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Adding WiFi and SMS to an Alarm System

เสาร์, 01/17/2015 - 07:01

[Don] wanted to bring his alarm system into the modern age. He figured that making it more connected would do the trick. Specifically, he wanted his alarm system to send him an SMS message whenever the alarm was tripped.

[Don] first had to figure out a way to trigger an event when the alarm sounds. He found a screw terminal that lead to the siren. When the alarm is tripped, this screw terminal outputs 12V to enable the siren. This would be a good place to monitor for an alarm trip.

[Don] is using an Arduino nano to monitor the alarm signal. This meant that the 12V signal needed to be stepped down. He ran it through a resistor and a Zener diode to lower the voltage to something the Arduino can handle. Once the Arduino detects a signal, it uses an ESP8266 WiFi module to send an email. The address [Don] used is the email-to-SMS address which results in a text message hitting his phone over the cell network.

The Arduino also needed power. [Don] found a screw terminal on the alarm system circuit board that provided a regulated 12V output. He ran this to another power regulator board to lower the voltage to a steady 5V. This provides just the amount of juice the Arduino needs to run, and it doesn’t rely on batteries. [Don] provides a good explanation of the system in the video below.


Filed under: Android Hacks, security hacks

Spliced Animations come to life on their pages

เสาร์, 01/17/2015 - 04:00

Remember those flipbooks you doodled into your history textbooks while you waited for the lunch bell? [Maric] takes the general principles of flipbooks and turns them on their head, giving our brain a whirl in the process. By splicing multiple frames into one image, he can bring animations to life onto a single page.

The technique is simple, but yields impressive results. By overlaying a pattern of vertical black bars onto his image, only a small fraction of the image is visible at any given point. The gaps in the pattern belong to a single frame from the animation. As [Maric] slides the pattern over the image, subsequent frames are revealed to our eyes, and our brain fills in the rest.

A closer look reveals more detail about the constraints imposed on these animations. In this case, the number of frames per animation loop is given by the widths in the transparency pattern. Specifically, it is the number of transparent slits that could fit, side-by-side, within an adjacent black rectangle.

The trick that makes this demonstration work so nicely is that the animated clips finish where they start, resulting in a clean, continuous illusion.

Don’t believe what you see? [Maric] has linked the pattern and images on his video so you can try them for yourself. Give them a go, and let us know what you think in the comments.


Filed under: misc hacks

Hacklet 30 – Robot Arm Projects

เสาร์, 01/17/2015 - 01:00

Robot arms – they do everything from moving silicon wafers to welding cars. Many a hacker has dreamt of having their own robot arm to serve them beer help them build projects. This week’s Hacklet features some of the best robot arm projects on Hackaday.io!

We start with [4ndreas] who is building this incredible 3D Printable Robot Arm. Inspired by large industrial robots, [4ndreas] has given us an entirely 3D printable design. [4ndreas’] 3D design experience really shows here. This arm looks like it just finished work at a local assembly line! The arm is BIG too – printing the parts took him about a week, and used around 1.2kg of ABS filament! [4ndreas] has recently split the project off into two halves: his blue arm is driven by stepper motors, while the orange arm is a DC motor affair. Both of the arms can use his awesome gripper design. Check out the project page for videos of the arm in action!

Next up is [Dan Royer] and his 6DOF Robot Arm. [Dan’s] didn’t want to spend upwards of $10,000 on an industrial arm, so he built his own from wood, plastic, and easily obtainable parts. As the name implies, the arm has 6 degrees of freedom. The electronics consist of beefy NEMA 17 stepper motors and a RUMBA controller, which was originally designed for 3D printers. Dan even created some novel encoder mounts. Each joint has an encoder, which will allow the robot to run as a closed loop system. [Dan] originally entered this arm in The Hackaday Prize 2014. While it didn’t get him to space, we’re betting it will be able to get him a soda!

No robot arm Hacklet would be complete without featuring [ben.phenoptix] and the awesome MeArm. MeArm is a pocket-sized robot arm which uses tiny 9 gram servos for locomotion. It’s built from laser cut acrylic and standard hardware. We loved the MeArm so much that we featured it as one of the challenges in our Embedded Hardware Workshop in Munich. More recently, [Ben] and MeArm have had a great run on Kickstarter. Let’s hope those arms are good at stuffing, addressing, and mailing out packages!

