Twitter security cam

It seems that people keep coming up with ingenious things to with Twitter. Reminding you to water your plants is relatively inventive, but for shear practicality, [Shantanu Goel] created a security camera using a webcam, a few freeware apps, and a Twitter account.

To make this work, install Motion on a system running Linux. As its name suggests, Motion is a free motion-detecting application that monitors movement in a webcam’s field of view. Once installed, it should be configured to take a snapshot of the event whenever something moves; with the locate option turned on, it draws a square frame around the area where motion occurred. The program includes http server functionality, so the photos can be viewed from a remote location. When all of that is properly configured, motion can be set to trigger cURL, Wget, or [Goel]‘s Perl script to post a message to Twitter about the event. From there the Twitter account can be configured to send text messages to a phone, creating a virtually instant notification of motion sensed by the webcam.

[via Hackszine]

Geo Metro halved for better mileage

[Doug Heffron] modified this 1989 Geo Metro way back in 1993. Gas prices had just started breaking $1.00/gallon and he wanted to show manufacturers how to build a fuel efficient vehicle in such troubling times. The car already got 58mpg (Prius: 46mpg), but [Doug] decided he could do better with some aero modifications. The car was converted to tandem seating and stripped of any extra weight. In its final form, it got 75mpg, but then gas prices stabilized and it was laid to rest in a shed. You can find out more about the car and see photos from the build on its site (painful resizing).

[via Autoblog]

Ring of the Devil electric lock exploit

[Barry] got his hands on an interesting electronic lock pick. The ‘Ring of the Devil’ is made of aluminum and has four magnets inside. By rotating it against an electric lock, (like the one in our RGB keypad lock How-To) the magnetic force can cause the electric motor inside the lock to turn and unlock. More details and commentary are on [Barry]‘s site.

Nokia color LCD Flickr frame

Tinkerlog got their hands on a color LCD from SparkFun and set it up to receive images from Flickr. These color LCDs are 128×128 pixel and the include a breakout board with a separate power supply for the backlight. Communication is via a three wire SPI bus plus a reset line. [Alex] used an ATmega48 for control, which is connected to the computer using an RS232 to USB converter. The wiring schematic is here.

For the software side of things, he adapted Sparkfun’s example ATmega8 code for the microcontroller (he couldn’t get the Arduino code to work). Beej’s Python Flickr API was used to grab the images. The Python Imaging Library converted them, and finally, they were sent to the display using pySerial. SparkFun has been offering these displays for quite some time; it’s good to see a quality writeup of one in use.

[via Make Flickr Pool]

Laser insect photography rig

[Marc] sent in this awesome insect photography rig. The camera is manually pre-focused and set for a 30 second exposure at ISO100. The aluminum cylinder in front of the lens is an external shutter mounted with a custom turned lens adapter. It’s used because the built in shutter is too slow for insect capture. The camera/shutter is triggered by a pair of lasers with photo detectors. When both beams are broken, the insect should be in front of the lens. A Garmin GPS provides position information that’s tagged on the image by the Nikon D200. A large photo of the rig is here, while a more detailed writeup on building it is here.

Update: It looks like we covered a previous version of this rig, but the old links are down and we didn’t have a shot of the setup. Oh, and I forgot to mention [Marc] new control box for running this rig.