Preparing sushi with the help of lasers

laser-cut-sushi-rolls

It’s not too often that we cover food here on Hackaday, but when we saw how a laser cutter was being used to help enhance the look of sushi, we decided to share. Even if you don’t enjoy sushi, it’s hard not to argue that it can often be more like edible art than simply food. The preparation that goes into well-made sushi is extensive, and this laser cut maki certainly takes things up a notch.

In the wake of the 2011 tsunami many businesses were suffering, including Umino Seaweed whose primary product is nori – the ubiquitous green seaweed wrapper found in/on many sushi rolls. They were looking for something to attract attention to the brand, while remaining respectful to the centuries-old tradition of making sushi.

They sent their request to ad agency I&SBBDO who came up with the fancy looking nori you see above. Each sheet of seaweed is laser cut with traditional Japanese imagery, from the Sakura (cherry blossom) to the Kumikikkou (tortoise shell). We’re not sure if these sheets of nori are actually for sale or have just been put together for solely advertising, either way we think this is a novel and frivolous, but awesome use for a laser cutter. Also, we’re pretty hungry now – anyone up for grabbing some sushi?

[via Make]

Reading credit cards with a tape head

A company called Square is giving out free credit card readers that turn any iPhone or iPad into a Point of Sale terminal. [Steve] got a hold of one of these tiny peripherals and did what any sane person would do: tear it apart and learn how it works. This bit of hardware is a little unimpressive; unsurprising because Square is giving them away. With simplicity comes an ease in understanding, and [Steve] was able to successfully read his own credit card with this tiny and free credit card reader.

[Steve]‘s work in decoding credit card data builds off [Count Zero]‘s article from the bbs days. Basically, each credit card has two or three tracks. Track three is mostly unused, whereas track one contains the card holder name, account number, cvc code and other ancillary data. Track two only contains the credit card number and expiration date.

The only components in the Square card reader are a head from a tape player and a 1/8″ microphone jack. The magnetic head in the Square card reader is positioned to only read track two. With a small shim, it’s possible to re-align the head to get the data from track one. After recording an audio file of him sliding his card though the Square reader, [Steve] looked at the number of times the waveform flipped from positive to negative. From this, he was able to get the 1s and 0s on the card and converted them to alphanumeric using the 6-bit ANSI/ISO alpha format.

[Steve] isn’t going to share the code he wrote for Android just yet, but it should be relatively easy to replicate his work with the Android tutorial he used. Also, yes, we did just pose the question of how these Square credit card readers work just hours ago. Good job being on the ball, [Steve]. Tips ‘o the hat go out to [Bobby], [Leif], [Derek] and anyone else we might have missed.

EDIT: [Stephen] sent in his teardown minutes after this post went live. Hackaday readers are too fast at this stuff.

Multiple Marble Machine Mayhem

marble mayhem

If you like marble machines, or if you simply like alliteration, prepare to be amazed. [Denha] apparently has had a lot of time to spare over the years, as the marble machine collection he’s amassed is quite incredible. Dating back to 2009, the collection includes relatively simple machines, like the one pictured at the beginning, to one that includes physical logic gates around 5:30.

Interestingly enough, even the “simple” one that consists of two mechanisms to lift the marbles and a slide has a trick up it’s sleeve. The slide is actually modular, so that you can use the same “pumping” mechanism with different slide designs. Not that this is the only “pump” design, the last machine featured a marble lifting mechanism with an ingenious linkage assembly that translates the motion of a motor into a sort of lifting hand.

If this wasn’t enough Maddness, there is another marble-lifting surprise awaiting you in the video after the break around 4:35! [Read more...]

Hackaday Links: April 18, 2012

Sandcasting at the beach

[mkb] sent in a video he found of [Max Lamb] sandcasting a stool at a beach in England. The material is pewter, or >90% tin with a little bit copper and antimony thrown in for good measure. While we’re sure there will be a few complaints from environmentalists, it’s still a cool video to see.

Your project needs an OLED display

Here’s a Kickstarter for a tiny 96×16 OLED display. Connect this thing to any I2C bus and you get a 15×2 character display (or a graphic display if that’s your inclination) very easily. Thanks to [Chris] for sending this one in.

Here’s one for a larf

[Ryan Inman] is suing 20 companies because he got mercury poisoning from vacuum tubes. Read that last line again. Most of the companies that sell antique/repro/hard-to-find components like Angela Instruments, Antique Electronic Supply, and even eBay are listed as defendants in the case. This might put at least one company out of business even though they never sold [Ryan] a vacuum tube edit: they did sell him a neon bulb, and courts are generally idiotic when it comes to technological issues. It’s hilarious and sad, so we’ll keep you updated if we get more info.

Nostalgia, the pain from an old wound

The Adafruit blog posted an excellent piece on the Apple ][ game Rocky's Boots, an educational game from 1982 that teaches kids how to connect logic gates. You can play this game in your browser, but we'd like to hear our stories of ancient video games that teach you engineering concepts like The Incredible Machine or Widget Workshop. Leave a note in the comments if we're leaving any out.

A question posed to the community

A company is giving away credit card readers that plug into the headphone jack of an iDevice. [J Smith] writes in to ask us if anyone has gotten one of these and opened them up. Like [J Smith] we’re expecting something a repeat of the CueCat where free hardware is opened up to everybody. If you’ve done a teardown of one of these card readers, send it in.

3DS homebrew

[Mike] sent us a link to [neimod]‘s Flickr photostream. It looks like we’re on the cusp of tearing open the Nintendo 3DS for homebrew apps. Someone who uses this much hot glue must know what they’re doing, right?

Android app review: ADSdroid gives you every datasheet, ever

A few months ago when I reviewed the Android electronic reference app ElectroDroid, I made the offhand remark that a front end app for alldatasheet.com would be a killer mobile electronic reference app. [András Veres-Szentkirályi] accepted my challenge and built ADSdroid, the unofficial Android app for alldatasheet.com. You can check out my complete review after the break.

[Read more...]