AVR: the facts about flash memory

Here’s a nice little discussion about reading and writing AVR flash memory that [Windel] put together. He’s using an In System Programmer to read the flash memory from an ATmega328 using AVRdude, the programming software which we used in our AVR Programming Tutorials. He covers the particulars of the commands, how this might be useful, and finishes up with the gotcha’s involved in reading back code from the chip. We recently tried this out with that LED light bulb but were unsuccessful because the lock bits on the ATtiny13 chip had been set in order to protect the firmware from our prying eyes. Hopefully you’ll have more luck with these methods.

Building a creepy doll army

Want your very own Chucky doll to scare the crap out of the roommates? [Gzip] shows you how to make this happen by adding servo-based animatronics to old dolls. In the video after the break you can see the doll throw up her arms and turn her head thanks to a motor in each shoulder and one in her melon. You won’t see it in the clip, but the legs are motorized too meaning that some creative coding might have this old gal awkwardly crawling across the room (with knife in hand). Then again, maybe this is just the inspiration you need to get off your bum and finish the Santa-Pede Challenge. Submissions are due a week from today!

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Keyless entry via SMS

[Billy's] work got new keys which he didn’t want to carry around with him. Instead he built this system to unlock the door via text message. It is based around a Spinneret Web Server which drives a servo motor. He’s rigged up a pipe hanger to add some leverage to the lock’s knob. We’re surprised that the servo has enough power to do the job here but the video after the break shows there’s really no problem. On the communication side of things [Billy] set up Twilio to wait for text messages from an approved list of senders, then used an HTML form to issue the unlock commands to the webserver.

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Amarino makes Android controlled robots a snap

[Lucas Fragomeni] is controlling this robot using the accelerometer on his Android phone (translated). He could have gone through our Android tutorials and developed a custom application but he took the shorter route and used Amarino, an ‘Android meets Arduino’ toolkit, to do it for him. [Lucas] combined an Arduino, a BlueSMiRF Bluetooth modem, and two servo motors to build his robot. Amarino lets him connect to that Bluetooth modem and send sensor data over the connection. In this case it’s only the accelerometer that he chose to use, but he could have gone with the touchscreen, or any other sensor the handheld has to offer. Using this code package got him up and running quickly, only requiring that he writes his own code to turn the received signals into servo motor control routines. See it in action after the break.

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Yet Another Cat Door

Cat Flap Fever

RFID cat flaps are one of those projects we see all of the time. They are generally pretty simple to rig up, not too expensive, and have a good “wow” factor for any non-technical friends or family, not to mention tremendously useful. Why did we decide to share this one? Well, for one, it is simple. It doesn’t tweet, email, or text message, it just gets the job done. Two, it is excellently documented, including a detailed parts list and a step by step schematic just about anyone could use to build their own. [landmanr] does mention that he recommends some sort of project enclosure to protect the electronics from damage, which would be bad for the poor cat stuck outside.

Google takes Science Fairs global

Teen hackers get ready to compete for cash and prizes. Google, the big G itself, is sponsoring a Science Fair but it’s not in a town near you, it’s online (no surprise there). Project entries will populate the content of a new corner of the Googleverse, with contestants 13-18 competing alone or as a team. The grand prize is a trip to the Galapagos Islands for ten days, but there are also cash scholarships for all of the winners. Check out their promo video for the event after the break.

If you’re a college student who’s too old to be eligible don’t forget to keep your eyes open for details about 2011 Google Summer of Code. Last year’s information is still up, but they usually release the details sometime in the first quarter.

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Roll the D’Icey

Most of the dice related hacks we run into have to do with pseudo random number generation, but today we saw something different. This sleek looking jumbo die is actually a prize holding box opened by a secret sequence of rotations. Using an accelerometer and an ATmega 328 with a sub-micro servo to control the locking mechanism. Worried about the batteries going flat and losing your treasure indefinitely? Good news! The batteries are accessable without giving away the secret inside.

It also turns out that this is an update to an earlier project from the same laboratory, so be sure to check that out as well to see where this build came from. Code is available for anyone looking to make their own, as well as a useful parts list.

[via Hacked Gadgets]