Hackaday Links: April 25, 2011

iPad2 combination case

[Jasn] wasn’t happy with Apple’s version of the iPad2 case, but an InCase Magazine Jacket didn’t meet his needs either. He broke the two apart and combined pieces of each to achieve his perfect tablet enclosure.

MIDI power tools

Enjoy the sounds of working in the shop thanks to [ArcAttack's] MIDI controlled power tool performance. Our favorite part’s the outlet box stuffed with cords. [Thanks Ross]

Labeling cables

When we saw [László's] tip about labeling cables we though “duh, we’ve been doing that for years”. But then we realized to this technique might be new to some folks. So haters gonna hate, but get out some tape and a marker to make your cord mess a bit more tidy.

The folks that run Facebook set out to build their own server farms in order to save money on both materials and electricity. They’ve open sourced the hardware and there’s a bunch of information about the project that we found interesting. [Thanks Wouter]

Manual mute ‘key’ for your netbook


[Randi] wanted a way to ensure he wouldn’t have startup sounds played in class when he booted up his netbook. He came up with this ‘mute key’ that is made from a ground-down headphone plug. He glued a piece of ribbon to it so that it can be removed again. The computer thinks there’s headphone plugged in so no sound plays through the speakers. Since it’s been ground down it’s extra-low-profile, and it’s as cheap as your last broken set of headphones. No link here, [Randi] just emailed us some pictures.

Comments

  1. FaultyWarrior says:

    László’s wiring label method works….unless you’ve got nearly cables in a small space. I used this method when I built the first version of my car’s custom wiring harness, and it helps quite a lot, but it’s still a massive pain to work with when you’ve got that many wires. The pic below shows what I mean…

  2. needles says:

    I like the mute key idea, pretty clever. Not cool walking into class late, sitting down, and having the windows log in sounds blare from your laptop.

  3. Dave says:

    I had a similar headphone hack in college. I used a headphone splitter (Y) and accomplished the same thing. It was a similarly small hack, but not as low-profile.

  4. 22gunsonfire says:

    Headphone jack. Pure genius. Perfect example of K.I.S.S.

  5. Aaron says:

    Another good trick for labeling cables, if you happen to have all of good eyes, very fine pens, and cable ties (zip ties, &c.), is to just write straight on those. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and you don’t get the finger-sticky cable mung or eventual brittle disintegration in which most paper labels and tapes seem to result. There’s also the bonus that, unlike paper labels and tapes, you can actually use cable ties to tie the cables you’re labeling. (They also make cable ties with little flags specifically for labeling, but those cost extra and I don’t seem to see them around very often.)

    The netbook mute plug is unmitigatedly awesome. Sure you can just use the Fn-whatever mute combo, but not while the thing’s starting up, and this way you have an absolutely unambiguous indication of whether or not you’re about to fetch a glare from your instructor and embarrass yourself in front of your peers.

  6. Spork says:

    Open compute project is AMAZING. I love data center topology and it would be wonderful to see more businesses hosting their own web server/data on site. — That said, it would also be great for someone like Google or Amazon to move in and start using these in mass quantities. Reducing cost and increasing performance is a plus for consumers as well.

    @FaultyWarrior
    Have you found a better way to organize tons of cables? It does seem like it would be crazy with that many labels.

  7. Whatnot says:

    I find using a bit of adhesive vinyl works well for me as labels, since it’s pretty resistant to going brittle or having it fall apart like with paper-like tape and the glue doesn’t become a mess like with ducttape for instance.
    Add a waterproof (dvd-)marker and bob’s your uncle.

  8. Spork says:

    @22gunsonfire and Aaron

    Most business laptops have hardware mute buttons/switches to prevent this mishap. I wish all manufacturers would adopt this design.

  9. therian says:

    dont short circuit audio it might damage it by overloading, use at least 16-60 ohm resistor

  10. Thomas says:

    I used to use a cut-off headphone jack too (which is KISS)… until I learned how to go to Control Panel -> Sounds -> Sound Scheme: No Sounds

  11. If you are interested in Open then check out p2pu.org. It is a site for open courses among users.

  12. Anonymous says:

    @therian: I don’t think he’s short circuiting anything; plugging in the headphone jack is merely convincing the computer that it shouldn’t play audio through the built-in speakers.

