Office game show buzzer keeps things fair and square

office-game-show-buzzer

The sales team in [Chuck’s] office is a pretty competitive bunch as you might expect, and they decided that they wanted a system which would allow them to challenge one another during their weekly meetings. The competition involves answering questions posed by their manager, but hand raising only works for so long – they needed a definitive way to tell who “buzzed in” to answer a question first.

Since [Chuck] only had a short bit of time and a tiny budget to work on, he opted to find the easiest solution to the problem, which was an Arduino-based game show buzzer system. The game display is built from an Arduino, some LEDs and an Altoids tin, while the buzzer pushbuttons were salvaged from an old radio broadcast console.

Now, when a question is posed, the salesman can buzz in to answer, knowing that only the quickest person’s button click will be registered. When it’s time for another question, the host simply clicks his buzzer to reset the console.

While it’s not quite as fancy as this game buzzer system we featured a while back, [Chuck] says it does the job perfectly and was cheap to boot.

Continue reading to see a short video of the office game buzzer system in action.

Continue reading “Office game show buzzer keeps things fair and square”

Coffee table puts on a show behind smoked glass

This coffee table is a real show-piece. It’s got a smoky glass surface that is hiding the LCD screen within. But what fun would it be if it could only play video? The rest of the enclosure houses all the parts necessary to make this living room centerpiece into a computer.

After the break you can see a video showing off each step of the build process. It starts by ridding the screen of its enclosure, and using what’s left to determine the size of the wood frame for the table. With the display firmly in place [Nate] sets to work position, mounting, and developing cooling solutions for the motherboard and the rest of the bits. He does nice work and ends up with a table that we’d be proud to feature in our homes.

Now he’s got a lot of computing power and a huge display, but isn’t something missing? How hard do you think it would be to add touch sensitive input to this? We’re wondering if the overlays used to make those Android touchscreens could be mounted on the underside of the glass?  Continue reading “Coffee table puts on a show behind smoked glass”

Reclaim the wireless controller module from a broken Xbox 360

If you’re one of the hordes whose Xbox 360 died the fiery death associated with the RRoD you may be wondering what to do with that multi-hundred dollar door stop you’re left with. Why not salvage the parts for other uses? If you’ve ever wanted to use your wireless controller with a computer here’s a way to pull out the RF module and reuse it.

The concept is simple enough, there’s a daughter-board in the Xbox 360 which hosts the RF module for wireless controller connectivity. Once you extract it from the carcass of the beast, you just need to find a way to read and push the data to your computer. Any USB enabled microcontroller will do, in this case an Arduino nano was chosen for the task. A bit of level converting was necessary to interface with the device, but nothing too involved.

It sounds like at first there was an issue with syncing a controller with the hacked module, but as you can see in the clip after the break that problem has been solved.

Continue reading “Reclaim the wireless controller module from a broken Xbox 360″

Dog Pod Grid one step closer to reality

What’s better than one amazingly acrobatic quadcopter? How about a swarm of acrobatic micro-quadcopters? It’s not a rhetorical question, but an experimental reality. A team at the University of Pennsylvania are showing off their latest round of hovering robots which can move in formation and alter their orientation as a swarm.

You may remember us salivating over the unbelievable stunts the team pulled off with a single ‘copter back in 2010. That device needed a sophisticated camera installation to give provide feedback, and this uses the same framework. But we don’t that detracts from the achievement; it’s simply a future hurdle for the project.

The video after the break shows some of the stunts the slew of whirring devices are capable of. Watching them move as a grid, and even landing simultaneously, we can’t help but think of the Dog Pod Grid from Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age. It was used as a protection system, keeping unwanted flying intruders out. Doesn’t sound so far-fetched any more, does it?

Continue reading “Dog Pod Grid one step closer to reality”

Printable wire stripper lights up when you hit the conductor

Agonize no more over stripping the insulation off of tiny wires like those used in ribbon cables. For years we’ve used razor blades to do this, as the tiniest wires don’t have a slot on our trusty wire strippers. But often we cut all the way though the conductor (or many of the strands) when doing so. [Bjbsquared] came up with this design that will alert you when you’ve hit the conductor.

It uses the two metal razor blades as electrodes in the LED circuit. When anything metal connects the two, the LED will be illuminated. This way you know you’ve cut far enough, and should be able to tug the insulation off of the wire. This image only shows half of the printed unit, a second piece covers up the inner workings, and helps keep stray fingers away from the edges of the blades.

Overkill? We don’t think so, and we hope everyone will agree this is a wonderful design.

[via Reddit and Gizmodo]

Kitchen timer makes Mario your Sous-chef

[Alan] was unimpressed by the cheap ticking egg timers that grace many of our kitchens. He decided this was an execllent opportunity to ply his skills with microcontrollers. He built this kitchen timer complete with an enclosure and audible alarm.

The device is Arduino based, which makes driving the graphic LCD quite easy thanks the libraries associated with that platform. As you can see above, his user interface makes use of virtual buttons – three tactile switches whose function is listed at the top of the display.

But we think the alarm sound really earns this a place in his kitchen. He used the same hardware as that that Super Mario Bros. Toilet project to play classic video game sounds when your soufflé needs come out of the oven. We haven’t come across them ourselves, but apparently there’s a line of key chains for sale in Japan (yes, we need to plan a trip there!) that have the tunes programmed into them. They’re easy to crack open and it beats dealing with a speaker and amp circuit.