had the NSA to worry about.

Eventually, [Brian] turned himself in using another custom Facebook ad as the reveal. The jig was up and no permanent damage was done. You might be wondering how much it cost [Brian] for this elaborate prank? The total cost came to $1.70. Facebook has since changed their ad system so you can only target a minimum of 20 users. [Brian] provides an example of how you can get around the limitation, though. If you want to target a male friend, you can simply add 19 females to the group and then target only males within your group of 20 users. A pretty simple workaround

This prank brings up some interesting social questions. [Brian's] roommate seemed to actually start believing that Facebook might be listening in on his personal calls for the purposes of better ad targeting. How many other people would believe the same thing? Is it really that far-fetched to think that these companies might move in this direction? If we found out they were already doing this type of snooping, would it really come as a shock to us?

Filed under: internet hacks

THP Semifinalist: Farmbot

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 18:00

The FarmBot team has been pretty busy with their CNC Farming and Gathering machine. The idea is to automate the farming process with precise deployment of tools: plows, seed injection, watering, sensors, etc. An Arduino with an added RAMPS handles the movement, and a Raspi provides internet connectivity. Their prototype has already experienced four major iterations: the first revision addressed bigger issues such as frame/track stability and simplification of parts. Now they’re locking down the specifics on internet-of-things integration and coding for advanced movement functions.

The most recent upgrade provides a significant improvement by overhauling the implementation of the tools. Originally, the team envisioned a single, multi-function tool head design that carried everything around all the time. Problem is, the tool that’s in-use probably works best if it’s lower than the others, and piling them all onto one piece spells trouble. The solution? a universal tool mounting system, of course. You can see them testing their design in a video after the break.

If the FarmBot progress isn’t impressive enough—and admittedly we’d have called project lead [Rory Aronson] crazy for attempting to pull this off…but he did it—the FarmBot crew started and successfully funded an entire sub-project through Kickstarter. OpenFarm is an open-source database set to become the go-to wiki for all things farming and gardening. It’s the result of [Rory] encountering an overwhelming amount of generic, poorly written advice on plant growing, so he just crowdsourced a solution. You know, no sweat.

The project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

Filed under: Crowd Funding, The Hackaday Prize

Secret Door Is Now Not So Secret

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 15:00

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think secret doors are cool. They can come in many different forms, a built-in book case, a fake fireplace or even the rudimentary trap door under the rug. [oggfaba] has created a sweet secret door to enter his house. It is so well done there is no need for an architectural detail to hide it, it’s right there in plain sight.

To the unknowing onlooker, the rear of the house looks as any should with a window and water spigot. That water spigot is actually non-functional and acts as a door knob. The door-part of this secret door is just a standard fiberglass exterior door fitted with an electronic deadbolt and covered in exterior siding painted to match the rest of the house.

There are two methods to lock and unlock the door. There is a fob that can remotely unlock the installed deadbolt. There is also a keypad hidden under its own mini-secret door disguised as house siding material. There was no hacking involved with the deadbolt, keypad or remote. The Morning Industry QF-01SN deadbolt is available off the shelf with both unlocking options.

[oggfaba] is more proud of his door than worried about keeping it secret since he threw up a YouTube video of it in action. It’s not like he would show the code to the electronic lock in the video….. would he? Want more secret doors? Check out this bookcase complete with tipping-book actuator.



Filed under: home hacks

[Sprite_TM] Puts Linux in a Clock Radio

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 12:00

[Sprite] needs an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, and although his phone has an infinitely programmable alarm clock, his ancient Phillips AJ-3040 has never failed him. It’s served him well for 15 years, and there’s no reason to throw it out. Upgrading it was the only way, with OLED displays and Linux systems inside this cheap box of consumer electronics.

After opening up the radio, [Sprite] found two boards. The first was the radio PCB, and the existing board could be slightly modified with a switch to input another audio source. The clock PCB was built around an old chip that used mains frequency as the time base. This was torn out of the enclosure along with the old multiplexed LCD.

