Learn from the Ice Tube Clock

icetube

Looks like they’re at it again over at Adafruit. This time they’ve produced a clock that looks more like it should be attached to a munition rather than cruising bedside. But, geek-cred aside, there’s a lot to be learned from their design. Like we’ve grown to expect, they’ve put together some good documentation on their choice of components.

Start off by taking a peek at their 5v power regulator. There is an extra diode on the output side that prevents reverse current from the 3v backup battery. The AVR ATmega168 that controls the clock is used to detect loss of power and quickly shift to the battery backup. They’ve also used the  microcontroller as a boost converter for the high voltage VFD, a nice trick we’ve seen before.

[Thanks pt]

KernelCheck kernel compiler

kernelcheck

If you’ve ever tried compile a linux kernel yourself you know the headache of configuring and taking care of dependencies. KernelCheck makes this a point and click process for debian based linux distributions such as Ubuntu. You can use it to compile and install any 2.6.* stable kernel as well as the bleeding edge. KernelCheck even offers custom compilation options such as including kernel patches or rolling in proprietary video drivers. A tutorial (PDF) is also provided so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.

[via Web Upd8]

Regulated breadboard PSU

sparkfun_bbpsu

SparkFun has released a breadboard power suppy that can provide regulated 3.3v or 5v. Unlike the supply we saw from adafruit industries earlier this summer, this one is based on an lm317. This small device features on/off switch, voltage selection swith, and appropriately spaced pin headers to plug into both the top and bottom rails of a standard breadboard.  Rather build it yourself? Take a look at the schematic provided (PDF).

Hacking the Western Digital TV media player

wdtv

Western Digital recently released a media player that attaches to your TV and allows you to play HD media straight from an external USB drive to the television. With a price point of about $100, it’s strange that the device hasn’t made more of a stir in the consumer electronics market. Of course, if it exists, someone will hack it, though. Clever hardware and software hackers have already managed to get an alternative firmware running on the device, allowing for packages like a web server, RSS reader, Apple trailer viewer, and other linux-based packages. It’s good to see a device with so many software mods so early into production.

Related: OpenPogo, an alternative to Pogoplug software

Lightweight Webkit based browsers

Lightweight Webkit based Browsers

With netbooks being slim and mostly utilitarian, it seems a bit contradictory to use a standard and somewhat bulky web browser with them. After all, we’re trimming down the operating system to perform faster on these little devices, so why not thin out the focal point of the netbook: the browser. Firefox, Chrome, or Safari may be well and great for a full powered desktop or laptop, so how about something a bit more trimmed? Enter the lightweight Webkit based browsers: Arora and Midori.

[Read more...]

Ruggedize your not-so-rugged portables

waterlaptop-470-0909

Popular Mechanics has a detailed how-to on diy ruggedization of common portable electronics such as laptops, cameras, and cellphones. There is video of a laptop surviving an eight foot fall due to the tennis balls, pipe insulation, and weather stripping they’ve added. Its not just shock resistant, they’ve used a two-part compound marketed for making custom molded earplugs to make the laptop water resistant.

Palm Pre GPS Tweets

[Mike] sent in this project he’s been working on. He has posted instructions on how to get your Palm Pre to tweet its GPS coordinates at regular intervals. It does require that you have Linux installed on your Pre, but that’s not that big of an issue as he has a tutorial for that too. Getting the tweet to happen involves setting up a custom PHP file that sends the tweet, then a cron job to get it to run on a schedule. He mentions this could be useful for finding a lost phone as well as keeping track of loved ones. We would like to see him add a script to do similar with a picture. Maybe take a picture and upload it every time a call is placed?

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