View Gerber files in 3d in your browser

[Mark] wrote in, eager to show off this new tool he’s created to view your gerber files in 3d. He also wrote an instructible to go along with it, to help you figure out how to use the tool. Being an in-browser tool also means you can shoot it to your friends for a quick 3d review as well. Some of you may not feel that the 3d view is that helpful to the process, but we think that this is a welcomed feature that just might get some use around here.

[Mark] points out that it is still being actively developed, so please shoot him bugs via the form on the website if you should encounter any.

A locking chest with a musical key

music-detecting-box

[Basil Shikin] was thinking about different types of locks, and was trying to come up with a locking solution that he had yet to see. It dawned on him that he had never come across a lock triggered by music, so he set off to construct one of his own.

He ordered a wooden chest online, then proceeded to piece together the electronics required for the locking mechanism as well as the music detecting logic. Using an Atmega328P paired with an electret mic, his system listens for a particular tune (the Prelude of Light from the Ocarina of Time) to be played , which triggers a tiny servo to undo the latch. To do this, he implemented a version of the Goertzel Algorithm on the Arduino, allowing him to accurately detect the magical tune by frequency, regardless of what instrument it is played on.

Be sure to check out the video below to see his musical lock in action.

[Read more...]

Tinkering with ODB II and the CAN bus

[Debrah] is taking his next project out to the garage. He built his own CAN bus reader using a dsPIC.

The nice thing about working with Control Area Network is that it’s a universal standard found on every modern production line automobile. And because of this, the chip you need in order to communicate using that protocol will cost just over a dollar. [Debraj] chose the MCP2551, which comes in several different 8-pin packages. There is even an application note tailored for use with the dsPIC33F family.

The project is running on both 5V and 3.3V rails. This complicates things just a bit, but a level converter makes sure that there’s no communications problems between the chips. A four line character LCD acts as the output during the tests (you can see this in the clip after the break) but he’s already got a second version which looks quite a bit better on the dashboard.

What else can be done with this hack? Well, we’ve seen a method used to read control buttons from the steering wheel before. It all depends on what data your vehicle is transmitting and one way to find that out is to build some hardware and start logging the packets. [Read more...]

Original Prince of Persia game source code released

The game that launched a multi-billion dollar franchise is now laid bare for your hacking pleasure. [Jordan Mechner] just posted the once-lost source code for Prince of Persia. This game was ground-breaking for its use of rotoscoping to mimic the movements of an actor (in this case it was his younger brother). Oh, and it’s a ton of fun to play.

This comes at an appropriate time since yesterday was the the 35th anniversary of the Apple II release. PoP was written for that platform but should be easy to get running on an emulator if you’re just interested in cloning the repository so that you can play it through once again. Interestingly enough, the source code went missing for many years. [Jordan's] been looking for the original source code for a decade. Turns out his Dad came across a cardboard box with some original copies of the game in it and shipped it off for [Jordan] to take care of. Inside was a set of 3.5″ disks that are pure retro gold.

So here’s your chance to inject yourself into the game. The question is, will you be the Prince or will you be Jaffar?

Emulating ARM on an 8-pin AVR

Falling on the heels of some fabulous ‘lets see what we can emulate on an AVR’ builds we’ve seen, [Dimitri] emulated an ARM Cortex-M0 on an 8-pin ATtiny85.

The emulator is written entirely in AVR assembly. Unfortunately, the instruction set of ATtinys don’t have a multiply instruction, so that had to emulated in a separate piece of code. Even with this addition, the emulator is very small; the core is just over 1300 instructions and small enough to fit on the Flash of the very small ‘tiny85.

Unlike the ATMega running Linux we saw last month, [Dimitri] won’t be doing anything crazy like making the tiniest and worst Linux computer ever. The Cortex-M0 doesn’t have a MMU, so Linux is out of the question. [Dimitri] could go with μCLinux, with the addition of a I2C EEPROM and RAM, but don’t expect a speed demon for an emulated ARM running at 200kHz.

[Dimitri] put all the code up on his webpage, and the installation is just running ‘make.’  It looks easy enough to get up and running very quickly, so we’re sure some bored hardware guru will come up with something interesting to do with this code.

He blinded me with backup lights

When driving at night you need to be able to see where you’re going. And that goes for reversing up as well. But the stock white lights on [Ryan's] ride didn’t provide the type of illumination he wanted, so he replaced them with two sets of super bright LED modules. These are ridiculously bright, perhaps outshining some types of headlights. And since they bring a lot of heat there’s a fair amount of work that went into mounting them.

He sourced some Cree XM-L T6 LED modules, two for each side of the car. These can put out intensity approaching 1000 Lumens each. To keep them cool he grabbed one CPU heat sink for each. These include a copper core with aluminum fins coming off like a spiral starburst. To act as a bezel he used a piece of copper clad board. This gives him a surface to mount the heat sinks, and after coating it with chrome brite it also acts as a reflector. Once mounted he fires it up and the difference is remarkable.

Full Linux distro on a Nook color

We should have included a footnote in the title. You can say that [Thomas Polasek] installed a full version of Arch Linux on his Nook Color, but there’s one caveat. It’s running on top of the Android kernel and his proof-of-concept uses a second computer to get it up and running. But there’s potential for that to change moving forward.

Unlike previous attempts to run a Linux distro on Android, this does away with using a VNC to show the desktop. [Thomas] is commandeering Android’s frame buffer so that it can be used by the X desktop without needing to set up display drivers. To start off he installed a ROM based on CM7. A couple of Android apps give him the functionality needed to get the Arch Linux distro running from the SD card. This is accomplished by tunneling into the tablet via SSH, and using the ‘chroot’ command to make it active. The hope is that this can somehow be automated by a script.

A female to female USB coupler was used to connect the keyboard and mouse to the Nook. It looks like LXDE would be useless without them; touch control is not yet implemented. Those shortcomings aside, everything seems to be running pretty fast in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

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