How-to: USB remote control receiver

Now that we listen to MP3s, and watch XVIDs or x264s, a computer is the entertainment center in at least one room of most homes. Unless you have a special HTPC, though, you’re probably stuck using the keyboard to pause, change the volume, and fast-forward through annoying Mythbusters recaps. PC remote control receivers range from ancient serial port designs (who has one?) to USB devices not supported by popular software. In this how-to we design a USB infrared receiver that imitates a common protocol supported by software for Windows, Linux, and Mac. We’ve got a full guide to the protocol plus schematics and a parts list.

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Asymmetric gear heart sculpture

Here’s a video of a mindbending piece of papercraft engineering. We’d love to see a 3D model for this heart to at least have a starting point when designing our own. The creator’s site is in Japanese though, so it’s hard to glean any insight into his process. Embedded below is a similar cube version. Continue reading “Asymmetric gear heart sculpture”

Flickering LED Circuit

Here’s a simple project for your Halloween celebration. The other day while looking through our box of Halloween decorations, we noticed that the incandescent lamp in one of the jack-o’-lanterns was burnt out. Instead of simply replacing the outdated bulb, we decided to build a small dark detecting circuit with 2 yellow LEDs based on this Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories design. After successfully building the circuit, we took the project one step further by incorporating an Atmel ATtiny13 microcontroller. The code switches the LEDs on and off randomly for a flickering effect and is based on this instructable. Below is the schematic we created in EAGLE and a parts list.

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Battle of the thumb drive linux distros

We were expecting eye gouging and body slams, but this review of several thumb drive Linux distributions will do. They compared Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, Xubuntu, and Fedora. They don’t mention why they chose these four specifically, as UNetbootin has many many distributions available. They put each through its paces, listing common issues and boot up speed.

Their conclusion was that puppy Linux was preferable as it has a graphically nice interface and the ability to have persistent data storage on the disk. They have a poll going though, so head over and voice your opinion.