Booby box – It’s a trap!

Here’s a puzzle oddity that challenges you to open the box without falling into one of the booby-traps. It was built as a side-distraction from the more serious events happening at Insomni’hack 2011. [Sergio] and a colleague built the box to resemble a ticking bomb like in the blockbuster action movies we know you look forward to seeing each summer. A display on top of the device counts down for ninety seconds with an audible beep to mark the passage of time and boost your tension level. See it ticking away in the clip after the break.

Two wires meet at the edges of the box halves, completing a circuit that will set off an alarm when the contact is broken. There’s also a photocell on the bottom of the box which triggers the alarm if you lift it and expose this sensor to light. The combination necessary to open the box was provided to each competitor; it was not a numerical code, but a color code. Three potentiometers control the red, green, and blue anodes of an RGB LED, while being monitored by an Arduino at the same time. If you can dial in the appropriate color, the lid trap is disabled and the box can be opened. What does the winner get? Why an Arduino, of course!

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Dynamic DNS updating – no PC required

arduino_ddns

[Boris] from Open Electronics recently wrote us to share their latest creation. Like many of us, he uses DynDNS to keep his home network a FQDN’s reach away. While DynDNS is quite a convenient service, many people don’t like the idea of leaving their computer on all the time to keep the IP updated. That’s where the Arduino DDNS module comes into play.

Built using a standard ATMega328 with the Arduino bootloader installed, the module periodically checks to see if the user’s IP has changed, updating the DynDNS entry as needed. The Arduino talks to the network via a WIZnet Ethernet breakout board, contacting DynDNS’ servers to check and update the user’s IP over a series of standard HTTP requests.

We are aware that several router firmware packages such as DD-WRT have this functionality built-in, but this project makes for a nice alternative when those resources are not available.

As always, a bill of materials, PCB layouts, and Arduino Sketch code are all available for download over at the Open Electronics site.

Temperature sensing mug means never burning your mouth again

temp_sensing_mug

Some people tend to get awfully attached to their favorite mug. Like an old friend, the mug holds a special place in their hearts, and there’s a weird sadness when it finally gives up the ghost. Through the winter months [Ben’s] girlfriend is never without hers, and when it broke, he decided to give her a new one with some added functionality.

He built her a temperature sensing mug that uses a rather novel way of determining how hot or cold the contents are. Instead of using a thermistor to determine the drink’s temperature, he opted to use a simple diode since it is well known that a diode’s forward voltage varies with temperature. After determining the diode’s voltage range using hot and cold beverages, he hooked it up to the ADC of a PIC12F615 micro controller. The temperature is displayed via 10 LEDs, which are driven through a pair of 8-bit shift registers and buffers since his PIC did not have enough pins to control them on its own.

He had some PCBs made, and after a handful of setbacks got everything put together. He says the mug works pretty well, though the display changes a bit more slowly than he would like. He also mentions that if he builds a second version, he will be sure to select a different PIC that has enough I/O pins to do the job, as well as use a thermistor instead of a simple diode for sensing the temperature.

Continue reading to see a brief demo video [Ben] put together.

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Play Unreleased Retro Games on the Real Thing

Star Fox, one of the greatest 3D space shooters ever developed, has a pretty decent fan base even after eighteen or so years. It had a sequel that was 99% complete, but it came very late in the Super Nintendo’s life and it was held off so that the next great Star Fox would be on the newest Nintendo console, the N64.

You could get the Japanese version, which aside from a couple debug routines, is complete, and you could play it on an emulator. While emulators are fine for most of us, anyone who has played a game on the real metal can quickly and easily pick out minor nuances.

Since playing Star Fox 2 on the real hardware is not a simple trip to the flea market, [Doug] went about ripping apart an old SNES cart and placing a eprom inside with the data from the game. Through that 8 page forum post you can see the project start, progress through different constructions, and result in 3 fully working carts, complete with custom labels.

Join us after the break for a quick video.

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