Drill holes in your tablet for better sound quality

diy_tablet_speaker_grilles

As devices get smaller and smaller, it becomes a bigger challenge for engineers to squeeze a product’s components into an ever shrinking footprint. [Bulgarien] certainly found this to be the case with his Asus Eee Pad Transformer. He was not impressed with the volume or clarity of the tablet’s audio, so he disassembled it to see if he could somehow improve its performance.

Once he got the Eee Pad apart, he noticed that the tiny speakers were mounted directly against the back of the tablet’s LCD screen, muffling the audio. He flipped the speaker over to face the back side of the tablet in hopes that it might improve the sound just a bit, but he didn’t think that was a sufficient solution. Using an old speaker as a template, he drilled through the Eee Pad’s case to create his own speaker grilles, lining the inside with a fine cloth to prevent dust from getting inside the case.

He says that the tablet’s audio is far clearer than it was originally, which makes this a pretty compelling modification for anyone that uses their Transformer on a daily basis.

Portable power strip control lights and appliances using SMS

sms_triggered_appliance_control

[Julian] wanted a way to remotely control various appliances and lights around his house without spending an arm and a leg on home automation. He also desired the ability to easily switch what items he was controlling without a ton of hassle. Since he couldn’t find anything reasonably priced to do what he desired, he built his own SMS-triggered remote control system.

He designed his system to be used like an extension cord, hence the portable junction box enclosure. This enables him to regulate up to four different items at a time, with the ability to swap out components or relocate his controller at will.

The power strip is controlled by an Arduino which receives commands from his PC via an Xbee module. Any text messages sent to his Gmail account are retrieved by his computer and then transmitted to the Arduino. The Arduino in turn triggers relays as designated by [Julain’s] text messages, utilizing H-bridges to provide the required current.

Check out his schematics and code if you’re interested in implementing something similar in your home.

A Light-Following Pong Game

Although not everyone has the ability to make a hacked Pong game Like [Marcelo], even fewer have the ability or the creativity to come up with the elaborate hack that he did. The basic premise of his game is a version of pong played on a breadboard with a 8×8 matrix of LEDs. The controls are really what sets this hack apart. Instead of using a paddle controller or normal switches, small flashlights are used to control the on-screen (on-LED matrix) paddle. This is accomplished using a series of photoresistors and a PIC processor.

Innovative as this would be by itself, [Marcelo] decided to make a program in Flash to display the action on a computer.  Communication is done serially, and C# is used to translate everything as Flash doesn’t natively work with a serial connection.

Another innovation is that there are two LEDs connected on either side powered via pulse width modulation. The lights get dimmer as one player is about to lose. Check out [Marcelo's] pong game after the break!

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ATTiny Hacks: Run your Arduino project on an ATTiny!

Yup. We have all been there. You throw together a really elaborate Arduino project that only really needs a couple pins, far fewer than the Arduino’s native microcontrollers have to offer. Well fear not, [Thatcher] has solved just this problem by adding some ATTtiny cores to the Arduino IDE. His blog details the process from grabbing the MIT developed core files and loading them up in your Arduino software directories. The modification looks simple and although [Thatcher] shows the whole process on a Mac it only involves unzipping and tossing files into a folder. With ATTiny chips only a few bucks each this is perfect for those simple software driven hacks that don’t require an entire Uno duct taped to the outside of an enclosure.  Nice work [Thatcher]!

Building an Optigan-like instrument

[Olli] sent in his writeup of a musical instrument he made called the Black Deck. [Olli]‘s instrument was inspired [Jimi Tenor]‘s photophone – a transparent disk attached to a fan and photocell.

A transparent disk is placed on the turntable [Olli] rescued during a dumpster diving expedition. A light shines though the optical disk and is picked up by phototransistors. After writing a program to generate an A minor scale onto a transparency, [Olli] connected his contraption to a stereo and heard his creation speak. To control the individual tracks (or notes) on the disk, [Olli] made a keyboard out of photoelectric switches that control which note is played.

Superficially, [Olli]‘s instrument resembles an Optigan. While [Olli]‘s instrument is capable of producing waveforms, the Optigan is able to reproduce sampled instruments. That being said, we think [Olli]‘s Black Deck would feel comfortable next to the Optigans of Kraftwerk and Devo. Check out the YouTube demo of the Black Deck in action after the break:

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