Magic clock knows your location

Straight out of the fiction of Harry Potter is The Magic Clock. Just like in the novel this clock (is it still a clock even thought it doesnt tell time?) shows the current location of family members, from home to the doctor’s office, even to mortal peril (We hear its nice this time of year).

The clock hands are driven by 4 separate servo motors, which are maintained by an Arduino. The location of family members is updated wirelessly via Twitter. We think a script written for each member’s GPS enabled cell phone might be more trustworthy, but it seems to be working fine currently.

[via Make]

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.

Four tear-downs for your Friday afternoon

We know that feeling, you’ve been up all morning working hard, and now you just want to relax. What better way than to sit back and watch as helpless electronic devices are stripped, forced to show their goods, then put back together only hap hazardly – not that we’re into that or anything. Today, we had one thing on our mind, game systems.

With the release of Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver shoppers were also given a device called the PokéWalker. A pedometer that helps your pocket monster gain experience and affection towards you. Here is a tear-down of the device next to Nintendo’s other try at getting children active, the Activity Meter pedometer. [Thanks Arty2]

Sega, while in todays day all we see is more and more rip offs of everyone’s favorite Hedgehog, we do remember a time when you brought more to the game field, especially with your advanced consoles. It does bring a tear to our eyes seeing this beast being torn apart, but its all for the best.

Those keeping up with Nintendo’s DS series will notice one thing, the console keeps getting smaller and smaller. That trend continued until the (Japan) release of the DSi LL. Some think its size can be attributed to an easier to see screen, others feel its jam-packed with more features. Make your own decision after seeing its tear-down. [via engadget]

Finally, we couldn’t decide what a fourth tear down should be, and couldn’t just leave with only three. So how about 10 separate Sony gadgets torn apart!

Door opening help

For those who are seeking prosthetic limbs, or just require a little bit of robotic gripper help, the choices are very few and very costly. A newcomer to the area is hoping to change the costly part with their door opening arm. Costing only $2,000 to build, it is quite cheap compared to the other offerings. This arm can grip, twist, and swing its arm at the same time using a single motor thanks to a slip clutch.

[via Popular Science]