A new display and brain for the clock was needed, and [Sprite] reached into his parts drawer and pulled out an old 288×48 pixel OLED display. When shining though a bit of translucent red plastic, it’s can be a reasonable facsimile of the old LEDs. The brains of the clock would be a Carambola Linux module. After writing a kernel module for the OLED, [Sprite] had a fully functional Linux computer that would fit inside a clock radio.

After having a board fabbed with the power supplies, I2C expanders, USB stereo DAC, and SPI port for the OLED, [Sprite] had a clock radio that booted Linux on an OLED screen. In the video below, [Sprite] walks through the functions of the clock, including setting one of the many alarms, streaming audio from the Internet, and changing the font of the display. There’s also a web UI for the clock that allows alarms to be set remotely – from a phone, even, if [Sprite] is so inclined.

And now you know why [Sprite] is a judge for The Hackaday Prize.

Filed under: clock hacks, linux hacks

DIY Magnetic Stirrer Looks Professional

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 09:00

Stirrers are used in chemistry and biology labs to mix containers full of liquids. Magnetic stirrers are often preferred over the mechanical types because they are more sterile, easier to clean and have no external moving parts. Magnetic stirrers quickly rotate a magnet below the glass beaker containing the liquids that need mixing. The magnetic field travels effortlessly through the glass and reacts against a small magnetic cylinder called the stir bar. The spinning stir bar mixes the contents and is the only part of the mixer that touches the liquids.

[Malcolm] built his own magnetic stirrer. Unlike some DIY stirrers out on the ‘web, this one gets an “A” for aesthetics. It’s clean white lines allow it to look right at home in the professional laboratory. The graduated knob looks good and is functional too as the the potentiometer it is attached to allows multiple mixing speeds. Surprisingly, a D-size battery is all that is needed to power the stirrer. Most of the parts required for this project can be found in your spare parts bin. [Malcolm] has written some excellent instructions on how he made the stirrer including a parts list and schematics.

Want to make a magnetic stirrer but aren’t into chemistry or biology? No worries… I pity the fool who don’t build one of these….

Filed under: chemistry hacks

Sweet Stepper of [Jeremy]‘s Rocks Out with its Box Out

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 06:00

Inspired by the floppy drive orchestras of others, [Jeremy] has built a Pi-driven MIDI music box with stepper motor resonators and outlined the build on hackaday.io.

Control for the motors comes from an Iteaduino Mega 2560. The music starts as a MIDI file, gets processed into a text file, and is played over serial by a Raspberry Pi. He’s added percussion using K’NEX instruments and 9g servos, which we think is a nice touch. It can be powered via LiPo or from the wall, and [Jeremy] baked in protection against blowing up the battery. As he explains in the tour video after the break, the box is clamped to a wooden table to provide richer sound.

[Jeremy]‘s favorite part of the build was enclosing the thing as it was his first time using panel-mount components. Stick around to see a walk-through of the guts and a second video demonstrating its musical prowess.

Inside the music box:


Rocking out:

Filed under: musical hacks, Raspberry Pi

Building a Vector Monitor Controller

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 03:00

[fredkono] has a few vintage Atari arcade boards sitting around, and without the rest of the arcade machine – especially the XY CRT – these boards would continue to gather dust. The solution to this terrible shortage of vintage video games was to build a vector monitor from scratch. No, that doesn’t mean building a new CRT, but it does mean rewiring the yoke and building a CRT controller board for tubes salvaged from small, old TVs.

Nearly all the CRTs you’ll find at your local goodwill or surplus shop are raster displays. The CRTs used in the old Atari games were vector displays and extremely similar to the tubes found in old oscilloscopes. [fred] turned the CRT found in an old 9″ color TV into a vector monitor by rewinding the yoke.

With the tube rewired, it was only a matter of connecting the custom deflection circuit boards and getting the old arcade boards running. The images drawn with the new yoke deflector board are great and produce fine, crisp lines of some of the most famous video games in history.

