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Yet another pong-clock

[PT] let us know that Adafruit Industries has just release a pong clock kit. The $80 price tag might seem a bit steep but it does come with a custom-ordered KS0108 display in order to get white on black like the classic video game, as seen after the break. Also included is the laser-cut case, an ATmega328 microcontroller, RTC, and all the other bits needed to get this working.

We just saw a pong clock built on a breadboard using a KS0108 display but that one used a PIC processor. Adafruit always open-sources their designs and code so you can head over to the kit details page if you already have the hardware on hand to throw this together.

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Lower productivity by using a rotary num pad

[Maximilian Ernestus] sent us a quick little demo that shows him using a rotary phone dial as a num pad. We’re often frustrated when notebooks and netbooks prohibit us from using our mad 10-key skills (alternate key mapping doesn’t count). This makes coding and using GnuCash undesirable on small form factor portables.

Instead of fixing the problem, [Maximilian] made it worse by interfacing a rotary phone as a num pad. An Arduino counts the pulses and feeds them to the computer via a serial connection.  From there it’s just a bit of software handling to issue a keypress.  He mentions that a future version should register as a USB keyboard. This is a great opportunity to ditch the Arduino and use the V-USB library.

Want to dig a bit deeper into this old technology? Don’t miss out on the information available from the Magic Phone hack.

10×10 LED matrix

[KopfKopfKopfAffe] just finished a 3-year labor of love resulting in this 10 by 10 LED Matrix. This trumps the Shiftbrite table from earlier today by bringing an actual 100 LEDs to the display. These LEDs cost much less than the Shiftbrites, but since they don’t have their own on-board controller this project requires much more back end work. A total of 25 ATmega8 microcontrollers drive this display, in turn controlled via an RS-232 connection to a computer.

We love the Lemmings animations. It made us realize that this would be a great candidate to play Super Pixel Bros on. Check out the video after the break for snapshots of the hardware as well as videos of the matrix at play. You may also want to peruse the translated work log.

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Drilling perfectly centered holes

If you’ve ever been caught in the situation of needing to drill a clean straight hole down the center of a bolt or rod, you’ve probably tried and ended up with a broken bit or tilted hole, and a ton of cursing to boot.

[Vik] let us know about this nifty trick for drilling ‘down the middle’ using a simple hobby drill press and vice. He claims it’s ‘physics guiding the bit’ but in reality its just crafty use of a chuck. Either way the quick trick works, and will hopefully save a lot of hackers some headaches in the future.

Let us know in the comments if you have any simple quick tips that you use when you’re out in the shop.

Cooling LEDs by heating the water saves on electricity

[Matthias] swapped out his twin-tube florescent aquarium lights for LEDs. By running tank water through the aluminum LED mounts he’s transferring excess heat into the water in the tank, in turn saving some of the electricity that would have been used to heat the tank. Couple this with roughly 35 Watts saved by moving away from fluorescent tubes and he’s got a great energy-saving hack. The LEDs used in the last aquarium light conversion were cooled by heat sinks and fans. We’d love to see this concept incorporated into that design.

Nokia USB cable is USB-to-Serial in disguise

[Jethomson] worked out a way to use a Nokia USB cable at a USB to Serial cable. He was able to pick up one of these cables for less than $3 delivered. A little probing worked out which conductors go with the appropriate signals and from there he developed a way to protect the 3.3v signal levels with a voltage divider.

It’s not surprising that this works, having seen [Will O'Brien's] post covering serial communications on Nokia phones. In that post we learned that the Nokia phones are using TTL communications. Once you’ve completed [Jethomson's] modifications to the cable you can follow his examples for using this in conjunction with an Arduino.

Python IR tracking for the handicapped

[Techb] had a friend who was paralyzed after an accident and could no long use a computer. He rigged up an amazingly simple mouse interface using python to implement infrared tracking. The controller was built from an old hat by adding an IR LED and wireless mouse modified so that the button could be clicked by the user’s mouth. A webcam with exposed film used as a filter can track the IR LED and take input from the wireless mouse buttons.

This setup, which draws inspiration from Wii Remote white boards,  is much simpler than the Eyewriter (and doesn’t shine an IR LED into your eye). Although [Techb] wants to add facial recognition to the system, there’s something to be said for such a simple implementation.

[Thanks Wolfmankurd]


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