Photo booth in briefcase form

Taking portability one step further [Marty Enerson] built a photo booth in a roll-away case. The Pelican mobile case houses an Elo Touchscreen, a Canon PIXMA iP3000 photo printer, and a Canon Powershot SD100 digital camera. Most of this, including a Lenovo laptop to run it, was purchased second-hand from eBay, with a copy of Photoboof (different from the wedding photo booth from last week) to tie up the software side of the project. He plans to add a folding stand later on to make it into a kiosk.  For some reason that sparks the image of a voting booth in our minds.

From sign language to spoken language

As part of a senior design project for a biomedical engineering class [Kendall Lowrey] worked in a team to develop a device that translates American Sign Language into spoken English. Wanting to eclipse glove-based devices that came before them, the team set out to move away from strictly spelling words, to combining sign with common gesture. The project is based around an Arduino Mega and is limited to the alphabet and about ten words because of the initial programming space restraints. When the five flex sensors and three accelerometer values register an at-rest state for two seconds the device takes a reading and looks up the most likely word or letter in a table. It then outputs that to a voicebox shield to translate the words or letters into phonetic sounds.

More OpenWRT image building for the Dockstar

[Der_picknicker] wrote in to let us know about a guide to building OpenWRT images for the dockstar (translated). What they end up with is a nice little network attached storage device that runs SAMBA and subversion under the umbrella of OpenWRT. We looked at flashing and building OpenWRT images for this device back in July. The development branch of OpenWRT hasn’t quite reached a stable release yet, but much has been done in the last few months.

The machine translation is a little rough, but the compilation process is easy enough to follow. If you don’t care to slog through compiling (which apparently takes 1-2 hours) they’ve also made their images available for download. It should be possible to flash via SSH but you might want to add a serial port to the device just to be safe.

$125 off the Evalbot is a steal

When you see $125 off something you probably assume it cost several times that to start with. Nope, this drastic discount leaves just $25 plus shipping. Use coupon-code: 2JLP-R4XRT3 when ordering the little rover. There’s a quick video snippet of it embedded after the break.

What you’ll get is a Stellaris ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller on a board with a bunch of goodies.

  • MicroSD slot
  • USB host and device connectors
  • I2C audio with speakers
  • Ethernet connector
  • 96×6 OLED display
  • Motors
  • Optosensors
  • Bump detectors

As always, we want to hear about the hacks you come up with once you have this little guy in hand.

[update, the code is now expired]

[final update -- Someone from TI explains what is going on.]

—-  from the comments.

As some posts already note, the coupon code is only available to ESC Boston attendees. That said, we’re psyched about all of your interest and understand there seems to have been some confusion, so TI plans to fulfill all of the finalized orders to date. We’re working on some logistics in getting the code up and running again for ESC Boston attendees, but proof of ESC registration will be required. Stay tuned.

We hear you about the e-store and are working as quickly as possible to avoid issues in the future. Thanks for your patience.

Bottom line – we’re glad to see the excitement around EVALBOT and look forward to checking out your projects! We encourage you to share them on our e2e Forums at

-Jean Anne Booth, Texas Instruments


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Wood burning house heater

Dabbling in alternative heating technology, [Rob Steves] built a wood stove to dispose of his scrap wood while negating his home’s fire insurance at the same time. As the leftover bits from his wood projects started to stack up he wondered how he would dispose of them. Burning the bits for heat means he’s using every last bit of the lumber. The internal tank from an electric water heater was repurposed as a combustion chamber, with exhaust gases escaping through some high-temperature flexible tubing. The glass panes were removed from one of the fireplace doors to give the off-gases a place to go. The result is a rocket stove that burns very hot and does a great job of warming his house.

It’s not the safest way to heat a home, and there may be coding issues with your municipality. But this might go well in a remote location, like that cabin where you have to generate your own electricity.

[Thanks HybridBlue]

Electronic dice, overkill and simplified

[littlebird] posted a tutorial on making electronic dice.  He’s using an ATmega328 for the numbers work, and a mercury switch to activate it all. A nice blue enclosure to match the blue LEDs he’s using for the number display wraps it up nicely. Of course, someone had to mention that this was an amazing amount of over kill and it could just be done with a 555 timer like they used to do “back in the day”. [littlebird] responded with another tutorial to prove that he hadn’t forgotten how to work with the basics. He goes on to point out, now that we see both in action, that he can expand his microcontroller based one quickly with a few lines of code, where every new feature added to the 555 timer version would require additional components.

You can catch videos of both after the break.

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IR receiver as USB keyboard

[Arthur] built an IR receiver to use with XBMC. Because it’s software specific he identifies the device on USB as a keyboard, and passes the IR commands as keystrokes used by the popular media platform.

Normally, homebrew IR receivers would use LIRC, the Linux Infrared Remote Control software. But this method doesn’t require you to have that running. In fact, it doesn’t need any setup on the PC end of things. Any remote that uses the Sony SIRC protocol will work off the bat.

[Arthur] chose a PIC 18f2550 for the project. It is a popular microcontroller because it has built-in USB handling. We’re a bit skeptical of the hardware design though. We didn’t see specifically which IR receiver he’s using, but many require some type of filtering so check the suggested layout in the datasheet for your module.