Filed under: classic hacks

3D Printer Gets Wheels, Leaves Trail Of Plastic Boxes

ศุกร์, 09/19/2014 - 00:00

The limitation of 3D Printer build volume is over. The folks over at NEXT and LIFE Labs have created a prototype robot with a 3D print head attached to it. Unlike a traditional 3D Printer that moves the print head around within the confines of a machine, the 3&DBot drives the print head around any flat surface, extruding as it goes.

Although the 3&DBot has 4 wheels, they are all stationary and face independent directions. Normally, this arrangement would only allow a vehicle to rotate in a circle. However, the wheels used here are not conventional, they are Mecanum-style with many mini-wheels around the main. This arrangement allows omnidirectional movement of the robot, depending on how each wheel is driven. If you haven’t seen this type of movement before, it is definitely worth watching the video after the break.

Sure, the print quality leaves something to be desired and the distance the print head is from the robot chassis may be a bit limiting but all new technology has to start somewhere. This is a great joining of two technologies. Don’t scoff, remember your Iphone 12 wouldn’t be possible without this.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

Fail of the Week: Robotic 1950 Mercury Boogies, Won’t Come Back From Dead Man’s Curve

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 21:00

[Dave] wanted to make an Arduino robot out of a remote-control 1950 Mercury. He removed the RC portion from the car and kept the drive and steering motors. The idea was to use three ultrasonic rangefinders in the grille real estate and move the car forward based on the longest distance detected.

He initially used a Seeed motor controller and some Grove cables soldered to his sensors to power the steering. It went forward, but only forward, and [Dave] decided the motor controller and the car’s steering motor weren’t playing well together.

[Dave] had the idea to use relays instead to both power the motor and determine polarity. Now, the Merc was turning and avoid obstacles about half the time, but it was also getting dinged up from hitting walls. He figured out that his sensor arrangement was making the car turn immediately and decided to give the program information from the wheels with a reed switch and a rare earth magnet. The only problem is that the caliber of magnet required to trip the reed switch is too heavy and strong. [Dave] and has concluded that he simply can’t exercise the kind of control over the car that he needs. and will build his own robot chassis.

Fail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

Filed under: Fail of the Week, Hackaday Columns

A DIY MIDI Wind Controller

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 18:00

MIDI is more than just keyboards and a matrix of buttons that plays samples; there are MIDI controllers for virtually every instrument that has ever existed, from guitars to harps and even woodwinds. [J.M.] didn’t like the features found in existing wind MIDI controllers, so he’s building his own with features that put it far beyond any commercial offering.

Woodwind MIDI controllers are relatively simple; put a pressure sensor in the mouthpiece and turn that data into note on and note off commands. A few buttons, or in [J.M.]‘s case, resistive touch sensors, are easily mapped to different fingerings and notes for the instrument. An Arduino Nano takes care of all this hardware, and a 2.4 GHz radio module to communicate wirelessly to a base station.

Once at the base station, the MIDI data can be output to any number of synths and computers, but [J.M.] added a MIDI codec chip right in the device to play with only a set of headphones. It doesn’t sound great – about the same as an old Sound Blaster card – but with the mod and expression control a wind controller offers, it’s more than passable as a real woodwind.

Videos below.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

THP Hacker Bio: IamTeknik

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 15:00

[IamTeknik]‘s reason for entering his home automation assistant into The Hackaday Prize is simple; we have smart phones, TVs, and even smart cars. Why not a smart house?

Like its namesake from Iron Man, Project Jarvis is an intelligent assistant with a bit of home automation thrown into the mix. The hardware includes the usual relays and door locks, but that’s just the start of it. There’s also a personal digital assistant, living somewhere in the space between the hardware modules and [IamTeknik]‘s smartphone. Here, voice recognition, speech synthesis, and a Siri-like functionality is the name of the game. Jarvis is capable of answering questions, compiling reports, reading social network messages, and automating everything connected to the main base station over the Internet.

[IamTeknic] has been busy studying computer systems engineering and of course working on his project for The Hackaday Prize lately, but he was able to sit down and answer a few questions for our THP hacker bio. You can check that out below, along with a few demos of what his personal Jarvis can do.