 

Finally we have [Kenji Larsen] with Reactron material transporter. The material transporter is just a small part of [Kenji’s] larger Reactron project. It started with an OWI-535 robot arm. The OWI is really a toy – a plastic kit which builds an open loop DC motor driven arm. [Kenji] has put some serious time into modifying his particular arm. He experimented with molding his own potentiometers for each joint before settling on a printed circuit board based design. Once the new system was in place, he found that his resistors were good for about 10,000 cycles. Not bad for a modified toy!

There are quite a few robot arm projects we weren’t able to cover in this edition of The Hacklet – you can check them all out on our brand new Robot Arm Projects List!

That’s it for this Hacklet, As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!


Filed under: Hackaday Columns

Make Awesome, Win Smoothieboard

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 23:30

If you haven’t looked around the RepRap project in a while, you probably haven’t heard about the Smoothieboard. It’s an extremely unique electronics board for 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines that is trying to get away from Atmel and AVR microcontrollers and towards more powerful ARM micros. On the Smoothieboard, you’ll find enough five motor drivers, six big ‘ol MOSFETs for hot ends, fans, and beds, enough thermistor inputs for just about anything, and an Ethernet jack, because all 3D printers should be able to run headless.

The team behind the Smoothieboard has decided there’s not enough awesome included in the Smoothieboard already. To fix this, they’re opening up a contest where coders, documentarians, graphic artists, and creatives of all types can contribute to the Smoothieboard project. What’s the prize? A Smoothieboard, duh.

The Smoothieboard team is looking for a few good coders, builders, or anyone else to contribute to the Smoothieboard project. If you have an idea that would work with the Smoothieboard – a web interface like Octoprint running on the Smoothieboard, better documentation, graphics, or just want to build a five-axis CNC mill, this is where you sign up. The prize is a Smoothieboard 5XC, the top of the line board with five motor drivers.

Of course you’re always welcome to not contribute to open source projects, and for those consummate consumers, we have the Smoothieboard 5XC available in the Hackaday Store.

You have until February 15th to come up with a great project idea for a Smoothieboard. The best 30 project ideas will be chosen, and those projects will get a Smoothieboard. Actually building a project in a month isn’t a condition of the contest; the best idea wins.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, contests

Binary Clock Fit For Queen Elsa’s Ice palace

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 22:01

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you freezing cold temperatures and a yard full of snow, you make binary clocks out of ice. At least that’s what [Dennis] does, anyway.

[Dennis’] clock is made from several cylindrical blocks of ice stacked on top of one another. There are six columns of ice blocks. The blocks were made by pouring water into empty margarine containers and freezing them. Once they were frozen, [Dennis] bore a 5/16″ hole into the bottom of each block to house an LED. Wires ran from the LEDs back into the drainage port of a cooler.

The cooler housed the main electronics. The LED controller board is of [Dennis’] own design. It contains six TLC59282 chips allowing for control of up to 96 LEDs. Each chip has its output lines running to two RJ45 connectors. [Dennis] couldn’t just use one because one of the eight wires in the connector was used as a common power line. The main CPU is an Arduino. It’s hooked up to a DS3234 Real Time Clock in order to keep accurate time. The oscillator monitors temperature in order to keep accurate time even in the dead of winter.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, led hacks

New Part Day: Three-dimensional USB Connectors

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 19:00

There’s an old joke that says USB cables do not exist in three-dimensional Euclidian space. Try to plug a USB cable in a socket, and the first try will always be wrong. Flip it, try to plug it in, and that will also be wrong. You will only succeed on the third try, and this is proof that USB connectors exist in higher planes of reality with arcane geometries. The joke is as old as the Pythagoreans, who venerated USB connectors as gods.

The waveform has collapsed, the gods profaned, and USB connectors that exist in only three dimensions have arrived. We’re talking, of course, about reversible USB Type A connector that will plug in the first time, every time. No need for electromancy or the “looking on the cable for the USB logo and plugging it in with that side up” method used by tech plebeians.

This discovery came after going through my daily roundup of crowdfunding press releases, eventually landing me on this idiotic project. It’s a USB charge cable that’s supposed to charge your phone twice as fast, despite the fact that charging speed is a function of current, and that’s determined by whatever you’re charging from, not the cable. Terrible idea, but they do have something interesting: a three-dimensional USB connector.

