Counterfeit electronics in military weapons

Boeng and the US military found some systems on new P-8 Posiedons to be defective. The culprit: counterfeit electronics. These are scrap parts from 80s-90s electronics that have been re-branded and sold to the government as new.  Many of the parts have been linked to dealers in China, but the Chinese government feels no need to pursue this(according to the article).

There is an amendment to a defense operation bill in the works that requires all parts from china to undergo rigorous inspection and testing before installation.  Regardless of your stance on military action or military spending or whatever political aspect you want to connect this with, we can all agree that dangerous things designed to destroy stuff and kill people should not have defective electrics, right?

[via Adafruit]

Personal flight from the steam age

From a small-sized backpack these wings slowly grow to full size in a Steampunk costume that hearkens back to DaVinci flight designs.

The mechanism that unfolds the wings was fashioned from parts of a baby gate and an old back massager. The massager features a pair of orbs that are meant to move slowly up and down your back. This is what accounts for the slow unfurling of the wings. After a bit of prototyping with Popsicle sticks [Dannok] and his daughter figured out the best arrangement for the pivoting skeleton. From there, the slats from the baby-gate were used to build the frame, then covered with fabric to finish the wing element for this Halloween costume.

A 12 volt gel battery powers the device, which is activated with a brass pull-chain meant for a light fixture. Once full extended, as seen above, the wingspan is eight feet. Don’t miss the pair of videos we’ve embedded after the break which show the workings of the device.

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Making an RF controlled light switch work with IR


[Gary] had an RF triggered light switch kicking around, and wanted to find a way to control his lights using a home theater remote. The switch, which he bought from RadioShack years ago, came with a simple remote that uses two buttons to toggle the lights on and off. While you might think that switching from RF to IR control would be a step backwards, [Gary] really just wanted to consolidate remotes more than anything else.

He designed a circuit board specifically for interacting with the remote half of his RF controller. It sports a PIC16F628A micro controller, which is tasked with processing IR commands from his home theater remote and triggering the lights when requested.

The code he developed for the project is relatively simple, but very useful all the same. When his board is powered on, it stores the first IR code it receives, then retains it as long as it stays powered on. This lets [Gary] use any button on his remote to turn the lights on and off, without any IR codes permanently defined in software.

As you can see in the video below, the modified switch works just as intended, saving [Gary] from having to walk all the way to the light switch when it’s time to fire up a movie.

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Beginner concepts: We’re gonna let you finish, but first this tutorial on Arduino interrupts

OK, year-old pop culture references aside [Kyle] dropped us a line to show us his tutorial on using interrupts with your Arduino. Given the single core nature of your average Arduino’s AVR you pretty much have two choices for monitoring occasional un-timed inputs: Either check an input at an interval (which risks missing the signal entirely) or set up an interrupt to pause the chip’s normal operation. Obviously working with interrupts saves you tons of clock cycles since you are not polling a pin over and over. [Kyle] plans on a follow up tutorial to cover timer based interrupts, which can come in handy when generating frequencies and stuff.

Looking for more Arduino Basics? How about Basic on an Arduino. Check out our other beginner concepts posts as well if you need to work on your fundamentals.

Panning time-lapse rig

Here’s a simple camera setup that lets you make your own panning time-lapse videos. It uses a couple of motors driven by an Arduino to snap successive still images which can later be rolled into a video format.

[Acorv] was not thrilled with the fact that his new Lumix LX5 didn’t have a time-lapse option built-in. But luckily it does have a standard connector on top for an external flash. He saw on a forum post that someone had built a jig which mounts to the flash bracket and uses a servo motor to depress the shutter release button. He recreated that and had half of this hack done.

The panning portion is facilitated by the Gorillapod. This particular model offers a swivel feature. This is automated by connecting it to a stepper motor with a piece of string. As the stepper turns the string is wound on a spool and gradually pans the camera. Simple, and it seems to work great. Check out the video after the break to see a test which was shot at sunset on the shores of a lake.

If you have a camera which offers an IR remote shutter release the time-lapse portion can be handled with an IR intervalometer, making the mechanical build a bit easier.

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Kitchen hacks: The Margarita Machine

If [Paul Degenkolb] really decided to make this on a whim one day (like he says he did) we think he should quit his job and go into a full-blown state of whimsy for the rest of his life. The Margarita Machine makes five gallons of slushy intoxicants in a quick and relatively quiet process that will have a backyard full of guests lining up not just to imbibe, but to see what the heck you’ve come up with this time around.

It’s easy enough to see that the vessel is an Igloo cooler, but where do you get a motor and blade assembly strong enough to turn ice cubes into slush? Just hit the home center and pick out the Garbage Disposer model of your choice. With the ball-valve serving spigot closed, the disposer sucks down the liquid and ice, shooting the pulverized mixture through some PVC pipe back to the top of the cooler. This circulation helps to mix things up, but at times [Paul] uses a glass as a plunger to wrangle rogue ice cubes.

Sorry folks, doesn’t look like there’s any video of this in action.

[Thanks Brad]

Arduino-based MIDI synth

[Charles Gershom] has been tinkering around with his keyboard and Arduino in order to build his own version of a MIDI controlled synthesizer. It looks like he’s gutted the enclosure of some commercially available MIDI hardware to use for the project. This works nicely since it gives him both the MIDI and audio jacks that he needs. The box also provides a nice control surface where a set of four LEDs indicates the synth mode currently in use. There are also four potentiometers mounted on the panel, but they’re not yet up and running.

Check out the video after the break to see what this can do so far. [Charles] shows the device synthesizing sounds coming in from the keyboard. It is also used to playback the audio from Super Mario Bros. which is fed in by a music notation program on a computer. Only one voice is playing when this happens which makes us think this can only handle one channel at a time right now (but we could be wrong).

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