Building an up-to-date MSPGCC toolchain

[Sergio Campamá] wrote in to tell us he’s assembled a guide for compiling the latest release of MSPGCC. This is a cross-compiling tool chain for the popular MSP430 line of microncontrollers. We used a version available from the Ubuntu repositories when developing with the TI Launchpad and the eZ430-F2013.

Installing from repositories is easy, but you don’t get the newest features and often newer hardware isn’t supported. [Sergio] reports that the newest version, called Uniarch, pulls source code and header files from the middle of this month and supports over 300 devices. In fact, it specifically outlines the goal of making new hardware easier to incorporate than with previous versions. He’s tailored this guide specifically for Ubuntu but while we were wading through a Google search we also found a page that outlines compilation for OSX.

We didn’t really notice before, but GitHub sure does make those README.md files look nice when viewed on the web, doesn’t it?

2005 Subaru aux-in hacking

2005_subaru_outback_aux_in

The CD player in [mukmuk’s] 2005 Subaru Outback gave up the ghost, and faced with a long road trip ahead of him, he was desperate to find a way to listen to something other than static-filled radio. He considered a 3rd party auxiliary input solution, but after seeing a similar aux-in hack here, he figured he could give it a go himself.

The stereo head unit design was changed between the 2004 and 2005 model years, so while he had a good idea of what to look for, he had to find the proper components on his own. Once he identified the radio module, he was able to locate the left an right input pins through trial and error. He carefully soldered a 3.5” audio jack to the head unit’s input lines, wiring it to cut off the audio signal from the radio whenever his Zune was plugged in.

Everything was reassembled, and the input jack was inconspicuously mounted in a cubby hole just above the stereo. [mukmuk] is quite happy with his modification, and we’re guessing his road trip was far more pleasurable as a result of his work.

XBMC controller is an all-in-one usb solution for HTPCs

On the original Xbox, XBMC was a software-only solution (assuming you had a chipped or soft-modded console). That’s because the Xbox was already meant to connect to a television and work with an IR remote control. Now that the XBMC software has transitioned to focus on a wider range of hardware, it may be more complicated to get the same functionality on an HTPC. Realizing this, [Dilshan] developed a USB connected XBMC controller that features an IR receiver, character LCD, and a rotary encoder with two buttons.

As long as your HTPC has a way to connect to the audio and video inputs on your TV, this should take care of the rest of the presentation. LCD screens were popular with XBMC from very early on because modchips included an interface. Because of this, XBMC is already setup to provide navigation and media information this way. So you can use XBMC for audio playback without needed to have your TV turned on. Add to that the ability to control your box with either  a remote control or the navigation tools on the front bezel and you’ve got a winning solution.

You can download an archive that includes all the info about this device over at the project repository. For your convenience we’ve embedded the schematic and PDF description of the project, which we found in that package, after the break.

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Behold, the Oomphalapompatronium!

Oomphalapompatronium

For over 25 years, [Len Solomon] has been performing a one-man variety show that features crazy-looking, hand-made musical instruments that operate on air. Some of his more famous instruments include a callioforte he constructed, as well as his Majestic Bellowphone, both powered by some form of bellows, of course.

His most recent musical creation is something [Len] likes to call the “Oomphalopompatronium” (try saying that five times fast). The bellows-driven Willy Wonka-esque organ looks to be built from just about anything and everything he could get his hands on. We spied a few plastic and glass bottles, plenty of PVC pipe, and a few tin cans before we stopped looking and just listened.

At first glance you might think that the Oomphalopompatronium will produce some cacophonous excuse for music, but once [Len] stepped up to the keyboard we were pleasantly surprised. The sound is that of a small scale Oompah band, much like the name implies.

We think it’s a fantastic creation – we’re just bummed that it we can’t check it out in person.

Stick around to see a video of the Oomphalopompatronium in action.

[Thanks, BoKu]

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Lose the beer belly by brewing beer

If you’re milling your own grains for that next batch of beer you might be able to melt all of those extra calories away while you’re at it. [Eucherboy1] repurposed an unused exercise bike to power his grain mill. The propane tank is serving as a weight to hold the base of the mill in place; it’ll be used later when boiling the wort. A belt transfers power from the bike to a wheel replacing the hand crank on the mill. Check out the video after the break to see [Euchreboy1] working up a sweat. We think there’s much room for improving the gear ratio of the setup. Or he can just man up and push through the pain.

We’ve gotten used to seeing ways to power a bicycle, like using wood-fired steam, or even by incorporating a chainsaw. But the hacks that use a bike as a power source are a bit less common. Our local hackerspace made a bicycle blender a while back. Got any projects of your own that are bike powered? Send them our way!

[Read more...]

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