Hack-A-Day Extra


We’re a Top 100 Folding@HOME team! Take that Tom’s Hardware Community! No, seriously, we are that freakin‘ huge now. I celebrated by buying some more hardware to fold with. You can find out more at the Team Hack-A-Day Forum.¬† If you don’t know what this folding thing is all about, check the team wiki. You could always drop by our long standing IRC channel, #hackaday on EFnet.

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Homemade heat pipes

heat pipe

Heat pipes are used to passively transfer heat from one area to another. On pcs they’re usually found moving heat from the processor to large heatsinks on the case exterior. Heat pipes contain liquids that vaporize when heated. The vapor moves up the pipe and is cooled by the external heatsink. This transfer of heat cools the vapor and returns it to liquid form. The liquid then returns to the processor end of the pipe. This project involved building a heat pipe and charging it with R134a. While testing the pipe in a water bath the refrigerant is bled off till the pipe maintains a steady state of phase change. Even though performance could not match that of manufactured heat pipes, it’s still impressive.

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Floppy drive heliostat

floppy drive

This is an ongoing project to build a heliostat from a floppy drive. Heliostats are used by solar arrays to track the sun. This mod uses the main logic board to control the head stepper motor. The board will power up with 5V and consumes 1Watt when the motor is running. There are a couple quirks to the motor operation since this a floppy drive; large head movements require a backtrack every so often. Luckily, this device doesn’t move too far or fast. Two sets of LEDs are wired on opposite sides of a reflective strip. They’re wired opposite each other so that the device will track back if it overshoots.

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Manual focus screen for a digital SLR

focus screen

Most modern digital SLR cameras use matte focus screens with their autofocus systems instead of the split circle manual focus screens found in non-digital SLR cameras. Although not factory endorsed, there are replacement manual focus screens which can be very expensive. Reader [Jan-Erik Skata] decided to save some money by salvaging the focus screen from a Miranda dx-3 film camera. Removing the screen proved extremely difficult and the Miranda would have been a total loss if it had been functional. Once out, the screen was sanded down, cleaned and then placed in a Canon EOS 300D. It’s hard to take a picture of the screen through the view finder to prove that it works, but I’m sure Jan-Erik is taking some great photographs having completed this upgrade.

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Optical ADB mouse

adb optical

Here’s an easy hack compared to our usual craziness. Reader [Alex Dawson] was having issues with his Apple Pro Optical mouse. The new mouse had broken its USB cable connection internally due to insufficient strain relief. Cases for these mice are epoxied together and working on them is a one-way trip, never to return to their original state. He salvaged an ADB mouse and disassembled it with ease. The optical circuit board fit into the ADB case without any trouble. The button switch on both mice is exactly the same and almost in the same position. The optical sensor does not line up with the hole though. Once the ball ring was fused in place, Alex cut a new slot for the sensor. That’s all it took to end up with modern performance and old school flavor.

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Xbox 360 first impressions

xbox desk

I feel the need to include a disclaimer before getting into this: I don’t own an original Xbox, I own a Playstation 2, I consider myself a casual gamer, I’m a fan of Open Source and not Microsoft.

I purchased this box on the first day because early versions of consoles are generally easier to modify. With the PSP ver. 1.0 it was easy to run homebrew code, but with each successive firmware version, Sony makes it harder. The original Xboxes that are being sold now make it almost impossible to run Xbox Linux because of a hardware change.

Before we get to my experiences, here are some links that you might find interesting.

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Cooking with processors


 While contemplating how to turn my new heat pumping Xbox into a foot cozy, I remembered some links that [h-tech] had sent in.

The first is cooking an egg on a processor in a functional PC. The proc in question is an AMD Athlon XP1500+. The tray is supported by a stack of 1p and 2p sterling coins. After approx. 4 minutes of warm up it took 11 minutes to cook the egg.

The second is a hotplate constructed from 7 Cyrix chips. The chips are wired in parallel to an AT power supply. A piece of cookie sheet is attached to the surface with thermal paste and the power supply is enhanced with