Chumby transplant and hardware upgrade used with DSLR and WFT

The Chumby One comes in a nice little case and features an ARM powered board with a touchscreen interface. [Bobby] thought is was a good starting point, but wanted a more portable version to use as a wireless file transfer device for photography. WFT is a connectivity enhancement for digital cameras that allows pictures to be pushed to other devices over a wireless network.

In order to improve the portability of the hardware [Bobby] ditched the power-hungry WiFi adapter that comes with the device. The newer and more efficient USB dongle that he’s using as a replacement makes switching to a rechargeable camera battery a viable option. With the battery and dongle soldered to the board he ditched the rest of the hardware (save the touchscreen) and began work on his own enclosure. You can see the version above is just a little rough around the edges, he cut it by hand from the Google Sketchup design. But since he plans to make a few more copies of this hardware for friends he will probably use a service to laser cut those cases for him.

The new hardware needs drivers, and [Bobby] has lots of instructions on how to compile your own. This includes setting up the toolchain, compiling the kernel, as well as building the drivers themselves.

 

More POV fan message hacking

[Zach's] company is all about the safety and to reinforce those ideals they handed out POV display fans to each employee. “Being Safe is Cool”, get it? Gimmicky… yes, but now [Zach's] got a tiny little POV fan to hack. Although he may not have known it, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this hardware. These fans were handed out as a promotion at Black Hat a couple of years ago and prompted some reverse engineering action. The message is stored on an EEPROM and there’s even a female programming header that makes it easy to write reflash it with your own messages if you know how to craft the data.

This is where the two products diverge. The older project uses a serial connection and PonyProg to dump and data. [Zach] first tried using his Bus Pirate to dump the data but after having no success he grabbed his Arduino and managed to get the job done. Once the message encoding protocol was worked out, he wrote a sketch to flash the EEPROM. So if you can get your hands on one of these the work has already been done. See [Zach's] custom messages in the video after the break.

But we’d like to see this taken to the next level. How about a wall-mounted device that waits for something, like an incoming email or tweet, then spins up the fan to display it?

[Read more...]

Converting a lame Tron toy into a cool Halloween costume prop

sweet_souped_up_tron_identity_disc

Instructable user [cubeberg’s] daughter saw Tron:Legacy earlier this year and decided right then and there that she wanted to dress up as Quorra for Halloween. Being the awesome dad he is, he decided to make her costume himself, and hit the stores in search of an Identity Disc to complete the look.

The toy was pretty underwhelming, and lacked the lighting that a proper Tron prop should have. He figured he had the skills to make it a bit better, so he gathered some tools, a bunch of LEDs, and set off for his workshop. He gutted the disc, cutting out any extraneous bits of plastic he could find. He wired up 64 LEDs between the disc’s inner and outer ring, which he controls using an ATmega 328 paired with a Max7221 display driver.

He doesn’t show any pictures of what the toy looked like beforehand, but the final product looks great. We bet that his daughter is pretty pumped for Halloween to roll around – we know we would be.

Continue reading to see a quick video demo of his souped up Identity Disc in action.

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Vowel recognition using an ATmega644

[Youchun Zhang] and [Annie (Wei) Dai] found a way to differentiate vowel sounds using an ATmega644 as their final project for a microcontroller design class. Voice recognition is not out of the ordinary, but most of the time it uses a computer, smart phone, or specially designed hardware. This implementation uses an ATmega644, a microphone connected via an op-amp, and a few buttons. In the demonstration after the break you’ll see that they’re outputting status data to Putty via an RS232 connection, but that’s just so you can see what’s going on inside the chip. It’s what’s doing all of the hard work.

In order to tell the difference between vowels, the waveforms of each sound were analyzed using MATLAB during the research phase. That analysis allowed the team to assemble data for each sound that contained the peaks least often found in the other sounds. Now the microcontroller analyzes incoming sound, comparing it to that data set. The analysis is snappy, happening in real-time thanks to the team’s use of the Fast Walsh Transform. It turns the sound into a set of square waves and presents them as a 64 bit sample. The result can be used as a password protection scheme, but as far as we can tell this doesn’t key to just one person, anyone who knows the vowels of the password can use it.

[Read more...]

Weekly Roundup 8/27/2011


In case you missed them, here are our biggest posts from the past week.

For the weapons enthusiasts in our audience, make sure to check out our most popular post this week where [Liquider] shows a project in which an airsoft pistol was converted into a coil gun.

Our next most popular post was based around an xkcd comic where the concept of viewing clouds in 3D is explored using a pair of webcams. This post had lots of comments and also spawned a forum topic.

Next up is a post about a reward that has been place on the head of porting Android to run on a HP Touchpad. The bounty for all of the various challenges was originally $1500 but now sits at $2275!

This isn’t our normal fare since we usually don’t cover hacking that could be malicious. This post describes some of the exploits covered recently at Black Hat and Defcon.

Finishing up the pack is our own video where [Jack] shows how to build a stun glove and proves that it works by taking a jolt from it himself.

High Voltage Hacks: Transmute the elements in your garage

The magnum opus of alchemy was the Philosopher’s stone, a substance that was able to turn common metals into gold. Unlike alchemists, [Carl Willis] might not be poisoning himself in a multitude of ways, but he did build a Farnsworth fusor that’s capable of turning Hydrogen into Helium.

To fuse Hydrogen in his device, [Carl] first evacuates a vacuum chamber. Deuterium (Hydrogen with an added neutron) is injected into the chamber, and a spherical cathode made of Tungsten is charged to 75 kV. The deuterium gas is heated and confined by the cathode and fuses into Helum. The electrostatic confinement of the plasma isn’t very much different from some old CRT tubes. This isn’t a coincidence – both the fusor and CRTs were invented by the same man.

While no fusion experiments – including some billion dollar experiments – have ever produced a net energy gain, this doesn’t mean it’s not an impressive engineering feat. If you’d like to try your hand at building your own fusor, drop by the surprisingly active research forum. There’s a lot of really good projects to look through over there.

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