Bejeweled Blitz bot makes your high score look just sad

Programmers don’t need to get good at a game to achieve a high score, they code a bot for that instead. Take [hypnotizd] for instance. He was learning to write in the C# language and decided to make a bot that plays Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. He figures he took between 48 and 72 hours of coding over a couple of weeks, but remember, he was learning the language at the same time. We think you’d be hard pressed to achieve a 1.5 million range score by yourself, even with that amount of practice time.

We spoke with [hypnotizd] yesterday afternoon to get a bit of background on how he made this happen. His code (he’s not releasing it so you’ll have to write your own) scrapes the screen image as input. You can see at the beginning of the video after the break that he sizes his app to properly align each jewel in its grid. The program then identifies each game piece by finding the center of the cell and taking a 25 square-pixel average color. Many of the jewels are easily recognized in this first pass, but some are harder and require several different tests to identify. That’s the difficult part, choosing the best move is just a matter of coming up with your own rules on how the bot should play the game.

[Read more...]

USB Reddit Upvote/Downvote button

reddit_upvote_downvote_button

[Chris] has recently become a self-declared Reddit addict and wanted to build something that would streamline the process of voting on posts. Inspired by the Awesome Button hack featured on Make a little while back, he thought that a physical upvote/downvote button would be the ideal peripheral for all of his Reddit needs.

He was a big fan of using the Reddit Enhancement Suite, which allows you to submit votes with a single keystroke. He combined this browser extension with a Teensy development board, and had his voting button prototyped in no time. Once he fine-tuned the Arduino sketch that he used to emulate the required keypresses, he got busy building a case for his creation.

He busted out his 3D printer and had a custom working project box in about 30 minutes. He printed arrows for the upvote and downvote buttons, snapped everything together, and then gave his quick vote box a spin. Everything worked perfectly, and he’s quite happy with his creation.

We imagine that our resident Reddit addict in chief is pretty jealous right about now…

Stick around if you’d like to see a time lapse video of the button’s creation.

[Read more...]

AM Singer: a tiny AM transmitter


[Simon Orr] wrote in to tell us about his AM transmitter prototype that he plans to put into production in a few months. The build is based on an “Easy AM Transmitter” featured in this Instructables article.

Interestingly enough, this device is capable of transmitting in the 100KHz to 480KHz frequencies. The AM band goes from 520 KHz to 1610KHz, so in order to hear this signal, one must actually tune the radio to twice the emitted frequency. This allows one to tune into the harmonic frequency and receive a signal in this range.

Using the harmonic frequency to transmit is an interesting concept by itself. Additionally, the idea that one could build this device with or without the kit in the future should appeal to experienced hackers and those just starting out alike. Check out the “AM Singer” prototype video after the break. [Read more...]

Making structured wiring do your bidding

So you’ve just moved into a home that has cat5 running throughout. This is called structured wiring and is a great feature for a home. But what if the existing wiring doesn’t work the way you would prefer to setup your network? [Firestorm_v1] has a workaround that lets you reconfigure Ethernet without pulling new cables.

He’s making splitters out of patch cables. Often, Ethernet devices are not using all eight conductors in the cable. Unless you are using Gigabit Ethernet, or running Power over Ethernet, only four of the conductors in each run are being utilized. This means you can create twice as many connections without running new cable or using addition switches. Each splitter has three RJ-45 connectors on it. One of them hooks to the wired jack in the wall while the other two hook to two different devices. You’ll need a second splitter to use on the opposite end of the wall jack, usually this is where the router or switch is located, in order to separate the combined signals.

RGB LED spectrum analyzer coffee table

rgb_led_spectrum_analyzer_coffee_table

This year, students working for Texas Instruments as part of their Co-op program were challenged to construct a project around the company’s MSP430 microcontroller. A team of three students, [Max Thrun, Mark Labbato, Ian Cathey] decided to build something that would fit perfectly in any college student’s dorm room – an RGB LED coffee table.

We’ve covered RGB LED tables in the past, but as far as we can tell this is the first MSP430 based unit we’ve seen. Microcontroller aside, the table features a lot of items that are considered “standard equipment” when it comes to these sorts of living room LED installations. The trio installed 128 RGB LEDs into their table, isolating each one using a wooden grid, and used some frosted glass to diffuse the display a bit.

What really makes this table stand out is the software. The team wrote an application that creates a Fast Fourier Transform of whatever music is being played, in order to find beats and generate real-time visualizations for their table. The result is a pleasing display that’s sure to be a hit at parties.

Check out the video below to see their creation in action.

[Read more...]

Improving audio output from an HD radio receiver

[Phil] picked up an HD radio receiver when Radio Shack was clearing them out at a 60% discount. But to his disappointment, when he hooked it up the sound left a lot to be desired with limited mid-range and flat bass. After some forum mining he discovered that the optical output didn’t have this problem, and came to the conclusion that the op-amp driving the analog audio-out jack needed some tweaking. He didn’t get his hands on a schematic for the board, but took the advice from some vintage equipment gurus and swapped the stock IC for a Burr-Brown OPA2604AP chip.

This fixed the problem without any other adjustments to the hardware. But while he was in there, he also secured the external antenna connector jack to the chassis for good measure.

If you’re wondering about the particulars of the equipment, [Phil] was hacking an Auvio HD Radio tuner. But he also mentions that Best Buy sells an Insignia NS-HDTUNE which may benefit from the same modification.

Comment system updates

We’ve been working hard on this one and finally made a tiny bit of progress.

You will find that comments are now nested.  We can see there are some slight visual issues, but we’re working on it. Please be patient with us.
Another edition you will find is the “report” button. If you find comments offensive, click that button to let us know.

Again, we’re still working through this and have a decent list of quirks that need worked out but it seems to be mostly functional.