Hack a USB port into your 2010 Prius

prius_usb_port

[Rosenberger31] did a nice job of adding a USB port to his 2010 Toyota Prius. He removed the access door on the console where the traditional “cigarette lighter” 12 volt port is located. A Dynex 12-volt to USB adapter was piggy-backed onto the power lines and the USB connector was then fit into the blank accessory plate next to it.

There is no data connection here, the port only provides 5v regulated power to devices plugged into it. None the less, it is still a pretty nice looking alternative to having a power adapter hanging out of the dash all the times. If you try this, heed one of the warnings from the comments and make sure you add a switch if you vehicle powers the 12 volt port even when the car is not running.

This makes us wonder: will this void your warranty?

Center speaker amp for an iPod

center_speaker_ipod_amp

A few weeks ago we saw [Jaroslaw's] universal credit card spoofer. Now he’s sent in a project that incorporates an amplifier into a center speaker for use with an iPod or any device with an audio jack.

The build has two main components; an LM4950 audio amplifier and a center channel speaker he picked up for $3 at Goodwill. The circuit used is straight from the datasheet and he’s provided the four necessary resistor values for you in his writeup. An old set of headphones was butchered for the audio connector and DC power can be provided by any 6-12V source.

The final circuit was built on some protoboard. The speaker housing has plenty of room to fit everything in for a nice finished look. Pretty simple, and except for the IC, this should be an easy salvage project for most folks.

The subway never sounded so good

Reader [Philippe] tipped us off about this video showing a set of subway steps being turned into a piano keyboard (english translation). The creators wanted to make taking the stairs rather than riding the escalator a bit more fun. They added pressure sensors to each step, then covered them with white and black keys to resemble a keyboard. When a passenger puts their weight on a step, the corresponding pitch is played out loud.

We may have lied in the title as this doesn’t really compare to hearing Josh Bell play for pocket change at your train stop. But coming across this setup on an otherwise mundane commute would really brighten up our day.

TV-B-Gone-zilla! Rawr!

tv-zilla

TV-B-Gone: antisocial nuisance or harmless prank? Whatever your feelings, there’s no denying this device has become a staple of the DIY hacking crowd, as evidenced by the countless derivatives since hatched. This latest mutation crushes them all.

[manekinen] from the Polish electronics blog Elektroda (“Electrode”) wasn’t satisfied with high-power TV-B-Gone designs using multiple 5mm infrared LEDs, so he created his own using a single one-Watt monster. The device is concealed in an ordinary flashlight casing, making it somewhat inconspicuous. A custom PCB containing an ultra-minimalist version of the TV-B-Gone circuitry sits just behind the reflector. The choice of reflectors determined maximum distance vs. coverage…they opted for distance. Specific figures aren’t given, but we estimate this thing could shut off televisions on Mars.

The original article (Polish or Google-ized English) includes construction photos and an archive (.rar) of project files including Eagle schematics and C source code.

Would it be totally irresponsible to mention there’s now a 3-Watt version of this LED? We’re just sayin’.

[thanks RicoElectrico]

Hardware HD decoder in a netbook

[banzai] wasn’t happy with the performance he was getting out of his Samsung netbook. He decided it was time to do something about it. He noticed that Dell and HP both sell an optional HD decoder card for their netbooks. After a short search, he found one on ebay for only $24. He had to give up his internal wireless, but he doesn’t mind using a USB wireless dongle. Sure this isn’t horribly complicated, but he has information here that might help smooth out the process.

[via OlivierDole]

Scare ‘em silly with a moving pumpkin

rovin_pumpkin

Halloween is a scary time for the little ones. It’s dark, they can barely see through their injection molded Spiderman masks, but it’s all worth it for the candy.

Our friends over at Evil Mad Scientist Labs have produced a pumpkin that moves on its own. The little pumpkin was disemboweled from the bottom and its guts were replaced by a simple robot. Three Lego wheels provide this base with one attached to a continuous rotation servo that provides the motion.  The device is powered by 3 AAA batteries and powered by an Atmel ATtiny2313 microcontroller. For added terror there are two green LEDs that act as ghoulish eyes.

We’ve embedded the video of the Rovin Pumpkin in action after the break. This is a wonderfully simple way to spice up your front porch decorations on All Hallows’ Eve. [Read more...]

Barcode challenge

barcode_challenge

This morning we logged into Google to find a Barcode instead of the normal logo (how strange that Google would change their graphic!). Apparently today is the anniversary of the Barcode. This method of easily labeling items for computer scanning is used for every type of commodity in our society. But do you know how to get the cryptic information back out of the Barcode?

Here’s the challenge:  The image at the top of the post was created by the devious writers here at Hack a Day. Leave us a comment that tells us what the message says and explains how you deciphered it. There are programs that will do this for you and some smartphones can do this from a picture of the code, but we’re looking for the most creative solutions.

The winner will be decided in a totally unfair and biased way and gets their name plastered all over Hack a Day (and possibly slandered a bit).  So get out there and start decoding that machine-readable image.

Update: We’ve announced a winner for this challenge.