K’nex whiteboard plotter

knex_plotter

[Jerry] has been wanting to put together a whiteboard plotter for some time and just recently got around to building one.

The plotter draws pretty much about anything he can imagine on a white board measuring just shy of 2′ x 3′. The design first started off with a Basic Stamp board at the helm, which he sourced from another project he no longer had any use for. The Stamp worked for awhile, but eventually he ran into problems due to the board’s limited 128 bytes of program space. Needing a more robust micro controller, he switched to an Arduino mid-project, which he says runs the plotter far faster than the Stamp ever did.

The plotter uses a pair of stepper motors mounted on a horizontal platform situated above the whiteboard. Much like this large-format printer we featured earlier this week, the steppers vary the length of a pair of fishing lines, moving the pen precisely across the board.  As you can see in the image above, [Jerry] has been able to create some pretty intricate patterns with his plotter, and we imagine they will only get better with more refinement.

Be sure to check out his site for more details on his build process as well as several additional samples of the plotter’s capabilities.

Hackaday Links: April 13, 2011

Oven parts scrounging

oven_desoldering

In response to last week’s post about parts scrounging with a heat gun, Hackaday forum member [BiOzZ] decided to try doing the same thing in his oven. It seems to work quite well, but we’re wondering if there should be any concerns over the lead content of the solder. Anyone care to chime in?

Spill-proof parts holder

parts_holder

Have you ever been in the midst of disassembling something and knocked over your container full of screws onto the floor? [Infrared] has a simple solution to the problem which also happens to keep a couple of plastic bottles out of the landfill.

Easy button stops abuse of the word awesome

easy_button

Do you often repeat a word ad nauseam? Make author Matt Richardson does, and he hacked a Staples “Easy” button to help him break his addiction to the word “Awesome”.

Cheap Remote-controlled baseboard lighting

baseboard_lighting

[Sean] scored a pair of LED deck lighting kits for a steal and decided to install them into his newly renovated kitchen. They are currently remote operated, but he plans on adding an X10 interface as well as PIR sensors for automatic triggering in the near future.

Yet another LCD recapping guide

monitor_recap

It starts with a finicky backlight, or perhaps a high-pitched whine from the back of your display – by now, we’re sure that everyone knows the symptoms of an LCD panel that’s just about to die. [Eric's] Syncmaster recently quit on him, so he pried it open and got busy recapping. It’s running again, and he wanted to share his repair process in case others out there own the same display.

Haptic GPS sneakers for the visually impaired

gps_haptic_shoe

The world can be a pretty difficult place to navigate when you lack the ability to see it. There are many visually impaired people across the globe, with some figures claiming up to 40 million individuals affected. While walking canes and seeing-eye dogs can be a huge help, [Anirudh] of Multimodal Interactions Group, HP Labs India, and some students at the College of Engineering in Pune, India (COEP) have been hard at work constructing a haptic navigation system for the blind.

[Anirudh Sharma and Dushyant Mehta] debuted their haptic feedback shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP. In its current form, Google Maps and GPS data is sourced from an Android device, which is fed to an Arduino via Bluetooth. The Arduino then activates one of four LEDs mounted on a shoe insert that are used to indicate which direction the individual should travel in order to safely reach their destination. While the current iteration uses LEDs, they will be swapped out for small vibrating motors in the final build.

We’re always fans of assistive technology hacks, and we think this one is great. The concept works well, as we have seen before, so it’s just a matter of getting this project refined and in the hands shoes of those who need it.

Stick around for a quick video about the project filmed at the MIT/COEP event.

[Read more...]

Using Kinect to make human marionettes

kinect_neurostim

[Choi Ka Fai] has been experimenting with neurostimulation for some time now. His body of work has focused on exploring the possibility of using neurostim devices to replay pre-recorded muscle movements.

Until now, he has been recording his muscle movements as acoustic waveforms for real-time playback in the bodies of his research partners. This usually requires him to sit beside the subject, tethered to a machine. This tends to limit his movement, so he has invested in a new form of movement recording technology – a Kinect sensor.

Using fairly standard skeleton tracking as we have seen in some previous Kinect hacks, he has enabled himself to direct the motion of his subject by merely moving in front of the camera. The benefit of using the Kinect over wired sensors is that he can use any body part to direct his partner’s movements by simply changing how the software interprets his actions. As you can see in the video below, he uses his hands, knees, and even his head to direct the motion of his partner’s arm.

It really is a neat application of the Kinect, and we are totally digging the shaky “human marionette” effect that it produces. Since this was only an initial test of the system, expect to see some more cool stuff coming from [Choi] in the near future.

Stick around to see a quick video of the Kinect-driven neurostim rig in action.

[Read more...]

Building an electric kiln

[EmcySquare] is delving into some hobby-blacksmithing by making his own knives. He needs a furnace to heat the metal, and after trying out a few different forge designs he decided to attempt an electric kiln build. The final project seen above is a box within a box. The outer shell is reclaimed using old computer cases and metal shelving brackets. Inside you’ll find a box made from fire brick, with stone-wool insulation to keep the heat where it’s supposed to be.

He cut the bricks to the right size to build the inner box, then added grooves on the inside edge witch will host the heat coils. This cutting was done with an angle grinder and [EmcySquare] notes that it kicks up an extraordinary amount of brick dust to make sure you’re wearing a respirator and goggles. Once the enclosure was ready he set out to fabricate the heat coils. Twelve meters of Kanthal A1 wire was used, shortened to a neat length by shaping coils around a 1 cm diameter wooden dowel. This prototype works but future improvements plan to add automatic temperature control through a thermocouple and a relay.

CNC mill built from junk and hardware store parts

[Csshop] is setting a new bar for building an inexpensive CNC mill. Not only did he complete his build at a very low cost, but it seems to work quite well too. Check out the video after the break to see the device cut out thin wood parts for a toy plane.

The majority of the build uses scrap wood for the body of the mill. The business end of the device is a flexible rotary attachment for a Dremel tool which takes a lot of the weight and bulk out of the gantry assembly. Old flat bed scanners were gutted for the precision ground rod and bearings, as well as the three stepper motors used to drive the axes. An Arduino board controls the device, commanding the stepper motors via EasyDriver boards.

Once the hardware is assembled there’s still a fair amount of work to do. [Csshop] builds his designs in Google Sketchup, but some conversion is necessary to arrive at code that the Arduino will understand. He’s got a second project write-up that covers the software side of things.

[Read more...]

RSA SecurID two-factor authentication comprimised


SecurID is a two-factor hardware-based authentication system. It requires you to enter the number displayed on a hardware fob like the one seen above, along with the rest of your login information. It’s regarded to be a very secure method of protecting information when users are logging into a company’s secure system remotely. But as with everything else, there’s always a way to break the security. It sounds like last month someone hacked into the servers of the company that makes SecurID.

You’ll need to read between the lines of that letter from RSA (the security division of EMC) Executive Chairman [Art Coviello]. He admits that someone was poking around in their system and that they got their hands on information that relates to the SecurID system. He goes on to say that the information that the attackers grabbed doesn’t facilitate direct attacks on RSA’s customers.

We’d guess that the attackers may have what they need to brute-force a SecurID system, although perhaps they have now way to match which system belongs to which customer. What’s you’re take on the matter? Lets us know by leaving a comment.

[via Engadget]

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