I am a professional student studying computer systems engineering at a local university. It’s basically a merge of programming and electronics and I plan on obtaining my master’s degree in a few years.

I’m passionate about energy savings and my career in engineering. It’s the reason why a lot of my major projects are dedicated to saving energy and helping preserve the world we live in.

In the video, they destroyed a printer. For me personally, I sometimes feel that way about my 3D printer. It’s been the most problematic piece of equipment for me and sometimes you can waste days trying to get an essential build out of it however, when it does work, it’s extremely satisfying.

A lot of the folks on Hackaday will hate me for this but my favourite OS has to be Windows. It may not be the “hacker” OS but as an engineer a lot of software is built to run on Windows, especially industry specific software. It basically has everything I need from PLC software to 3D modelling programs for use with my 3D printer

My favourite bench equipment would have to be my desktop power supply. My father passed it on to me recently and it was his first power supply which he bought quite a number of years ago. Still works great!

I tend to favour object orientated programming languages since it’s what I started with. My favourite would be Java, I have a pretty good knowledge of it and can do a lot of cool stuff with it but C++ is a close second.

I was working on my project for a while before the competition started. I remember watching a video of [Dave] from the EEVBlog announcing it so I immediately rushed over and the contest description suited my project very well, build anything and make it connected.

  • I would love to finish off Project Jarvis, my THP entry. Mainly because of the energy savings and I definitely see it as the pinnacle of future homes.
  • I really want to RC a full-sized vehicle with a manual transmission just for the extra challenge.
  • More importantly though, before I die, I would love to create a system which will drastically help generate energy in an efficient and eco-friendly way.

There were around 800 entries so I couldn’t view them all however all the ones I did see, were fantastic. If I had to choose, I would’ve liked to see more DNA related projects.

So far the project is going along quite well. I have just built a 7″ touch screen tablet running Linux which is to be mounted on a wall. It’s going to be a controller for things like media, interacting with the A.I, ordering groceries and much more. I’m also working on improving the energy savings so that, along with a few more features should be ready for the judges soon. There are a few problems, one being the loss of support for the speech API however I have gotten around that by using my mobile device for speech. It should suffice until I get the speech recognition up and running again. The biggest delay has been my 3D printer, tonnes of reprints, configuration issues, model issues and plenty more which seizes development for some time.

Filed under: The Hackaday Prize

Using a Theremin for Medical Applications

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 12:00

[Eswar] is not an ordinary 16 years old boy. He figured out a noninvasive way to measure breathing in hospitals for less than $50. He is using a theremin to measure the rise and fall of a patient’s chest. For our curious readers, this touch-less instrument was invented back in 1929 by the Russian inventor [Leon Theremin]. It uses the heterodyne principle and two oscillators to generate an audio signal. One electronic oscillator creates an inaudible high pitch tone while another variable oscillator is changed by adding capacitance to an antenna.

As you can guess the space between the patient’s chest and the antennas placed around the bed forms a tiny capacitor which varies when exhaling. With three simple TTL chips and a little guessing [Eswar] had a working prototype ready to be implemented in the real world. If you’re interested in theremin, we invite you to see one of our previous articles on how to make one in a few minutes with a soda can.

Filed under: Medical hacks, musical hacks

A Proof of Concept Project for the ESP8266

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 09:00

It’s hardly been a month since we first heard of the impossibly cheap WiFi adapter for micros, the ESP8266. Since then orders have slowly been flowing out of ports in China and onto the workbenches of tinkerers around the world. Finally, we have a working project using this module. It might only be a display to show the current weather conditions, but it’s a start, and only a hint of what this module can do.

Since the ESP8266 found its way into the storefronts of the usual distributors, a lot of effort has gone into translating the datasheets both on hackaday.io and the nurdspace wiki. The module does respond to simple AT commands, and with the right bit of code it’s possible to pull a few bits of data off of the Internet.

