Win a laser cutter by playing with light

Buildlounge and Full Spectrum Laser have decided to give away a laser cutter to whoever comes up with the best project involving light.

The contest is in part sponsored by  adafruit industries. The focus of the contest is light – just design something around light, submit it, and you’re in the drawing for your own laser cutter. A solar oven, photophone, solar fiber-optic lighting and hacking apart an old overhead projector are suggested on the contest page, but the winning project will probably be much cooler.

Entries are due by January 1st. First prize is Full Spectrum Laser’s 40 Watt laser cutter, second is an awesome green laser pointer from Wicked Lasers, and third prize is an EL wire starter kit from Adafruit. Entries are due by January 1st, so we expect to see a lot of awesome submissions on the Hack A Day tip line between now and New Years.

Adafruit celebrates Ada Lovelace day

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If you weren’t aware, today is [Ada Lovelace] day, so [Ladyada] and Adafruit Industries are spending the day celebrating the achievements of women in the fields of technology, art, engineering, and electronics. Specifically, the focus is on fellow female makers/hackers who are helping shape and promote the industry.

Once every hour, Adafruit Industries is profiling one influential woman, paying tribute to her work and contributions to the tech/maker/art/science space. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces throughout the day, including electronics extraordinaire [Jeri Ellsworth], Make’s own [Becky Stern], as well as [Sherry Huss] and [Louise Glasgow], two of Maker Faire’s leading ladies.

The bios are certainly worth taking a look at – aside from some of the more familiar faces, it’s a great chance to learn about a few makers who you may not have heard of before.

As an added bonus, Adafruit is offering 10% off all purchases from the store using a coupon code that can be found on their site, so be sure to check it out!

Analog iPhone amplifier made from recycled trumpets

analog_telephonographer

It’s no secret that the audio quality of the iPhone’s built-in speakers isn’t exactly what you would consider to be hi-fi. Sound quality aside, there are plenty of times where even the volume doesn’t do the music justice. While you can always go out and buy a fancy dock to amplify your iGadget’s sound, artist [Christopher Locke] has a different take on the subject.

For a while now, he has been constructing what he calls “Analog Tele-Phonographers”, metal sculptures that can be used to amplify a mobile phone’s audio. Built out of steel and old trumpets, his audio sculptures require no electricity, instead utilizing the same amplification technology as the original phonographs.

While the Tele-Phonographers won’t make your iPhone sound like a high quality tube amp, they do undoubtedly increase the phone’s volume and they are nice to look at. We can certainly get behind this sort of recycling/reuse of old items.

Continue reading to see a quick video of his Analog Tele-Phonographer in action.

[Thanks, Chris]

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Playing dubstep on real instruments

When we first saw the live cover of Skrillex Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites by the band Pinn Panelle, we had to know how a band is able to play live dubstep on real instruments. We emailed the band and they spilled the beans on how to process the hell out of an instrument in a live environment.

First up is the bassist, [Nathan Navarro]. He wears a Source Audio Hot Hand on his right thumb. This little box is a two-axis accelerometer that communicates with his pedal board using RF frequencies. With the Hot Hand, he has control over two parameters on Hot Hand Pedals. The envelope effect is awesome, but it’s worth noting that [Nathan] is sponsored by Source Audio. We’re thinking it would be relatively easy to cram a Wii MotionPlus and microcontroller into a wristband. Tied to a computer and MIDI interface, the homebrew solution would do the same thing.

[Derek Song] is the guitarist and he’s used multieffects for most of his musical life He has a small Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad mounted to the front of his guitar that controls just about everything on his pedal board. The Bluetooth controller sends commands to [Derek]‘s computer that outputs MIDI CC messages to his pedal board.

In a studio, Pinn Panelle’s cover would be impressive. The fact that it’s being played live opens up a number of doors as to what a band can do in real-time. If you’ve got a pedal board or electronic music build, send it into the tip line. Also, check out the videos after the break for a better demo of [Derek]‘s Bluetooth setup.

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Making the most of your diy development boards

[Rajendra] built a rather impressive development board based around a PIC microcontroller. At its center, he’s got a PIC 16F1827 chip, but we think the design is easily adapted to your microcontroller of choice.

The I/O pins on the microcontroller aren’t actually connected to any of the components on the board. Instead, female pin headers neatly organize the pins grouped by their register. Jumper wires make for quick connections to all of the available peripheral devices. There’s an additional header for connecting the PICKit programmer, and the small blue breadboard lets you add your own components to the mix, or lets you utilize the board with a different microcontroller.

[Rajendra] took the time to carefully label all of the connectors, removing the guesswork (or pin counting) from the setup process. Many of the peripherals are i2c devices, and there’s a pin header to connect more, or to sniff the data using a Bus Pirate or other tool.

8-pin micro plays Pong on your widescreen

[Fernando] sent in a tangential project update that uses an ATtiny45 to play Pong on his television. Last time we looked in on his work he had just finished getting the eight-pin chip to display a big number on the TV via the VGA port. This expands on the idea while he continues to wait for parts.

Right now the chip plays against itself, but he’s got one input pin left and we’d love to see a button added for a simple one-player game. We’re thinking the paddle would always be moving in one direction or the other, with a click of the button to reverse that direction. The part that he’s waiting for is a Bluetooth module, which we’d love to see used for 2-player games via a pair of Wiimotes (we’re just wishing at this point and don’t know if that would even be possible). The end goal for the hardware is a Bluetooth connected scoreboard for Android devices.

The code is written in Assembly, and we found it relatively easy to follow what [Fernando] is doing with the game logic. On the graphics side of things he gets away with a 120×96 resolution because Pong is supposed to look pixelated. We love the result, which you can see for yourself after the break.

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Hackerspace competition combines drinking and lock picking – need we say more?

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The guys from Bloomington’s Fraternal Order of Lock Sport (FOOLS) sure know how to throw a party! At this year’s DerbyCon event down in Louisville, the group put on an awesome event that combined lockpicking and drinking – what could be better?

The Rumble Challenge is lock picking game where six people compete head to head for the best time. Whenever a competitor masters his lock, the competition is paused so that each player has a chance to take a shot from their air-powered shot dispensing machine. Once everyone has imbibed, the next round starts with the competitors picking up where they left off, in an effort to be the next to successfully open his lock.

The game is controlled by an Arduino, which both times the competition and senses when the locks have been opened. The Arduino relays this data to a computer, which uses a projector to display the contestant’s scores on a big screen. As an added bonus, FOOLS member [dosman] added loud rumble motors to the locking mechanisms in order to throw competitors off their game.

The contest sounds like a ton of fun – we’re bummed that we missed it. If you want to see how the game was put together, check out [dosman’s] build log over at the Bloominglabs wiki.

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