Hackit: Netbook haters?

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Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.

We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.

What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.

[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]

MIDI drums for Guitar Hero and Rock Band

Embedded above is [egyokeo]’s solution for using MIDI drums with Guitar Hero. He’s playing a DrumKAT MIDI kit. It connects to a PC running his MIDI Hero software, which handles timing and multinote combinations. The PC uses a USB ToolStick microcontroller to send commands to the console using an FPS adapter or soldered into the instrument. It’s a fairly good solution if you’re building a generic controller and need to modify the signaling.

When Rock Band was first released, modders sought to adapt their MIDI drum kits for use with the game. The easiest solution they found was Highly Liquid’s MSA-P. It’s a photorelay based MIDI decoder. You need to solder directly to the brain in the Rock Band drums. If you’re planning on modding any instrument, check the compatibility matrix first. Hopefully you’ll end up with something that can be used across multiple games.

[via Gizmodo]

Roborama 2008b

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The Dallas Personal Robotics Group held their semi-annual Roborama contest on Saturday November 22nd in Garland, TX. The DPRG had a table at the recent Austin Makers Faire. Each spring and fall, they hold the Roborama contests for autonomous robots. The spring event has contests for outdoor self-navigating robots. The 2008b contests were designed to test the abilities of indoor robots. Normally held at the Science Place, this year they elected to have the contests at the DPRG warehouse in Garland.

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Upgrade an electric lock keypad

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[OldGrover] bought a Weiser electronic lock. Only 6 months after installing it, the keypad stopped working. Instead of just accepting this, [OldGrover] built a better button pad for his lock.  He decided to go with big push buttons instead of a similar to stock membrane system. After tracing out where the original buttons connected, he attached his new buttons and enclosure. Pretty simple really but it fixed the problem and kept the lock out of the landfill. Now, he has a unique looking keypad on his front door.

PS360 controller

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[Ben Heck] posted his PS360 controller. This is the case of an Xbox360 controller with the guts of the Dual Shock 3 from the PS3. They Dpad is from a ps2. We guess that if you can build them any way you want, you might as well make it exactly how you want it. Wasn’t there a time when everyone laughed at the bulky Xbox controllers? Yes, we know, they’re smaller now but that comic pops into mind anyway.

Harmonic keyboard controller

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[aris] is continuing work on his harmonic table keyboard midi controller. Instead of the traditional linear keyboard layout, keys are laid out in a hexagonal pattern. This is the same idea as the C-Thru AXiS, which you can find a video demo of here. Along the left edge is a row of buttons to transpose the layout up or down. Switches for octave up and down along with a generic slider are also included. The final controller will include a 16×2 LCD character display. The core of the controller is MIDIBox, and he’s using the SDK to write the custom C code. Embedded below is the first test with just four buttons wired.

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Sixaxis in OSX and Vista

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Here are a couple small programs to help you make the most of your Playstation 3 Sixaxis controllers. [netkas] heard that quite a few people were having trouble using the Sixaxis controller in Windows Vista. He solved it for himself and uploaded an exe for you to use. He then did essentially the same thing for OSX. This should make your PC gaming feel at least a little more familiar.

[photo: Kominyetska]