Measure radiation with military surplus

It’s really amazing what you can find at military surplus shops. [David] just built a radiation detector out of a DT-590A scintillation probe originally made to test if Air Force bases were contaminated with Plutonium. Who says nothing good came out of massive nuclear arsenals?

DT-590A / PDR-56 Gamma ray probes were made obsolete by the US Air Force a few years ago and they’re trickling into military surplus stores around the country and the Internet. [David] found the manual for this probe and put together a little circuit to drive this x-ray sensor. The build uses an ammeter as a simple dial, and includes a piezo speaker for the prerequisite Geiger counter ‘clicks.’

[David] also threw up a post on converting this x-ray probe into a general purpose Gamma probe, effectively making it a Geiger counter for the really dangerous radiation. You could always use your smart phone for the same task, but recycling military hardware imparts a good bit of geek cred.

Rapid fire, remote controlled ping pong ball turret

remote-ping-pong-ball-turret

[Andrew] and his brother had some time (and a lot of ping pong balls) on their hands, so they decided to have some fun and built a remote-controlled ping pong ball turret.

Arduino aside, the turret is cheap and easy to build as [Andrew’s] writeup explains. The firing mechanism was constructed using a pair of foam wheels and motors, which is used to launch the ping pong balls much like a baseball pitching machine. The balls are stored above the wheels in a cardboard tube and released by a mechanical flap when triggered.

When [Andrew] is ready to release the turret’s payload, he sends a command to his computer over VNC, which relays the command to the Arduino over a serial connection, triggering the flap. While the control scheme could certainly benefit from direct, wireless phone-to-Arduino communications, it seems to work well enough for [Andrew's] needs.

Check out the video dramatization below to see [Andrew] “surprise” his brother with a hail of ping pong balls after the jump.

[Read more...]

Creating a Game for the CoCo

Retro is in the air today as [John] has tipped us off about a new game he has written for the Tandy Color Computer (CoCo), The game, inspired by the homebrew game DOWNFALL for the Atari Jaguar, features what looks like snappy game play, lots of bright colorful animation and has just entered the Alpha stages. The blog page above sheds some insight on what it takes to make a game for these old 8 bit wonders, cause no matter how easy it sounds, you do have to do some dancing to get even the simplest of things working correctly on such limited resources.

The game was part of this years Retrochallenge which is typically held in January, which we recommend checking out if you want your fill of random projects for old computers. From building an Apple I replica kit, to making a soccer game for a SGI system, getting a 5160 XT online or just noodling with a KIM, there is plenty of interesting projects to keep you occupied during the afternoon.

Join us after the break for a quick video of Fahrfall, the fun looking CoCo Game.

[Read more...]

Kinect for Windows released

Even though we’ve seen dozens of Kinect hacks over the years, there are a few problems with the Kinect hardware itself. The range of the Kinect sensor starts at three feet, a fact not conducive to 3D scanner builds. Also, it’s not possible to connect more than one Kinect to a single computer – something that would lead to builds we can barely imagine right now.

Fear not, because Microsoft just released the Kinect for Windows. Basically, it’s designed expressly for hacking. The Kinect for Windows can reliably ‘see’ objects 40 cm (16 in) away, and supports up to four Kinects connected to the same computer.

Microsoft set the price of Kinect for Windows at $250. This is a deal breaker for us – a new Kinect for XBox sells for around half that. If you’re able to convince Microsoft you’re a student, the price of the Kinect for Windows comes down to $150. That’s not too shabby if you compare the price to that of a new XBox Kinect.

We expect most of the builders out there have already picked up a Kinect or two from their local Craigslist or Gamestop. If you haven’t (and have the all-important educational discount), this might be the one to buy.

Resurrecting a Mac LC for server duties

It might just be a case mod, but we love [Eduard]‘s take on a modern Macintosh LC (translation). The donor motherboard came from a disused home server, and the LC came from [Eduard]‘s childhood memories of playing Glider and The Incredible Machine.

The case was donated from a venerable Macintosh LC, manufactured circa 1990. The original LC had a Motorola 68020 CPU, which [Eduard] upgraded to an Intel Atom board. It was a somewhat tricky build – he adapted a 90 Watt power supply from a piece of old office equipment to power the new Intel board. With a great deal of very careful Dremel work, the old-school Apple logo was modified into a power button for the new computer.

For frequent readers of Hack a Day, it’s no surprise that we’ll grab up any old Apple or Mac build. [Kevin] built a weather station and analog joypad for his Apple IIc, We’ve seen custom Mac ROM SIMMS, and of course [Sprite_tm]‘s amazing SE/30 emulation. If you’ve got something that will send our 68k senses tingling, send it on into the tip line.

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