Free Energy is for fools?

In her new element-14 video [Jeri Ellsworth] explains some  concepts about “free to you” energy and features the LTC3109EUF, an Auto-polarity, Ultra low Voltage Step-Up Converter and Power Manager, along with the LTC3588EMSE a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Power Supply.

Using the LTC3109EUF she is able to power a modified Nintendo Entertainment System, and LCD using a small generator and an exercise bike. The LTC3588EMSE is wired up to piezo’s in different applications including being squashed, vibrated, and temperature difference to power low current devices.

All this and a totally 80’s theme, so poof up your hair, get your spiked dog collar, and find those neon green shades because this is a fun and informative video available on element-14.

Bill Hammack explains how LED backlit LCD monitors work

We had a basic understanding of how LCD monitors worked, and you may too. But the thing is, [Bill Hammack] doesn’t just explain the basics. Since he’s the Engineer Guy he explains the engineering principles behind how LED backlit LCD screens operate. But he does it in a way that everyone can understand.

After the break we’ve embedded his five-minute video. In it you’ll see him strip down a monitor to the back plate and then build it up piece-by-piece. We enjoyed his discussion of how the diffuser panels work together to even out and distribute the light. Theses are made of several layers and, although we knew they were there from working with salvaged LCD screens, we never knew quite what they were doing. He also covers how each liquid crystal cell works along with polarizing sheets to either block or allow light passage. And he’ll bring it on home by show how thin-film transistors in each subpixel of the screen work to multiplex the display, just like we did with that pumpkin back in October.

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Pitch shifter makes your band sing higher

[Markus Gritsch] tipped us off about this little module he built to shift the pitch of audio playback. It uses a PIC 24FJ along with a couple of LM386 amplifier chips to manage the input and output signals. At the push of a button, audio being fed through the device can be modulated to a different key without changing the playback rate. Here it’s being used with a iPod but because this device just sits between an audio source and a signal input we wonder if you can have some fun on the cellphone with this circuit?

Check out the video after the break to hear it in action. We must compliment [Markus] on his layout. We haven’t seen the underside of that protoboard but he’s done a great job of fitting everything into a small area. You can find the schematic for the circuit by following the link at the top of this feature. He took a picture of his hand-drawn plans which saves him time from laying it out with something like KiCAD but still gives us the details that we love to see with your projects.

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Recycled Sound – An Art Installation Not Lacking Arduinos

[oakkar7] wrote in to show us [Ben Johansen] and [Jonathan Snow]’s  interactive art installation, Recycled Sound(Website has a virus). The exhibit will premiere  in the TWU Arts Triangle Walking Tour March 25th from 5-7pm.

Currently a work in progress, the final plan is for the outdoor installation to feature a podium in the center with a rotating top, and various islands surrounding. As the podium’s top is rotated the surrounding islands come to life with a variety of light and sound displays which vary depending on how the podium is turned. While the electronics are not recycled, the actual sculptures and music making elements themselves consist of scrap yard parts and factory waste.

The whole display runs off of 12.. yes TWELVE Atmel 328s with Arduino boot loaders! The center podium houses a transmitting circuit consisting of two atmega 328s with Arduino boot loaders sharing a crystal, an hmc 6532 magnetometer breakout board and two RF transmitters.  The Islands each contain a receiving module with, obviously,  an Arduino and RF receiver. The receiving Arduinos connect to opto isolated switching modules for motors and lighting. Check out [Ben]’s blog for in progress shots, code, and build information.

If you are looking to control some 12V motors/lights with your 5V Arduino be sure to check out the pictures in the blog. While we here at Hackaday may be quick to jump into soldering [Ben] follows the proper development progression to the letter. Each aspect is bread boarded, then refined, then transferred to a soldered perf board.

update: His site has some kind of malware going on. None of us noticed it in Firefox, but after complaints we fired up ol IE. Yup, nastyness there. You can go there at the following link if you dare.

More after the jump:

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AV test box meets the incredible shrink ray

mini_avtester

[Chris] recently finished building a miniscule AV Test Box, capable of fitting inside a standard Altoids tin. It is a revision of a project he constructed a few years ago. His previous test box worked well, but was large and cumbersome – definitely not something you would want to carry around from place to place with any frequency.

The new test box does everything its predecessor is capable of, which includes displaying an 800×600 VGA test pattern as well as generating sound signals for testing audio systems. He updated the circuit design a bit, employing a newer PIC processor to run the show, otherwise most of the design details have remained the same, form factor aside.

His build log is full to the brim with details as usual. You will find thorough descriptions of all the components he used, schematics, source code, as well as the theory behind the build.

Be sure to check out the video embedded below of his new AV tester in action.

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Lego Minifig multimeter makes resistor sorting a lot more fun

lego_minifig_multimeter

While there’s typically not much room on our work bench for toys, [David] over at Robot Room has put together a pretty cool multimeter for which we would make an exception.

His Lego Minifig multimeter is constructed using mostly standard off-the-shelf Legos, and a pair of Minifigs he modified to suit his needs. Translucent Minifig heads were sourced online to allow the neck-mounted LEDs to shine through, and each of the bodies were drilled out in several places to accommodate the wires he uses to take measurements.

The multimeter will display the resistance of any item from 10 – 10,000,000 Ω, as well as measure the voltage of any battery you can manage to fit under the Minifig’s metal wrench. The multimeter takes measurements using an ATmega168, and relays that data through a serial to USB converter connected to a nearby computer. The computer is host to a .NET application he wrote which displays and speaks both the resistance and voltage values.

Keep reading to see a quick video walkthrough and a demonstration of the multimeter at work.

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N64Boy Advance

[Hailrazer] found a Game Boy Advance carrying case in his closet and thought he could pull off an N64Boy Advance in a few weekends. Despite the fast build time, [Hailrazer] built something that wouldn’t look out of place sitting on a shelf at a toy store.

This isn’t the first time we have covered an N64 Advance portable gaming system that uses a GBA carrying case, but this hack keeps the original styling of the Game Boy Advance without all the epoxy, bondo and sanding. Inside is a 4.3″ screen, GameCube joystick, N64 expansion pack, and enough Li-ion to get 5-6 hours of play time. The build doesn’t include a D-pad because [Hailrazer] doesn’t use that while playing. It also doesn’t have controller or A/V ports, because he doesn’t, “want to sit around with friends playing N64 on a 4.3″ screen.” A very pragmatic build, indeed.

We love seeing people re-purpose odd bits of plastic they have lying around, so we’re wondering when someone with an Original Game Boy Carrying Case will build an NESBoy. Video after the jump.

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