USB HDD enclosure to DVD connector

This is a “why didn’t I think of that?” idea. [Alec] needed a way to connect an IDE DVD drive using USB. Rather than order a connector he pulled the circuit board out of an old USB hard drive enclosure and connected to his DVD drive. Bang, recognized and running.

This will prove extremely handy if you have a netbook without an optical drive. We’ve used Unetbootin to move Linux ISO images to a thumb drive in the past. In addition to getting around the lack of an optical drive, this saves burning the data to a piece of plastic. But, you should be able to use this with a Leopard retail DVD instead of a 16GB thumb drive for a Hackintosh conversion. That means you could install Leopard on a netbook without needing a Mac to transfer the disk image to your thumb drive first.

Our favorite XBOX to HTPC hacks

Let’s face it, the original Xbox is ugly. It might have looked cool when it first came out but now most would be embarrassed to display that old beast with the rest of their entertainment hardware. This is unfortunate because the old girl still has some life in her. If you have tools, time, and talent you can give the box a facelift and bring it back to see the light of day. We’ve got six of our favorite Xbox to Home Theater PC hacks after the break to inspire you.

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Minneapolis Hackerspace: Twin Cities Maker

After announcing the grand opening of a St. Louis Hackerspace, we received a tip that another group of our readers had an event coming up. Twin City Maker of the Minneapolis/St.Paul area are hosting a Maker Faire and art show next weekend. Unfortunately, we don’t have any writers in that neck of the woods, so there wont be an official Hack a Day presence, but we are sure all of you who make it out there will do us proud. Take pictures, wont you?

The Minne-Faire will be located at:

Hack Factory
3119 E 26th St. Minneapolis, MN 55406

Mini Maker Faire 2-6 PM
Art Show & Party 7-11 PM

Beginner concepts: 555 push button toggle

PIC, AVR, and Arduino are ubiquitous in projects these days and a lot of the time it’s easy to over-complicate things with their use. In this case, [Tod] wanted to use a momentary tactile switch to turn something on and off. Instead of going with a microcontroller he built the circuit around a 555 timer. What he really needed in this case is a flip-flop but lacking a chip for that he went with the 555 because it has one built-in. Three resistors and a capacitor later he’s in business, adding another resistor and a transistor to deal with the load switching. We’ve embedded video of the circuit controlling an LED after the break. This IC ends up in a lot of projects so dig through your parts bin and give this circuit a try.

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Icosatetrapedal robot

24, Icosatetrapeds have 24 legs.  This robot, built by [Monica Anderson] back in 2005 has 24 pneumatic soft legs. The motion is fantastic, like watching some kind of sea creature walk. Though it only goes about 1 meter per minute, we just couldn’t stop watching.  The compressors were scavenged from some military equipment designed for nerve gas detection, and the brain is a mac mini. The rest is just valves, solenoids, wood, and tube.

[thanks Tom]