  13. Alex says:

    @therian: Shortened, not shorted.

  14. Craig says:

    Agreed, that headphone plug is sensational. I might have to look at getting one on my keyring.

  15. therian says:

    @Anomynous
    I inretrteped ” Since it’s been gnourd down ” as gnoudring output
    @Alex I wold like HAD to have message ‘edit’ option too

    p.s whoever dircovess the inrerptetation of these sanigys will gain the power to seize cotmucimanion O_O

  16. andar_b says:

    @therian

    LOL @ “gnourd” & “gnoudring” ROFL

  17. qn4 says:

    Huh. I’ve been doing the same headphone-plug thing for years with short inline-volume adapters from Radioshack and DealExtreme (sku 53960).
    On the other hand, I disable startup & shutdown sounds on every Windows installation I perform on my computers, but use Linux (configured similarly as necessary) 99% of the time anyways.
    …the occasional embedded ‘auto-play’ Youtube videos are the real reason I always have one on hand, actually.

  18. ejonesss says:

    unless your netbook is like some newer macs where they play the speaker despite what is connected to the sound port.

    that is to protect you from corrupting the firmware and bricking the device when updating the firmware.

  19. Alchemyguy says:

    On cable marking; in my old life as a communication electrician we would use wrap around style labels, similar to these: http://www.duralabels.com/wirewrap.html We used Brady branded ones.

    They self-laminate so the label doesn’t wear off and you don’t have a little tag sticking out to hang up in your rat-nest closet.

  20. FaultyWarrior says:

    @Spork – The best way I’ve found is to use actual wire tags, since they’re not as big as say a piece of painter’s tape. But I’m re-doing that entire jungle of wiring over the next few weeks, so I’m going to try different ways and see what works best when dealing with 100+ wires at once.

  21. Rachel says:

    I’ve been using 3M white electrical tape as labels for years. Unlike everything else, it doesn’t fall apart after a month, and it still peels off cleanly after years.

  22. Pete says:

    @therian I don’t think its a short circuit. Headphone jacks tend to incorporate a switch inside to know whether to output to the jack or built in speakers. He is just filling it to make the audio output to the jack not the internal speakers.

    I have done this on a TV before which had surround sound speakers plugged into it because if the TV was switched off next time it came on it reset the internal speaker volume and outputted to it.

  23. pff says:

    dont understand hype about labelling wires.
    if you have a small number of cables, especially network, buy different colored cables.
    if you have a large number of network cables, and you dont have a patch bay with labels on the front then i feel really sorry for you lol.

    open source server farm … wat? in what way is this “open source”? just pictures of servers and components. cad drawings? yeh i can build a server farm from cad drawings…

    midi power tools … wait why?

    audio, nice ribbon – best project here

    ipad case … lolololol no case will hide it enough that people will stop laughing at your ipad

  24. MrX says:

    “Labeling cables” I’ve been doing it for years on power cords..

    “Manual mute ‘key’ for your netbook”
    Jeezz the guy must be running windows!

  25. awesome guy says:

    i’ve been using a similar thing to the mute key for years, but it gets annoying after a while

  26. saimhe says:

    Re: that hardware mute solution,

    last time I browsed through those “laptop schematics” (sometimes they can be found free of charge), the switch in the headphone jack doesn’t route the audio signal as it does in a cheap boom box. It is instead a simple digital input that turns the speaker amplifier on/off. I think this is more reliable: 1) one contact pair instead of two (for stereo), 2) contacts are low-current.

    Was a surprise for me when I discovered it for the first time.

  27. steve_m says:

    Regarding facebook’s OPEN Compute Project: http://laforge.gnumonks.org/weblog/2011/04/09/#20110409-facebook_opencompute_hot_air

    I totally agree to this opinion.

  28. James says:

    Mute key? How pointless. Why can’t you just disable the start up sound or turn down the volume?
    What a waste of effort.

