SparkFun kegerator goes to eleven


It started with a simple need: keep tabs on SparkFun Electronics’ in-house kegerator so the beer won’t run out at inopportune times. But of course SparkFun and “simple need” make strange bedfellows…throw beer in the mix, and you know this can’t end well. The result, as you might imagine, reads like a who’s-who of electronics hackery buzzwords.

Arduino? Check. Custom PCB? Check. Web interface? Check. Twitter feed? Check.

They’ve assembled a nice build tutorial on how this all went together, including code, example circuits, an explanation of some of the sensors used, and links to other tutorials for such things as Twittering and persistent storage in EEPROM using Arduino. Not to mention the eye candy: a custom Arduino shield (solder mask and all), custom acrylic tap handle, custom SparkFun pint glasses. They never do anything halfway, do they?

Tapping Tree Power

[bugloaf] tipped us off about this flower power hack. University of Washington researchers, [Babak], [Brian], and [Carlton] have developed very low power circuits to run directly off of trees. This builds upon the work of MIT researchers and Voltree Power. A voltage of up to around 200mV is generated between an electrode in a tree and an electrode in the ground. Identical metals can be used as electrodes as the process is not like that of a lemon or potato battery. The significant development here is the use of a boost converter and exceptionally low power circuits. What kind of applications can you come up with for this source of power? Maybe you could try to combine this power with the power from donuts and hair.

Low-cost ARM7 prototyping


Do you find that the capabilities of your current microcontrollers are holding you back when you try to take over the world? Moving up to ARM7 architecture will put your projects in the same arena with the iPod and the Nintendo DS.

The BlueBoard-lpc214x is a prototyping board with a lot to offer. It incorporates two RS232 connections, USB, VGA, SD card slot, piezo buzzer, JTAG, audio out, PS2 keyboard connector, and a 2-line character LCD. The processor is an NXP Semiconductor LPC2148 with 512KB of programming space and 32+8KB of ram. The board also includes a 256KB i2c eeprom. This is a lot of prototyping power, but the low purchase price knocks our socks off: $40.90! Sadly, shipping would cost us another $20.43 but that’s still a lot of functionality for around $60.

Sample code and schematic are available for download. All of the pins for the microcontroller have jumpers and there are rows for pin headers around the processors if you want to patch in your own hardware. We’ve seen other ARM boards that make use of pre-existing shields. We would love to see someone remove the processor and implement Arduino-like shields for different processors outside of the LPC214x series. Promo video after the break. [Read more...]

The Old Robots Website


We found The Old Robots Website this morning and ended up spending way too much time there. It’s a display of mainly consumer robots, though there are some custom jobs tossed in there too. Ranging from silly to awesome and everywhere in between, we found tons of great information. By strange coincidence, we saw Arok in a documentary about eclectic homes last night. Arok’s creator explained that not only is he an amazingly versatile robot, Arok is also going to be the medium for communication after his creators death. That makes him even creepier.

[via Robots Dreams]

Uzebox video player

Everyone’s favorite open source game console, the Uzebox (also cloned as the Fuzebox), just got a new feature hacked into it – a video player. At reduced quality (8-bit color), the Uzebox was able to play ‘The Matrix’ off an SD card @ 30fps plus the audio @15kHz. That’s a pretty impressive feat when one considers it is running on 4096 bytes of RAM. The video file had to first be converted into a series of pictures through a Photoshop macro in order to be playable. A Uzebox can be built with little more than a few resistors in addition to an overclocked ATmega644P, and AD725 (which has been skirted in certain incarnations).

S.P.A.R.K. beginer robotics resources


We love to see educational resources appear. iRobot has put together Starter Programs for Advancement of Robotics Knowledge or S.P.A.R.K to serve as not only education, but amusement with the purpose of getting people interested in robotics. With sections divided into different grade levels, it is obvious that this is mainly meant for school aged kids. There are some games as well to keep them amused when they need a break. We looked around a little bit and it seems that they are still fleshing it out. We hope to see some structured content specifically created for education of youngsters. Right now it is mainly links to other resources.

[via botjunkie]

Cain and Abel: Windows password recovery utility


As far as password recovery utilities go, Cain & Abel is by far one of the best out there. It’s designed to run on Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista but has methods to recover passwords for other systems. It is able to find passwords in the local cache, decode scrambled passwords, find wireless network keys or use brute-force and dictionary attacks. For recovering passwords on other systems Cain & Abel has the ability to sniff the local network for passwords transmitted via HTTP/HTTPS, POP3, IMAP, SMTP and much more. We think it is quite possibly one of the best utilities to have as a system administrator, and definitely a must have for your toolbox.