SmartLCD makes video for microcontrollers easy

[Rossum] developed a host board that makes it easy to drive a TFT screen using an inexpensive microcontroller. He’s looked around at a bunch of LCD’s that are easy to get your hands on and decided that the iPod Nano 2G screens are the right balance of performance (176×132 TFT) and low cost ($1-$5). They’re not particularly difficult to talk to, but with 22 pins they’re a bit hardware hungry.

He takes us through the signal sniffing he used to figure out the communications process. From there he harness the power of an ARM Cortex M0 processor, which he’s worked with in the past, to drive the screen. His implementation results in a driver board called the SmartLCD that takes care of the screen’s parallel protocol, power, and backlight. From there it’s just four connections and you can use a small microcontroller like the Arduino seen above with ease. See what it can do after the break.

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LED wall and Kinect join forces

[Alex] wrote in to let us know about this Kinect controlled LED wall that was whipped up at the Tetalab hackerspace in Toulouse, France. The wall, which was built earlier in the year, uses some MAX7313 LED intensity controlling shift registers. Each gets its own board and controls the intensity of sixteen different red LEDs. They’re embedded in the wall module and covered with ping-pong balls as diffusers.

The recent activity on the project takes advantage of the Xbox Kinect. As you can see in the video after the break, they’ve used the open source Kinect drivers to capture 3D environment data, processing it into color gradients which are displayed on the Pong wall. Shouldn’t be long before they someone comes knocking on their door to install this in a dance club. We love the effect, especially because it works in a dark room and the LEDs don’t cause any interference with the video capture.

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Motion activated wildlife camera (or a spy device)

Now you can capture pictures of our furry friends by building a motion activated wildlife camera. [Doug Paradis] took his Air Freshener hack and used it to trigger a camera. The white dome in the picture above is the PIR sensor from an Air Wick Freshmatic, along with a cheap keychain camera and an MSP430 microcontroller. He used one of the chips that came with the TI Launchpad, a transistor, and some discreet components to interface the devices and then put them into a project box. Now he’s got a fully configurable motion-sensing camera.

Adding pan and tilt to a webcam

[Brent] and his wife wanted a way to provide more family time for Grandparents that lived far away. They tried a webcam, but their daughter just didn’t oblige by staying in the frame. Instead of chasing her around the room with with the camera he added pan and tilt features to the device. He settled on IR control using a common television remote, similar to our USB remote control receiver tutorial except that it drives servo motors instead of forwarding signals over the serial connection. [Brent] used a Picaxe 08M, connecting two servos together as a base on top of the project box. If you try this yourself there’s a lot of room to grow. Once you’ve assembled the hardware it wouldn’t be too hard to make this web enabled so that Grandpa can click on a web interface to look around the room.