Robot bicep curl accompanied by too much fanfare

So this is the world’s strongest robot arm. Great… no really, that’s wonderful. We think lifting a 1000 kilogram dumbbell is a good way to show it off to the public. But with great power came the world’s most over-the top marketing. Well, maybe not as bad as the shake weight but it’s getting there. In the video after the break you’ll see that there is plenty of adrenaline-pumping music and they’ve hired an acrobat to pull a sheet off of the thing. We’ve pointed her out in the image above. [Caleb] noticed that they seem to have programmed in human kinetic to make it bounce and strain as a human lifting a heavy load would. And then there’s the fog machine. Classic. We also enjoy the use of a tap light (which we’ve seen around here before) to activate the demo.

But now we’re getting carried away. The article linked at the top covers a new development for the arm; a motorized base that can move it around. Looks like the base, which uses mecanum wheels, just slips under a stationary frame for the robot and lifts enough to truck it around.

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LEGO ball mill

This is a ball mill used for refining materials into a fine powder. [Jpoopdog] built it in two parts, a base and the tumbler chamber. The base itself is build using LEGO wheels as rollers. The motor and controller from an NXT kit is used to drive the rotation, with programming to stop the mill every so often so that the raw material can cool down. That’s important because this can be used to make substances like aluminum powder, an explosive substance sometimes used in pyrotechnics. We don’t recommend producing your own explosives (or making your own propellant) but if that’s what you’re after [Jpoopdog] did build in a safety feature. The chamber,which is constructed from PVC, has a fail safe to prevent an explosion. A hole has been drilled in the end cap and plugged with hot glue. In the event the milling material starts to overheat the glue will melt and alleviate the built up pressure.

LEGO barcode scanner

Playing store just got really, really fun because you can now build your own LEGO barcode scanner. As you can see after the break, it works well and it’s fast like a real barcode scanner. Unfortunately it doesn’t scan real barcodes. Or at least not traditional ones. As we learned in the Barcode Challenge, standard barcodes are a set of white and black bars that make up the ones and zeros of the code. This system uses the same white and gray bar system but it seems that it’s only the number of bars that identify an item, not a code created by a particular combination of light and dark. The items above are all scannable because the scanner counts the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 white beams on the bottom of each package. Still, it’s incredibly clever and a great toy for the young hackers to build if they have a little help.

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Hacking a hack: disassembly and sniffing of IM-ME binary

It’s fun to pick apart code, but it gets more difficult when you’re talking about binaries. [Joby Taffey] opened up the secrets to one of [Travis Goodspeed's] hacks by disassembling and sniffing the data from a Zombie Gotcha game binary.

We looked in on [Travis'] work yesterday at creating a game using sprites on the IM-ME. He challenged readers to extract the 1-bit sprites from an iHex binary and that’s what got [Joby] started. He first tried to sniff the LCD data traces using a Bus Pirate but soon found the clock signal was much too fast for the device to reliably capture the signals. After looking into available source code from other IM-ME hacks [Joby] found how the SPI baud rate is set, then went to work searching for that in a disassembly of [Travis'] binary. Once found, he worked through the math necessary to slow down communication from 2.7 Mbit/s to 2400 bps and altered the binary data to match that change. This slower speed is more amenable to the Bus Pirate’s capabilities and allowed him to dump the sprite data as it was sent to the LCD screen.

[Thanks Travis]

Halloween Prop: Mario Bros. with full sound effects

Creativity abounds in putting together this pair of Super Mario Bros. costumes. [Rob] and his wife didn’t stop with a well-assembled troupe of familiar wardrobe items, but decided to go for authentic sound effects as well. It started by finding a few of his favorite Mario sounds on the Internet. From there he grabbed a greeting card that allows you to record several message. He recorded each of the sounds and removed the electronics from the card. From there an Arduino mini was connected to the playback buttons and to a Wii nunchuck. After the break you can see that when the kids press a button, the card plays back the sound of jumping, shooting fireballs, etc. So far it’s the best use of an audio greeting card that we think eclipses its intended use.

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Magnetic card stripe spoofer

This hodge-podge of components is capable of spoofing the magnetic stripe on a credit card. [Sk3tch] built an electromagnet using a ferrous metal shim wrapped in enameled magnet wire. While he was doing the windings [Sk3tch] connected his multimeter to the metal shim and one end of the wire, setting it to test continuity. This way, if he accidentally scraps the enamel coating and grounds the wire on the metal the meter will sound and alarm and he’ll know about the short immediately. An Arduino takes over from here, actuating the coil to simulate the different data sections of a magnetic stripe.

From his schematic we see that the electromagnet is directly connected to two pins of the Arduino. We haven’t looked into the code but is seems there should be either some current limiting, or the use of a transistor to protect the microcontroller pins (we could be wrong about this).

[Sk3tch's] realization of this spoofer can be made quickly with just a few parts. Card data must be written in the code and flashed to the Arduino. If you want to see what a more feature-rich version would entail take a look at this spoofer that has a keypad for changing data on the go.

[via Lifehacker]