Unbricking with the help of Arduino

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This bricked Eee PC came to [Janzo] for about $50. Everything was fine with it, except for the failed bios update that rendered it useless to the last owner. [Janzo] set to work with an Arduino on a quest to repair the bios. He looked up the datasheet for the EEPROM that stores the bios and did some delicate soldering to gain access to the power and data pins on the device. A bit of trial and error and he was able to read the registers. Some comparisons between the output file and the official Eee PC bios file in a HEX editor confirmed that the first 80 bytes were fine but after that something went wrong. After coding a quick Python script [Janzo] reflashed the chip and had the computer up and running again.

We’ve seen Eee PC bios recovery before. This is a very simple method because it makes use of the simplicity we find in the Arduino. Nice job.

Update: Flash_Destroyer final destroys EEPROM

The Flash_Destroyer finally succeeded in rewriting that EEPROM until its demise. When we originally looked at the device it had already recorded 2.5 million successful rewrites. The first appearance of corrupt data occurred at 11,494,069 but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The chip kept working for another 200,000 rewrites before finally showing repeated data corruption.

We do find the writeup pretty interesting. There’s one thing that we can’t stop coming back to though. In the discussion of our original article [Tiago] pointed out that long-term data retention isn’t being tested here. If the abuse of that EEPROM had ended after say five million rewrites, would it have been able to hold the data long-term without corruption? Let us know what you think in the comments.

[Thanks Drone377]

Monster Chess

Over 100,000 Lego pieces, 4 people a year to create, and a 12 foot by 12 foot chess board make this the largest most awesome Lego hack we’ve ever seen. Take that Lego Printer.

For a mere $30,000 you too can have such a setup. Not a lot of information is out yet, but we do know all the pieces are remote controlled via a PC with LabVIEW and a total of 38 NXT controllers are used. Oh, and of course you can see it live at the 2010 Brickworld. Check out a video of a replayed game after the jump.

[via Geekologie]

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Distance measurement input device

[Larry] put a different spin on a television remote control. He used an Arduino and an IR receiver to learn the codes from the factory remote. Now that he can use an IR LED to playback these signals he worked on an alternative to pressing buttons as the input. The ultrasonic range finder seen above allows him to wave his hand in front of the device to change channels and alter the volume levels. Check it out after the break.

There are many other ways that gestures could be used with this system, including a laser based input method. We’d like to see [Larry’s] system incorporated into a coffee table of some kind, as long as there was an opening for the range finder to work.

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Radio-Walkman-megaphone hybrid

[Erich] rethought the use of a megaphone and ended up with this Mega-Tape-O-Phone. His first move was to ditch the megaphone’s amplifying circuitry in order to add his own based on an LM386 chip. From there a radio receiver joined the party followed by the guts of a tape player. He relocated the head of the tape deck to the end of a flexible cable and coated the outside of the megaphone bell with magnetic tape. Now he’s surfing the airwaves and scratching away happily.

The use of the tape head has been seen here before, but it was never in a mobile package like this is. Join us after the break for some video of this in action.

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Electro Luminescent fun with Jeri Ellsworth

[Jeri] got her hands on some of the DuPont Luxprint EL ink and had some fun conducting experiments. She tried different materials for the base and the display itself.  Not only does she just play with materials, she also tears apart a VFD and an LCD to see if she could use them for parts. The LCD turned out to be the most successful. We saw this stuff show up at the Bay Area Maker Faire and we’re excited to see it become more accessible.

[via Makezine]