The connector isn’t the brand new USB 3.1 Type C connector that will eventually find its way into phones, laptops, wearables of all types. This is your standard Type A USB plug you’ve known and loved for the past eighteen years. The difference here is that the chunky block of plastic that has made the common USB cable non-reversible for so many years is gone. In its place is a tiny strip of plastic that has contacts on both sides. Yes, it took nearly two decades for someone to figure out this would be a marketable idea.

While searching for a source for these three-dimensional USB connectors, the only source I could come up with was Wurth Elektronik, With Farnell/Element14 carrying a selection of connectors, a few available on Digikey, and some available on Mouser. There are even a few pre-made reversible cables available, with Tripp Lite leading the game right now.

For integrating one of these connectors into your build, there’s only one thing to watch out for: the pinout for these plugs is mirrored on each side of the thin strip of plastic going down the middle of the connector. This means your VCC and GND pins will be right next to each other, your D+ and D- signal pins right next to each other, and now you have to do your layout with eight pins instead of only four.

While it may not be groundbreaking and it makes for some confusing PCB layout work, but as told by a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, this can be a real feature for a product.

If you’ve recently come across a component, connector, or part that’s unique, interesting, or downright cool everyone should know about, send it on in and we’ll take a look at it.


Filed under: Hackaday Columns, parts

Drums Anywhere!

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 16:01

The students over at Cornell’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering have been hard at it again with their senior projects. This time, it’s the very tiny and portable drumset dubbed Drums Anywhere by its creators [Shiva Rajagopal] and [Richard Quan]. Since there are other highly portable instruments like roll-up pianos, they suppose there should be a portable drum kit that actually sounds like drums, and this ECE duo have hit the metaphorical and physical drum on the head… except that this project doesn’t actually use physical drums to make sound.

The project consists of two 3D-printed box-like sensors with velcro straps that can be attached to any drumstick-shaped object that might be lying around. Inside the box is a flex sensor and a tiny microphone which report the “beats” to a microcontroller when they strike another object.

On the software side, there are two sampled sounds stored in the microcontroller but they plan to add more sounds in the future. The microcontroller outputs sound to a pair of speakers, and the sensors are sensitive to force, so the volume can range from almost inaudible all the way up to [John Bonham]-style booms. This could also be theoretically expanded to include more than two “beat boxes” for extra sounds, or be wireless. The options are virtually limitless, although the team notes that they are limited by the number of interrupts and ADC converters on their particular microcontroller, an ATmega1284.

This is another interesting take on a having drumset without the drums, and definitely expands the range of what a virtual drum set can do. It’s also great to see interesting projects coming from senior design classes! Be sure to check out the video after the break.


Filed under: musical hacks

Electricity Usage Monitor is Linked to Google Spreadsheets

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 13:01

If you want to make your home more energy-efficient, chances are you will need a way to monitor your electricity usage over time. There are off-the-shelf solutions for this of course, but hackers like us tend to do things our own way. Take [Karl] for example. He recently built himself a solution with only a few smart components. We’ve seen similar projects in the past, but none quite like this.

[Karl’s] home has a power meter that blinks an LED to indicate the current amount of used electricity in Watt-hours. He knew all he needed was a way to electronically detect the blinking LED and he’d be able to accurately track his usage without modifying the meter.

The primary components used in this project were a CC3200 development kit and a photoresistor module. The dev kit contained a WiFi module built-in, which allows the system to upload data to Google spreadsheets as well as sync the built-in clock with an accurate time source. The photoresistor module is used to actually detect the blinking LED on the power meter. Everything else is done easily with code on the dev kit.


Filed under: green hacks, Microcontrollers

Flexible Numitron Tube Clock Build

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 10:00

Hackers and makers alike often use whatever’s readily available. Sometimes this is done out of necessity, other times because of the desire to make something work without waiting for parts to ship or some store to open. And many times, we use what we already have simply because it presents a challenge. A couple of years ago, [Alan] made a beautiful clock that combines the lessons he learned from building a word clock with the challenges presented by some IV-9 and IV-16 Numitron tubes he acquired.

