Live NBA scoreboard with huge 7-segment displays

[Kianoosh] was in Las Vegas over spring break and was fascinated by the real-time sports scores displayed at the casinos. He figured that this would be an easy enough project to duplicate, so he built a gigantic NBA scoreboard that updates live from the NBA website.

The build uses the OS X Automator to pull scores down from the NBA’s mobile site. Sending this through a parser written in Java, the scores are then sent to an ATMega32 over an XBee. [Kianoosh] posted all the code and schematics, as well as a PDF writeup. Because the scoreboard is sport-agnostic, [Kianoosh] plans on writing new code for the NFL, MLB, and NHL. We’re really impressed with this build, and with the giant 7-segment LEDs, this would be a great addition to a sports bar (or really any bar).

[Read more...]

Creating halftone pictures with a CNC machine

cnc_halftone_images

[Metalfusion], built himself a nice looking CNC machine and has been experimenting with some out of the box uses for his new tool. One novel use he is particularly fond of is creating pictures with his machine (Google Translation). While you might imagine that he is simply using the CNC as an engraver, literally drawing images on the surface of his workpiece, what he is doing is far more interesting.

He developed a small application that takes an image (jpeg, gif, or png) and converts it to a set of pixels, which can then be tweaked and skewed to his liking. The application exports the halftone image to a DXF file which can be fed into the CAD application that he uses to control his CNC machine. The CNC does the rest, using a v-shaped router bit to cut holes into his workpiece, generating a physical halftone picture from his digital image.

Thought the process does take some time to complete, the resulting images are well worth it. If you are interested in trying this at home using your own CNC machine, the DXF Halftone application is available on his site for free.

Continue reading to see his halftone generating CNC in action.

[via HackedGadgets]

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Wooden machine belongs in Willy Wonka’s factory

Behold the wooden machine (translated) that is used for… well it does… it was built because… Okay, this is a case where asking what it does or why it was built is the wrong question. [Erich Schatt] began building the piece that he calls “Wheels” back in 1995. It took just seven years to complete, and is made entirely of wood. The video after the break shows a multitude of moving parts.

The chains were modeled after bicycle chains, which are used to transfer motion from the “rider” throughout the machine. The gearing for each segment was meticulously calculated, then perfected through trial and error. The complexity even calls for a differential and universal joints. It’s mesmerizing to watch and for that reason it’s made appearances at conventions and been featured in art exhibitions.

It’s also worth mentioning that this comes from a very humble-looking shop. [Erich] posted some pictures of his studio and aside from the abundance of bar clamps, it’s just your average garage or basement setup.

[Read more...]

FrankenKindle: building an alternate Kindle keyboard

If you’ve ever thought the Kindle keyboard was a bit cramped you’re not alone. [Glenn's] been working on developing an external keyboard for the Kindle for quite some time. It may not make easier for everyone to use, but he’s motivated to improve usability for his sister who has Cerebral Palsy.

We see a lot of keyboard hacks that solder straight to the pads under the buttons, but for a compact device like the Kindle this would really mess things up. Instead of going that route, [Glenn] sourced a 20-pin Flexible Flat Cable and breakout board that match the internal Kindle connector. The prototype seen above uses a TS3A5017 serial multiplexer chip to simulate the keyboard button presses. That multiplexer is driven by a Teensy++ microcontroller board which is monitoring a larger set of buttons on the V.Reader seen above. Check out the video after the break for a brief demonstration, then look around at the rest of [Glenn's] blog posts to view different steps of the development cycle.

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RC car and Beagle Board mate for a versatile robot build

Here’s a rover project that has plenty of power (translated) to go places. This is true not only of its locomotive capability, but processing power as well.

The RC car used here (translated) is not overly expensive, but offers a lot of versatility. It’s got front and rear steering via two servo motors, as well as independent drive motors for each end. The frame also offers an advanced suspension system that lets the vehicle flex to keep as many wheels on the ground as possible. It’s a great find if you don’t want to start off your project bogged down in the hardware design.

On the control side of things a Beagle Board has been choosen. The demo after the break shows it controlling an added turret servo, as well as the drive mechanism controlled via a keyboard. These are driven through the embedded Ubuntu image running on the board. This should provide plenty of processing power to add obstacle avoidance and autonomy routines in future versions.

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A Professional Looking N64 Portable Build

Although Hack A Day is no stranger to console conversions, this portable N64 build is worthy of note. The article itself is in Spanish, but for those that don’t speak the language, the steps and components necessary are well documented in pictures. There’s even a video of the finished product after the break.

What is especially interesting about this project is the professional looking build quality of the finished product. One might think it’s a custom injection molding job or possibly 3D printed, but everything is done with only glue, filler, and paint. A controller and console is hacked up to provide the raw materials for this build. An expansion pack is even attached to this console for good measure.

Power is provided by a 6800mA battery, and the console features a generous 7 inch display. A good wiring schematic is also provided in this article, so maybe it will inspire other quality console hacking in the future. [Read more...]

Microcontroller communications using flashing lights

phototransistor_pc_microcontroller_communications

[Scott] was driving in the pouring rain behind a car with its blinkers on when inspiration struck. He had previously created a simple communications system using his sound card that allowed him to send data to a microcontroller from his PC, but he thought that doing the same thing with light would be an interesting exercise.

He decided that the best way to go about building such a system would be to use a phototransistor along with his computer monitor to send data to his microcontroller. While he couldn’t really think of any practical application for the project, that didn’t stop him from putting it together just for grins.

[Scott] says the circuit is dead-simple, and includes a pair of phototransistors along with their required resistors. The receiver was tied into the ADC of his microcontroller, where he was easily able to pick up some simple light patterns. His ultimate goal is to put together a javascript application that sends data to his microcontroller, though he’s looking for a bit of assistance on the programming side of things – any takers?

While [Scott] couldn’t come up with any applications off the top of his head, we know of at least one. Anyone familiar with the Bloomberg financial application will likely have come across their “B-Unit”. This piece of hardware is about the size of a credit card, but thicker. Armed with a fingerprint scanner and a photodiode, it reads a series of flashing lights from your computer screen in order to ‘synchronize’ the unit for each login session that is not initiated with an official Bloomberg keyboard. So there’s one for you!

Continue reading to see a video of the system in action.

[Read more...]

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