The code requests data from openweathermap.org and displays the current temperature, pressure, and humidity on a small TFT display. The entire thing is powered by just an Arduino, so for anyone wanting a cheap way to put an Arduino project on the Internet, there ‘ya go.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

The First Annual Omaha Mini Maker Faire Was Definitely Something to Write Home About

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 06:00

If you ask me, Omaha’s first annual Mini Maker Faire was a rousing success. I think that the Faire’s coordinator, [Eric] of Omaha Maker Group would readily agree.The event was held at the Omaha Children’s Museum, an energetic and colorful backdrop for the 30 makers who were on hand to present their creations.

The representatives of the [Omaha Maker Group] had a total of three booths. One of them displayed the various fantastic things that have come out of their ‘space, which we will cover in an upcoming post. They brought the PiPhone that I told you about in my Kansas City Maker Faire post, and [Foamyguy] found a melodic easter egg hidden in the menu. [OMG] also brought their solar-powered EL wire logo sign, a quadcopter, a giant brushbot, a hexapod, a cigar box guitar, a really fun marble run, a steampunk Barbie, and KITT, their award-winning Power Racing Series car. And yeah, you bet it has a Larson scanner.

At their second booth, Fairegoers were constructing their own regular-size brushbots using 3D-printed chassis. These were specially designed to accommodate the toothbrush heads, pager motors, and CR2032s they brought to share. [Sarah] of [OMG] had her own popular booth and was showing off her costumes, clay creations, and jewelry.

Early on, I stopped at [Nicole]‘s booth called Upcycled Art and made a bracelet using soda can tabs and ribbon. She’s a local artist who makes button art, among other things. While I wove ribbon through the tabs and talked with her, my companion, [Foamyguy] was hard at work constructing a rosette out of magazine pages.

Across the way, another local artist named [Kjell] was demonstrating steam bending techniques. [Kjell] has made three canoes, a few paddles, and a surfboard out of thin strips of hardwoods and fiberglass. He had a small jig set up and was letting kids add a piece of wood to a small canoe mock-up by gluing it to the topmost piece and stapling it to the frame.

Back in the theatre area of the museum were a couple of booths devoted to the edible side of making. At [Tom and Abby]‘s Cultured Veggies, I tasted some delicious homemade pickles and sampled two stages of kombucha, which is a tasty tea-based beverage made possible through lacto-fermentation. I passed on the sauerkraut, but I’m sure it was . . . scrumptious. Next to them was the [Omaha Biofuels Coop], who advocate the use of waste vegetable oil as a fuel either directly or upon being processed into biodiesel.

I was drawn to a nearby table by a tray full of assorted googly eyes. After discussing the possibility of making Kit-Cat clock eyes with [Peggy], I realized that her table was associated with the one next to it, Make It/Move It. Kids could make a thing at [Peggy]‘s table and animate it against various backgrounds on a stop-motion rig at the other.

At the edge of the theatre was Nervous Foot, a hack/art installation in the form of a tapping antique wooden shoe form. When someone approached the Foot, it would dance using an an Arduino and a solenoid.

The Lincoln-Omaha LEGO User Group, or [LOLUG] brought some really cool stuff, including a mock-up of the Nebraska state capitol building and two LEGO trains. My favorites, though, were the Minecraft cube and the Star Wars Thanksgiving dinner scene.

Speaking of food, I should have worked off the hot dog and chips I ate from a food truck on the bike powered generator, but that was a busy attraction. I did use their hand crank generator to light a small bulb at the top.

A very enthusiastic kid named [Russell] was singing the praises of learning programming with a special nod to Codeacademy and Scratch. He is most excited about building Minecraft mods and showed us a pair of Portal portals he’d made. Over to one side, he had an NXT robot constantly drawing a pizza-looking thing.

I was pleasantly surprised to see two of the hacks I have written about, the homemade bazooka from [Lethal Engineering] and [Will]‘s birthday gift claw machine. [Will] brought the machine stocked with tiny Slinkys and gummy splat things, neither of which I was able to grab. Plenty of kids walked away happy, though, and there was a constant line of young hopefuls. [Lethal Engineering] also brought a remote control lawnmower and snowblower base.

