Exercising to space invaders


[Matt] sent in this cool final project he did for his Computer Engineering course. They built a space invaders clone, where the player has to physically move back and forth to move the ship, and jump to fire. The game is projected on the wall, with a camera mounted below it, facing the player. The player, wearing an orange vest, is tracked for the movement and the firing. They also included a blue tooth heart rate sensor with the ultimate goal of using this data to vary the game difficult, but didn’t end up getting the code in. You can see a video of them testing it out at the end of his post.

Augmented Network Interfaces


Here’s an interesting bit of research to come out of Microsoft and UCSD. The Somniloquy project is a new type of network interface. It’s a USB device that allows a computer to continue network communications after being put to sleep. By offloading these tasks, machines that would normally stay awake for RDP and file transfers are only powered up when absolutely necessary. The device uses a Gumstix board like the one used in the Tor hardware adapter. The device pictured above has two USB interfaces, but the second is just for debugging and not needed for proper operation. The board runs BSD and creates a USBNet bridge to the Vista host. When the host daemon detects the computer going to sleep, it hands off active communication to the gumstix. They developed “stub” applications to handle the various types of communication. For downloads, they used wget to download only the portion of the data that was still left. For bittorrent, they customized the command line client ctorrent to manage the download. Both programs wake up the PC upon completion and transfer the file off of the SD card.

[via Engadget]

Analog audio recorded on a floppy


[Jeri ellsworth] of fatmanandcircuitgirl.com has made an audio recorder out of a floppy disk and an old tape recorder. She’s able to record 15 seconds of audio directly to floppy disk. In the video after the break, she explains how it works, and why you hear the creepy reverb effect. The next step is to run this as a pedal effect for stage music, and she even mentions doing a larger hard drive version with the ability to seek tracks.

[Read more...]

Flying penguins are awesome

Festo, people who brought us the Manta Ray blimp are back with giant flying penguins. Actually, there’s lots of cool stuff in this video. The flying penguins are nice, but the swimming versions are amazingly believable. They need to sell these as pool toys. There’s also an interactive wall sculpture and a dangling grabby hand that apparently solves the age old riddle; “How many weird dangly grabby things does it take to randomly place several light bulbs in different sockets?”. The answer is, one.  Just like last time, they’re sharing some details in PDF form for both the air penguins and the aqua penguins.

Quick cheap ring flash


Here’s a great example of a cheap mod that gets professional results. This ring flash cost roughly $14 all together, and they got to eat some fruit salad in the process.  The parts list is pretty easy and can almost be figured out just by looking at the picture. A plastic bowl, an aluminum can, some foil, and a lens adapter. This is very nice and much easier than our last ring light post.

Zif socket for Arduino


Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has put out this nice tool. It’s a Zif socket for Arduino. If you’re doing a lot of flashing, this could be a nice addition to keep from having to pry your chip out every time. Plus, it looks cool in a soviet era technology kind of way.

Wii nunchuck controlled Pleo

[Andy] wrote in to show us how he hacked his Pleo to be controlled by a Wii Nunchuck. He has installed Xbee units for the communication as well as written a “skit” that allows the Pleo to just stand there and wait for commands. He is using an Arduino to interpret the Nunchuck input and send it to the Pleo. It’s a pretty cool proof of concept, but the response time is pretty slow. This might be due to the Arduino’s slower serial communication rate.  Yes, we said you might want to refrain from hacking them, due to their impending extinction, but did you expect us to stick to that? If you’re going to dig into one, you may also be interested in how to hack the Pleo for face recognition and remote control.