Mini light table fits inside a briefcase

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Hackaday forum member [Mike] was looking for project ideas when his girlfriend, an art major, suggested that he build her a light table to help with her various assignments. Having seen a few of these projects pop up from time to time, he figured he was up to the task. He started hunting around at his local thrift stores and finally came across what he was looking for – a hard-sided Samsonite briefcase.

He ripped out the bottom lining of the briefcase and proceeded to paint the inside white in order to properly reflect the lighting he would be adding shortly. A pair of under-cabinet lights were installed, and wired to be easily toggled on the outside of the case. He located some white acrylic to serve as the top of the table, trimming it to fit snugly in the case without any need for fasteners.

His girlfriend loved the table, though we would be interested in seeing a more portable version – it is built into a briefcase after all. We would love to hear your suggestions on how he might make this more portable, so let us know in the comments.

Modular security system is portable too

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Hackaday reader [Oneironaut] wrote in to share a modular, portable security system he built for himself.

He likes visiting the Caribbean, but his favorite vacation spot is apparently rife with cat burglars. He enjoys sleeping with the windows open and wanted to find a way to scare off ne’er do wells. At home, there are a few different buildings on the property he owns, and he was looking to keep curious trespassers away.

The alarm system was built using a matrix keypad that interfaces with an ATMega88 micro controller. The micro controller handles all the logic for the system, triggering an attached “pocket alarm” when ever the sensor is tripped. Like most household alarms, it is armed and disarmed via the keypad, giving the user 60 seconds to enter the disarm code if the alarm has been mistakenly tripped. A wide array of trigger methods can be used, from mercury switches to motion detectors, since his alarm uses a simple plug interface that accepts any two-wire sensor.

Now, no one is claiming that this is high security by any means – the alarm addresses a couple of specific scenarios that apply to [Oneironaut], which may also be applicable to others out there. At the end of the day, the alarm is more meant to scare an intruder into fleeing than anything else, and in that respect, it works perfectly.

Continue reading to see a quick video demonstration of his alarm system in action.

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Tiny Atari 810 Disk Drive upgrade

Everything gets smaller as technology improves. [Rossum] reduced the space needed for an Atari 810 disk drive by building this tiny replacement. Of course it doesn’t use floppy disks, but takes a microSD card instead. And it doesn’t stand in the place of one floppy drive, but can emulate up to eight different drives. The best part is that [Rossum] went to the trouble of designing an enclosure and having it fabricated via 3D printing in order to look just like a doll house version of the original hardware. It uses an LPC1114 ARM Cortex-M0 microprocessor to translate data transmissions to and from the Atari hardware, storing it on the 8 GB card.

As usual, you’ll soon find the schematic, board artwork, and code up on his git repository soon.

Dabbling with CPLD generated VGA signals

It seems like all the cool kids are leaving the 8-bit hobby microcontrollers in the parts bin and playing with more advanced parts like Complex Programmable Logic Devices. [Chris] is no exception to the trend, and set out to generate his own VGA signal using one of the beefy semiconductors.

It seems that he’s using the acronyms CPDL and FPGA interchangeable in his post but according to the parts list this setup uses an Altera EPM7128SLC84-7N CPLD. In order to generate the VGA signal he needed a way to convert the digital signals from the chip into the analog values called for in the video standard. He chose to build a Digital Analog Converter for the RGB color values using a resistor network which he calculated using PSpice. The other piece in the puzzle is a 25.175 MHz oscillator to clock the CPLD. As you can see after the break, his wire-wrapped prototype works exactly as designed. The example code generates the rainbow bars seen above, or a bouncing box demo reminiscent of a DVD player screen saver.

Want to know more about programming CPLDs? We did a tutorial on the subject a while back.

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Light painting – still shots and animations

[Kim Pimmel's] been doing some really interesting light painting with an Arduino. In the past we’ve seen several light painting projects which use long exposures to capture moving LEDs, or moving LCD displays. But [Kim's] stepping it up a notch, using cold cathode flourescent lamps, electroluminescent (EL) wire, and lasers. The vibrant colors put out by these sources make for some great photos, but that’s not all she’s got up her sleeve. After accumulating a ton of still photographs from various shoots she decided to edit them together into stopped motion videos.

After the break you can see that one method she used to make these images was to spin the light sources on a standard audio turntable. An Arduino is controlled through processing via Bluetooth in order to move the stepper motor-mounted lights while the record player spins. Add some futuristic music thanks to Daft Punk (which is exactly what she did) and you’re in business.

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Gitbrew brings OtherOS back to the PS3

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Instead of simply watching the days pass by while the PSN network continues to be unavailable, why not do something useful with your PS3 console? [MS3FGX] wrote in to share some news regarding efforts to bring the OtherOS option back to the PS3.

The team at gitbrew.org have been diligently working to bring Linux back to the console for a little while now, and have released a dual-boot firmware they are calling OtherOS++. This firmware has two huge benefits over Sony’s original attempt at Linux support for the console. It can be run on the original “fat” PS3s as well as the newer “slim” models – something that was not possible until now. Additionally, it gives the Linux install full access to the PS3’s hardware rather than running the OS inside a virtual machine.

The project is relatively new, so the installation procedures and associated documentation are not suitable for the less experienced individuals out there, so consider yourself warned.

We love that there are people doing all they can to bring this awesome feature back to the PS3 – it’s a huge step in the right direction.

[Image via gitbrew]

Arduino Home Statistics

[Mike] is doing a little series that is about DIY smart homes. While these wont turn your house into a Hal 9000 (and hopefully wont try and kill you), they are fun and fairly easy to carry out. Parts 1 and 2 focus on the bathroom, part 3+ is in the works. Lets go ahead and look at what is done already.

DIY smart home part 1 covers the kings throne. Through the use of an Arduino, ultrasonic rangefinder, Ethernet shield, and twitter account, whenever the toilet is used a counter goes up. Calculate that against your gallons per flush and you now have reasonable water tracker.

Diy smart home part 2 hits the shower with much of the same hardware and goals. Adding on to the Arduino software there is now a PIR sensor and another twitter account. Basing knowledge from a Lady Ada tutorial on PIR sensors, the additional Arduino code slides into place and some loose ends from part one are cleaned up.

We cant wait to see what is in store for the future and wish [Mike] the best of luck.