Fabulous Magic 8 ball prank

Hackaday forum user [arfink] has shown us a brilliant practical joke he built. This is a magic 8 ball that will blind you with a flash when you flip it over. Have you ever been in a room with one of these and not flipped it over? Neither have we. Using a basic flash circuit ripped from a disposable camera in conjunction with a mercury switch, this project took him about 2 hours to make. Admittedly, most of that time was just trying to split the 8 ball in half without completely destroying it.  The circuit is pretty simple. Just figure out what 2 wires need to be crossed to trigger the flash and install your tilt switch there. He added a power cut off so you could disable it as well.

UPDATE: video added after the break! [Read more...]

Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

[Read more...]

Building linear amplifier prototypes

We know way too little about this subject but hopefully [Bob4analog] helped us learn a little bit more this time around. He’s building his own linear amplifiers on what looks like sheets of MDF. This is an evolving design and the two videos after the break show two different iterations. He’s salvaged several components, like transformers from microwaves, as well as built his own components like the plate choke to the right of the tubes in the image above. In standby, the amp sits at 2800 volts, warming the filament before the unit is switched on.

So what’s he got planned for this? Good question, but it appears that there’s more than enough power to drive a long-range transmitter.

[Read more...]

The OpenServo Project

When it comes to using servos in projects, there is a definite distinction between the cheap ones and the expensive high power and precision models. The OpenServo project gives you a couple options for enhancing your servo experience. By replacing the control board with a new one based on a familiar microcontroller, a whole new set of features can be attained. For those of you out there with a need for servos like these, you can buy the pre-built replacement board (unfortunately sold out right now), or build your own from the provided schematic, BOM, and source code.

Simple sensors to calculate RPM

Ever wonder how to calculate revolutions per minute using a microcontroller? This project shows you how by purposing an IR emitter and detector and a computer fan. As the fan blades spin they disrupt the beam of infrared light between the emitter and the receiver. This results in a waveform on the receiver’s circuit which can be easily used to trigger interrupts in any microcontroller. In this case a PIC 18F452 monitors the detector’s signals for a rising edge. By measuring time data between interrupts the period can be established and RPM calculated. You can see a video of the test rig after the break.

So what can you use this for? It’s the method that most spinning POV displays use to stabilize the display. You won’t be limited to an IR sensor, but can use a hall effect sensor in the same basic fashion.

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Take your PS3 on world tour

[Lossfresnos65] must be planning to do a lot of travelling because he’s entombed his PlayStation 3 in a Pelican case. Inside you’ll find some diamond-plate bezel to cover the console itself and used to surround the 19-inch high-definition television that is mounted to the lid of the case. In the picture above you see the door that lifts to reveal foam cutouts for a TV remote and two six-axis controllers. There’s no battery and no wireless Internet, but connection for the power cord, Ethernet, component video, and HDMI have an external port on the base of the enclosure. There’s also two fans to keep everything cool, and on the front you’ll find two USB ports and a headphone jack. After the break he shows off the finished product but there’s no internal build photos to be found. We linked his forum post at the top as ask him and perhaps he’ll deliver the goods.

[Read more...]

SIM card carrying traffic lights

Apparently some of the traffic lights in Johannesburg, South Africa have SIM cards in them to help maintain the network without a physical connection. Now that’s some and not all, but apparently thieves have learned that the SIMs can be used in cell phones to make anonymous and unlimited calls. Officials are convinced that the thieves have inside information because they only crack open the lights that DO contain a card.

We’re white hats here at Hackaday and certainly don’t want to give out information that aids criminals. But since this is already a huge problem we have an idea of how thieves might be identifying which lights to rob. Sure, they probably do have inside information, but wouldn’t it be fairly simple to track down which lights use cellular communication by using a home made spectrum analyzer? We guess it would depend on how often the lights send out communications bursts. Does anyone have insight on this? Leave you thoughts in the comments.

[Thanks Bob]

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