This build expanded [Alan]’s horizons while extending the use of his existing tools. The timekeeping is done with a word clock board he had designed previously that can utilize any of three kinds of RTC modules. Further flexibility is evident in the top board, which is designed with double footprints to accommodate through-hole or SMD shift registers and resistors. His current board iteration allows for chaining if you like your time displays long and specific. If the vintage blue glow of VFDs offends your eyes for some reason, there’s a dual-footprint for a single-color LED under each tube.

It’s worth mentioning that these are not Nixie tubes, they are vacuum fluorescent displays (VFD)s. We will spare you a reheated explanation of the differences between the two and instead direct you towards [Fran]’s excellent video on the subject from about a year ago. If you already have or plan to acquire some VFDs but don’t know how to drive them, check out this Numitron tutorial we covered a few years back.


Filed under: clock hacks

Full SHTTTRRR Control Lets You Take Your Time…

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 07:00

[Glitchmaker] loves photography and wrote in to tell us about his newest project. He has a Canon 1000D camera but, unfortunately, it does not have time lapse capability. So, instead of shelling out a chunk of change for a new camera [Glitchmaker] decided to make an external shutter control device that can continue to instruct the camera to take photos at predetermined intervals. He calls his project: SHTTTRRR. You didn’t think that meant something else, did you?

You can see the unassuming box above, there is just enough stuff packed in there to get the job done, nothing extra or fancy. Luckily, the Cannon camera has a remote shutter input jack that only requires connecting one pin to another in order to take a photo. Inside the box is an ATTINY45 microcontroller. It reads the button pushes from the single panel-mounted button and calculates the time between two button presses. That time between button presses determines the frequency of the photos taken. At the appropriate times, the ATTINY45 signals a transistor to connect the two appropriate pins on the camera’s remote shutter input jack. The device continues to tell the camera to take photos until it is shut off. The result is a series of time-lapse photos that was previously not possible on that camera!

This is a simple project that solves a problem and gets the job done. What’s better than that? [Glitchmaker] is proud of the SHTTTRRR he made and also learned a bunch about programming the ATTINY45 along the way. Check a video of it working after the break.


Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, digital cameras hacks

Budget Wrist-Controlled RC car is a nice touch

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 04:01

Does your RC car’s crude, push-button controller make you feel like you’re mashing tv remote buttons like a caveman? We think so too, but [Noel] has actually done the heavy-lifting to fix just that. He’s revamped his kids’ rc controller for gesture control. Now their rc car can be guided by the crisp, intuitive control of one’s wrist movements.

To tackle this project, [Noel] has integrated a gyroscope and accelerometer, an Arduino, and the existing remote. Data from the gyroscope-and-accelerometer limits are mapped to the buttons through an Arduino, which parses the raw data and triggers the controller’s switches, now wired directly to the Arduino and pulled up with resistors. In his overview video, [Noel] tells us that he’s binarized the gyroscope-and-accel data to trigger at certain limits, a choice that adequately suits the controller’s original push-button controls. Finally, the entire setup is cleanly strapped to a 3D-printed case. Not bad, for a grand total of $20 and a quick trip to Target.

[Noel]’s custom wrist-controller takes its place on the shelf of many other unique controllers, and his demo is a great example of using existing open hardware to tailor our toys to more personal tastes. After all, the hardware shopping list is just a breakout board, an Arduino, and a few jumper wires. When the next zombie apocalypse hits, we can easily see some practical components like these making their way into our suitcase. At the very least, we’ll be able to build a few wrist controllers and dispatch some toy cars to greet the undead.


Filed under: toy hacks

Clockety Uses Phone Flash for Projection Clock

ศุกร์, 01/16/2015 - 01:01

[Gaurav Taneja] was showing off his projection clock add-on for iPhone called Clockety at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The concept is pretty neat, a clip-on clock which uses the iPhone flash LED as the light source. It may sound a little gimmicky until you see the functionality of the accompanying app which is shown off in the video after the break. Once clipped onto the phone, you lay it face down on your night stand and a gentle tap on the furniture will turn the projection on or off. This is a killer feature when you’re staying some place without an illuminated bedside clock.

Here you can see that the device is extremely simple, just a real-time-clock on a tiny PCB, a passthrough LCD, and the mouting pieces to hold the lens at the appropriate focal length. [Gaurav] has done a good job of pricing for the simplicity, with the Indiegogo pre-order price of $19.

