How-To: Web server on a business card (Part 1)

For years, Microchip PIC microcontrollers dominated; PIC16F84 hacks and projects are everywhere. The 8-bit 16F and 18F lines are supported by several coding environments and easy-to-build serial port programmers. Microchip’s 16-bit PIC24F is cheaper, faster, and easier to work with, but largely absent from hacks and projects.

We recently used a Microchip PIC24F microcontroller in a mini web server project, but didn’t find many introductory references to link to. In this article we’ll cover some PIC 24F basics: support circuitry and programming options. We’ll also talk about our favorite features, and how we figured them out. Our next article will outline a web server on a business card based on the PIC 24F.

[Read more...]

Crabfu challenge winners announced

The Trossen Robotics Blog has announced the winners of the “Crabfu challenge”. The challenge, issued by [Crabfu] was to make a robot that was full of character. It didn’t have to have a purpose or be autonomous, it just had to be full of character.

The first place winner, pictured above, won us over when he “blinked” a few moments into his video. Strange how something so simple can add so much life. [Read more...]

Archos 5th generation hacked, bigger drive possible

Over at the forums, [grond] has posted some screenshots of his cracked archos 5th generation. Using a custom bootloader, they’ve unlocked the ability to swap hard disks as well as some hidden plugins. The plugins seem to be used mainly for dev tools, like core dumps and screenshots, but this opens the door to possible future homebrewed plugins.

[via Engadget]

OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator teardown

m8ta fun did an extensive teardown of OCZ’s Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA). OCZ’s computer/mind interface is actually a fairly straight forward design. An analog front-end cleans and amplifies the ‘neural’ signal with a few op-amps before feeding it to a 24 bit analog to digital converter (ADC). A USB enabled PIC microcontroller reads the 24bit parallel ADC output through a common 7400 series parallel to serial adapter IC. The device has an ICSP programing header (top right), though it’s not yet clear if the PIC can be read or written.

[Thanks, joeyo]

Backup DVD burning robot

[Aaron Shephard] at just finished a backup DVD burning robot based on an EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX motherboard and scavenged parts. A Perl script interacts with stepper motors, LEDs, and sensors through the parallel port on the motherboard. The robot inserts DVDs for burning, flips them for labeling, and stacks completed discs in a pile. Coasters are rejected to a ‘penalty box’ for easy disposal.

We’ve also covered some other optical disc duplicators in the past.

[thanks maxthereal]