Unreasonably bright bike light apparently hunts deer

ureasonably-bright-bike-light

[Jukka] wanted a bike light that wasn’t afraid to go into the woods during the dark winter. He put together a lamp that uses eight 3 Watt LEDs to pump out 1680 lumens (english translation). The high power LEDs were mounted on a large aluminum heat sink and use lenses to optimize the beam of light. The system uses a 2 amp driver board that he assembled himself. Power is provided by sixteen AA Nickel Metal Hydride batteries that are housed along with the driver circuit in a water bottle.

This more than doubles the output of the last bike light we thought was too bright. Where will this lumen-arms-race stop?

[Thanks Sami]

Drone Lab brings the excitement of Hypnotoad home

Drone-lab-hypnotoad

[Peter] tipped us off about his new synthesizer kit, Drone Lab. It has the things we look for a synthesizer: knobs, inputs, switches, wacky sounds. You can get your soldering on with the kit version, or buy these pre-built. Peter bills this as an open source kit but we didn’t see board artwork, just a schematic.

What we didn’t expect is its ability to mimic the Hypnotoad. As seen in the video after the break, the glorious sounds of your favorite television show can now be created in your own home. If you’ve never seen an episode of the Hypnotoad (gasp!) we’ve got that covered after the break as well.

ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!

Update: PCB artwork has now been posted just below the schematic.

[Read more...]

Driving USB peripherals with Arduino

arduino-driving-USB-keyboard

Circuits@Home have managed to host a USB keyboard with an Arduino and display the keyboard inputs on a character LCD. This uses the USB host shield we covered in August. That host shield includes a MAX3421 which is used here to drive the character LCD.

The control code for the keyboard ends up being fairly simple. The keyboard is polled for entries. The HID input is then examined and converted to ASCII codes for use with the LCD screen. This could make for an excellent controller or debugger for embedded systems. The Arduino, shield, and LCD could be integrated into the keyboard itself with an I/O port for connecting to your project. Commands can be typed out and sent through the I/O port when enter is pressed, with feedback displayed on the screen.

The example code provided with this project lays out the framework for hosting peripherals. We’re looking forward to more projects, and code libraries that take advantage of this new functionality.

Score online with robot soccer

robot-soccer

[Erik] and [Heni] have been using soccer as a way to improve code development techniques in robotics. Their soccer playing robots won first prize in the development competition at the 2007 RoboCup competition. They are using a teaching method they call Kinesthetic Bootstrapping to program the motions of the Bioloid robotic platform. The robots are moved by hand and those motions are recorded twenty times per second. The recorded data is then optimized in software and ready for playback in the robot.

After the break you’ll see a video of the robots playing soccer against each other. They receive commands from a computer via zig-bee with Nintendo Wii remotes as the user interface. That’s all fine and dandy, but perhaps you should try your own hand at a game. [Erik] and [Heni] developed a web interface that allows you to control the bots over the internet. We tried it out yesterday and had quite a bit of fun. We set the video stream to “Spectator” and “Jpeg Server Push” to get an image. You’ll have to wait until next week to play because the bots need someone to pick then up when they fall over. Live play is scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6pm GMT+2. That should give you plenty of time to program your Arduino to say “Gooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll!!!” when you score. [Read more...]

Magic Mouse and MacBook teardowns

magicmouse

The folks at iFixit must hold some kind of record for fastest-voided warranty. It’s been less than 48 hours since Apple unleashed a torrent of new computers and peripherals, and they’ve already set upon the new wares like a pack of ravenous, spudger-wielding Velociraptors, photoblogging the splayed entrails for our edutainment.

The refreshed MacBook holds few surprises, resembling a Star Trek teleportation mix-up between the prior 13″ white MacBook and the current 13″ MacBook Pro. It retains a white polycarbonate case much like its predecessor while adopting a subset of the Pro’s components — CPU and GPU, glass trackpad, Mini DisplayPort, and the long-lived but sealed battery. Internally the system is still a maze of different-sized Torx, Phillips and tri-wing screws, but they do report this latest revision to be easier to dismantle for repair.

More novel inside and out is the new Magic Mouse, which early reports suggest may finally redeem Apple’s eleven year train wreck of mice. There’s not much to see on the bottom half — it’s a typical wireless mouse consisting of batteries, laser tracker and a Bluetooth chip. The top is something to behold though, with nearly the entire surface encrusted in capacitive sensors capable of gestural input. It resembles a miniature version of this electrostatic interface we saw in April.

No teardowns of the new iMacs, Mac mini or Time Capsule have taken place yet, but it’s surely just a matter of time. Even Velociraptors need to eat and sleep.

Update: 27″ iMac teardown added. Rawr!

Gear clock

Analog clocks now a days get no respect. Everyone is digital this, or binary that, and we admit it is nice to look over and see the time promptly displayed. But there’s something about the quiet ticking and ominous feeling you get when around a large intricate clock that you know some serious time has been invested.

Nostalgia feelings aside, [Alan] from Hacked Gadgets introduced us to his Gear Clock. While it’s not a new idea, and in fact we have a few around the office, his concept really inspired us. His clock is driven via stepper motor and a PIC, allowing for the time to be fairly accurate. The only small problem he mentions is the poor paint job, but we think it looks amazing regardless.

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