I saw my first giant LED cube in person, and it was really cool. The same guy also had a hexapod and another robot with 3D-printed mecanum wheels. He was demonstrating 3D-printed parts for robotics and electronics.

Among the other, more artsy booths was Union Coop Studios, whose makers were screen printing souvenir posters. Nearby was a booth devoted to beautiful Chinese embroidery and drawings. The UNL Maker Club was set up in the museum’s permanent maker space, and they had Arduinos set up with hands-on demonstrations of LEDs and motors.

What’s the first picture about, you ask? I’m still kicking myself, honestly. Representatives from the [Houchen Bindery] were helping kids make those tiny books using buckram binding techniques like they do at the library. Simply put, we were too late to get one. They had a special offer going for the Faire: for $35, parents could have their children’s artwork preserved for all eternity in one of 15 colors of buckram.

Ideally, [Eric] and [OMG] want to grow the event enough to support the Power Racing Series. All in all, I had a great time, even if I missed my chance at a tiny commemorative book.

Filed under: cons

Hackaday’s 10th: The Celebration is Imminent

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 03:01

We’re celebrating 10 Years of Hackaday with a day-long event in Pasadena. It’s not too late to get in on the action. If you’re in the LA area on October 4th, 2014, you can attend the mini-conference in the afternoon and the party that evening.

It’s free, but you must secure a ticket for yourself.

A small group of hand-picked hackers will begin the day building alternative gaming controllers for use at the party that evening. The morning will be occupied by a trio of workshops focusing on robot building, lock picking, and LiPo cell charging.

Things start to really pick up steam in the afternoon with a mini-conference. There are a few dozen tickets left so get yours now! As we mentioned in our last post, [Steve Collins] will talk about how early hacking led him to a career with NASA, [Quinn Dunki] will discuss Veronica the 6502 Computer, and [Jon McPhalen] will present the benefits of mult-core embedded development.

To the list of speakers we can now add [ThunderSqueak]. You may remember her CO2 laser build that used a lot of hardware store parts. We’ve asked her to talk about her work on a non-binary computer. We covered the project back in June but this type of through-the-looking-glass subject fares better as a live talk with Q&A.

We hope to announce one more speaker soon, and already have a few lightning talks (one on a Demoscene board and another on hardware dev that ended with a successful Kickstarter). We’ll keep you posted!

Call for Art

We have space for a few pieces of art for the event. We would prefer things that are interactive and ‘glowy’ or self lit as the space will be fairly dark. There are two areas that we would like to fill right now, one is a small room approximately 9′ square with an 8′ ceiling. The other is a much larger space about 24′ square with a very high ceiling. We also have a couple of walls on which we could hang things or do projections. If you have something interactive and fun that you can get to the LA area on the week leading up to October 4th please let us know.

UPDATE: Poster

[Jim K.] asked for the printable version of the posts. Here’s a link to the .ai file. This is the work of our illustrator [Joe Kim]. He really gets us and has a bunch more artwork to be found around here. Some of our favorite is the “story” art he did in the description of the two classic t-shirts, and the original designs for the premium tees.

Filed under: Featured

Rotor DR1 and Collaborative Development

พฤ, 09/18/2014 - 00:00

In a post apocalyptic world ravaged by the effects of a virus, a young man searches for his father. He forms a friendship with a young woman and a delivery drone that seems oddly sentient. Together they have to fight through abandoned buildings, and past gangs of thugs, to find…

That’s the hook for Rotor DR1, a web series currently in production. Rotor DR1 isn’t a big budget movie, but an independent series created by [Chad Kapper]. [Chad] isn’t new to film or drones, his previous project was Flite Test, which has become one of the top YouTube channels for drones and radio controlled aircraft in general. With the recent sale of Flite Test to Lauren International, [Chad] has found himself with the time to move forward on a project he’s been talking about for years.

Click past the break for more information, and to check out the Rotor DR1 trailer.

