Hackit: Consumer RFID


RFID seems to have invaded every part of our lives. Sure, the technology has been primarily used in government and industry, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have consumer applications. Recently, we posted about [max's] RFID dorm room lock, that he built to provide a safe, convenient way to access his room. A while back, we talked about an RFID spatially aware address book that used a combination of rfid tags and post-it notes to control the NFC enabled Nokia 3220 cell phone. Both of these projects highlight unique applications where RFID is used. We bash on RFID from time to time, mostly due to its security (or lack there of). That said, there is an interesting consumer solution out there for people who want to voluntarily use RFID called Touchatag (formerly known as Tikitag). The cool thing about Touchatag is that it uses a combination of RFID and QR (2-D barcode) tags to trigger applications on the Touchatag website. The starter kit, which includes 10 tags and a USB RFID reader, goes for about $40; a decent price considering the hacking potential for the RFID reader. In addition to using the reader, you can also use any NFC enabled phone to read the tags. While NFC enabled phones are currently few and far between, the technology will likely be implemented in many of the new phones released in the coming year.

We’re curious, what do you think is next for consumer RFID? What kind of innovative project ideas do you have?

Breath controlled Guitar Hero kick pedal


[Ben Heck] the uber modder has posted a new project. He has made a breath controlled kick pedal for all of the Guitar Hero style games. Though the tutorial focuses on Guitar Hero World Tour, he does explain how it could be done for Rock Band at the end. This is intended for someone in a wheelchair who couldn’t actually use the kick pedal and needed their hands free to play the rest of the drums. He took apart the kick pedal that came with it to get the piezoelectric switch out of it. Then, he made a little chamber and placed the switch on a diaphragm at one end. When you blow, the diaphragm moves and triggers the switch. Pretty simple really. There is a video available of [Ben] trying it out as well.

Restoring yellowed computer plastics


Many of our cherished computers and consoles from the past have not stood up well over time. It’s not the hardware as much as the color. From Commodores, Apples, to Super Nintendos, the machines have slowly drifted towards a sickly yellow and even brown. The culprit appears to be the fire retardant chemicals used in the plastics. Amiga enthusiasts have spent the last year perfecting a technique that restores the plastic of these machines to its original splendor. Dubbed ‘Retr0brite‘ it’s a gel made from hydrogen peroxide, xanthan gum, glycerine, and ‘Oxy’ style laundry booster. The results are really impressive. If you do start restoring your own machines, caution should be used since it requires strong concentrations of hydrogen peroxide typically employed in bleaching hair.

[via Waxy]

Parts: 32KB SPI SRAM memory (23K256)


Microchip’s new 23K256 is a serially interfaced 32 kilobyte SRAM memory chip, available in 8 pin DIP and 8 pin SO packages. SRAM, like EEPROM, is a data storage medium. Data stored in SRAM is lost without constant power, but it’s really fast and there’s no limits to the number of write cycles. EERPOM stores data even without power, but it’s slow and usually limited to around a million write cycles.

32K SRAM chips typically have 15 address lines and 8 data lines, like the IS61LV256AL we used on our CPLD development board.  The 23K256 requires just four signal lines, but sacrifices the speed of a parallel memory interface. It’s a great way to add extra memory to a low-pin count microcontroller without routing 23 signal traces. We’ll show you how to interface this chip below.

[Read more...]

Hexapod helicopter

[Kiethrobot] built this six legged little helicopter. You can see that it is fairly mobile. You can also see that it doesn’t really make it off the ground really well.  He must have gotten more power out of it though because he destroyed it in a crash the day after filming this. It is surprising how much character those six little legs add to the RC helicopter. This thing is almost as cute as something from crabfu.

[via BotJunkie]