CES update: January 5, 2010

As you already know, we’ll be attending CES this year. We’re still looking for ideas on what you, our loyal readers, want to see. We’ve gotten some good feedback, and came up with some ideas of our own. Keep sending in your ideas. Remember, it doesn’t even have to do with CES. Are there any hacker groups in Vegas that we could meet with? Any locations of interest? Let us know.

So far, we have the following requests:

  • Google Nexus
  • Notion Ink tablet w/Pixel-Qi display
  • Instinct Engineering – Suitcase XBOX 360, Fold out gaming couch
  • Car that can drive itself (most likely Toyota or Honda)
  • PSP 4000
  • Transparent OLED display from Samsung
  • Neuro/EEG Devices; Neurosky Booth

RepRap acrylic extrusion using hotbed

[Nophead] started the year off by successfully extruding acrylic using a RepRap machine. The problem when working with this material is that when the hot ooze hits the cold air the printed material tends to warp, badly. [Nophead] raised the ambient air temperature around the part being extruded by replacing the bed of the RepRap machine with a heated aluminum plate.

We took at look at his build details for the hotbed. The plate itself is aluminum that he had milled by a machinist friend of his. It looks like the heat is produced by a network of power resistors bolted and soldered to the bottom of the plate. The original idea was to produce a controllable SMT soldering platform. Unfortunately this heating method doesn’t have the power needed to raise the temp quickly but that failure turned out to be a RepRap success.

Generate electricity with a candle

What you see above is a generator that converts heat to electricity. [Reukpower's] thermoelectric lamp is one of those hacks that makes you scratch your head even though you understand why it should work. The heart of the system uses a Peltier cool, just like the thermoelectric solar generator. When there is a temperature differential from one side of the Peltier to the other a small current is generated.

In this case a candle heats one side and a heat sink cools the other. The tiny voltage picked up from the Peltier’s contacts is then boosted using a joule thief. We’ve seen LEDs powered with a joule thief before, benefiting from their own low power consumption. In this case, the boost circuit is scavenged from an emergency phone charger and probably achieves higher efficiency than if he had built it himself.

Record player display sans POV

At first glance we thought this record player had been modified to serve as a persistence of vision device. The device looks very much like an unmodified turntable but it has four tracks worth of display space in it. The messages are actually glowing and don’t depend on a POV effect. Instead, the table has been coated with phosphorescent paint that will glow after being exposed to bright light. The needle has been replaced by a small PCB with downward facing LEDs on it. A microcontroller pulses the lights to expose the paint in patterns that make up the messages. This is the same concept we saw with the Ghost Matrix but this iteration is silent, and the control circuitry is less apparent.

The video after the break is a must-watch. The 60 character long messages are beautiful to watch rotate into the display. Unlike a POV display, ambient light will greatly interfere with the effectiveness of this method. That being said, what a wonderful party decoration this would be if mounted on a wall in a rather dark room.

[Read more...]

Missile hack taunts your cat

[Atlantageek] sent in a missile launcher project that he threw together. For Christmas he received a Chumby One and a ThinkGeek USB Rocket Launcher as gifts (lucky dog). Neither of these toys are “played with” in the traditional sense as much as they become centerpieces of your next hack. In that spirit, [Atlantageek] immediately wrote a widget to control the launcher via the Chumby. The side effect of driving his cat bonkers was an unexpected bonus.

Arduino traffic light

[Rockwell] sent us an update on his traffic light hacking. Dedicated readers will remember seeing this legally attained traffic signal controlled through a parallel port from back in 2005. The new update swaps the old port for USB and adds several autonomous functions which are demonstrated in the clip after the break. The update includes a nice UI and some notifications for things like email, IMs, Reddit posts, etc.

He’s given control of the hardware over to an Arduino. Instead of building the board into the project he’s included just the parts he needs; an AVR running the Arduino bootloader, a crystal and filtering caps, and an Arduino serial to USB module for connectivity. The AC load switching is handled by three relays. The relays he links to are 12VCD rated coils. We think this should have pointed to 5VDC coils as that’s the voltage that the logic circuit are running at. Be careful with switching these AC loads, this traffic light isn’t a toy.

[Read more...]

Nokia PUSH competition update

A couple of readers weren’t too thrilled when the winners were announced a while back for the Nokia N900 competition. And to be honest, we even wondered on some ideas (like what does skateboarding have to do with hacking?) However, The teams have been hard at work and a picture video is starting to form for each. Check after the break for some video recaps.

[Thanks Matt]
[Read more...]