Junk bots win awards in Vietnam

images1860617_1

In a national competition for creativeness in children, junk bots have reigned supreme. Pictured above is a detail from one of [Vu Van Thankg]‘s junk bots. Created entirely from parts pulled from the trash, this thing has 11 motors which supposedly allow full arm and hand control. We know you’ll be upset at how little information there is, but the pictures alone show so much. Just look at the rig he put together for this arm. If that isn’t inspiring, we don’t know what is.

[via BoingBoing]

Edison cylinder recordings need more cowbell

bruderhofer2-1

[Norman] spent three years developing and building his own Edison cylinder phonograph with electric pickup. We’re glad he did, and that he shared it with the world because the product is a thing of beauty. Every part is clean and precise with plenty of room for adjustments to accommodate differences in media. He’s reused the head from a VCR and attached it to a CNC machined polypropylene mandrel. The needle is interfaced with the cylinder via a delicate passively driven carriage. This consists of an aluminum rod with the cartridge at one end, and two wheels at the other. The wheels travel along a precision rod, propelled by the needle tracking the groove in the wax. Wonderful!

We’ve embedded a video of the device playing a recording of Sousa’s El Capitan from the late 19th century. Although familiar with these cylinder recordings, we were surprised by how little recording space there is available on one. Continue reading “Edison cylinder recordings need more cowbell”

Steal the administrator password from an EEPROM

locating_atmel

Did you forget your hardware-based password and now you’re locked out? If it’s an IBM ThinkPad you may be in luck but it involves a bit more than just removing the backup battery. SoDoItYourself has an article detailing the retrieval of password data from an EEPROM.

The process is a fun one. Disassemble your laptop. Build a serial interface and solder it to the EEPROM chip where the password is stored. Connect this interface to a second computer and use it to dump the data into a file. Download a special program to decipher the dump file and dig through the hex code looking for something that resembles the password. Reassemble your laptop and hope that it worked.

We know that most people won’t be in a position to need a ThinkPad administrator password, but there must be other situations in which reading data off of an EEPROM comes in handy. What have you used this method for?

Twitter, talking fish, and more

[Dan Ros] and the mbed team sent in their hack of a twitter talking Big Mouth Billy Bass. Originally the hack simply had an mbed micrcontroller and an SD card with some wav files allowing Billy to say classic quotes. Wanting to go further however, they used the mbed’s HTTPClient library to grab Twitter updates, and then have Billy say them out loud! Check out some other cool projects the mbed team has in the cookbook.

But wait, whats an mbed? We didn’t have a clue either!

Some researched reveals it is a powerful new microcontroller and prototyping board. With some features such as direct ethernet and USB connections right on the chip, as well as PWM, serial, analog, and more. What really stoked us is how it acts much like a USB thumb drive. Drag and drop your binary files, and it’s programmed! The only downside, at $100 it can be a bit more of an investment compared to an Arduino PIC. Could this be the next big prototyping tool that beats all others? Lets hear it in the comments!

[Update:  The mbed can be had for a  limited time pre-order price of $60  not $100 - Thanks Dan and the mbed team!]