Bitbang IR Remote

[Albert] has made a few PC IR transmitters and receivers using the traditional connection of RS232 serial, and that is fine, but as we are all aware, not every computer has serial ports standard. Searching though normal USB <> RS232 dongles didn’t meet his requirements. Deciding on making it himself, he whipped up this FTDI bit-bang IR receiver / transmitter.

While FTDI makes a range of chips most (if not all) support a bit-bang mode where you can manually control the IC’s pins. The FTDI chip handles the timing, and when paired up with libFTDI makes it pretty painless to control. The software is a work in progress, but [Albert] already has a driver that connects to LIRC, which lets you control a wide array of remote devices and a test program for carrier generation.

Schematics, source, and a few pages of good information are available on his site.

Phillip Torrone makes case for next-gen public libraries

[Phillip Torrone] has started a discussion about a possible upgrade to the public library system in the US and wants to know what you think. His name should be familiar (Hackaday founder, Open Source hardware advocate, and Tron costume model) and he’s definitely got his finger on the pulse of today’s electronics enthusiasts. He poses the question, could we upgrade libraries to become public techshops?

As a frequenter user of my own library system here in Madison, Wisconsin I like to think that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. I find it nice to be able to borrow books, as it seems wasteful to buy a book I will only read once. Sure, I do buy and sell books at the used book store, but that doesn’t diminish how I value the library system and often suggest in posts that our readers should go check out books they’re interested in.

But I must agree with [Mr. Torrone] that, a least to some extent, reserving large buildings to house collections of books may be an outdated concept. It’s not just the books that make the library. These buildings provide computer time and Internet access to the community. I’ve occasionally written posts from public libraries instead of paying the ‘coffee tax’ to get on WiFi in a coffee shop. Libraries also serve as community meeting spaces, and polling places. And what [Phillip] is talking about aims to offset some of the stacks in order to augment the functionality of the institution.

What if it were a repository of knowledge in the written form as well as a place to use tools and learn new skill? It’s an intriguing question and I’m glad he asked it.

Zigbee-powered wireless scale

[joe] wanted to make it easy to record his weight every day, and added a few bits to decode the weight and send it to his computer. The end result is a ZigBee-powered wireless scale. Additionally, his scale can track more than one person’s data simply by knowing whose previous weight the new measurement is closest to. Now [joe] and his family can spend more time working out, and less time messing with spreadsheets and data entry.

[joe]‘s build is not only elegant, but well-documented, too. He walks through the reasons he chose this specific floor scale, reverse engineering it to decode the weight, then provides links to his schematics, source code, and pretty much everything else you would need to play along at home.

Build your own vertical axis wind turbine

You can build a copy of this vertical wind turbine in a weekend and it won’t cost you all that much. Applied Sciences developed the hardware and they’re sharing all for the build details. You will be taken through every part of the build starting with the fin assembly which is made from stove-pipe material. This is a perfect raw material because it is already curved and suited for aerodynamic use in much the same way that PVC pipe is for making fins and we would expect it to be a bit lighter in weight. You will also need to turn your own coils when assembling the stator. This particular build process uses nine coils embedded in fiberglass. They remain stationary while two different discs, each containing a dozen rare earth magnets, rotate in close proximity to induce a current. It outputs three-phase AC current which can be turned to DC using a bridge rectifier and then further regulated for storage in batteries.

[Thanks Miguel]

Water droplet sculpture using LEDs and Arduino

This water sculpture can stop drops of water in mid-air. This is accomplished by flashing LEDs to illuminate the droplets at just the right time. But it’s not limited to blinky lights alone. The top of the frame has eight nozzles, each fed by its own pump. An Arduino controls the pumps and the lights making it possible to create different motion effects by adjusting how events line up. For instance, the image above shows just two of the water nozzles on, but in the video after the break it appears one is dripping downward while the other is dripping upward.

Alas, there’s few build details for this but the source code is available for downloading. If we were going to build one of these ourselves we’d probably try to regulate the drips using some solenoids built from scratch. How would you do it? Leave your ideas in the comments.

[Read more...]

All about PS3 SixAxis controller USB communications

[Austyn] is currently working on reverse engineering a PlayStation 3 SixAxis controller’s USB communications. You may be thinking that this has already been done but [Austyn] was unable to find useful source code so he’s started his own project called libopenaxis.

The process he used to sniff out USB communications makes for an interesting read. He utilized GlovePIE to get the USB request block for the controller. With that in hand he grabbed the Python script used in a DIY Kinect hacking tutorial to start dumping controller data. With each keypress the script reads out the full data packet, which is used to figure out how the data structures are organized.

The project has come as far as knowing all of the data types, but right now the purpose for the majority of those variables is unknown. Hopefully the blanks will be filled in over time. Two things are for sure; if you’re interested in writing Python code that can communicate with PS3 controllers this is a great source of info, and the Kinect hacking that was so fun to watch over the last few months is still bearing fruit.