Jar of fireflies

[Randomskk] has been attempting to make electronic fireflies for quite some time and finally settled on a design he liked. His jar of fireflies uses an ATtiny13 to control a set of 12 matrixed LEDs. The green SMD LEDs are each soldered to a pair of thin wires that hang down into the jar. The software picks an LED at random to flash and then flashes it 1-3 times. The random seed is incremented each time the jar is turned on, so you’ll get 255 different patterns. The power is just a standard coin cell. The project is fairly simple electrically, but the LED soldering could prove difficult. It was inspired by this firefly jar project. Check out [Alex]‘s synchronizing fireflies too. A video of the jar is available below. [Read more...]

Wearable project inspiration

Yesterday, Gizmodo published a roundup of wearable gadgets for people who “don’t mind looking like a tool”. It’s interesting to see what has been deemed commercially viable and put into mass production. The list covers HMDs, embedded WiFi detectors, integrated keyboards, tech jackets, speaker hats, and others. We thought you might find some inspiration from the list for your next project. In the past, we embedded a WiFi detector in a backpack strap for our Engadget how-to. The natural choice for wearable projects is the LilyPad Arduino which was featured most recently in the turn signal jacket.

[photo: cksthree]

Chrome and Firefox showing JavaScript improvements

With new betas for both Firefox and Chrome being released, CNET decided to find out how good their JavaScript performance was. Both browsers got a performance boost with Firefox slightly edging out Chrome. You have to turn on TraceMonkey, Firefox’s new Javascript engine in 3.1b1, to get the improvement. We never thought Google was that serious about building a new browser. They just want wanted Firefox to get their act together and suck less. It seems to be working.

[via Lifehacker]

PSP firmware 5.00 hacked

We remember the halcyon days of firmware 1.00 for the PSP. It was wide open to run any code you wanted. Once the handheld game console was released outside Japan, Sony locked it down and began an arms race to prevent any sort of homebrew usage of the device. Nearly four years later and we’re at firmware 5.00. The hackers are on top of their game though. It’s only been a couple days since the official release and a custom firmware has already been published. Sony has traditionally supported development on their home consoles and we hope they’ll take that approach on their next portable instead of this stupid back and forth.

[via Gizmodo]

Commercial self-balancing unicycle

Focus Design sent us a video of their self balancing unicycle (looks like they’re taking on Focus Features too). The electric machine moves at 8MPH and lasts 1.5hrs on a single charge. It only weighs 24.6lbs. They say that new riders only need about 2hrs. practice. They’re building ten units to start for $1500 each.

Electric unicycles are nothing new to our community. We’ve long been fans of [Trevor Blackwell]‘s electric unicycle. [Trevor] spent several months learning how to ride a regular unicycle before he could properly debug the electric version. There are several other designs out there: The Einrand-Fahrzeug has a wide wheel to make balancing easier. The eniCycle includes a steering mechanism. The Uniquecycle has a brushless motor in hub for a compact design. We did a roundup back in July that covers these plus many other motorized unicycle concepts.