Want to play Pong on your Oscilloscope?


I always have! I don’t know why, but I like the idea of using an oscilloscope screen as a general use video display. Why not? In my case it sits on my desk full time, has a large screen area, can do multiple modes of display, and is very easy control.
Making an oscilloscope screen do your bidding is an old trick. There are numerous examples out there. Its not a finished project yet, so be nice. It is actually rather crude, using a couple parts I had on hand just on a whim. The code is a nice mixture of ArduincoreGCCish (I am sorry, still learning), and includes the following demos:

  1. Simple low resolution dot drawing
  2. A font example
  3. A very quickly and badly written demo of pong

The software runs on an Attiny84 micro controller clocked at 16Mhz, paired up with a Microchip MCP42100 dual 100k 8 bit digital potentiometer though the Attiny’s USI (Universal Serial Interface) pins. This is a fast, stable and accurate arrangement, but it requires sending 16 bits every time you want to change the value of one of the potentiometers so its also very piggy. I was just out to have some fun and did not have a proper 8 bit DAC. This was the closest thing outside of building one.
Join us after the break for pictures a (very) brief video and more.

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Who knew Thinkpad batteries require a jump start?

Lithium battery packs reaching the end of their life usually have a lot of kick left in them. That’s because they’re made up of multiple cells and it only takes the failure of one to bork the entire battery. One of the most interesting examples we’ve heard of this is in the Toyota Prius, but that’s a story for another time. In this case, [Mika] wanted to resurrect the battery from his IBM Thinkpad T40. He identified the offending cell and replaced it, but couldn’t get any juice out of the battery after the repair.

He was measuring 0V on the output, but could measure the cells instead of the control circuitry and was getting over 11V. Clearly, the control circuit wasn’t allowing an output. We completely understand the concept here (think about that really bad press about exploding laptop batteries). It seems there’s a lockout mechanism when the control circuit loses power. [Mika] managed to get past this by shorting voltage into the control circuit, a method he likes in the video after the break to jump starting a car.

We’ve seen similar cell replacement for power tools, like a Dremel or a Makita drill.

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Adding Ambilight clone system to your home theater just got a big price cut

Whenever we get a tip claiming a project is cheap and easy we raise a cynical eyebrow. But [Yonsje] isn’t telling us a story, his Amiblight clone really does boil down the complexity and slash the price.

For the uninitiated, this is a clone of the Philips Amilight system that has been an option with some of their TVs over the years. It puts RGB LEDs on the back of the frame, pointed at the wall. They are tuned to the edge colors of the display, linking the color of the ambient light in the room to the colors on the screen. We’ve seen a ton of clones over the years, just search our blog for “Ambilight”.

Like the others, this iteration depends on you playing back video from a computer. [Yonsje] is using an Arduino with his own shield to connect to the HTPC. NPN transistors in the shield drive the RGB LEDs. The real cost savings is in his lighting source. A Deal Extreme RGB LED bar costs just $11.30 including shipping, and can be cut into six different segments for even spacing around your television. Check it out in the clip after the break.

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Google ADK clones pack a few extra features, hopefully far cheaper than the original

adk_board_clone

[charliex] from Null Space Labs wrote in to share a project that he and the rest of the gang have been working on over the last few weeks. The team has been remixing and building clones of the Google ADK demo board we saw earlier this year, in hopes of getting a huge batch prepped before Defcon 19.

Their version makes subtle changes to the original, such as extra header rows for Mega AVRs, higher quality RGB LEDs, and a nifty pirate-Android logo. They also added the ability for the board to send and receive IR signals allowing it to be used as a TV-B-Gone, as well as in more fruitful pursuits. The Arduino board used with the ADK has only undergone minor revisions, most of which were layout related.

[charliex] hasn’t mentioned a price for their improved ADK boards, but we’re guessing they will be substantially cheaper than the official Google version. In the meantime, check out their site for a boatload of pictures and videos of these boards undergoing various stages of construction.

Light LED’s with FIRE!

Reader [Andre] sent in a link which tells us all about this “cool” Copper Oxide Thermoelectric Generator. All you need is a bit of solid copper wire and a gas torch. Burn the wire so it gets a nice coating of oxide. From there, it is a matter of making the 2 sections of burned wire cross at a point and heat up only one of the wires. Whichever is hotter forms a cathode and whichever one is cooler is the anode.

Just one of these junctions is enough to produce a few hundred millivolts, but the author takes it a step further, well 16 steps further. He made a ring of these junctions in series, which is enough to light a bright blue LED. While the author notes that this thing is producing a considerable amount of voltage, its not producing much amperage. This could come in very handy in the future, like if you need some additional LED lighting for your camp stove.

WASP UAV gets some new toys, now intercepts your phone calls too

wasp_drone

If you had the pleasure of attending last year’s DEFCON conference, you are no doubt familiar with [Mike Tassey] and [Richard Perkins]. There, the pair showed off a work in progress DIY aerial drone named WASP. Short for Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform, WASP was impressive when we brought it to your attention last year, but the duo has spent some time completing their project, adding a few extra features in the process.

The drone still packs the same pico-ITX computer which now runs Backtrack5, and utilizes a 340 million word dictionary for cracking WiFi networks (pardon the pun) on the fly. While updated pen testing tools are well and good, the most impressive update is that the drone can now act as a standalone GSM tower. This allows the pair to trick nearby phones into routing calls through WASP before being relayed to their carrier’s network.

Once WASP is launched, the plane flies autonomously along a preset route, sniffing, hacking, cracking and gathering data until [Tassey and Perkins] summon it back to Earth. The drone is as impressive as it is scary, and we can’t wait to hear what the pair has to say about it this time around.

Continue reading to watch a video demo of WASP taking to the skies and doing its thing.

[via PopSci]

[Thanks, DainBramage1991]

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Robotic gardener takes its cue from bomb disposal bots

[Dave] posted some pictures and videos of his ‘Nuntius’ robot on the Propeller forums. From the pictures it’s an impressive build, but to really appreciate [Dave]‘s skill, check out the Youtube demo.

The controller is a Propeller protoboard with bits of angle aluminum fastened together. Pots are positioned at the joints of the remote’s arm so the robot’s arm can mirror the shape of the remote. We usually see Armatron bots controlled via computer, or in the rare case of human control, a mouse. [Dave]‘s build just might be one of the first remote manipulator builds we’ve seen on Hack A Day.

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