I need someone to explain this to me.

Intelligent flashlight will literally show you the way

Flashlights are so 20th Century. Be it the incandescent type that popped up very early on, or LED models with came around in the 90′s, there’s not much excitement to the devices. But [Sriranjan Rasakatla] is doing his best to change that. This is his WAY-GO Torch, an intelligent flashlight (a Smart Light?) that will not just light your path, but overlay useful data on it.

At the front of the unit a pico projector is housed on a jointed assembly. This allows the device to project data on the ground in front of you. Using a digital compass and GPS module, it can show the polar coordinates, guide you on your way, or provide information about the buildings around you. The motorized mount provides image stabilization based on IMU data. Check out the demonstration video after the break. It shows general functionality in the first part of the clip, with some footage of the stabilization system at about 4:30.

This really does seem like it came right out of a Sci-Fi novel. It’s useful, but the complexity makes it surprising that [Sriranjan] was able to pull it off. We wonder how the battery life is on the device, but it can’t be any worse that one of those really huge flashlight builds.

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$3 adds sweet tunes to your project

It’s a fun time to design your own MP3 player, lovingly adding in features to a meticulously crafted user interface. But sometimes you just want a quick and cheap way to add music to a project. [Jeff Ledger] will show you how to do just that using some knock-off hardware from overseas. Instead of a proper breakout board — which can cost a bundle — he used a generic MP3 player acquired for $3 from an eBay seller.

Cracking open the case you’ll see that you actually get a lot for your triad of Washingtons. We know, it may be of questionable quality (see this feature about cheap PSU problems) but we’re not building mission critical hardware now are we? Inside is a rechargeable Lithium battery for use with another project, and a chip-on-board device with attached SD card slot, audio jack, and USB port. The battery inputs are used to solder the MP3 pcb to the power rails on your project. To control the playback, just make connections to the button pads as [Jeff] describes in his post. It sounds like this will work with any MP3 player which runs at either 3.3V or 5V.

Just in case you didn’t know how awesome laser cutters really are

[Alex] got his hands on an Epiloge laser cutter the easy way — the company he works for bought one. We’re sure he’s not trying to rub it in, but he really does make the tool look and sound cool in the post he wrote purely to show off the new toy hardware.

This model is a CO2 laser and it’s capable of etching and cutting a variety of materials. It does so with a 1200 DPI resolution at 0.005 pitch. The samples of engraved text and images show the clean lines and shapes this type of accuracy can achieve. The most stunning example is a piece of anodized aluminum which ends up showing some fantastic contrast that would make perfect face plates for project enclosures. Then there’s the cutting feature which is responsible for the gear demo seen above. We were surprised to hear that it will cut through acrylic but not polycarbonate.

After the break we’ve embedded [Alex's] video. The camera is focused on the cutter as it engraves some lettering, then cuts out a gear. During the process he discusses what he’s learned about the device, sharing some interesting tidbits along the way.

We’re hoping to see some cool stuff like this from [Grenadier] who recently won a similar 40 Watt CO2 laser from Full Spectrum.

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Electronics that tell you to wash the dishes

Nothing stinks up the house like a sink full of dirty dish. Well, a full trash can will do it to a greater extent, but that’s a project for another day. In what must be an overreaction to a perpetually full sink of dishes at his London Hackerspace, [Tom] built a web-connected dirty dish detector.

He calls it the Great OpenCV Wash-Up Detector. The system features a series of different signals to ‘remind’ forgetful geeks about cleaning up after themselves. The initial implementation uses a traffic signal to alert the room that there are dirty dished to be cleaned; illuminating the different colors to show how long the sink has been full. [Tom] also plans to add message bursts to the IRC room, and air horns when the situation gets dire.

As the name implies, this uses OpenCV to detect circles in the sink. A webcam has been mounted above it pointing straight down, providing a clear input image to detect plates, mugs, and the like. [Tom] even wrote some code that disables the system when the lights are turned off.

Of course, this may train offenders to leave the dishes on the counter where the detector can’t see them.

Wii Nunchuck on an 80s computer

For a computer that debuted in the early 80s the MSX was a very respectable machine. Of course  these were the days that superimposing graphics over a video was an amazing feat, but  [Danjovic] and [Igor] are still having fun with their boxen. They designed a software interface for the Wii Nunchuck (translation) on their trusty MSX computer.

The plug coming out the back of a standard Wiimote is just a simple I2C bus. Many things can be done with this port from plugging in ancient controllers to controlling robots. [Danjovic] and [Igor] managed to write a routine in Basic that converts the I2C data coming out of the Nunchuck to data the MSX can understand without any modification of the hardware whatsoever.

All the guys needed to plug the Nunchuck into the MSX was a voltage divider and a few pull-up resistors between the computer and controller. They got data from both buttons, the joystick and the accelerometer in the Nunchuck and made a small program to display some sprites on the screen to demonstrate this. Check that out after the break.

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The TIM-8 is the smallest 8-bit relay computer ever

Who wouldn’t want to build a computer out of relays? We do, but we’ve got too many projects on our plate already. It looks like [rory] has his priorities in order because his build is one of the most amazing we’ve ever seen.

We’ve seen [Harry Porter]‘s amazing relay computer and we’re familiar with [Konrad Zuse]‘s WWII era endeavours. Relay computers aren’t exactly uncommon, but [rory] built the TIM-8, that may be the smallest 8-bit relay computer ever. The total relay count in the TIM-8 is 152 compared to [Harry Porter]‘s 415 relays. This isn’t a fair comparison because [Harry]‘s uses 4-pole relays, while the TIM-8 uses 1-pole relays, making the [rory]‘s project 8 times smaller than [Harry]‘s.

There are a couple of neat features that makes the TIM-8 really exceptional. Programs for the TIM-8 are written in a text editor on [rory]‘s desktop,  then compiled and printed onto receipt paper. The TIM-8 has a few phototransistors to read the bands of white and black printed on the paper. [rory] has come a long way from a three bit adder made with relays and light bulbs.

Check out a ton of videos after the break. There’s a few demos of programs running off of receipt tape, calculating the Fibonacci sequence, and playing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ on the relay sound card. Thanks to [J. Peterson] for sending this one in.

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Hackaday Links: January 16, 2012

Finally the 13-year-old on Battlefield 3 will get their comeuppance

[Shawn] sent in his fully adjustable auto-fire mod for an XBox360 controller. It’s pretty simple – just an ATtiny85 soldered to a button with a pot to adjust the rate and switch to turn it on and off. It could have been done with a 555, but this is good enough.

Now one for the PS3 bronies

[Capt-Nemo] loves and tolerates everyone so he modded his 60 Gig PS3 with a bunch of LEDs to display Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark. Yes, it’s from My Little Pony. Don’t judge us. Watch the demo video instead.

How do you organize resistors?

A while ago we saw a neat way to store resistors in a piece of foam with a grid according to the first and third color bands. [Greg] did it another way that just puts a label on a piece of foam. Can you think of a better way?

It’s not a synthesizer, but is it fake?

A lot of people have been sending in this video of [Stephen] turning his kitchen into a synthesizer. We’re thinking he turned a bunch of bowls and cans into an MPC / MIDI controller at best, or it was all done in post. We’ll let our readers duke it out in the comments.

Blinky things spinning very fast

A gracious Hack a Day reader sent in a mechanical television demo he found during late night intertube browsing. We know it’s from a 1992 episode of Computer Club that aired in Germany. It’s four rotating bars of 232 LEDs that will display a standard TV signal. We think it might be time for an RGB LED version of this. Any takers?