Android rolled into Linux kernel 3.3

The latest version of the Linux kernel was just released on Sunday, and there’s a little bonus which we think is worth considering. It seems that many changes from Android made their way into version 3.3 of the Linux kernel.

This may not sound like much, but it’s a great example of the power of open source. Since device specific changes based on the Linux kernel must be released under the same license, hardware manufactures are compelled to release their sources. But normally this would only help you if you have the expertise to slog through their code and find the parts that you need for whatever purpose you have in mind. But with these changes being rolled into the main kernel you should be able to run your own distributions on Android devices relatively easy; hardware support is already in there. Of course there’s still a lot of expertise that goes into cross-compiling an OS.

This may have the potential to open up old Android hardware as a development platform. Think of how Chumby hardware has been used in robotics projects. Now what if your old Bluetooth and WiFi enable cellphone had a stock kernel that was as easy and open to use in your own projects?

[Thanks Adam]

Never miss your transport with this bus arrival notifier

[John Graham-Cumming] was all set to start a new project based on the Raspberry Pi. Well, that was until shipment was delayed due to manufacturing issues. Not to fret, he transitioned over to a router board which displays the arrival countdown for mass transit bus service.

He based the build on a web page the Transport for London provided. You can load it up and see if your bus is running on time or not. There’s no published API, but by studying the source code from the site [John] was able to figure out how the JSON commands were formatted.

The next step is building a standalone device to pull the data and display it. The board seen above is from a Linksys WRT54GL router. This longtime favorite has a serial port header which can be driven from the Linux kernel. He wired up a jack on the router’s case, and uses an extension cable to get from it to the 7-segment displays mounted in a model of the bus. Since there’s four digits the display can tell you minutes until the arrival of two different buses.

[Thanks Pseudo Lobster]

Hot dirt keeps your plants happy in the winter months

[Craig] tried heating his greenhouse last winter, but really only managed to push the limits of his utility bills. This time around he took a different approach by building a system to warm the soil in which his vegetation is planted.

The core of the system is this box which houses the plants. It is lined with heating tape along the bottom which warms a layer of dirt. The plants are in pots, but since those are surrounded by the dirt it doesn’t really inhibit the warming properties of the soil. The controller takes into account the temperature inside the box, as well as ambient temperature in the greenhouse. When it’s a bit too cold the controller will close the lid, which is covered with translucent plastic. This makes sure the temperature around the plants won’t fall below about 41.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

This really takes the work out of caring for you plants in the winter. What would have been a multiple-times-per-day visit can be limited to every day or two. Now he just needs to expand this to regulate temperature and humidity in the greenhouse itself, kind of like this other hack.

Hacking the green goose for fun and profit

[Troy] recently got his hands on a greengoose starter kit and like any HAD reader would do, proceeded to probe it mercilessly.

The greengoose appears to be some sort of location-tracking device which reports back to a server on the position and location of radio transmitters relative to it. [Troy] managed to not only get the base-station’s firmware, but to also hack it and greengoose’s data to his own server. As if that wasn’t good enough he broke down the packet structure for us. Good job [Troy].

Looks like the greengoose could be a fun tool for anyone interested tweeting the whereabouts of their cat, or checking if the toilet seat lid is down. Let’s see what people come up with.

Another homebrew Segway clone comes in at under $300

[Matt Turner] tipped us off back in January about his homemade Segway project. Unfortunately that message slipped through the cracks but we’re glad he sent in a reminder after reading Friday’s feature an a different 2-wheeled balancer.

We like it that he refers to this project as being on the budget of a graduate student with a young family. We certainly understand where he’s coming from, and we hope he can ride this to job interviews to show them he truly lives engineering. The control circuitry is a bit higher-end than we’re used to seeing. He chose a Cypress CY8C29466 SoC to control the device. But the sensors are a common choice, using the Wii Motion Plus and Wii Nunchuk for the gyroscope and accelerometer they contain. This is a no-brainer since the sensors are high-quality, cheap and available locally, and communicate of the standard I2C protocol.

When looking for motors [Matt] was happy to find an old electric wheelchair on Craig’s List. This also gave him a gear box, wheels, and tires. He added a pair of motor drivers, with his own alterations to suppress feedback. Sounds like they run a little hot because he plans to add cooling fans to them in the future. But this first iteration is up and running quite well as you can see in the clip after the break.

[Read more...]

EL wire piping on a party couch

If you’ve been putting off that reupholstering project here’s a little incentive to get started. Adafruit now has some electroluminescent wire which is perfect for use as piping. They’ve outfitted a small sofa with the glowing material and we think it looks great whether switched on or not.

The installation process is really quite easy. The EL wire is covered with clear material that provides a continuous tab running the length of the wire. This can be stapled on like you see in the image above, or sewn into a fabric seam. So you could take an existing sofa cover, remove all the stitching, and sew it back together with the EL wire replacing the original piping. The video after the break shows how simple the process is.

This will be a nice complement to that Daft Punk table we’ve been meaning to build. [Read more...]

[Ian] shops Seoul, South Korea

We don’t get a chance to shop some of the cooler electronic component shops here in the States, much less hop on a plane and experience the Hacker’s Disneyland that are the Asian markets. So we’re glad to live vicariously through Hackaday alum [Ian Lesnet's] adventures. This time around he’s combed through Seoul, South Korea’s electronics markets. That link will take you to the roundup of about a dozen posts he published during his recent trip.

The image above is a screenshot from one of the videos he made of the experience. After the break you can watch him put on the tour-guide hat. We think he did a great job of explaining the experience and showing off what the market is like without letting the video drag on. The shops mostly offer a window display with all of the components they sell. To make a purchase you just window shop, then go inside and they will pull out an order for you from bulk bags stored on floor-to-ceiling shelves. [Ian] also makes a stop at the local Hackerspace where they show off some of their 3D printer builds.

This is not the first time he’s given us a tour like this, go check out his Akihabara trip if you missed it before. He’s also planning to meet up with the Seeed Studio folks to tour the shops in Shenzhen next month. [Read more...]