A SOPA we still can’t get behind

[Brad] had an extremely productive January 18th. Considering how many websites went dark to protest SOPA, we can’t blame him. While considering what he could get done if popular Internet time sinks went dark on command, [Brad] thought of the Stop Online Productivity Avoidance box. This build will redirect all traffic to sites like reddit, hacker news, and (gasp!) hack a day to a simple web page that asks the eternal question, “shouldn’t you be working right now?”

The box has two modes: in SOPA mode, the whole Internet is at [Brad]’s fingertips. In NOPA mode, an Arduino communicates with a Python script running on the router to pull up an Internet blacklist. A simple button would be too easy to override, so there’s a ‘nuclear mode’ that shuts off these time sinks for one hour. The only way around the blacklist is to restart the router, a process that takes 15 minutes and will kill the entire Internet for the duration. Not something you’d like to do if you’re slightly bored.

All the code for the SOPA box is up on github and you can check out [Brad]’s demo of the SOPA box after the break.

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Firmware programmer for a cheap Bluetooth module

Here’s a nifty programmer for a cheap Bluetooth module. So just how cheap is this part? Does $6.60 sound like an extreme deal?

The information on this hack is spread throughout a series of posts. The link above goes to the completed programmer (kind of a look back on the hack). But you might start with this post about module firmware options. Just because you can get the part inexpensively doesn’t mean that it’s going to work as you expected. [Byron] sourced similar devices from different suppliers and found they were not running the same firmware; the footprints were the same but he features were not. With his help you can tailor the code to your needs and reflash the device.

The programmer that he build has a nice slot for the module which interfaces with the programming lines using pogo pins (spring-loaded contacts). It connects to the CSR BC417 chip’s SPI pins in order to flash the firmware. If you’ve had any experience working with these cheap parts we’d love to hear your tale in the comment section.

[Thanks MS3FGX]

Easy tactile controls and displays for your flight simulator

If you’ve been thinking of adding some tactile controls and readouts for your flight simulators this guide should give you the motivation to get started with the project. [Paul] explains how to build controls and connect them to the simulator data. He makes it look easy, and thanks the interface examples in his code it actually is.

Here he’s built the hardware using a Teensy controller board. The controller communicates via USB and the software is cross-platform. He’s controlling the heading information of the X-Plane simulator using the rotary encoder for fine adjustments and the buttons for increments of 100. But he doesn’t stop there. He’s working on an auto-throttle design that uses a servo motor to move the throttle lever. A potentiometer can be used to vary the throttle, with the servo mapped to the position of that knob. But it works both ways, dragging the virtual throttle on-screen will do the same.

This is one way to make flight simulators more interesting without devoting a whole room of your house to the cause. Don’t miss [Paul’s] fantastic demo video after the break.

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Lamp upgrade makes you a hot-head

[Cameron] decided to give his twenty-year-old headlamp a makeover. He uses it when he’s out for a run and wanted to have more light to see where he’s going, as well as a red tail light on the back. The stock design uses an incandescent bulb on the front of the head band, and a battery pack on the back. He managed to convert the device to output 700 lumens without major changes to the form factor of the unit.

The first change he decided on is to use a Cree XLamp which provides the 700 lumens of light by drawing about 9.5 Watts of power. Obviously the original battery pack isn’t going to do well under that kind of load, so he also sourced a 5000 mAh Lithium battery. A bit of circuit design and PCB layout gives him two driver chips for the four-element LED module, a charging circuit for the battery, and an ATtiny13 to drive the head lamp and flash the red LED tail light. See the blinky goodness in the video after the break.

That’s a lot of light, but we wonder if he experiences a warm forehead from the heat sink used to keep that LED package cool? Continue reading “Lamp upgrade makes you a hot-head”

Adding visuals to chiptune performances

If you’ve never been to a chiptune show – yes, they exist – you’ve noticed the awesome visuals behind the performers that are usually displayed with a glitching NES. If it’s a really good show, that 8-bit visualization will be in sync with the music and may actually serve as a lo-fi spectrum analyzer. [Andy] came up with his own visualization system for a Sega Genesis or Megadrive. With 16 bits behind his build, we’ll say if far surpasses the lowly NES.

For his visualization, [Andy] feeds audio into an ATMega328 and the ever-popular MSGEQ7 seven-band graphic equalizer IC. The output from the EQ goes straight to the second controller input of a Sega Nomad [Andy] had lying around that is running a custom ROM for his show. The ROM is programmed in tandem with the microcontroller project to serve as a spectrum analyzer for his shows.

You can check out [Andy]’s visualization with the chiptunes of Danimal Cannon after the break. We would prefer a demo featuring An0vA and the code for the microcontroller, but it’s still a very nice demo indeed.

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Paint your pictures, no PC needed

LEDs and and cameras always make a fun mixture, and its not all that hard to have quite a bit of fun as well. The Light Painting Stick is similar to other long exposure camera tricks like LightScythe and gets about the same reults. The difference is the Light Painting Stick is self contained meaning you don’t have to drag nearly as much stuff along with you to have fun.

Hardware used is HL1606 controlled RGB led strip commonly found at Adafruit, the brains are a Leaf Labs Maple micro controller board with an SD card and some human interfaces attached, and is powered by a 6 volt lantern battery.

Images are 64*infinity 24 bit BMP files which means there is not much fuss preparing your graphics other than doing a simple rotate. You can select which image is displayed by using a 2 way switch and the LEDs on the stick. Select your images, dial in your speed with the potentiometer, and you’re  ready to hit the fire button for some photo fun.

Powering an Ultrasonic Transducer

[Lindsay] has a wonderful writeup about a new toy in the shop, an ultrasonic transducer. The 28kHz, 70W bolt-clamped Langevin transducer by itself is not much use, you need a power supply, a horn to focus the energy, and a way to tune it. [Lindsay] starts off by showing how to find out the resonant frequency of the transducer, designing and building a high voltage high frequency AC power supply, and how to design a horn.

Not missing the meaning of DIY [Lindsay] casts and machines a horn for the transducer with a high level of precision as this will also tune the horn to the correct frequency. Once some brackets are machined the whole setup is put through some fun experiments in water and lemonaide, but the real purpose is to drill fine holes in glass for his home made Panaplex displays.

Join us after the break for a short video.

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