There are plenty of hacks involved in creating an independent series, and Rotor DR1 is no exception. Drones play a huge role, both in front of and behind the camera. DR1 itself is a modified tricopter. While multirotors can carry quite a bit of weight, adding things like fairings and nacelles directly in their propwash can cause major issues. [Chad] and his team have relied on experts like [Eric Monroe] to build and pilot the craft.

The DR1 test model shown below was created with light plastic sheet from a local craft store. It has the look the team is going for and retains power and control to fly safely around human cast mates.

One of the most interesting aspects of Rotor DR1 is how it’s being produced. [Chad] is going with a collaborative development model. Nearly every aspect of the series is open for fan input on the Rotor DR1 website and Facebook page. From the appearance of future drone power cells to the name of the female lead, every detail and plot point is open for discussion and debate. The team is even running global auditions for reaction videos taken during the fictional viral epidemic. Check out the trailer below, and help shape the future of this series!

Filed under: drone hacks

The Spooky Nature of Electromagnetic Radiation

พุธ, 09/17/2014 - 21:01

Our story begins a little over one hundred years ago in Bern, Switzerland, where a young man employed as a patent clerk went off to work. He took the electric trolley in each day, and each day he would pass an unassuming clock tower. But today was different, it was special. For today he would pose to himself a question – a question whose answer would set forth a fascinating dilemma.

The hands of the clock appeared to move the same no matter if his trolley was stopped or was speeding away from the clock tower. He knew that the electromagnetic radiation which enabled him to see the clock traveled at a finite speed. He also knew that the speed of the light was incredibly great compared to the speed of his trolley. So great that there would not be any noticeable difference in how he saw the hands of the clock move, despite him being at rest or in motion. But what if his trolley was moving at the speed of the reflected light coming from the clock? How would the hands of the clock appear to move? Indeed, they could not. Or if they did, it would not appear so to him. It would appear as if all movement of the clock’s hands had stopped – frozen in an instant of time.  But yet if he looked at the hands of the watch in his pocket, they would appear to move normally. How does one explain the difference between the time of the clock tower versus the time of his watch? And which one was correct?

There was no way for him to know that it would take three years to answer this question. No way for him to know that the answer would eventually lead to the discovery of matter and energy being one and the same. No way to know that he, this underemployed patent clerk making a simple observation, would soon unearth the answer to one of the greatest mysteries that had stumped every mind that came before his – the very nature of time itself.

Now it might have taken Einstein a few years to develop the answer we now know as the Special Theory of Relativity, but it most certainly took him no longer than a few days to realize that Isaac Newton…

must be wrong.

Einstein was known for his ‘thought experiments’ – with the light clock being one of them. Let the animation above1 represent his pocket watch. The imaginary clock consists of two mirrors, with a pulse of light that bounces between them. The repeating pattern represents a basic clock, whose time can be calculated by:

T = 2h/c

Where h = the distance between the mirrors, c = the speed of the light pulse and T = time.

It is important to note that this is the way the light clock would appear to him, no matter if his trolley was moving or at rest. Both he and the clock are considered to be in the same frame of reference.

Let the animated image above1 represent the clock tower as his trolley is speeding away. Once the trolley starts moving, he and the clock tower are now considered to be in different frames of reference. To calculate time on this clock will take some basic algebra and geometry2.

If we set time equal to distance divided by velocity, then we can use the Pythagorean Theorem, to get:

c²t² = v²t² + w²


t²(c² – v²) = w²


t²(1 – v²/c²) = w²/c²

Then square root both sides and double the second part of the pulse (opposite side of right triangle, or (w)) to get:

According to this equation, the time between ticks of the moving clock will increase as the velocity (v) increases. Or put more simply – time runs slower for moving objects. Notice what happens when (v) is equal to zero. The equation becomes identical to our original of T = 2h/c. Now notice what happens when (v) is equal to or greater than (c). The equation becomes undefined. Thus the trolley cannot travel faster than or equal to (c), the speed of light. This includes all things with mass, and even gravity itself.

If you keep following this rabbit down the hole, you will find that the speed of light, and all electromagnetic radiation, will always be the same for all frames of reference. This is counter-intuitive, but proven to be true. Keep going further and you’ll end up with one of the most profound revelations in all of human history – E = mc2.

