Make an Apple Tablet before Apple does

[Andrew] wanted a tablet computer but is tired of waiting for Apple to come up with one. eBay and Craig’s list to the rescue, he picked up some parts and built his own tablet. You can take a look at the video tour of it after the break, or peruse parts one, two, three, and four of his work log.

The unit is assembled from a 500 MHz iBook. [Andrew] picked up a touchscreen from ebay and canibalized a USB joystick in order to add some buttons to the keyboard-less design. The end product is quite nice. We’ve wanted a tablet computer to hang on the wall for a long time and this may be the inspiration that gets us there.

Do you find this didn’t satisfy your Apple tablet fix? There’s more to be seen in our mac tablets roundup.

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Clocks that only a geek could love

Alpha-Geek Clock

Oh this one’s good! This clock has a built-in WWVB receiver to make sure the time is always accurate. But with just one LED as the display we wish you good luck when reading it! A whole bunch of info (time, day, year, etc) is blinked out in binary encoded decimal. [Thanks Tymm]

Standard Time

Manual labor. This clock is an art installation in Rotterdam. In the video you can see that workers changed the segments of a four-digit display every minute over a twenty-four hour period. Since they filmed it we’d expect the ability to turn this into a video clock like the one we saw last week. [Thanks David]

International Clock

Low-tech but highly creative. The instructional video uses basic geometry and the workings from a cheap clock to craft an international clock. There are twelve labels corresponding to different time zones. Put the zone you want up and read the clock as normal. [via Red Ferrett Journal]

Princess and the Pea

There are few who will agree to have an air tank as part of an alarm clock. The Princess and the Pea concept uses compressed air to inflate an exercise ball in between the mattress and the box spring. Watch this video to see how it will roll you out of bed if the hissing air sound didn’t wake you first. At least it’s more gentle than the pneumatic alarm clock from last June. [via Neatorama]

Giving an old arm new life

[Jarek] found a non-functional robotic arm sitting around and wanted to get it working again. By adding a few custom boards to an Arduino he managed to do just that.

The arm is driven by six stepper motors, each having four control wires. To handle all of these [Jarek] used TIP120 transistors to protect the controller. This still leaves the problem of 24 control wires to connect. By using a couple of 74HC4514 demultiplex chips he cut that number down to just 8 Arduino control pins. He completed the project by interfacing an original Playstation controller as the input device.

Source code for the project is available for download but we didn’t see a schematic for his setup. This shouldn’t be a problem as the low parts count should mean the datasheets for the transistors and demultiplexers are all you really need.

Bluetooth bracelet hacked

[Jeffery] hacked the Bluetooth standard in order to use this bracelet as a custom display. He took up our challenge to hack the device when we first saw it back in February.

In order to display his own messaged he looked into how the HFP is implemented in the Bluetooth stack. The details are shared in his readme file but it goes something like this: The Bluez package needs to be compiled with a dummy backend that is not phone-specific and that will then allow external manipulation of the data being sent. This provides something of an API that a Python script can manipulate. His proof-of-concept allows for the script to be called with the message you want displayed as the command line argument. This should be simple enough to incorporate for just about any purpose that suits your fancy. Unfortunately, messing with the Bluetooth package in this way makes it impossible to use other devices with your phone, but that’s a hack for another day.

Need to source Nixie tubes?

Nixie tubes make for fun projects but the fun can’t start until you get your hands on the hardware. Well, [Dieter's] got you covered with his one-stop repository on Nixie tubes and where to get them. We know that Woz’s watch isn’t currently available because of a lack of tiny tubes an obsolete accelerometer. Ladyada’s Ice Tube Clock depends on a rare 8-digit VFD tube. But you can get around parts obsolescence by adapting these designs for an available replacement. So when you take on the Dekatron Timer or a Bottled Nixie Clock you’ll know where to turn for the goods.

Update: Our mistake about Woz’s watch.  It wasn’t a tube shortage that put it out of production.

[Thanks Aaron]

Autonomous Bassline Generator

We’ve been watching this project ever since [Dann] emailed us about the first prototype back in September. This bassline generator has a lot of functions we like, such as an adjustable melody seed, light-sensitive controls, and device interactivity. Line up a row of them and they’ll sync up the beat, building layers of sound on top of each other (see the first video after the break).

The system is built around an ATtiny84, putting its pulse width modulation channels to work for sound generation. [Dann] has some kits available but he’s also posted everything – the schematics, PCB layout, and code – if you want to throw one together on a breadboard.

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