  29. wardy says:

    I would never have thought of using labels to label stuff. Incredible.

  30. Aaron says:

    How come all you fucking holier-than-thou hipsters are still crapping up this place, anyway? Surely there’s some really awesome and obscure hacking blog that nobody’s heard of yet.

  31. Fozzy Vis says:

    For anyone digging the midi home appliance/power tool dance party, you should check out the short movie “Music for one apartment and six drummers” (link above). It’s like the movie, but on steroids.

    After the short movie, the same people also made an even better feature film with the same intentions: “Sound of Noise”. More than worth the watch!

  32. Jess says:

    I like the mute key. If you didn’t mute your computer before you shut it down, you can’t turn off the volume before it boots up, and this is a good way to avoid that sound.

    Personally, I’ve had experience with this, too. The port replicator for my laptop will often say it’s muted, but if I didn’t actually bring the volume control down to 0%, it will still make the sound. My solution is to either leave headphones plugged into my port replicator at all times, or I’ve been using a right-angle headphone adapter:
    ersonally, I’ve had experience with this, too.

    Good work!

  33. Fozzy Vis says:

    Seems I missed the link location, the link is by clicking on the commenter’s name (so below…)

  34. Joshua Behrens says:

    I made myself some of those mute-keys before ;) for my netbook for the same reason as shown here.
    I connected one of mine with the security-lock from the netbook. It’s wokring :D

  35. Jason says:

    For the cable labels, I find that if I don’t have a Brady label maker handy to make the self-laminating labels, I print out the labels on normal paper, wrap it around the cable and then use a piece of clear packing tape to laminate it to the cable. Works well and you don’t have those ugly flag labels all over the place.

  36. anybody'sguess says:

    Plastic bread bag ties, especially the long ones work great for labeling cables.
    They look like this. Kind of
    ____
    | |
    | |
    || ||
    -( )-

  37. anybody'sguess says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! it screwed up my pic when i posted it!!!!!!!!!!

  38. jwstolk says:

    I used a similar manual mute for a Sony PictureBook, form the days when the word NetBook didn’t exist yet. On boot-up, there was a ~1:10 chance of the sound-card driver going ballistic, and sending about 200 Hz square-wave at max Vpp to the internal speakers. When Linux (RedHat 6?) had finally booted, the volume could not be lowered, since the driver didn’t work. Only a full power-down would stop the roar, which was quite annoying in public spaces, and even dangerous when wearing headphones during boot-up.

  39. K!P says:

    i like the mute key, BUT you could just disable the startup sounds in windows, so you dont need to mute…

  40. Jorge says:

    I wonder if the mute would work for my laptop… Sometimes when music is played with the headphones on, it plays a second of audio through the speakers and then redirects it to the headphones… it only happens on Windows, though… Linux works fine, which is good, since it is my main OS.

    BTW, first time on hackaday, and I’m liking it a lot :)

  41. Whatnot says:

    Ha jwstolk, I had a TV card that did that under linux, max the sound and not accessible to turn it off, I think people that were within 200 yards might still remember even though it was a few years ago.

    Addendum: quick vote of support for aaron’s feelings about those people he mentions.

    and @anybody’sguess: You should have used the HTML ‘code’ tag maybe.

  42. Brennan says:

    Wow, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that mute key idea. Perfect for college students that have a laptop/netbook in class. I was too lazy to actually make a hack out of it so I just plugged in my headphones whenever I was booting and unsure if I left it on mute. It worked because I always had headphones with me but this mute plug is even better.

  43. NoBody says:

    no problem w/ linux…

    via startup-script (e.g.):
    amixer sset Master off -q
    amixer sset Master 0 -q

  44. walt says:

    “ensure he wouldn’t have startup sounds played in class”

    truth translation:
    ensure his roommates wouldn’t know when we was watching his adult videos.

  45. Gera says:

    Oh, dear god. I do the EXACT same thing Randi does.
    Also you can plug it in the mic socket when you aren’t using it :P (I have it there right now).

    @NoBody: Yes, yes problem. I DO want my laptop to play sounds on startup when I’m not in class.

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