Marx Generator, knocks our rocks off

What weighs more than 500 pounds, produces 500 kilovolts, and we don’t recommend you try at home in any way shape or form? If you guessed a rock disaggregation device, you’re correct! We also accepted lightning generators as correct answers. Using high voltage electricity, a rock can be split apart down to its grains without destroying the precious minerals inside; unlike traditional grinding and mechanical techniques that often ruin the sample. All it takes is a massive hydro pole transformer, five 1uf 100 kilovolt capacitors, eight hand wound inductors, and two massive cojones to stand within 20 feet of the thing while it’s going off. Video after the divide.

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IM-ME USB dongle hacking

This circuit board is from the USB dongle of a Girl Tech IM-ME. [Joby Taffey] took it apart and poked around to learn its secrets. These dongles come along with the pink pager that has become a popular low-cost hacking platform. But we haven’t seen much done with the dongle itself up until now.

[Joby] used the OpenBench Logic Sniffer to gain some insight on what’s going on here. The board has two chips on it, a Cypress CY7C63803 USB microcontroller which talks to the computer over USB and also communicates over SPI with a Chipcon CC1110 SoC radio. It looks like reprogramming the Cypress chip is a no-go, so he went to work on the CC1110. The inter-chip communications data that he acquired by sniffing the SPI lines gave him all he needed to reimplement the protocol using his own firmware. As a proof of concept he to reflashed the CC1110 and can now send and receive arbitrary commands from the dongle. There’s a tiny video after the break showing a script on the computer turning the dongle’s LED on and off.

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EvalBot: arrival and assembly

[Chris Muncy] just received his EvalBot from TI and took some pictures of the assembly process. He was one of the lucky folks that picked up the kit for just $25 using a short-lived coupon code. Seeing the kit makes us wish we had ordered one. There is some assembly required but as you can see, it’s pretty much just mechanical assembly of the wheels and the front bumper arms.

We think the wheel design is quite good. It consists of two small gearhead motors mounted on the rectangular PCB parts that you can see on the right portion of the image above. Those mount to the circular mainboard using metal L brackets. The wheels themselves are three circular pieces of PCB, one with a smaller diameter sandwiched in between its two larger cousins. This creates a channel that is perfect for a neoprene O-ring to give the wheel traction. The main board uses an optical sensors and a hole through all three parts to function as a rotation counter.

It’s a fancy piece of hardware and we can’t wait to see what you can do with it! If you’ve got one, we want to hear about your adventures.

AVR Programming 01: Introduction

We love looking at hardcore electronics projects with a beefy microcontroller and hundreds, if not thousands, of lines of code at its center. But everyone needs to get there somehow.

This tutorial series aims to make you comfortable programming the Atmel AVR line of microcontrollers. Whether you’ve never touched a microcontroller before, or you’ve cut your teeth with dozens of Arduino projects, this will help you get right down to the hardware and give you the confidence to build anything.

Series roadmap:

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RGB LED Headband

Hard to imagine this going on business trips to Shangai

[Johncon] wrote this fantastic instructible showing us how to make an RGB LED headband. This should come in really handy the next time we find ourselves needing one… it happens. He picked up this little RGB LED strip while on a business trip to Shanghai. He had to reverse engineer the chip that controls each pair, but once that was done there wasn’t much left to do. He’s using a picaxe microcontroller since he had some lying around and, as he points out, they require very little external hardware.

He says he’s going to be ordering more of this LED strip soon and is willing to make a group buy if anyone is interested.

[via MakeZine]