Re-purpose industrial robotic arms

We must find out where you can acquire these industrial robots pictured above. Sure, you expect car companies like BMW to have a few lying around, which they used to make into a Twitter message writing robot. But Bungie, a video game company, to have one as part of an advertisement for Reach?

The former is just a scratch on the surface, with some pictures, but a much more decent writeup will be provided after September 12th. The latter has a few videos, and you can watch it recreate a monument with light ‘live’. And while both are impressive uses of old tech, neither answered our first question, we gotta get us one of these.

[Thanks Matt and FurryFriend]

BeagleBoard Cluster

What do you do after you make a BeagleBoard graphing calculator? [Matt] over at Liquidware Antipasto made a BeagleBoard Elastic R Cluster that fits in a briefcase. Ten BeagleBoards, are connected to each other though USB to ethernet adapters and a pair of ethernet switches connected to a wireless router. The cost for this cluster comes in around $2000 and while consuming less than 40 watts of power, out-paces a $4500 laptop. How might you use this cluster? What improvements would you make? [Read more...]

Face-slapping security gaff in stored-value cards

The laundry machines at [Hans Viksler's] apartment were converted over from coin operation to stored value cards. We’ve all dealt with these cards before and [Hans] thought it would be fun to do a little sniffing around at how this particular company implements them. We’ve covered how to read these cards and there have been several stories regarding how to bypass the security that they use.

But [Hans] wasn’t interested in stealing value, just in seeing how things work. So he stuck the card in his reader and after looking around a bit he figured out that they use the Atmel AT88SC0404C chip. He downloaded the datasheet and started combing through the features and commands. The cards have a four-wrong-password lockout policy. He calculated that it would take an average of over two million cards to brute force the chip’s stored password. But further study showed that this is a moot point. He fed the default password from the datasheet to his card and it worked.

We know it takes quite a bit of knowledge for the average [Joe] to manipulate these cards at home, but changing the default password is literally the very least the company could have done to protect their system.

Hacking Wing Commander for Windows 7 Compatibility

For everyone using  a later version of Windows like Vista or Windows 7 they will probably never get to enjoy the awesomeness that was Wing Commander…until now. [Jari Komppa] has managed to use DirectDraw to his advantage and hack out a solution to this disappointing problem.  He used DirectX to do this and has even managed to get OpenGL to load from a DLL after a few problems with Windows XP and Windows 7.  This is truly a step forward in retro gaming.  No more should we have to load a virtual machine to play Starcraft.  Hopefully getting this ported to even older games such as Sim Farm or Commander Keen are on the way!

Projectile speed sensor

[Mike] built a sensor rig to measure projectile speed. The setup uses a tunnel with two sensors in it. Each consists of a laser diode on one side focused on a photodiode in the other. The two are monitored by an op amp and measured by an ATmega128 microcontroller. When the beams are broken the elapsed time between the two events is measured in order to calculate speed. There is a setting to adjust the calibration for a range of speeds, which came in quite handy as [Mike] initially tested the device with rubber bands before moving on to a pellet gun and then a rifle.

It seems like he’s tempting fate by shooting a target just a few inches below his exposed circuitry but his marksmanship prevailed. We’ve seen bullet speed detectors in the past, used just for the delight of seeing how fast the projectile is moving, and also to capture an impact at just the right instant.

Equinox clock

The Equinox clock is made up of simple parts but a combination of fine design and precision make it a gem of a timepiece. The guts are made up of an Arduino, a DS1307 real time clock, twelve LED drivers, and sixty RGB LEDs. These combine with a capacitive touch interface to tell the time using three lit blocks for the hours, one for the minutes, and a fading block for the seconds. See for yourself after the break.

To our delight, [Bram Knaapen] shared the specifics of the case. The black ring that makes up the body was laser cut and spray painted. He uses small blocks of acrylic that have been sandblasted to diffuse the light. This is also a great example of clean circuitry using interconnects between the different circuit boards.

We always enjoy seeing clocks no matter what level of finish is involved, but great design is something that makes us want to hang a project on the wall rather than stow it in a parts bin.

[Read more...]

1953 Radio includes tubes, AM, FM, and MP3

This vintage radio can play AM, FM, and MP3, all with a classic sound. Inside you’ll find a new AM radio tube-amp, providing the functionality you’d expect from the device. The rest of it comes from a conglomeration of parts; an FM receiver board from another radio and an MP3 player with remote control and USB connector. The classic sound we mentioned above comes from an AM modulator. That’s right, the auxiliary audio boards aren’t connected directly, but are broadcast on the AM band so that your latest MC Lars album has the same sound quality as the traffic report.

Check out this similar project from last year that adds RDS to a vintage radio.