Everybody needs one


Not the hack o’ the day, but you guys might have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet on the engadget How-To front. I’ve been spending all my spare time in my garage working on a CNC conversion for the mini mill I bought a few months ago. It features pic based microstepping controllers that handle up to 54 volts and 3amps. I settled for a modified PC power supply for now. I’ve got plans for this thing, including some stuff just for Hack-A-Day. All the mechanical and electronic work is completed; now I’m taking a breather while I wait for the actual beefy stepper motor for the Z-axis pictured above. I celebrated with a coffee stout.

Ben Heck’s Xbox 360 Laptop Mk II


I’ve known this was coming for a while. [Ben]’s been working hard on this for a while. He’s built his second Xbox 360 laptop. But this time he’s putting up a three part How-To series on building it for engadget. Here’s a nice gallery of hi-res project pics. As usual, I’ll let you know when they’re posted. Aside from the new color scheme, this one features six fans instead of water cooling – so it should be easier for the how-to reader to construct their own.

IR decoding with your… guitar


[Benjamin] sent in the craziest thing I’ve seen lately. He’s using the magnetic pickup in his electric guitar to sense IR signals. The guitar is hooked to a preamp that’s feeding into his computer. By capturing the pulses with something like audacity, you can grab samples of the codes without building any specialized hardware.

If you’ve got something for Hack-A-Day, use the tips line!

Ben Heck’s six axis 360 controller


This is not the most difficult mod ever, but digg loved it enough to kill Ben’s site before I could post it yesterday. Ben’s been doing a slate of consignment mods lately. This time he stuffed the guts of a PS3 six axis controller into an Xbox 360 controller body. Ben’s starting to act like a XBox 360 borg… His site is back up for now, but it’s awaiting some dns updates as it moves to a sexier hosting plan. Look while you can.

Sunday wifi RC car extra

Just a heads up for the linux guys before I hit the hack. If you’re using madwifi drivers, make sure you update em. A remote exploit was released. the researcher played nice and got with the development team before releasing the details.

I’ve been pondering a wifi controlled RC car robot project. I’m thinking of an onboard motherboard and a big battery supply. After considering my own ideas, I like to poke around and check out others. It’s inspiring and I almost always find something I can use adapt or abuse. For the wifi RC car, several have been created already.

The Wi-drive is really an exercise in embedded systems and software control, but looks interesting. Sadly, it appears to suffer from the ‘our college gave us this dev box’ syndrome.

The WRT54G turned RC car is pretty sweet. The router is running a servo control daemon, providing a cheap mobile wireless dev platform.

This star climbing enabled monster truck hack looks very promising as a build platform. It was designed to be autonomous, but it could easily be adapted.

Not be forgotten, Ashish’s laser rangefinder based autonomous rc car.

If you’d rather keep the car stock, you could interface the transmitter with a pc with a simple ppm signal generator.

Then there’s the RC car telemetry project.

Got any more worthy projects? Shout out.

Webcam laser rangefinder


This has been around for a while, but I thought it deserved some attention. [Todd] used a laser pointer, a webcam, some trig and (sigh) some windows development tools to create his own laser range finder. Given the position of the beam strike and that the camera is located at a right angle to the laser, calculating the distance is pretty simple. This could be handy if you’re building a bot for defcon…

Ham radio modding


I was pondering our archive and noticed that we’ve never given attention to some of the more interesting amateur radio hacks. I’d say that most of the amateur radios on the market are susceptible to modding. The mods generally result in a wider band of transmission or reception. I used to own an Icom 706MKII – a serious mobile rig that, after removing a diode or two, gains an extremely wide transmission band. You can find a range of mods here – most are just a quick google away. (The FCC won’t be happy if they find you using an unlicensed device, but there’s an argument for having the capability in case of emergency.)