XT IDE controller

[Geordy] wanted to use some IDE devices but he didn’t have an interface card for his XT system, which can’t handle 16-bit  IDE. He looked around for 8-bit ISA controllers but they were hard to find and quite expensive. Lucky for him there’s an open source project that makes a solution to this problem. The XTIDE project brought together a group of vintage computing enthusiasts to design this ISA card. [Geordy] was even able to order a professional PCB from one of the forum members. He ordered the parts an soldered it together, costing about $30 total. He had a friend help him burn the code to the EEPROM but that’s easy enough to do with an Arduino, Bus Pirate, or one of several other methods. Now his grand plans at installing DOS 6.22 have been realized.

DefCon 18 Official Badges

The details are out for the DefCon 18 badges. The new design has a lot of goodies packed into it, most notably a 128×32 LCD display. You can’t see it in the image above because it’s on the other side of the badge; the ribbon cable passes through a slit in the substrate to reach the connector on the back. The board has a mini-USB connector and is meant to get even the unseasoned novice up and running with some firmware tweaks. The Freescale processor (which is the same chip as last year’s badge) is running a bootloader that can be accessed and flashed using a terminal program. Yeah… impressive.

But it doesn’t stop with the component selection or firmware mastery, these badges are beautiful too. What you see above is the prototype, but the 7780 badges produced come in seven different flavors (as usual), laser etched on a PCB that uses Aluminum as the substrate. Line up all the badges side-to-side and you get a graphic art storyboard. [Joe] outdid himself this year, and he’s been nice enough to share the development details (PDF) which we spent way too much time drooling over.

[Thanks Kim]

Scoreboard from scratch

[Kenneth] built this scoreboard for use at a ballpark that lacks such luxuries. We think this a phenomenal application for his skill and his pocketbook. He laid out PCBs for each digit in Eagle and etched them himself, then installed the indicators for home score, visitor score, inning, balls, strikes, and outs in a laser cut case. A pretty beefy battery along with the folding stand make this quite portable.

In the demo video after the break he’s connected to the scoreboard via telnet to update the score. This trick is accomplished using SparkFun’s WiFly GSX breakout board to set up an adhoc wireless network. The goal is to write an iPhone app that will be used to control the board in the field (or the outfield as it were).

This could definitely be used for different types of scoring during the off season.

[Read more...]

Building a better water rocket launchpad

School will be starting again in a few weeks but it’s not too late to enjoy a little time with your kids. This water rocket launcher lets you do just that. Built using the frame from an old grill, a soda bottle takes its place on the upturned PVC pipe. There’s a connection for your garden hose that allows you to inject water into the bottle. From there, a compressor connection pressurizes the bottle in preparation for launch. Watch it happen in the video after the break. That bottle could use some fins and a nose cone but there’s no denying the delight the kids are enjoying when they chase after the downed craft.

If you’ve already got a compressor and some empty 2-liter bottles you might also pick up some extra PVC to make this pressurized water cannon.

Elegant wearable computer

[Jason Statham] [Martin Magnusson] wrote in to tell us about his adventure in building a wearable computer. The device in its current state is a Beagleboard running Angstrom Linux tethered to an iPhone for internet. A bluetooth keyboard allows for input, while output is displayed on monocle-ized Myvu. And last but not least, the entire setup is powered by 4 AA batteries for 3 hours of life.

Its not as small as some of the wearable computers we’ve seen before, but if you wanted to whip out your own it sure takes a lot less soldering.

DIY picture frame better than store bought

[Daniel's] homemade digital picture frame looks great, it’s well-built, and it has a nice set of features. It’s not made from a broken laptop and he didn’t build it around a microcontroller. Instead, he saved a 19″ LCD monitor with a burnt out back light caused by the extremely common blown capacitor problem. Twenty dollars on eBay landed him a small industrial single board computer to drive the system.

The software end of things is a curious conglomeration but considering the hardware constraints [Daniel] made some great choices. He’s using MS-DOS along with LxPic for slide shows and Mplayer for video. The rest of the software gets him up on the home network and enables IR remote control via LIRC. All o this makes for a beautiful product (video after the break includes some Doom footage) and the package is pulling just 40W when in use.

Tethering the Samsung Vibrant without rooting

If you’ve got a Samsung Vibrant and want to take advantage of that unlimted 3G account you can tether without rooting the phone. This method uses a USB cable to provide internet access to Windows XP and Windows 7 computers. Samsung’s own Kies software handles the tethering, as long as you have the magic number to get connected on T-Mobile USA networks; ‘epc.tmobile.com’ for the APN name and ‘*99#’ as the phone number. [Zedomax] made the video after the break which takes you through the tethering ritual.

[Read more...]

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