Adding an automotive cold air intake

[Thomas] and a buddy were sucking down a few brews when they decided to hack their 2001 Chevy Cavalier for a bit better performance. If they could find a way to bring cooler air to the engine they speculated that they’d see an increase in efficiency. Instead of routing the air intake to a hood scoop, they took off the factory air filter and mounted a cold air filter in its place. PVC pipes were then used to create a delivery path from the front of the vehicle with the output in close proximity to the new filter. They tested their work and discovered a drop in intake temperature from 101 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit at 60 mph, and from 109 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit at 45 mph. Now the sedan runs better and generates more horsepower, all for around $35 in parts.

Electric-assist bicycle uses LiFePO4 batteries

This bicycle add-on uses an electric motor to help you out. This way the motor takes advantage of the gearing normally available to the cyclist. What interests us most about the system is the DIY battery work they’re doing. The cells are using Lithium Iron Phosphate technology. The li-ion cells you’re used to seeing in consumer electronics are actually Lithium Cobalt Oxide. The Iron Phosphate flavor offers longer overall lifespan, better operation between charges over that life, and improved cold-weather performance.  The drawbacks include a 20-cycle break-in period and an affinity for trickle-charging versus faster charging methods.

The 48V cell seen above will provide 30-40 miles of travel between charges. We feel that getting the power plant out of our vehicles is an important step toward energy overhaul but it can only happen if the battery technology makes it possible. Then again, perhaps we’re barking up the wrong tree and should have placed our bets on compressed air.

[Thanks Tom]

Pure TTL based clock

We’ll just say, [Kenneth] really likes clocks. His most recent is a pure 7400 series TTL based one, ie no microcontroller as seen in the past, here, here, and here. The signal starts out as a typical 32,768 crystal divided down to the necessary 1Hz, which is then divided again appropriately to provide hours and minutes.

As far as TTL clocks go, this is nothing too original; until it comes to his creative button interface. By using a not as sexy as it sounds multivibrator, he can produce a clean square wave instead of the figity signals produced from buttons to advance and set the time. Like always, he also provides us with a thorough breakdown of his clock, after the jump. [Read more...]

Xbox 360 Laptop more laptop-y than ever

[TheTwoJ] and his friend built a laptop-form-factor Xbox 360. Their extensively documented process was inspired by [Ben Heckendorn's] work. The result is a brick when folded up but a good-looking (albeit loud with 8 fans) gaming rig. There’s everything you would expect; LCD screen, integrated WiFi, camera, optical drive, and a full keyboard. These poor saps seem to have spent a portion of their student loan on the build but we understand how easy it is to let your budget get out of hand. They’re trying to recoup through eBay auction.

Take a look at the walk through after the break.  If you’ve got the spare dough, you can try your hand at this with our three part series on building an Xbox 360 laptop.

[Read more...]

Tax-exempt Geek Group hit with huge tax bill

Non-profit hackerspace The Geek Group has been hit with a hefty tax bill despite their tax-exempt status. We featured a boom camera built by the organization back in November. It is the goal of The Geek Group to fulfill the thirst to explore and create by providing facilities, peer group, and camaraderie that make knowledge and learning not only acceptable, but desirable. In the video after the break you can hear a bit about the organization’s role in servicing donated computers and putting them out into the community, as well as its role in education through groups like the Boy Scouts of America.

This is all done without the goal for profit and accordingly they have attained 501(c)(3) status with the federal government (we’ve seen their 990 forms stating this). To the best of our knowledge this doesn’t mean that they don’t need to pay property taxes, but it does make property taxes ridiculously low (we’ve heard of one cent per acre for non-profit land holdings before). That’s why it comes as quite a surprise when the township slaps a sticker on the doors giving notice of seizure and demanding payment for $47,652.78 in back taxes or the assets will be auctioned off. The entire story, from The Geek Group’s point of view, unfolds in a video of the quarterly Board of Directors meeting from last Saturday.

We’re hoping this is just a mistake and can be remedied. That being said, it’s not easy to run this type of operation. It’s unfortunate that the Board of Directors needs to deal with a tax battle in addition to fulfilling the mission of the organization. Good luck to them in navigating the road ahead.

[Read more...]

Follow-up: Hacking OnStar

Reader [regulatre] has provided us with his furthering of hacking the OnStar system in GM cars. Previously, we wrote about some initial attempts to gain access to the system that OnStar uses to monitor and control cars called GMLAN. [regulatre] has managed to create an adapter between the GMLAN connector and a standard OBD2 plug, which should allow a number of standard readers to be able to retrieve data.

This method details using a bluetooth OBD2 reader, and passing the data onto a linux machine. It looks as though the writer of this method is looking to integrate OnStar reading and writing into an Android App which currently is an OBD monitor.

We love seeing follow-ups like this, because it puts everyone one step closer to full control of closed devices. As always, let us know if you take any of this in a new direction.

Keep tabs on your car without OBD-II

[Steve] let us know about his MultiDisplay car monitoring system. Unlike traditional systems that rely on interfacing with the OBD-II protocol and existing car computer, the MultiDisplay uses an Arduino and custom shield with a combination of sensors; including temperatures, pressures, throttle, Boost, and etc. The data collected can then be displayed on a 20×4 LCD or streamed to a PC with visualization and event recording.

It’s nice to see half a years worth of work finally be complete and presented in such a clean and professional manner, keep up the good work [Steve]

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