USB dongle hack tethers DSLR cameras at a fraction of the price

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[Neal] wanted to tether his DSLR to his computer, but he wasn’t about to fork out the $1,000 Nikon was asking for their wireless adapter. Instead, he opted to construct his own solution using two separate camera accessories which cost him less than $200 when finished.

The two components he purchased were a wireless USB transmitter/receiver pair and an external battery grip. The battery grip allows him to use a pair of batteries to power his camera, while providing just enough space to wedge in the USB transmitter. He stripped the casing off the transmitter and connected it to a mini USB plug that he wired into the battery grip. He then added a small voltage regulator to step down the Nikon battery voltage from 7.2v to the 5v required by the USB transmitter.

The battery grip and transmitter were then hooked directly into his camera using the weatherproof plug built into the grip. Once he powered on his camera, it was connected to the PC immediately.

It’s amazing how the simplest hacks can save incredible amounts of money.  Nice job!

Be sure to check out the video embedded below to see the wireless adapter in action.

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Protei: articulated, backward sailing robots clean oil spills

The Protei project aims to develop a robotic solution for oil-spill cleanup. [Cesar Harada] quit what he calls his dream job at MIT to work toward a solution to the ecological disasters that are oil spills. He had previously been working on Seaswarm, a swarm of robots that use conveyor belts of absorbent material to leech oil from seawater. But Protei doesn’t use legions of drones. It aims to use better design to improve the effectiveness of a small number of units.

The whole idea is well described in the video after the break. If a long trailing boom of absorbent material is towed in a serpentine pattern perpendicular to the flow, starting down current and moving upward, it can be quite effective at halting the spread of crude. Initial experiments have shown that a robotic vessel can do this efficiently with just a few improvements. First, to counteract the drag of the tail the rudder of the boat was moved to the bow. Secondly, the hull has been articulated as you can see above. This allows the robot to better utilize wind power to sail, making turns without losing the push of the wind.

The project is raising money through Kickstart as an open hardware project. Let’s hope this becomes a cheap and effective way to fix our costly drilling mishaps. Continue reading “Protei: articulated, backward sailing robots clean oil spills”

Personal soundboard recounts years of clever one-liners

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[Antibore’s] friend was just wrapping up his Ph.D. Degree and he wanted to build him something special to commemorate the accomplishment. After thinking about it awhile, he realized that his friend was quite gregarious and known to make off-the-wall comments at parties and such. A ton of these one-liners were documented on video over a span of 10 years, so [Antibore] got the idea to make his friend a soundboard featuring his own witticisms.

He found a breakout board capable of playing back OGG files and got to work loading it up with his friend’s random sayings. The board was connected to a small amplifier and speaker, then everything was installed into a black plastic case. Four arcade-style buttons were mounted on the front of the case, along with a picture of his friend. Up to 16 different sayings can be played, depending on which combination of buttons are being held at a particular time.

It’s sounds like a really cool project, and certainly makes for a one of a kind gift. Currently there is no video or audio of the box in action, but here’s hoping we’ll see some soon.

NBA Hangtime pinball display

[Ed Zarick] continues work on his NBA Hangtime pinball machine with the completion of the scoreboard and backglass. You should remember this project as we already covered the layer audio he developed for the system. Now he’s proving to be a protoboard master, using point-to-point techniques to build a pair of two and a half digit LED displays for team scores, as well as a shot clock timer and other status indicators.

The lighting board that controls it all is commanded via the i2c protocol, just like the three audio modules. It uses shift registers along with MOSFETs and [Ed] has taken the time to add pin headers and sockets for board interconnects. As is true with the audio system, one Arduino Mega acts as the master on the i2c bus and you’ll notice in the video after the break that the display works in perfect harmony with the sound effects.

We can’t wait to see what he comes up with for the play field!

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Building your Internet radio empire

It all starts with one station in your home office but who knows where it can go from there? If you’ve got dreams of being an Internet radio jockey you can get some ideas about equipment startup from this setup that [Viktor’s] built for a friend.

He started out with a plan to have a station that offers twenty-four hour streaming but also supports live broadcast. Two computers are used in the setup. The first handles automated music broadcast and live mixing. This box has two sound cards, one is used for the automated music by feeding the output into a sound mixer that is a separate piece of hardware. The output of that mixer feeds back into the second sound card on the box. This secondary card outputs the final mix to the computer speakers.

The second computer is where a lot of the live broadcast work is done. Any steaming guest (using VOIP or Skype, etc.) come in through this box as well as jingles and sound effects used during the feed. Its sound card is also connected through the external mixer and joins the final feed headed into one of the sound cards on the primary computer.

In the end the Internet connection for the system isn’t beefy enough to reliably support a streaming station. For this a dedicated streaming service is used. It receives the live feed and then uses its increase bandwidth to propagate the signal to listeners anywhere in the world.

Want to listen to this radio station? Build your own streaming radio module, or outfit classic hardware to work with your computer.