Classical VCR head jog wheel

[Osgeld] takes on the classic VCR head jog wheel in this instructable. He has done a fantastic job not only in his build quality, but in the quality of the writeup. As he points out, the idea of using the head as a jog wheel isn’t new. His construction and build quality however have yielded a fantastic looking reliable device that we would be proud to have sitting on our desk.

As usual, the most interesting bits of the writeup are how he solved problems he encountered. For example, he’s using an optical mouse to detect the motion of the wheel. This requires that he print out a pattern to mount opposite the optical sensor. This sounds straight forward enough, but he found the results to be less than stellar. He documented his fix, basically reworking it in GIMP, so others can save some time. That is how tutorials should be. Great job [Osgeld].

Sluggy Wind Speed Sensor

Sometimes when we look at a hack, its to see how someone chose those parts for the project. In this case, it would have been hard to see it coming. [Janne Jansson] decided to combine a set of measuring cups, a hacked Linksys NSLU2 NAS, and a PS/2 Mouse together to make a self-contained Wind Speed Sensor for his roof. The measuring cups act as wind catchers, which in turns drives the rotation of one of the mouse ball sensors. This data is then logged and transmitted by the NSLU2. The NSLU2 is running a custom Linux based firmware, similar to how OpenWRT works for wireless routers.

To calibrate the device, he also made the best logical choice: to duct tape it to the hood of his car along with a much more expensive wind sensor and use that data to make his own device as accurate as possible. When placed atop his house with a 1500VA 220V UPS, the device managed 250 days of uptime before meeting its demise. Those 250 days also included 5 days of being frozen solid, yet still transmitting (somewhat meaningless) data. All of the relevant code and build instructions are available, for those of you with similar parts to spare.

Composite video with MSP430 chip

[NatureTM] used part of the Thanksgiving holiday to get composite video output working with an MSP430 microcontroller. He’s using one of the chips that came with the TI Launchpad, which is a big hardware limitation because of the relatively small code memory and RAM. The chip displays one still image at a resolution of 192×40 pixels. Still, this is a great way to learn about composite video signals, as a lot of other projects use a TVout library to save you the headaches. All you’ll need is a TI Launchpad, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, two resistors, and an RCA jack. Dig through the code and see what a great job [NatureTM] did of offloading as much work onto the chip’s peripherals as possible.