Raleigh Maker Faire 2012

raleigh maker faire 2012

As [Caleb] mentioned earlier, I attended the Raleigh Maker Faire this year as an exhibitor. Although the table was for my personal site, some of you might have noticed that I was wearing a sweet [HAD] shirt and dispensing our stickers (which seemed to fly off the table). The event was extremely fun from the “other end of the table,” and I very much enjoyed meeting everyone. If you’re on the fence about showing off your stuff at one of these events, my advice would be to absolutely go for it!

The event itself is staffed entirely by volunteers, and Raleigh was able to attract more people this year than ever before. Thanks especially to [Kevin Gunn] and all of the volunteers for coordinating and setting everything up. Everyone was extremely helpful and the event was easy to find and prep for.

One warning though, if you do decide to set up a booth at a Faire, expect to talk a lot. You’ll feel like you’re among friends though, and you’re probably an expert (or at least can fake it) at whatever you’re displaying, so it’s really fun!  I’ll be doing several more posts on this event, so be sure to check back, especially if you attended! Continue reading “Raleigh Maker Faire 2012″

SNES-001 Advance puts displays in the controllers

Twenty years ago, [Downing] would fight with his siblings over who got to watch TV. Obviously, this gave him the idea of putting a television inside his Super Nintendo controller, but at he tender age of 12, [Downing] had neither the experience nor skills to make that happen. Now that he’s older, and much less impressed by the Sega Nomad, [Downing] made his dream a reality.

Reading over [Downing]’s madebybacteria forum thread, he began the build by adding two controller ports and painting the system a classic Famicom red and white. The prominent feature of [Downing]’s design – a display in each controller – are connected to the console through a second pair of SNES controller ports. Internally, the video signal generated by the SNES is broken out to each controller; the controller displays are just a small mirrored version of whats sent to the TV.

Like [Downing]’s previous Genesis portable, the SNES-001 is a master work of Bondo and vacuum forming. After the break you can see a few demos of what this console mod can do.

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Getting root on a Sony TV

The Sony Bravia series of HDTVs are a great piece of kit; they’re nice displays that usually have enough inputs for the craziest home theatre setups. These TVs also run Linux, but until now we haven’t seen anything that capitalizes on the fact these displays are wall-mounted Linux boxen. [Sam] sent in an exploit to root any Bravia TV – hopefully the first step towards replacing our home media server.

The exploit itself is a regular buffer overflow initialized by a Python script. The script sets up a Telnet server on any Sony Bravia with a USB port, and provides complete root access. [Sam] was able to get a Debian install running off a USB drive and all the Debian programs run correctly.

If you have a Bravia you’d like to test [Sam]’s script on, you’ll need a USB network adapter for the TV and a Telnet client to explore your TV’s file system. Right now there’s not much to do with a rooted Bravia, but at least now running XMBC or other media server on a TV is possible.

If anyone would like to start porting XMBC to a Bravia TV, [Sam] says he’s more than willing to help out. We’re not aware of any HDTV modding communities on the Internet, so if you’re part of one post a link in the comments.

Cramming for Sparkfun’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition

[Paul Breed] participated in this year’s Autonomous Vehicles Contest put on by SparkFun Electronics. As with most projects, the deadline really snuck up on him and he ended up cramming a bunch of code development into the waning days before the competition. His experiences are shared in this recent blog post.

One big part of the hardware is a laser range finder used for wall following. This is explained well in the video after the break, but you can see the side-pointing blue box in the image above. [Paul] also spent a lot of time preparing for the checkpoint portion of the course where the vehicle would need to pass through a red hoop. He worked long and hard on an image processing setup to find and navigate those hoops before learning that they would be positioned at known locations and it would be much easier to use a path following technique to complete the challenge.

He had a few follies along the way. At one point during debugging the car — which was connected to his laptop via Ethernet — it got away from him. This ripped the NIC right out of the back of his computer. And on the day of the event he had some low battery issues that zapped his laser calibrations. But [Paul] rolled with the punches and ended having what sounds like a really exciting experience participating in the contest.

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Milling a motorcycle engine

Real motorcycle enthusiasts design and mill their own engines. Well, perhaps that’s an overstatement. Certainly it takes to more obsession than enthusiasm to go to these lengths. But this gentleman’s modifications started out simple enough, and managed to make it to the most extreme of hardware fabrications.

The used bike came with a modified camshaft that seemed like a botched job. As he got further into tuning up engine performance the prospect of just replacing the entire thing with his own design started to grow. Using a manually operated milling machine he cut his own molds for the new cylinder head out of wood and sent them off to be forged out of aluminum. They come back in rough shape but he just “filed the cast without mercy” and machined the tolerances to his specifications. Apparently the first test ride had him a bit nervous — he also milled his own brakes for the bike. But after a few times around the block he gained confidence with his work.

[Thanks Carlos]

Driving a Nokia QVGA screen with Arduino (or any uC)

This is a Nokia 6300 screen. It’s a 320×240 display that has about 2″ of diagonal viewing area and boasts 24-bit QVGA TFT technology. It’s going to look fantastic in your next project and it won’t be hard to get up and running thanks to the hardware and software guide which [Andy Brown] put together. He chose this display because of its features, but also because it’s really easy to source and can be had for $5-7 delivered. The guide is aimed at working with the Arduino MEGA, but we’re sure you can port it for just about any microcontroller you’d like.

Much like the FPGA PSP display we just looked at, [Andy] chose to design his own PCB to host the LCD. This makes it a snap to attach the LCD — literally, since he managed to source the correct snap-in connector. The board also hosts a constant-current LED driver which takes care of the backlight, and allowed him to build in a level converter (since the screen communicates at 3.3V but Arduino uses 5V logic).

The software tutorial is lengthy but impressive. We’re surprised at the performance he gets out of the AVR chip. See the screen cycle through a set of demos after the break.

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