Update: microtouch the 8-bit ipod touch

It looks like [rossum] and [Ladyada] have teamed up and been busy working on the microtouch. Since we covered it last year its had a few minor improvements like an upgrade to the ATmega32u4 microprocessor and some new software. The new and improved microtouch also features an accelerometer as well as some software to go along with it. Plus its now for sale on adafruit for about a quarter the price of an ipod touch (just in case you don’t feel like making your own).

For the unaware the microtouch is a lightweight AVR based ipod touch. It comes with a bootloader which allows you to download your “apps” to the microtouch without the need for an AVR programmer. While it may lack some of the computing power and features of the ipod touch (like music), the microtouch is definitely appealing for its open hardware/software and easy to use touch screen.

Etch-a-Sketch computer is a surprisingly simple hack

We’re not sure whether to call this an Etch-a-Sketch upgrade or a computer interface downgrade but either way it’s unique. [Martin Raynsford] added a familiar red frame to his computer monitor with classic white knobs that control horizontal and vertical cursor movement. There’s even the click option by pressing the buttons in and, as you can see after the break, the modifications result in a perfectly usable digital Etch-a-Sketch. We’ve seen a lot of computer controlled versions of the toy which use fancy parts and take quite a bit of skill to build. This mimicry of the functionality is easy to build and the idea is genius in its simplicity. [Martin] separated the encoder wheels from a mouse. He placed each on one of the knobs and ran wires for sensors and micro-switches back to the original PCB which is stuck to the back of the monitor. From the computer’s point of view it looks and acts like a normal mouse but this is so much more fun (and less productive). [Read more...]

Out Engineering a Sneaky Cat

Cats do what they want, which rarely coincides with what their owner wants them to do. In [Dumitru]‘s case, his girlfriend’s cat [Pufu] tended to make it outside into the cold more often than desired. Rather than settle with the normal bell which gets obnoxious even when the cat isn’t misbehaving, he decided to put together a custom Cat Finding collar. He used a PIC microcontroller as the brains, and temperature and light sensors to decide whether the cat had snuck into the cold, dark night. Once the cat has been marked as being outside, a buzzer and LED are set to go off at regular intervals until returned into the safety of the indoors.

[Dumitru]‘s website along with his YouTube videos are in Romanian, though the schematics and source code provided speak for themselves. He does a wonderful job walking through the entire design process, including time spend in the IDE as well as EAGLE designing the board. YouTube has managed to subtitle the majority of the details, but we imagine this post will be a real treat to any Romanian speaking hobbyists out there. Be sure to catch both videos after the break.

[Read more...]

Target hunting UAV armed with fireworks

Don’t just build a UAV, use it to blow things up. In this case a tri-copter seeks out colored balloons and pops them using low-grade fireworks. We’ve seen this type of flying armament before, but not in a ‘copter form factor. It looks like the targeting and firing is done by an operator, and is not an automated system despite what the text overlays on the video after the break says. The lack of autonomous firing capability makes this delightful, rather than scary. Don’t miss the build log for the tri-copter itself. How do you think this one stacks up to the last 3-bladed build?

[Read more...]

How to build a ping-pong ball display

If you’ve been lusting after your own glowing display we’re here to help by sharing some simple building techniques that will result in an interesting project like the one you see above. This is a super-accurate clock That uses ping-pong balls as diffusers for LEDs, but with a little know-how you can turn this into a full marquee display. Join me after break where I’ll share the details of the project and give you everything you need to know to build your own.

[Read more...]

Printable wax as PCB etch resist

What if there were only two steps for making your own printed circuit board; print, etch? That’s what [Jeff Gough] has been working on and he presented the process in his talk at 27C3. In the first portion of the video after the break [Jeff] talks about various industrial PCB manufacturing processes in a depth you may not have heard before. We found it to be interesting but at about thirty minutes into the clip he begins the presentation of his modified printer. It’s an inkjet that can print wax onto copper clad board. The wax acts as a resist for chemical etchants, and provides very high resolution. He’s using a heavily modified print head, which brings to mind that diy piezo inkjet head which also has wax printing in its future plans. This certainly seems promising and if the process can be simplified it might do away with the toner transfer method.

[Read more...]

“Ask an engineer” live streams at Adafruit

I [Caleb], finally had a chance to catch one of the live chat sessions over at Adafruit.com called “Ask an engineer“. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the show is only an hour long, the amount of information covered was quite amazing. They started out, announcing a new, this really cool looking touch screen system, product and going over the tech specs. This very quickly turned into a question and answer session about how to utilize and modify the device. [Limor], aka [ladyada] was extremely knowledgeable and [rossum], the designer who made it even showed up in the chat to fill in the rare gap. After that, there was a general question and answer period where people were firing off questions so fast I couldn’t watch them all and still follow her answers. It was a lot of fun and quite frankly felt way too short.

Be sure to check it out on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M. ET