[Andrew] recently got the authorization to install Linux on his work PC, and he was looking for a way to control his music without relying on keyboard shortcuts to do so. Additionally, he wanted an unmistakable visual cue when he received messages in Pidgin, so he decided to build an external input/notification box.
The control box, quite literally, is a cardboard box in which [Andrew] crammed some components he got way back when from the crew at Seeed Studio. A Seeeduino serves as the brains of his control panel, interfacing with his PC over USB. He uses a set of 4 touch sensors and a potentiometer to control the MPD, allowing him to easily switch tracks, pause his music, control the volume, and lock his computer with a simple touch. A side-mounted RGB LED lights green to show that the system has received his commands successfully, pulsing a bright blue whenever a message arrives via Pidgin.
While the case isn’t exactly pretty, it is small, recycled, and takes up very little desk space. [Andrew] says that it works great, and he has made his code available on github if anyone is interested in using it.
[Ames]’s father has had an old stock ticker sitting on a shelf for some time. He may have become quite listless over his spring break, because he decided connect a century-old stock ticker to his laptop.
When stock tickers were in use, they were all connected to a stock ticker circuit that would broadcast stock prices as a sequence of pulses. For each of these pulses, the letter wheel would advance by one character and finally print the letter with a great ca-thunk. Because stock tickers are incredibly simple devices – just a few solenoids and a couple of gears – [Ames] knew it would be relatively easy to connect one to his laptop.
[Ames]’ tool of choice for moving electrons back and forth in a wire is an Arduino, with none handy he needed to rig up something with the tools available on hand. [Ames] took a USB FTDI serial port connected the flow control lines to his ticker. A pair of MOSFETS and a tiny Python script advances the letter wheel and prints on the paper tape, a success by any measure.
After the break, you can see [Ames]’ stock ticker going about its antique machinations for the first time in possibly a hundred years. Not bad for a something put together over spring break.
Continue reading “Bringing a 19th century stock ticker into the 21st century”