GPS audio tour brought to you by surface speakers

The team at Eschelle Inconnue wanted to “trace a sound cartography of Islam” in Marseilles, France, so they came up with a clever little GPS walking tour powered by an Arduino, MP3 playback module, and a surface transducer speaker.

The team used a Processing app to define geographic areas where each MP3 file would play. An Arduino on the build queries a GPS module and selects the audio file from an MP3 playback module. This isn’t uncommon, and a lot of large outdoor museums (think battlefields) have similar setups.

Determining which audio to play at what location is fairly easy, but that’s not what makes this build special. Instead of simply hooking up a pair of headphones to the build, the team decided to use a surface speaker that turns just about any solid material into a speaker. From the writeup, this is supposed to, “diffuse sounds by giving the illusion to collect them, to listen to the words of the walls, the whisperings through the materials” but we think it’s just a great way to have several people listen to the same audio file at the same time.

Fallout brought to life with this working PIP-Boy 3000

working_pipboy_3000

[MyMagicPudding] wanted to try his hand at hobby electronics, so he decided to go all-in and build himself a PIP-Boy 3000. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the PIP-Boy 3000 is a wrist-mounted computer from the popular Fallout video game series.

The PIP-Boy is based around an HTC Desire HD mobile phone, which [MyMagicPudding] mounted inside case custom made for him by [Skruffy] from the Replica Prop Forum. He wanted to stay true to the game, so the wrist-mounted computer’s interface eschew’s the Desire’s touch screen and is instead controlled via a set of buttons and dials on its face. The external inputs all interface with the Desire via an Arduino Uno, which communicates with the phone using TCP over USB.

While he admits that his soldering skills are pretty dodgy, and that there’s no longer room behind the neat-looking facade to mount the PIP-Boy on his wrist, we think that it looks great. If this is an example of his first electronics project, we can’t wait to see what comes next.

Continue reading to see the PIP-Boy 3000 in action.

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TV retrofit… because flatscreens just don’t take up enough space

[Igor] helped his friend’s family out by retrofitting an old Philco television with a newer flat panel (translated). The original conked out over thirty years ago, but the look of it still held quite a bit of nostalgia for his girlfriend’s Grandmother. She showed it to him on a recent visit and asked if it could be restored. He told her that it would most likely never work again, but that he could use modern components to replace the screen, while preserving the case itself.

The best thing about old hardware like this is that you can actually get the case apart fairly easily. After removing the tube and electronics he traced a pattern of the opening that he could take along to the electronics store to find a TV which would fill the opening. With the new screen in hand he found that using the threaded holes intended for VESA mounting brackets made it simple to install in the old case. A steel bar bolts onto the plate which he cut and drilled to match the TV’s hole pattern. Now Grandma is happy to have the retro-looking case with a modern high-def picture.

Controlling samplers and sequencers with multitouch

When we see artists like Daft Punk or Madeon working their magic in a live setting, we’re always impressed with their controllers. Sample-based artist use controllers like the Monome and Kaoss Pad a lot, but these devices are fairly expensive. Thankfully, we live in an age of multitouch displays, so [Graham Comerford] came up with his own multitouch controller that does just about anything.

The build is based on the Kivy framework and includes a Monome emulator, MIDI drum pads, mixer, and a whole bunch of other sliders and buttons. There’s no word on how [Graham]‘s multitouch display was constructed, but if you’re looking to build your own gigantic audio control setup there’s a lot of info on building Microsoft Surface clones, adapting computer monitors, and spherical multitouch rigs.

We’re not sure if [Graham]‘s virtual drum kit is velocity sensitive but even if it’s not, it’s an interesting bit of kit. Check out an earlier version of his setup after the break.

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Smartphone hacking without risk – plus, broken phones needed

[Adam Outler] and [Rebellos] have been working feverishly to advance the world of mobile device hacking. They’re attacking on two fronts, making it easier for the common hacker to monkey with the phone’s firmware and OS with impunity, and by finding ways to make regular handsets into dev-hardware for low-level hacking.

The Hummingbird Interceptor Bootloader (HIBL) circumvents the chain of trust on smartphones running the Cortex-A8 family of processors. This opens a lot of doors, not the least of which is the ability to run any OS that you’re capable of porting to the hardware. We’re certain that Android builds will come first as they are open-source, but there’s talk of iOS or Windows Phone being run after some heavy assembly hacking.

But the two developers are trying to bring more people into the fold with their recent hacks. [Adam] has put out a call for your broken hardware. He needs your dead smartphone boards to reverse engineer the circuitry. Soldering one wire from the OM5 pin on the processor to the OM1 resistor will make the phones unbrickable (something we heard about back in July) and remove the need for soldering in a JTAG interface. With borked hardware in hand he pops off the processor and traces out this connection as well as the UART pins.

The soldering isn’t an easy process, but it’s a marked improvement that breaks down more barriers that keep people from hacking their coveted hardware. The clip after the break shows how easy it now is to recover your phone if something goes wrong while messing with the firmware or OS.

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Salvaging a commercial-grade pick and place machine

Why build a pick and place machine from the ground up when you can start with a full featured, but non-functional unit, and bring it back to life. That’s exactly what [Charliex] is doing with this Juki 360 rebuild.

A bit of background is in order here. [Charliex] is working alongside other hackers at Null Space Labs to restore this hardware. The Los Angeles based hackerspace sponsored the hardware badges at this year’s LayerOne, each of which was hand assembled. They’d like to avoid that tedium next year, which led to this project.

The seller of the used Juki 360 listed it in working condition, but it seems that they were polishing a turd since it is basically non-functional. The link at the top of this post is the second testimonial of their work so far. It covers the use of an Arduino board as a replacement interface, as well as a bunch of sensor repair, pneumatic testing, and motor driver firmware tweaking. If you’d like to see the initial teardown and hardware diagnostics don’t miss the first post in their adventure.

Playing snake with a TV remote

[vinod] sent in his replica of a Snake game, the game to play on old Nokia dumb phones.

The build is based on a PIC16F877 microcontroller just like previous Snake builds we’ve seen, but [vinod] didn’t use physical buttons in his build. Instead, he used a Philips infrared TV remote to control the game. The infrared controller only takes up one pin on the microcontroller, as opposed to the 4 pins of the easiest four button setup. [vinod] also threw in a simple one-transistor level converter so Snake can be played with a PC via RS-232. With the PIC code included in the build, it’s a great build that reminds us of a more civilized age.

The video of [vinod]‘s snake game in action is posted after the break, but we noticed that the snake is allowed to ‘warp around’ the sides of the LED matrix. Some people might consider that cheating but that can be fixed by changing a few lines of code.

[Read more...]

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