Flip camera microscope and macro lenses


Flip cameras are fun and easy to use, but not particularly versatile. If you’ve had poor results at macrophotography with a Flip, you might be interested in these DIY lenses. One is macroscopic lens for taking photos and video of small things, and the other is a microscope for even smaller things.

To construct the macro lens, you’ll need a pair of binoculars, some rubber bands and paper clips. Simply remove the lenses from the front of the binoculars, complete with the plastic casings that hold them. Thread a rubber band folded in half to the plastic casing and hold it in place with small segments from the paper clip. Now place the lens in front of the Flip’s lens and secure the rubber band around the flip.

The microscope’s eyepiece uses no such attachment method, simply hold it in front of the Flip. The same process can’t be used here because getting the proper focus requires it to be held at varying distances from the camera, not flush against it like the macro lens. In any case, it’s any easy mod that should have you taking pictures of bugs and other tiny things in no time. Look after the break for video of the lenses in action.

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SSD hard drives tank laptop battery life


Tom’s Hardware has been running some tests to challenge the common assumption that SSD hard drives use power more efficiently than magnetic plate drives. Their results were quite definitive: not only are they not as energy efficient, SSDs actually use more power than conventional hard drives.

What they found is that most plate drives are at peak consumption (up to 4W) when accessing files fragmented across the media, which causes the actuator to move back and forth across the media several times. However, this is almost never sustained for extended periods of time; the actuator usually doesn’t move much when reading unfragmented data, and most plate drives are also capable of going idle when they are not in use.

Most SSDs on the other hand, only have two states: on and off. This means that when they are on, they are always at peak energy consumption. Though this number hovers around 2W for most of the SSDs they tested, over prolonged periods this can mean a great deal more power consumption than is immediately apparent, which can have short and long term effects on the battery life of a laptop. See the Tom’s Hardware article for benchmarks of specific products and more in-depth data.

Xbox 360 controller remixed for optimized FPS play


[F00 f00] of Acidmods was not satisfied with his first-person shooter gaming experience, so he modded an Xbox 360 controller so that A, B, X and Y buttons are on the underside of the controller, on the inside edges of the wings where the player’s fingertips usually go. He also moved the right thumbstick up a bit so that it would be level with the left one. He designed it to improve his ability to play first person shooters, but the advantages go beyond one genre of game. The right thumb is free to remain on the right thumbstick, and the colored buttons can be pressed by four fingers instead of just the right thumb. We love this mod for it’s simplicity and effectiveness, and we’re eagerly awaiting the internal photos he promised.

[via BB Gadgets]

Time Magazine’s favorite robots


Time Magazine recently posted a photo essay of some of their favorite robots. The article was composed in response to the recent release of the Pixar film Wall-E, and features some of the cutest, most cuddly automatons in the world. We were more interested in the most functional ones, huggability notwithstanding. See some of these Hack a Day veterans after the break.

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British Steam Car


The land-speed record for steam-powered locomotion has been holding steady for 88 years at 127mph, but a team of British engineers and stunt drivers will attempt to break it with the Steam Car.

The Steam Car works by burning liquid petroleum fuel at 750° F, which heats 10.5 gallons of water, converting into steam. The steam passes through lagged pipes before it is injected into the 360-hp Curtis turbine at extremely high pressure and speed via compressed air hydraulics. It spins the turbine at over 13,000 rpm, powering the rear wheels, allowing the car to reach speeds higher than 150mph. The car itself is 25 feet long and uses about 1.86 miles of tubing. All of the hot pressurized steam is ejected from the exhaust, which means the car is only capable of running for about 3 minutes, and requires an 8-minute warmup.

The attempt to break the speed record will occur in late August at Bonneville.

[via Newlaunches]

LED Painter


The people at Brilldea have come up with LED Painter, a 16-channel RGB LED controller capable of controlling up to 48 independent LEDs. It uses a Texas Instrument TLC5940 to control the LEDs and can be connected to more LED Painter boards, creating a large array of RGB lights. The TLC5940 itself has been modified to make connecting independent LEDs easier.

The team strung together nine of these along with a Propeller-based controller called a Prop Blade and fitted the lights into three windows with semi-opaque glass to create a display of dancing randomized RGB lights. If all the dancing lights have inspired you, the TLC5940s are fairly inexpensive, but you’ll need both through-hole devices and some SMT components to get if off the ground.

[Read more...]

External CD-ROM turned Class A headphone amp


[Gio] sent in this slick Class A headphone amp. An old CD-ROM case was gutted to hold the goods. The design is fairly simple. Cost can be kept fairly low although the capacitors can add up if you’re a fanatic about quality. If you’ve ever lost any of your headphone gear to sticky fingers, you know that having it blending in to the background can be a great feature.

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