You’ll shoot your eye out with this laser-filled tennis ball

laser-ball

We love lasers, you love lasers…who doesn’t love them?

[Matt Leone] recently took his passion for lasers over the top and built a little something called the Laser Ball. Fed up with the deluge of of LED cubes floating around online, he says that the Laser Ball is the new sheriff in town – and we’re inclined to agree.

He bored a bunch of holes in a standard tennis ball, and fitted it with 14 red laser diodes. Before he installed the lasers into the ball he modified each with a small bit of diffraction grating to liven up the display. The lasers were connected to a Teensy micro controller, which was stuffed inside the ball along with a small rechargeable LiPo battery.

While the laser ball was pretty awesome already, [Matt] decided that it wasn’t finished just yet. Using an IR remote package from Adafruit, he added the ability to trigger the Laser Ball’s light patterns from afar. You know, just for kicks.

Be sure to check out the video below to see the Laser Ball in action!

via BuildLounge

[Read more...]

Dad hacks Cerebral Palsy, upgrades son’s lifestyle

[Jorge]‘s son was born in 2004 after a troubling time in the womb. The son, [Ivo], wasn’t getting enough oxygen and unfortunately developed cerebral palsy. [Jorge] took it upon himself to improve his son’s life, so he got busy building some machinery for physical therapy. Today, [Ivo] is able to walk very well without the need for braces or other aids.

[Ivo] has a form of CP called Spastic quadriplegia. With [Ivo]‘s disorder, his skeletal muscles are always tight meaning he’s nearly unable to walk. This can be treated with muscle relaxants such as Botox (yes, that Botox), but [Jorge] wanted to help out with his son’s physical therapy.

[Jorge] began preparing for [Ivo]‘s physical therapy by building a “tripod” for him. This allows [Ivo] to stand while taking part in physical activities like ping-pong and golf. The second phase of the training was a modification to a cross-country skiing/elliptical trainer that allowed [Ivo] to practice walking. Today, [Ivo] is happily walking very well, a testament to his dad’s wishes that he has somewhat normal life. Some aluminum tubing helped, but we’re pinning this one on his dad.

Steampunk wings: bigger, heavier, and steampunkier

This pair of backpack-mounted wings was conceived after seeing the Angel/Archangel character in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. They measure 14’6″ inches across, but they fold up so that the wearer can actually get around in them. The mechanism is built from MDF, using several layers of gears cut from the material as well as pieces that act as the skeleton for the appendages. This makes them look and work well, but adds a lot of weight as the project comes in at about 25 pounds.

The steampunk wings we saw a few days back were partly inspired by this set. But this pair is more true to the Steampunk concept, relying on pneumatics instead of electricity for motion. A pair of pneumatic rams originally made to cushion the closing of screen doors let the wearer automatically extend the unit. As you can see in the video after the break, this happens quickly and gracefully. They do have to be folded back up by hand, and we’d bet you need a second person to assist with this, but we could be wrong.

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LUFA open source USB stack now for NXP ARM processors

Looks like the Lightweight USB Framework for AVRs (LUFA) has just been ported for ARM microcontrollers. NXP recently released a package for their LPC Cortex M3 family of ARM controllers. You won’t find a reference to LUFA on their nxpUSBlib description page (which we think is kind of sad), but if you grab a copy of the beta code the Version.h header file shows that it is indeed a port of the project. This is further backed up by the LUFA creator, [Dean Camera], who consulted with the NXP team doing the work.

The package provides an open-source USB stack that you can use in your projects as a USB host or USB device. We’re advocates of open source packages like this one as it makes it much easier for hobbyists to get help using the tools, and it allows the community to give back through bug fixes and feature additions.

We’ve highlighted a few LUFA projects, like this keyboard remapper and this AVR programmer. We’re looking to seeing the first set of NXP LUFA projects roll through!

[Thanks Johnny]

iPad 2 gets a home in hacked iDJ Live console

[DJ FileSpnR] did a number on this IDJ Live hardware to make room for an integrated iPad. Those that have seen the hardware before may not even recognize it. In stock condition the controller has two turn-table actuators with cross-fader control in between them. The iPad perches on top like a book, making it a fairly bulky setup.

In its hacked format, the device is much more mobile. The physical turntables have been removed, and the center console was moved to one side. This leaves just enough room to fit the iPad 2 (the original iPad is probably too thick for this to work). A cresent of the original turn table bezel has been retained to clamp the iPad in place, and to protect the dock connector at the same time. Now the touchscreen serves as turntable control, with physical sliders to the right which mange the cross-fading.

Check out the video after the break where the DJ explains his alterations and demonstrates the finished project.

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Thailand residents use hacks to make the best of a horrible situation

Thailand is dealing with horrible flooding right now. Despite the hardship, people still need to get around and go on with life so many have come up with clever hacks to make this disaster more manageable. [Jan] wrote in to let us know about this collection of flood-related hacks which he’s put together. They are wide-ranging, and many brought a smile to our faces, starting this the plastic-bag enclosed cars (not pictured).

We pulled out three of them to highlight above. On the top left is a canine life vest fashioned out of empty drinking bottles mounted on some type of harness. We hope the pets can stay out of the flood waters but this is a nice precaution. Speaking of precautions, the rubber-ducky to the right of that image is an electrical hazard detector. Float it in the water and an alarm and LED will go off if AC current is detected.  Finally, the image on the bottom shows a bridge constructed in front of a shopping center by turning carts on their backs and lining the pathway with wooden pallets.

There are several floating and amphibious vehicle hacks in the collection. So far we haven’t seen any drill-powered trolling motors though.

LED strip and uC add some flash to your tail lights

[Dave] spiced up his new 2012 Nissan Juke with a little tail-light amendment. You can see that outlining the rim of the light enclosure is a series of dots. This is an LED strip that he added to augment the brake lights. It’s glued in place, and features side emitting LEDs so that the light will be focused behind the car.

To control the strip he’s using an ATtiny85 microcontroller. It’s the chip on the right, and an optoisolator next to it protects it from the 12V vehicle power which drives the strip (via a MOSFET), and acts as a trigger when the brake pedal is pressed. He wrote a few effects into the firmware. When the lights are turned on, the strip fades up to 75% over about eight seconds. When the brake pedal is pressed they go to 100%. Check out the video after the break (it seems a little weird to us, as the video runs 18 seconds but the audio keeps going… YMMV).

We’ve seen a couple of tail light concepts that flash the brake lights when you stomp on the pedal. Unfortunately the Juke (and all other cars as far as we know) don’t have functionality built-in to sense when you’ve really given the brake a sudden jolt. It makes us wonder if this info could be gleaned from the CANbus? [Read more...]