Update: Bluetooth Super Nintendo controller for Android

[Rich's] newest version of a Bluetooth connected Super Nintendo controller takes what was already good and makes it better. We looked at the original version back in May, which is built into a knockoff controller  – [Rich] mentions that he got a lot of flack for defacing retro equipment and wants to set the record straight. The most notable difference between the two controllers is that the batteries are now housed inside the case. He switched over to an 850 mAh Lithium Ion battery, which takes much less room than the four AA batteries did. There is an integrated charger which connects via a mini USB jack as seen in the image above. Bother versions of the controller can be used to play emulators without rooting your Android device.

Unfortunately you won’t get to look inside the case. What we can tell you is that the build no longer uses a BlueSMiRF board , opting for a less expensive Bluetooth solution. We also know that the build is still Arduino compatible, sporting an ATmega328 chip running the bootloader. The lack of detail is because [Rich] is working to market the controller with a limited-quantity preorder. Check out his video presentation of the new version after the break.

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Dippy Bird binary clock

This Dippy Bird clock display is simple to build and it’s just waiting to be scaled up for use as a full clock. As shown there are only enough birds in this rendition to read out the hours. More tiers can be added for minutes and you could even add your own temperature readout function using a separate bird as the thermometer.

Other than the fact that there are only four bits of resolution, the first thing you should notice is that these birds have nothing to drink. They’re intended to dip their beaks into a glass of water, leading to evaporation that changes the temperature of the dichloromethane inside to start their teeter-tottering. Water isn’t used because the birds would be in constant motion. Instead a resistor has been placed in the base of each, which heats up when current is passed through it. A bird in motion is a digital 1, and bird at rest is a digital 0. A set of transistors protects the microcontroller from sourcing too much current. In this case an mbed is keeping time but any microcontroller will do. We’ve embedded a quick clip of the dippy bird clock after the break.

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Laser trip wire in an easy-to-use form factor

[Rul] built a nice laser trip wire alarm for use in Airsoft matches. Just place the enclosure so that the beam crosses a doorway and it will sound an alarm when the beam is broken. The only problem with this setup is that you need a reflective surface on the opposite side that can be positioned to direct the beam of light back to a photoresistor. But wait, there’s a second option. [Rul] also added a leaf switch that can be connected to an actual trip wire instead of using the laser.

A PIC 16F688 controls the laser module and monitors the photoresistor and leaf switch. When power is first switched on the box goes into a setup mode where it waits until the laser is detected by the photoresistor, switching on an LED to signal that you’ve got the beam aimed correctly. One press of the push-button puts it in activate mode which will sound the hacked window-alarm inside when the beam is broken. A toggle switch lets the operator chose between laser or wire operation.

You certainly won’t miss the alarm when it’s set off. Watch it scare the life out of a poor house cat in the clip after the break.

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Bluetooth cassette adapter

Today, with iPods that can hold entire music collections and cell phones that stream music from the Internet, the lowly cassette seems like an anachronism. [Matt] still has a cassette deck in his truck, but wanted Bluetooth connectivity for his stereo. The obvious solution was to stuff Bluetooth headphones into a cassette adapter.

Audio cassette adapters are dead-simple devices. They’re really just a tape head, stuffed into the shell of a cassette and a wire going out to a media player. To put Bluetooth into his adapter, [Matt] got a cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones and tore them apart. He was left with a circuit board, battery, and two earphones. [Matt] cut off the leads to the ear phones and wired them to the cassette adapter head. After a little bit of modifications to the case, [Matt] had a functional Bluetooth-cassette adapter.

While it’s true [Matt] could have gotten a ready-made Bluetooth cassette adapter shipped from China to his door for $10, there’s not much fun in just buying one. Kudos to [Matt] for going the home-brew route.

Engine Hacks – A DIY Methane Generator

Engine Hacks Theme banner

All “methane generator” jokes aside, This one actually serves a useful purpose. Although not an engine hack per se, methane can be used to run an engine. As the traditional method of powering an internal combustion engine, gasoline, gets more and more expensive, alternatives will have to be found. If you happen to live on a farm, or have access to a source of organic waste, this method could serve as a viable one.

One would need quite a bit of waste, as each kilogram yields around 400 liters of methane gas. This amount is enough to run a gas light for around 4 hours. Any sort of useful engine would require quite a bit more than this (chicken farm possibly?).

A process for converting waste to fuel is illustrated in the video after the break. Extreme caution should be used if attempting to do something like this. There is a danger of not only flammable gas leaking and catching on fire or exploding, but the organic material can be quite toxic as well. [Read more...]