Open source hardware inspires innovation

Technology Review turns the spotlight on the open source hardware movement. Open source hardware is hardly a new concept, but lately it’s been getting a lot more attention, with the help of magazines like MAKE and websites like Instructables. Chumby, a company that sells a modifiable cube with a screen, embedded computer, and a Wi-Fi connection, designed their product to be easily hackable. The openness of the product caused a community heavily invested in the product’s development to be created. The growth of such communities has also sparked interest from corporations such as Nokia, which is collaborating with MIT on open source video decoders. They recognized that opening up would cause development time to be reduced and provide greater flexibility, allowing them to allocate resources to other areas, including marketing and brand development. [Jamey Hicks], director of the Nokia Research Center in Cambridge, believes that the open source movement can even complement closed designs, as long as it’s handled appropriately. With greater access to sophisticated software tools and resources, the barriers to entry keep falling away, and it’s much easier for the world to discover the joys of tinkering and hacking.

[photo: Andreas Pizsa]

Orientation aware camera


[Andrew Magill] just added his Orientation Aware Camera to the Hack a Day Flickr Pool. It uses a 3-axis magnetometer and 3-axis accelerometer. He didn’t want to spend too much effort on the USB side so he picked up USBMicro’s U421. It’s a fairly well documented preprogrammed microcontroller for USB. He later regretted this; his final sample rate was only 5Hz because of all the overhead. Using the positional data the, webcam image can be corrected for any sort of shaking. [Andrew] took this one step further by using OpenGL and stitching all of the video frames together live into a full panorama. Be sure to watch his excellent video demo embedded below. [Read more...]

Uv oven from an IKEA cabinet

This may not be an amazingly complicated project, but it is a very elegant and fairly cheap way of building a UV oven for exposing PCBs. [aris] started with an IKEA FIRA cabinet. He basically left the framework as an empty shell and made a make shift top hinged door to enclose it. Mounted in the top is an array of 35 UV LEDs powered by an HP printer transformer.  He did not have a timer circuit, instead he just watched the clock and unplugged it at the right time. You can see from his pictures that his results were quite good.

If you don’t want that piece of furniture taking up room, and don’t mind using a little more elbow grease, you could follow our directions on how to make your own single sided PCB. If money isn’t an issue either, you can always just get your PCBs laser etched.

Motorcycle visor rain disk


[andrew] sent us this proof of concept. Based off of the Spiech Clear view screen, used in marine applications, it uses a spinning disk to keep a part of your vision free of water droplets. While you may not be too impressed by watching the video initially, keep in mind that this was a quick prototype. With some planning and a little work, this could be moved to a more convenient location and run by a side mounted motor. It could even be made to be removable for fair weather. It probably doesn’t do so well with mud though.

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