Choreographed Christmas light show (x4)

[Lucas] is at it again this year. Not satisfied by the computerized systems available on the market, [Lucas] decided to build on last year’s project. To save a bit of cash, he built the setup around Parallax’s low-cost SX28 proto board. The system is capable of controlling 102 channels, with 8-bit dimming. 6 boards control 7 channels each and are communicated to through a serial protocol (reducing the whole setup to only 36 feet of wiring).

More importantly, he’s teamed up with 3 other neighbors who also share a passion for outdoor Christmas lighting and they’ve put together the Christmas Tour of Lights. Money raised from all donations goes directly to the St. Jude Children’s Reasearch Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Kindle DRM cracked

Ding-dong, the DRM is gone. But not in the way we really want. The copy protection scheme that is used for most Kindle books has been cracked. We’d much prefer it hadn’t been there in the first place but then there’d be no challenge for security hackers.

Giving credit for the advancement gets a little messy. Apparently two folks figured this out at approximately the same time. [Labba] posted about his discoveries while [I (heart) Cabbages] wrote about his exploits in a blog entry. Either way, you can now strip the protection and use your legally-purchased books on any device you choose by using this Python script.

This means that both Kindle and Nook have had their DRM broken. Are these companies really trying to prevent copying (fair use) or do they just want to be able to tell the publishers that there are copy protections while turning a blind eye to what happens in the privacy of your personal computer?

[Thanks Sanchoooo via Slashdot]

Missile Command on iPhone with real missiles

[Jeff] and his team completed this iPhone controlled rocket launcher as part of their final project at Georgia Tech. Two servos provide the rotation referenced by an onboard electronic compass, and elevation control for launch. These are interfaced with an eBox 2300 using a few Phidgets boards.

Check out the launch video below. It’s too bad that they went with a commercial solution for servo control rather than building it themselves (especially considering it is an embedded systems class). But it is a nice build none the less. Now they need to add some imaging equipment to the rockets and they’ll be in business.

[Read more...]

Spreading christmas cheer w/ auto parts

The folks over at [Soup], a British marketing agency, thought up this cool project. It’s a set of handbells hooked up to an Arduino, actuated by central locking motors found in car doors. By the look of some pictures, there was also a Lego version. Songs written by users (through the online interface) are placed in the que of a server. Once it’s time for the song to be played, serproxy sends the Arduino an appropriate set of commands for ringing the bells in sequence. All of this happens in the [Soup] office while it is streaming live through a webcam.

We think that this is definitely a great way to use surplus auto parts. After all, not everyone can build helicopters.

It seems as though the bells are down for the moment, or the employees got a bit annoyed at hearing them constantly ring.

Let it Snow (Leopard)

Yet another netbook can now run OS X. This one happens to be the Samsung n310, making it our first published non-Dell netbook to accomplish the feat. The key lies in a custom (and downloadable) .ISO for intalling said operating system onto a netbook. Full instructions for the task, and an audio driver for the n310 in OS X, are available on the [ComputerSolutions] website.

Oddly enough, the platform swap probably ‘freed up’ some space.

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