A Little Tweeting “Ewok”

Tweet Receiving, that is. This Ewok model, named “Ewen the Cheerlight,” is able to rotate its head left and right as well as show expressions. The most interesting feature of this hack, however, is that the little Ewok actually wakes up each time one tweets a “colour” to @cheerlights and lets it’s owner [Joel] know what he thinks of the “color” you’ve chosen. [Joel] insists that he’s like this featured on [HAD], although it remains to be seen if it will soon be turned off after the tweets start rolling in…

As far as how the device works, the head is turned with a simple hobby servo motor, and the expressions are shown on a LED matrix. The model itself is built from a polystyrene ball and an old table lamp. The build really looks awesome.

All of this is controlled by an Easy USB Interface Board which is listed on [Pozible], the Australian version of [Kickstarter]. Be sure to check out the video of “Ewen” in action after the break! [Read more...]

Leaking water detector from an old smoke alarm

[Thomas Clauser] had his basement flood last year when a hurricane swept over New England. The problem with flooding or leaking water is that chances are you won’t notice until it’s too late. He decided to protect against this in the future by building his own leaking water detector. It’s a simple device that sits on the floor of his basement and triggers an audio alarm if water begins to cover the floor.

He used an old smoke detector for the build; a nice choice since it’s loud, and designed for long-term battery operation. It also has a button for testing if the detector is working. [Thomas] removed the PCB from the smoke detector case and soldered wires onto the test button contacts. He cut a sponge to squeeze it inside of a PVC pipe connector housing. That sits against the floor, with the wires for the test button contacts placed through the sponge. If water is soaked up by the sponge it completes the circuit and triggers the alarm.

A few other design features really make this a nice setup. He notched out the bottom of the PVC connector so that water can flow freely, and added a switch to one of the probe wires lets him kill the alarm when inspecting the damage.

Rooting a Motorola Actv (Android wristwatch)

[Chris'] family made the mistake of giving him a hackable Christmas gift. We’d bet they didn’t see much of him for the rest of the day as he set about rooting this Android wristwatch.

This thing has some pretty powerful hardware under the hood. It’s sporting an OMAP3 processor running at 600 MHz along with 256 MB of RAM. [Chris] needed to get his hands on a firmware image in order to look for security holes. He found a way to spoof the update application in order to intercept an upgrade image from the Internet.

He dumped the firmware locations and got to work searching for a way to exploit the device. Details are a bit scarce about want exactly he did, but you can download his modified image, letting you root your own Motorola Actv using the Android Debug Bridge.

We’ve embedded a demo video after the break. The OS is pretty snappy on the tiny device. We’re not sure what will come of this functionality, but we assume [Chris] was really only interested in the challenge of rooting process itself.

[Read more...]

Self-balancing unicycle only for those with good balance

The only problem with this self-balancing unicycle is it’s inability to balance itself. You see, it automatically balances along the axis that is parallel to the line of travel. But since there’s only one wheel the rider is responsible for balancing perpendicular to travel. This is really not too much different from a bicycle; balancing while in motion is pretty simple. Only when you slow down or stop are you in trouble.

[Stephen Boyer] built the vehicle and uses it for most of his travel around the MIT campus. It carries a pair of 12V batteries that pack enough punch to travel five miles between charges. A 5DOF board senses motion and orientation, with an ATmega328 microcontroller calculating the corrections necessary to keep the rider upright.

The demo video after the break never really gives you good look at the thing, but it’s enough to prove that it does indeed work very well. We’re also glad to see that [Stephen] is using a kill-switch while riding.

If you’re aching for more electric unicycle video check out this other project too. [Read more...]