Sip-and-Puff Ipod dock highlights assistive technology

Check it out, a Sip-and-Puff Arduino shield. This is an assistive technology that allows the physically challenged to control things using a plastic air tube. Different combinations of sucking (Sip) or blowing (Puff) differentiate between control commands.

In this case the device is used to control an iPod dock, but [Bob Johnson's] Kickstarter project seeks to put the Sip-and-Puff functionality out there so that it can bridge the control gap no matter what the need. One example that he mentions in the video after the break is a Morse Code keyboard.

This shield uses a pressure sensor to receive input from the plastic tubing. But we’ve also seen it done using mechanical pressure switches. That technique is what was used in the Sip-and-Puff Kayak build.

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Time to get serious about going to LayerOne

This year’s LayerOne Hacking and Security Conference is right around the corner. But it’s not too late to attend. You can still get a block-rate hotel room if you register by the end of April, and registration for the two-day event only costs a hundred bucks. It’s scheduled for May 26th and 27th in Anaheim California.

As usual, the Speaker lineup is quite impressive. Everything from Android Malware to embedded exploits and botnet adventures will be discussed. And then there’s the perennial favorite lock picking and hardware hacking villages. Did we mention badges? We’d bet it was this pick-and-place machine which helped assemble this year’s pile of badges. We haven’t seen any word on what they might include, but there’s a hacking contest so plan to pack your tools.

AVRphone is a barebones touchscreen cellphone

This little device is a prototype cellphone based on the ATmega128 microcontroller (translated). It boasts a 2.4″ touchscreen display which serves as the keypad, and uses the SIM100S module which takes care of the GSM radio communications. But the hardware isn’t the only attractive part. Judging from the screen shots a fair amount of time went into building the user interface too.

We seem to have a bounty of cellphone builds recently. This one is quite clean, and boasts a smaller footprint, and larger screen than this barebones example. There is a white paper available if you’re interested in digging a little deeper than the overview post. But it’s written in Czech and we didn’t see a way to provide a machine translation other than copying the text from the PDF file and pasting it into a translator.

Coating technique makes glass you can’t see

Some of the deep thinkers over at MIT have come up with an interesting hack for ordinary glass. If you coat it in a special way it becomes nearly invisible. This is only one of the effects of the coating, but brings images of people walking through glass walls to our minds.

Joking aside, this is really very useful. The images above show a microscopic view of the cones that are applied during the coating process. They prevent the surface tension on a drop of water from being broken, and you can see the clip of water actually bouncing right off the glass in the video after the break. This also means it acts as a non-stick coating for dirt, grime, and even fog. Anyone who’s taken a tropical vacation will know that taking a picture outside with a camera that’s been in an air-conditioned room results only in a snapshot of a foggy lens. This coating could change that. But it’s also got a lot of potential with the glass panes covering solar cells. If they can’t get dirty, and there’s virtually no glare, you should see a performance boost. It’ll be interesting to see how long this takes to come to market and what the first products to use it might be.

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Giant Space Invaders with road barriers and no moving parts

This is space invaders on the large-scale. To give you an idea of just how big this is, that’s a street lamp to the left. It’s being played on the side of a building, but it’s not really done the easy way. We’ve seen gaming on the sides of buildings by using projectors, but this one is more like a classic LCD handheld game… just really really big.

Each of the game pieces is hung in place on a black backdrop. The invaders themselves are molded-plastic road construction barricades. The shield area on the bottom is made op of center-lane dividers. All of the pieces are wired with lights that can be addressed by a central controller. As you can see after the break, just one button gets the action under way.

This is along the same line as the Christmas Light game we saw several years back. If you’ve got some extra strings of lights and don’t mind building a controller we think you should add a little fun to the neighborhood with your own giant installation. Just don’t forget to send in some pictures.

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Zen rock garden table uses magnets and sand

[Nick] is working on a prototype of a coffee table sand plotter that draws patterns in sand a lot like a zen rock garden.

[Nick]‘s zen rock garden uses a magnet to draw a ball bearing across the sand in interesting patterns. The build uses 3D printed gears and laser cut parts to rotate the table around and move the magnet along a radius of the circle. During the first test of the prototype, the ball bearing jerked around but this problem was solved by adding a piece of foam under the sand. Power is supplied through a slip ring in the base, and the table is controlled through Bluetooth.

Speaking of magnet-and-ball-bearing zen coffee tables, we ran across this video of a more professional-looking prototype that was the basis for a successful Kickstarter campaign. Like [Nick]‘s prototype, the entire build relies on magnets and a ball bearing to move sand around in patterns. Because this zen table uses an XY axis instead of [Nick]‘s polar setup, drawing logos is a lot easier math-wise, lthough it doesn’t look quite as cool as a circular rock garden.

After the break you can see these zen rock garden coffee tables in action.

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[David] hand soldered a Blinky ball… and you can too!

This is a blinky ball that [David] designed, built, and programmed himself. Does it look familiar? It should, he took his inspiration from the original prototype, and the Hackerspace-produced derivative. [David's] version is not as small, or as blinky, but in our minds the development process is the real reason for building something like this. He took a great idea and figured out how he could pull it off while pushing his skill set, staying within his time and budget constraints.

The project is powered by an Arduino nano which resides in the core of the ball. [David] used protoboard sourced locally for each of the slices, soldering green LEDs along the curved edges, and added shift registers to drive them. The ball is driven by a LiPo battery which can power it for about 45 minutes. You can see the animation designs he coded in the clip after the break.

[Read more...]

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