At this point you use an SR44 cell to power the clock and LCD, with buttons to set minutes and hours. The optics have been designed with standard bedside table height and room ceiling height in mind, with a fine adjustment on the lens assembly for focus.

We really hope that this one succeeds because we have some ideas for the next revision. There should be a pass-through adapter that would allow you to charge the phone while driving the projector LCD. Adding power, moving to a dot-matrix LCD, and rolling in Bluetooth for v2 could allow you to push more data to the projected image. Or is that just overkill? Sometimes we get carried away.


Filed under: clock hacks, cons, iphone hacks

[Tesla500] Builds a High-Speed Video Camera

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 22:01

[Tesla500] has a passion for high-speed photography. Unfortunately, costs for high-speed video cameras like the Phantom Flex run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. When tools are too expensive, you do the only thing you can – you build your own! [Tesla500’s] HSC768 is named for the data transfer rate of its image sensor. 768 megapixels per second translates to about 960MB/s due to the 10 bit pixel format used by the On Semiconductor Lupa1300-2 image sensor.

This is actually [Tesla500’s] second high-speed camera, the first was HSC80, based upon the much slower Lupa300 sensor. HSC80 did work, but it was tied to an FPGA devboard and controlled by a PC. [Tesla500’s] experience really shows in this second effort, as HSC768 is a complete portable system running Linux with a QT based GUI and a touchscreen. A 3D printed case gives the camera that familiar DSLR/MILC  shape we’ve all come to know and love.

The processor is a Texas Instruments TMS320DM8148 DaVinci, running TI’s customized build of Linux. The DaVinci controls most of the mundane things like the GUI, trigger I/O, SD card and SATA interfaces. The real magic is the high-speed image acquisition, which is all handled by the FPGA. High-speed image acquisition demands high-speed memory, and a lot of it! Thankfully, desktop computers have given us large, high-speed DDR3 ram modules. However, when it came time to design the camera, [Tesla500] found that neither Xilinx nor Altera had a FPGA under $1000 USD with DDR3 module support. Sure, they will support individual DDR3 chips, but costs are much higher when dealing with chips. Lattice did have a low-cost FPGA with the features [Tesla500] needed, so a Lattice ECP3 series chip went into the camera.

The final result looks well worth all the effort [Tesla500] has put into this project. The HSC768 is capable of taking SXGA (1280×1024) videos at 500 frames per second, or 800×600 gray·scale images at the 1200 frames per second. Lower resolutions allow for even higher frame rates.  [Tesla500] has even used the camera to analyze a strange air oscillation he was having in his pneumatic hand dryer.  Click past the break for an overview video of the camera, and the hand dryer video. Both contain some stunning high-speed sequences!


Filed under: digital cameras hacks, misc hacks

Knitting In The Round

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 19:01

There have been a few posts on Hackaday over the years involving knitting, either by modifying an old Brother knitting machine to incorporate modern hardware, or by building a 3D printed knitting machine. All of these hacks are examples of flat knitting, and are incapable of making a seamless tube. Circular Knitic bucks that trend by using 3D printing and laser cutters to create an open source circular knitting machine.

Circular Knitic is an expansion on an earlier build that gave a new brain to old Brother knitting machines from the 70s. This build goes well beyond simple manipulation of electrons and presents an entire knitting machine specifically designed for circular knitting. It’s completely automated, so once the machine is set up, a giant tube of knit yarn is automagically created without any human intervention.

This isn’t the first completely open source knitting machine; OpenKnit can be made with aluminum extrusion, some electronics, and a few 3D printed parts. Circular Knitic is, however, the first circular knitting machine we’ve seen, and according to the Github is completely open source.

The creators of Circular Knitic, [Varvara] and [Mar] have been showing off their machine at an exhibition in Zaragoza, Spain called DOERS, where they’ll be knitting for the better part of six months. You can see some video of that below.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, wireless hacks

Etching Steel With a DC Wall Wart

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 16:01

[Dan Comeau] is a modern-day Renaissance DIY Jedi — or so he says… He loves re-purposing things and hacking in general. But one of his favorite pastimes is producing custom hand-made knives. He etches his logo on each, using a professional etching machine, but when a fan asked how to do it themselves, he came up with this simple and easy way to etch metal at home with a few things you probably already have!