Remember these neat little facts next time you’re hacking away with lasers and wireless modules, and the spooky nature of the laws that govern them.

[Source 1: Time Dilation Travel Resource Center]

[Source 2: Special Relativity: What Time is it? Michael Fowler, Physics Department, UVa.]

Filed under: Hackaday Columns

The Abovemarine

พุธ, 09/17/2014 - 18:00

Over the course of a few weeks, [Adam] trained his betta fish, [Jose], to jump out of the water to snatch food off his finger. An impressive display for a fish, but being able to train his small aquatic friend got [Adam] thinking. What’s stopping [Jose] from interacting his environment even more? The abovemarine was born.

The abovemarine is a robotic platform specifically built for [Jose]‘s aquarium. Below, three omni wheels drive the entire aquarium in any direction. A computer running OpenCV, a webcam, and a few motors directs the abovemarine in whatever direction [Jose] wants to go. Yes, it’s a vehicle for a fish, and that’s awesome.

[Adam] put a lot of work into the creation of the abovemarine, and was eventually able to teach [Jose] how to control his new home. In the videos below, you can see [Jose] roaming the studio and rolling towards the prospect of food.

Because [Jose] is a Siamese fighting fish and extremely territorial when he sees other males of his species, this brings up the idea of a version of Battlebots with several abovemarines. They’re in different tanks, so we don’t know what PETA would think of that, but we do expect it to show up in the Hackaday tip line eventually.

Filed under: misc hacks

THP Quarterfinalist: WALLTECH Smartwatch

พุธ, 09/17/2014 - 15:00

While there is lots of hype about a big company launching a new wearable product, we’re more interested in [Walltech]‘s open source OLED Smartwatch. This entry into The Hackaday Prize merges a collection of sensors and an OLED screen into a wearable device that talks to your smartphone over Bluetooth Low Energy.

The device is based on the IMUduino BTLE development board. This tiny Arduino clone packs an inertial measurement unit (IMU), a Nordic nRF8001 Bluetooth radio, and an ATMEGA32u4 microcontroller.

The 1.5″ OLED display comes from [miker] who makes an OLED module based on the SSD1351. A STP200M 3D pedometer provides activity monitoring in a tiny package.

On the hardware side, packaging all these components into something that will fit on your wrist is quite difficult. The prototype hardware is built from mostly off the shelf components, but still manages to be watch sized.

At this point, it looks like the code is the main challenge remaining. There’s a lot of functionality that could be implemented, and [Walltech] even mentions that it’s designed to be very customizable. It even supports Android; the Apple Watch can’t do that.

The project featured in this post is a quarterfinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

Filed under: The Hackaday Prize, wearable hacks

Watch Out Artists, Robots Take Your Job Next

พุธ, 09/17/2014 - 12:00

Move over Claude Monet, there is a new act in town in the form of a robot capable of creating some pretty cool art.

We’ve seen robotic artists before but most of them are either cartesian-based or hanging drawbots. This is a full-fledged Sharpie-wielding robotic arm that draws with dots giving its work an impressionistic feel.

The actual robotic arm is a stock Interbotix WidowX. The folks over at Phantom Multimedia wrote some custom software that takes a graphic and breaks it down into a 1-bit representation. The code then goes through the bitmap at random, picking points to draw on the medium. The hard part of this project was figuring out how to translate the 2D image into 3D robotic arm movements. Since the arm has several joints, there are multiple mathematical solutions for arm position to move the marker to any given point. The team ended up writing an algorithm to determine the most efficient way to move from point to point. Even so, each drawing takes hours.

As if that wasn’t enough, the software was then reworked to probe positions. Instead of automatically moving the arm to a predetermined point, the arm is manually moved to a location and the data retrieved from the servo encoders is used to determine the position of a probe at the end of the arm. Each point taken in this manner can then be combined to generate a 3D model.

Thanks for the tip [Adam]

Filed under: robots hacks

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