Using an iPhone as a Newton keyboard

[Jesus Alvarez] sent us this funny little project. If you happen to have an iPhone and an old Apple Newton, you can use the iPhone as a keyboard for the Newton. You can download the schematic from his site to build the wire to connect the two. After that, you have to run an app on your iPhone that you can find once you’ve jailbroken your phone. At that point you are ready to go. Aside from the ability to say you could, we’re not sure why you would do this. It made us chuckle though. Maybe we’re not firing on all synapses though due to turkey overload.

GSM enabled security door

The security door at the front of [Oliver's] building uses an intercom system to let in guests remotely. Each unit has an intercom handset with a button that unlocks the door. [Oliver] wanted a way to enter without carrying any extra items so he built a system to unlock the door with his cell phone.

He patched into the intercom and attached a GSM module. The module runs python so he wrote a script that will monitor the entryway buzzer, then wait for an approved cell phone connection to unlock it. He went through a couple of different iterations for the final project. The first attempt used XBee modules to communicate between the intercom handset and the GSM module. For the final version, he snaked cable through his wall using rare-earth magnets (creative!) in order to forgo the use of a battery in the handset.

Who doesn’t carry a cell phone with them?  Because of this, the use of GSM modules in automation is a trend we think will continue to gain popularity.

How to use Wiimotes w/ Linux

[Sprite_tm] has whipped up yet another interesting tutorial – software-based this time. He basically describes how he connected his Wiimotes to an HTPC. A USB Bluetooth receiver, and a little bit of Linux scripting,  was all that was necessary to get the system up and running. To add to the fun, [Sprite_tm] configured a the controllers to work with MAME (an arcade machine emulator), allowing one to play Duck Hunt on a computer in its full glory!

13th century navigation system

[Tom Wujec] explains how an astrolabe works and its importance in our technological development. He argues that an astrolabe was the world’s first “popular computer”. It measures the sky and that measurement can be used to tell time, survey land, and navigate a ship.

Astrolabes are built from three pieces and according to [Tom], educated children in the 1200′s would not just have been able to use one, but could build one as well. Electronics have certainly made our lives easier, but there’s something powerful about such a useful yet simple device.