Tricking an iPod into trusting your dock

[Thijs] has an iPod dock with an LCD display in it that allows you to watch videos without having to squint quite as much. Unfortunately, the iPod classic wouldn’t play videos on it because it’s not an Apple approved product. He figured out that an authentication chip is included in docks and cables that Apple has approved and set out to retrofit his device with one. He pulled the PCB, authentication chip included, out of a $5 cable from Deal Extreme and wired it up to the PCB on his dock. Voila, the dock now plays video.

This is a nice hack but it’s also just silly. You paid for the iPod, you paid for the music and videos (right?), and you paid for the dock. Why can’t they all talk to each other without authentication?

MythNetVision to cure borked MythTV hacks

Another group of developers has stepped up to the plate in the never-ending attempt to integrate online streaming video with MythTV. The new plugin is called MythNetVision and aims to bring streaming and downloading video functionality both easily and legally. That means without violating the terms of service of the providing website.

We’ve seen so many attempts that fell short it’s easy to be skeptical about the chances of this plugin actually working. Plugins like MythStream and MythVodka worked only temporarily before breaking and never seemed to provide a reliable option. Many people have tried adding Boxee, Hulu Desktop, or XBMC integration by launching these separate packages via the MythTV UI but that’s far from a clean solution.

It looks like MythNetVision is taking a slightly different approach. Although not yet available, the designers have built the plugin in two parts. The frontend is a fully skinnable user interface that parses RSS feeds to provide the hooks needed to browse, search, and view video. Depending on the content, a browser may be spawned to play the video, it may be played within MythTV’s normal player, or a separate download thread can be launch with video following after the appropriate buffer level is reached. The RSS feeds come either directly from the provider, such as the Revision3 feeds, or a scraper can be written to provide custom RSS feeds from sites that don’t have them.

We’ve seen a glimpse of the progress and we’re optimistic that we’ll see a reliable plugin. Early adoption and user script contribution are the best way to help ensure this so keep an eye out for the public release of this package.

Bike controller for Xbox 360

ProjectExciteBike is on its second iteration of an exercise bike controller for Xbox 360. The controller takes pedal input from the cranks of the exercise bike. The sensing is handled by a ring of five hall effect sensors that detect a passing magnet attached to the crank. The sensor data is collected and processed by an Arduino which connects to a wireless Xbox 360 controller for output.

This version of the gaming device includes a fine adjustment widget. It uses a row of LEDs to represent the speed of the pedals and has a slider to adjust how much of an effect this has on the game. This is what we envisioned for the trainer computer we saw yesterday. Take a look at some game play video after the break and dig through the code if you have an exercise bike waiting to be recommissioned.

[Read more...]

Vacuum tube tesla coil

[xellers] may have been in 8th grade when he built this vacuum tube tesla coil, but he did a fantastic job. Unlike most of the tesla coils we have shown, this one doesn’t use a high current transformer from a neon sign. Instead, he’s gone the direction of vacuum tubes. He spent a total of about $125 which isn’t too bad. Most of us could reduce that cost by scrounging from our parts bin.

LEGO router case bests factory finish

Stare at [Luke's] LEGO router case; STARE AT IT! The router is nothing special, a WRT54GL that is fun to hack. We’ve seen it used as a robot, turned into a war driving box, and obviously this is where dd-wrt custom firmware started.

[Luke] designed the case in MLCAD and found a seller for the parts which came in just over $50. We think it’s much better looking than the stock case an if you used that for a different project, this is a way to replace it. We’ve embedded [Luke's] assembly video after the break. If you like this case, take a look at his LEGO PC case as well.

[Read more...]

Neon lamp and other crazy clocks

Quick quiz, what came before transistors? Why vacuum tubes of course. If this clock doesn’t make you thankful for the luxury of integrated circuits, nothing will.

We had never heard of using Neon Lamps as logic circuits, and they definitely produce a much cooler effect when counting.
[Thanks Philippe]

And finally, we’re just suckers for a good Nixie Clock. The scope clock is also pretty interesting.

Cubicle-dwellers rewarded for reflexes

[StudioJooj] is trying to torture or test his colleagues in his office. A lot of folks leave a candy jar on their desks for all to enjoy but he’s making his friends work for their reward. Like cubicle-dwelling lab subjects, they must successfully navigate his maze to be rewarded with chocolate. The game piece is an amazingly orb-like peanut M&M candy. The maze is constructed from plywood and moves on two axis with the help of a couple of servos. The user interface includes a couple of NES console buttons to release the game piece and a PS2 joystick to control the maze. [StudioJooj] was nice enough to include a music video in his project clip.

We wonder the M&Ms will disappear faster or slower than they would from a candy jar.

[via SparkFun]

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