The interstellar clock

[Alexander Avtanski] has put together a nice clock to meet all your interstellar travel needs. Besides being another PIC based timer, this is a neat little project because it incorporates pretty much every feature you could think of when building a clock for our solar sytem.  For example, it has 16 independent timers and alarms, it can  simultaneously give the time for multiple planets, as well as keep track of other stellar events like the eye of Jupiter or the phases of the moon. To get this project off the ground [Alex] reverse engineered an old dial up modem to serve as an enclosure and power supply and then added in a rechargeable battery so that his  his interstellar clock wasn’t tied to a wall.

[via make]

DIY Racing Sim shift box

diy_pc_racing_shiftbox

Ask anyone who has ever owned a car with a manual gearbox – in real life and in video games, nothing beats stick shift. Rather than shell out gobs of money to purchase a pre-made shift box, forum member [nikescar] built his own for about $20.

Using some scrap wood and a plastic cutting board, he went to work building a prototype. The “H” shift pattern was designed in CAD and laid over the cutting board, which was hand-cut with a Dremel. Using some tips found online, he constructed a simple shifting mechanism, then wired in a cheap USB game pad found on Ebay. Using safety pins as temporary micro switches, he ran a few laps, and was quite happy with the results. Once the switches arrived, they were fitted to the shift box and it was off to the races.

[nikescar] reports that the shifter works extremely well, allowing him to row through the gears with the greatest of ease, sans any fear of breaking things. Keep reading to get a better look at the shift box internals.

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iTalkman Refrigerated Franken-phone

italkman_frankenphone

[Jani] over at MetkuMods was commissioned to build a prize for an on-air contest held by MTV3 in Finland. Well known for some of his previous work, he was a natural choice for this project. The only stipulation for the build was that it contain three specific items: a Mobira mobile phone, an Apple iPhone, and a refrigerator. For those of you who don’t know, a Mobira Talkman is an old-school “mobile” phone built by Nokia in the 80′s that weighed in at 11 pounds, and was far from convenient to use. In this case however, the size of the phone is an advantage since he was able to gut it and use the frame to make up the body of the refrigerated compartment. He sacrificed a soft-side portable heater/cooler bag, removing the built-in peltier cooler and associated components, later grafting them onto his Talkman case.

The next task was to add the iPhone to the Talkman. Rather than have the old handset sit there uselessly, [Jani] decided to mount a small Bluetooth hands-free module inside the handset, allowing it to answer calls, adjust the volume, and change music tracks on the iPhone. The iPhone was put in a hard plastic case, then mounted to the Talkman handset where the keypad and display used to reside.

All in all, the iTalkman is a pretty cool looking device, though we wouldn’t want to be tasked with lugging that thing around all day!

DARPA’s hummingbird spybot

Nope, this isn’t some extravagant fishing lure, it’s the US Government’s newest way to spy on its people enemies. The hummingbird bot has no problems flying like an actual hummingbird while recording video. It was developed by a company called Aerovironment as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract. Of course details are scarce, but you can see the device flying around while broadcasting its video feed after the break. Sure, it’s making much more noise than you would expect from an actual hummingbird, but this is just the version that they’re shown off publicly, right?

It has certainly come a long way since the company was awarded the contract few years back. We assume that the hummingbird is the realization of research efforts pumped into their ornithopter project. Those proofs of concept from 2009 on what was called Project Mercury showed off a winged flyer in a controlled environment. To see this year’s model flying out in the open is pretty neat.

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Global CALCnet: your TI-83 just acquired Internet

Global CALCnet lets you connect your TI graphic calculator to the Internet and use your favorite services like instant messaging and Internet relay chat. It also provides the option of worldwide multiplayer functionality for games ported to the device such as Scorched Earth and Tetris. We looked in on [Christopher Mitchell's] CALCnet in December when it was being used to create local area networks with the adding machines. He’s taken that up a notch with a helping hand from Arduino. An Arduino board is used to connect the serial communications from the calculator to an Internet connected PC via the Arduino’s USB capabilities.

Think this will waste a lot of time in schools? Unlikely since an Internet connected computer is integral for this system to work. If you have a computer in front of you why waste time on the calculator network? Still, how hard would it be to build a WiFi module that can directly connect them to an access point? That may be a moot point as the Slashdot article that pointed us to global CALCnet also links to a calculator port of DOOM. It runs quite well, as you can see in the video after the break. This is a must-have for anyone owning a TI Nspire that can run it.

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KiwiDrive HouseBot

Forskningsavdelningen, a Swedish hackerspace, had a hackathon last weekend and the KiwiDrive HouseBot is one of the items that resulted from the group effort. They set a goal to use standard, easy to obtain parts, so that the robotic platform would be accessible for reproduction by individuals or at other hackerspaces. The three-limbed device rolls around on a triad of omni-directional wheels -which are probably the hardest part to source but you can always print your own. An Arduino Uno was used as the hardware interface, driving the three stepper motors for locomotion.

It’s not pictured above, but the fourth generation of the little guy also includes a webcam. The camera rides in the center of the body and is mounted on a servo. This makes it possible to turn the camera, meaning there’s no real front or back to this design. Future plans include adding an on-board computer (this is larger than it appears) and implementing emoticons on an 8×8 LED matrix, presumably so you can tell how the bot is feeling today.

[Thanks KiwiRay]

Kinect to get Windows drivers months after open source drivers were developed

Microsoft is planning to release Windows drivers for the Kinect this spring, months after open source drivers were developed by a motivated hacking community. [Johnny Chung Lee], who worked with the Microsoft team when the hardware was developed, mentions that he had pushed for the giant to develop and release at least basic Windows drivers. That refusal led him to a position as top cheerleader and bounty contributor in Adafruit’s Open Kinect Contest which resulted (quickly we might add) in the availability of open source drivers. If you’ve been following Hackaday or any other tech blogs the last three months you’ll know that an explosion of projects using the Kinect followed, and [Johnny] figures Microsoft’s decision to release Windows drivers is an attempt to ride this wave on their own flagship OS rather than continue to watch from the sidelines.