It’s actually incredibly simple. Just by cracking open a DC power supply (a wall wart will do just fine), you can easily make your own etching/marking device with a few modifications. Ideally you want something in the range of 5-12VDC at 1A or more. 

By soldering in a few wires to a double-pull, double-throw switch, you’ll be able to easily switch between low voltage AC and DC which will allow you to either mark (AC) or etch (DC) the steel with the help of an electrolytic solution on the pad. Take a look at his blog for full details, or the Instructable he just wrote up!

We have seem a very similar method of knife logo etching before. Alternatively if you don’t have a DC power supply handy (seriously?) you can always use a 9V battery!


Filed under: chemistry hacks, how-to

Never Forget Your USB Stick Again

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 13:01

USB sticks are very handy. They are a very portable and relatively inexpensive means of storing data. Possibly the most annoying part about using one of these devices is when you inevitable leave it behind somewhere by accident. This is especially true if it contains sensitive information. [Eurekaguy] feels your pain, and he’s developed a solution to the problem.

[Eurekaguy] designed a custom cap for USB sticks that beeps approximately every minute after the USB stick has been plugged in for five minutes. The cap is 3D printed and then slightly modified with four 1mm holes. Two wires are routed between these holes to make contact points for the VCC and GND pins of the USB stick.

The beep circuit is comprised of a tiny PIC12F629 microcontroller along with a couple of other supporting components. The circuit is wired together dead bug style to conserve space. Three AG5 batteries power the circuit. A small piezo speaker provides the repeating beep to remind you to grab your USB stick before you walk away from the computer.

[Thanks Irish]


Filed under: Microcontrollers

Animate Your Artichoke with a Lathe and Camera

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 10:00

Spirals, fractals, and even bone length proportions whisper of a consistent ratio woven into the universe. Math is hidden in the fabric of things, and when this fact is observed in art, magic happens. Professor, artist, and inventor [John Edmark] draws inspiration from geometric patterns found in nature and builds sculptures using the golden ratio as a standard for design. In this project, he expresses these characteristics through animated biomorphic zoetropes.

[John] modeled several 3D sculptures in Rhino containing similar geometric properties to those found in pinecones and palm tree fronds. As the segments grow from those objects in nature, they do so in approximately 137.5 degree intervals. This spacing produces a particular spiral appearance which [John] was aiming to recreate. To do so, he used a Python script which calculated a web of quads stretched over the surface of a sphere. From each of the divisions, stalk-like protrusions extend from the top center outward. Once these figures were 3D printed, they were mounted one at a time to the center of a spinning base and set to rotate at 550 RPM. A camera then films the shape as it’s in motion at a 1/2000 sec frame rate which captures stills of the object in just the right set of positions to produce the illusion that the tendrils are blooming from the top and pouring down the sides. The same effect could also be achieved with a strobe light instead of a camera.

[John] has more information on his instructables page. He also provides a video of this trick working with an actual artichoke; one of the living examples of the golden ratio which this project was inspired by. Thank you, [Charlie Nordstrom] for helping him document these awesome sculptures and for telling us about them!


Filed under: misc hacks

Choctopus Chocolate Printer x8

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 07:00

Valentine’s Day is about a month away, long enough for everyone to butcher upgrade their 3D printers to squirt out chocolate. Food printing was a hot item at this year’s CES, but it is hardly new. Before many of you were born [Hans] left his job at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to produce chocolate out of his garage in South Africa. This one prints 8 at a time!

Many years before he was extruding lawnmowers from raw pellets, [Hans] built the 8-tentacled Choctopus. He gets away with using only one chocolate pump – from some experience, by far the most challenging component – by simply splitting the ooze pipe with three tiers of T intersections. The whole design is actually patented and revolutionary for 19 years ago but to our readers probably unremarkable.

There is a business lesson here too. Once upon a time the Choctopus was a  3D printer but economic constraints have led to him downgrading to 2D. Any 3D requirements are served from an alternate RepRap. The purpose of an 8-armed printer is to mass produce, but for the price, most clients were only interested in a one-off. The products that pay the bills are the much more affordable 2d extrusions in bulk.

