Crawling zombie is shockingly creepy

When [Mark] sent in the tip about this crawling zombie prop he said that it didn’t sound scary but warned us that it is terrifying when you see it. He’s absolutely right, the video after the break shows some remarkably undead movement from the thing.

This crawler is actually radio controlled. Details are brief, but there’s plenty of pictures and the start of a build tutorial for the hardware. A wood frame serves as collar-bone and spine for the zombie. Attached to the spine are two  motors which allow independent shoulder operation. We’d wager that the realistic movements are due to a talented operator at the controls, but it can’t be too hard to master if you play around with it for a while. It looks like the initial build was headless, but we think the addition of the zombie head really makes finishes out the project!

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DIY thermostat keeps the harsh winter cold at bay

diy_attiny_thermostat

[Phil’s] parents grow their own organic food, but the harsh Ukraine winters make storing it a difficult proposition. Since it can drop to -30°C on occasion, they asked him to find a way to keep their storeroom at around 5-7°C above zero. He decided to construct his own programmable thermostat to keep things in check, and has been documenting the process as he goes along.

The thermostat uses a DS18B20 temperature sensor to monitor the room, and the logic is handled by an ATtiny2313. When the temperature dips low enough, the ATtiny triggers the room’s heater via a standard 240v relay. He can check the current temperature via a small 7-segment display mounted on the control board, which also contains three microswitches for controlling the heater.

It looks like a pretty solid build so far, and while he hasn’t finished coding the thermostat just yet, [Phil] says that those details are forthcoming. He has published a schematic however, so you can get a jump start on building your own if you’re looking to warm things up this winter.

Continue reading to see a video overview of the thermostat’s design.

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3D printed electromechanical computer

A few nights ago, [Chris Fenton] was hanging out at NYC Resistor putting in some time on his electromechanical computer project. You might remember [Chris] from his tiny Cray that he’s putting an OS on. It seems [Chris] is going back in time about 150 years and has set his sights on a 3D printed version of [Babbage]‘s Analytical Engine.

The Analytical Engine was is a remarkable feat of engineering and machining. It was the first programmable computer. Shame, then, that it was never built in the 1800s. [Chris] isn’t building a glorified calculator like [Babbage]‘s polynomial-computing Difference Engine – he’s going all out and building something with conditional looping.

[Chris] calls his device an electromechanical computer, so we’re assuming it won’t be crank driven like the version in the British Science Museum. Right now, he’s constructed the decade-counting gears that are vitally important for the ALU of his design. All the parts were printed on a Thingomatic, so we’re betting [Chris] is going to be relying heavily on the MakerBot automated build platform for the thousands of parts he’ll have to fabricate.

Check out the video from NYC Resistor after the break.
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[Vigo's] stare follows you wherever you go

To decorate the office for Halloween [Eric] decided to make [Vigo the Carpathian] stare at passersby. We hope that readers recognize this image, but for those younger hackers who don’t, this painting of [Vigo] played an important part in the classic film Ghostbusters II.

In the movie, his eyes appeared to be following anyone looking at the painting. [Eric] grabbed a Kinect and used Processing to recreate the effect in real life. The image is displayed on an LCD screen. A bit of work with Photoshop allowed him to cut out the eyes from the image, then create sprites which are moved by the Processing sketch. It’s reading data from the Kinect (so it knows where to ‘look’) which you can see perched on the top of the cubicle wall. The illusion is delightful, see for yourself in the clip after the break. We’ve already watched it a half-dozen times, and it looks like it was a real hit with the guests at the open house.

Can you believe they threw this together in just one day?

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Hacked parking disc can be controlled remotely

reverse_engineering_parking_disc

If you have ever traveled around Europe, you are likely familiar with parking discs. Required in many countries that would rather not deal with parking meters, these devices are placed in the front of a car’s window, and indicate when the vehicle was parked. When parking enforcement officers come through the area, it makes quick work of identifying which cars need to be ticketed.

[Michael] received a fancy electronic parking disc as a gift, but the device was incredibly buggy, causing him all sorts of grief. After contacting the manufacturer and receiving no helpful response, he took it upon himself to get things working properly.

He dismantled the disc and found that like many products today, the microprocessors were locked down behind a layer of hard resin. Undeterred, he decided to rebuild it from the ground up using an ATmega microcontroller to provide basic parking disc functionality. He also armed his disc with a GSM modem and a GPS receiver – the former gives him the ability to communicate with the device, while the latter provides accurate time data while allowing him to keep tabs on the car’s location, should the need arise.

The hacked disc’s guts reside in his glove box, and can be controlled using his iPhone, making it easy to tweak his parking time at will.

Check out the video below to see his parking clock in action, and if you have questions on any part of the build, [Michael] says he’s more than happy to fill in any missing details.

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Recreating the Commodore PET with an FPGA

commodore_pet_fpga_clone

[Thomas’] love affair with Commodore computers spans well over 30 years, and not too long ago he decided to recreate one of his favorite Commodore offerings, the PET. As we have seen with similar undertakings, this sort of project is no easy task, but [Thomas] seems to be making his way along nicely.

Using a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA on the Digilent Nexys3 dev board, he has implemented the Pet in Verilog. Like the original, his clone contains 16K of both ROM and RAM, utilizing the same simulated 6502 microprocessor he used on a previous Apple ][+ project. The FPGA version of the computer sports a 640×400 resolution which is twice that of the original, so [Thomas] simply doubled the size of each of the PET’s pixels to fill in the extra space.

[Thomas] has made some great progress so far, including the ability to load games and other programs from cassette images over a serial connection. He says that there are still a few loose ends to tie up, but it all looks good from here!

Continue reading to see a short video of Space Invaders running on he PET recreation.

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A Simple Induction Heater

For those of you not familiar, an induction heater is a device capable of heating something up very rapidly using a changing magnetic field. [RMC Cybernetics] decided to build one and was nice enough to write up the project for the Internet’s learning and amusement. A full explanation as well as a schematic and build instructions are provided on their website.

This heater works using a principle involved in most transformers. When there is a change in the magnetic field near a conductive object, a current will be induced in it and it will generate heat. Interestingly enough, while transformers are designed to minimize this heat, an induction heater instead aims to maximize this heat in whatever object is placed within the coils.

[RMC] Has provided a video of how to build the heater as well as it in action after the break! Skip to to 1:42 to see the heating in action. Or watch the whole thing to see how it’s built.

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