Classic game cabinet becomes a drivable car

[Garnet Hertz], a professor and “artist in residence” at UC Irvine, built a drivable Outrun arcade cabinet for an experiment in augmented reality.

The old fiberglass and wood cabinet was hacked up and the motors, wheels, and drive train from an electric golf cart were stuffed inside. The original steering wheel and pedals were used for the controls. Although the top speed of the in-game car is about 180 mph, that was brought down to a reasonable 13 miles per hour.

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Visualizing PCB revisions using a Gerber viewer


We all know that Eagle has its share of shortcomings. Instructables user [westfw] was particularly annoyed by the fact that while Eagle keeps copies of up to 10 revisions of your board, it cannot open those files without resorting to manually renaming each one. Even more frustrating to him is the fact that you can’t use Eagle to view two files simultaneously in order to compare layouts. This made hunting down changes quite tedious, so he started looking for a better way to do things.

While using his favorite open-source gerber viewer gerbv, he noticed that the application let him load multiple copies of the same layer, XORing the PCBs’ colors together. Realizing that with some clever color selection, he could use gerbv to automatically highlight layout differences, he set off to automate the process.

The resulting script works on any flavor of *nix, and should play nice in Windows under cygwin as well. The script reads through Eagle backup files, renaming them and tweaking the colors so that when XORed, they show up as bright red areas in gerbv. It’s a simple yet handy tool to have on hand if you happen to do a lot of PCB design.

Only losers text message on cellphones – this guy carries his own teletype for that

Yes, that’s an SMS text messaging device. [Mdziewie] decided that texting on a regular cellphone was too boring and decided to build himself an old-school SMS gateway. Here’s a translated link but the formatting of the forum post gets screwed up with the machine translation.

The device he’s using is an ASR-33 Teletype machine, which was introduced to the market in 1963. It is connected to a GSM modem via an ARM microcontroller, the STM32F103. This chip, along with a few electronic components, let [Mdziewie] design an interface that doesn’t require alteration to the ancient hardware. The forum post linked above includes video of this sending and receiving texts. It’s awesomely loud as it hammers away at the paper, and seems to work as expected.

If you hunger for one of your own but don’t have half-century old equipment there’s still hope. Find yourself a typewriter and turn it into a teletype machine.

Chainless bicycle will turn a few heads

Someone let [Tane] play around with welding equipment and bicycle parts and look what happened! He built a diminutive velocipede. Now that’s just a term for a human-powered land vehicle, but the term fits a bit better as this is missing most of the stuff you’d expect to see on a bicycle.

He started with a mountain bike and a kick scooter, then went to work on both with a hack saw. A bit of welding and angle grinding left him with what you see above. It’s still steerable, but missing are the cranks, chain, and brakes. That’s okay though, the bike is low enough for your legs to reach the ground – you start it up and come to a stop Fred-Flintstone-Style.

[Tane] originally meant to add electric propulsion but didn’t quite get around to it. There’s always the option to add a hub motor to the rear wheel if he has the time and motivation.

Incredibly fast 3D printing with the Ultimaker


There’s a new 3d printer on the block, and hot damn is it fast!

Hailing from the Netherlands, the Ultimaker 3D Printer has finally hit US shores, and aims to give the MakerBot a run for its money. The Ultimaker was designed by Utrecht Fab Lab manager [Siert Wijnia] along with two frequent lab patrons, [Erik DeBruijn and Martijn Elserman]. The trio were big fans of the MakerBot, but they wanted to make a better 3D printer.

And make a better printer, they did.

The Ultimaker can print using Either ABS or PLA plastic just like the MakerBot, but it is several magnitudes faster than its predecessor. While the MakerBot utilizes a moving build platform, the Ultimaker has a print head that can move along three axes. The moving print head, along with offset motors which are mounted on the printer’s frame allow the Ultimaker to build taller object than the MakerBot, at higher speeds.

That’s not to say that the MakerBot is bad in any way – rather, the presence of a new kid on the block shows how the evolution and progression of open source design benefits us all.

Keep reading to see a video of the Ultimaker in action, you won’t regret it!

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Virtual Segway tours using the Wii Balance Board

Take a tour of anywhere on earth without leaving your home. This virtual Segway tour uses the Wii Fit Balance Board and Google Earth to let the rider control a virtual tour by leaning in the direction they want to travel. It’s the product of a hackathon at SVI Hackspace, a new hackerspace in Stanford’s Huang Engineering Center.

The project was undertaken by four people who had just met for the first time that night. Seven hours later, they had a working system that combines a huge number of software packages; OS X, Osculator, Node.js,, the Google Earth API, Monster Milk Truck, and Google 3D Warehouse. Most of those packages are used to get the board talking to the computer and then interpreting the data. Monster Milk Truck – which we had never heard of – is a plugin that lets you drive through Google Earth environments using button presses and arrows (which are simulated by the balance board data translations).

This is a nice complement to some of the other balance board hacks we’ve seen, like the one used to control World of Warcraft. Don’t forget to peek at the video after the break.

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Tiny external system monitor makes it easy to keep tabs on your PC


Instructables user [Jan] likes to keep close tabs on his computer’s memory usage, but wanted something more interesting to look at than the standard resource manager. He preferred to have an external display available that would show his computer’s status with a quick glance, and thus this system monitor was born.

His status panel contains a trio of constantly updated LED bars that show his computer’s CPU usage, available physical memory, and virtual memory consumption. With a small footprint being a priority, [Jan] kept the indicator’s size down by using SMD components and by including an on-board UART to USB converter to go along with his ATTiny microcontroller.

He uses a Python script to gather usage information from his computer, feeding it to his display over USB. The system works pretty well as you can see in the video below, though the virtual memory indicator doesn’t seem to get a ton of action – perhaps it could be used to indicate hard drive activity instead.

If you are looking to build something similar, [Jan] has made all of his code and schematics available for anyone’s use.

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