Any of our readers looking to impress their date make lots of money next month, consider this the kick in your pants to get started.

Check out these videos of the Choctopus churning out delicious delicatessens.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, cooking hacks

Myst Linking Book

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 04:00

[Daniel] was looking for a special gift to make for his close friend. His friend is a huge fan of the Myst franchise which made the decision easy — why not make a Myst Linking Book?

After doing some research he discovered that the book in the game footage was a Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312 from 1877. He attempted to find one on eBay but they were pretty expensive — and in pretty rough shape. So instead he settled on a copy of Scribner’s Monthly Magazine,Volume XL, Nov 1875 to Apr 1876. Not quite identical but close enough!

His original plan was to embed a Raspberry Pi with an LCD screen to show off the Myst videos, but then discovered the cheap and easy to use video greeting card modules, which you can pick up for $10-20 from China. They typically let you store about five videos and use a magnetic reed switch to activate — almost like it was designed for this project!

From there he went to work, cutting out compartments from his newly purchased antique book. To glue the pages together he used a spray adhesive, which seemed to work pretty well on the old yellowing pages. Everything fit in nicely, and [Daniel] uploaded a bunch of Myst flyby videos to the device, as well as a birthday greeting for his friend. How’s that for a unique present/greeting card?

For more advanced Myst gifts, you’ve gotta check out some of the Myst puzzle boxes our readers have created. And we can’t forget the real Myst linking book which [Daniel] used for inspiration in this project!


Filed under: computer hacks, misc hacks

The Giant Flip-Dot Display at CES

พฤ, 01/15/2015 - 01:01

Flip-dot displays are grand, especially this one which boasts 74,088 pixels! I once heard the hardware compared to e-ink. That’s actually a pretty good description since both use a pixel that is white on one side and black on the other, depend on a coil to change state, and only use electricity when flipping those bits.

What’s remarkable about this is the size of the installation. It occupied a huge curving wall on the ooVoo booth at 2015 CES. We wanted to hear more about the hardware so we reached out to them they didn’t disappoint. The ooVoo crew made time for a conference call which included [Pat Murray] who coordinated the build effort. That’s right, they built this thing — we had assumed it was a rental. [Matt Farrell] recounts that during conception, the team had asked themselves how an HD video chat for mobile company can show off display technology when juxtaposed with cutting edge 4k and 8k displays? We think the flip-dot was a perfect tack — I know I spent more time looking at this than at televisions.

Join us after the break for the skinny on how it was built, including pictures of the back side of the installation and video clips that you have to hear to believe.

Shockingly Short Development Time

Get this, conception to finished construction for the wall was just under two months. The first pitch for funding happened the last week of October and the rig was finished about a week before Christmas.

In the video below you can just make out the panels which make up the display. Each of them hosts a 28 by 14 grid of flip-dots. The panels are arranged in 21 columns of 9. This provides a black and white display resolution of 588×126. Cognitively, that’s horrible resolution. But the sheer size and novelty of the technology makes the 74,088 mechanical pixels look and sound stunning as they click their way from one state to the next.

Each module has a built-in controller which are commanded via serial. To gang 189 of them into a single display, [Pat] sourced some serial to Ethernet hardware from Grid Connect. These adapters report back to a single computer via 64 Ethernet cables. That box plays back a video file, adapting it on the fly using Adobe Air to send packets to the IP addresses of the Ethernet controllers.

All of this is supplied by a trio of 56A, 24V power supplies. At a refresh rate of 30fps, when flipping all the dots at once this is a max current draw of 189 panels * 0.680 Amps = 128.52A @ 24VDC (Same power as 28 Amps @ 110VAC = 3085W).

Making it Interactive

The display wasn’t just rolling video. Interspersed with ooVoo’s advertising these cartoon faces would emerge. Space evenly along the length of the display are PrimeSense depth cameras. [Pat] told us that these were chosen over the Kinect sensors because they are more suited for up-close facial recognition. In conjunction with Affectiva and Faceshift, your facial disposition is measured and translated to the cartoon character. Each sensor has its own Mac mini which parses the data and sends commands over the network to the box controlling the display.

Our European readers may get a chance to see this one in person. ooVoo will be taking the display to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, March second through the fifth.


Filed under: cons, Featured, slider, video hacks