Nyan Cat hat will be the hit of the party…. for about one minute

Seriously, this Nyan Cat hat is the only part needed for a fantastic Halloween costume. It looks pretty good in this still image, but we dare you to watch the clip of it in action (embedded after the break) without letting a beaming grin creep onto your face. Everyone’s going to just love this… until it starts to get really annoying.

When switched on, the iconic meme rotates around the headgear, bobbing its head and tail as she sings the song of her people. There are also stars made of white LEDs that twinkle very brightly in the process. The presentation is quite good, but even better is seeing the build process. Luckily [Ben Katz] posted a series of detailed articles during the adventure. The mechanism responsible for driving the cat around the hat was laser cut from acrylic. It includes a large gear with teeth on the inside, which is interface by a continuously rotating servo motor with a much smaller gear. The head and tail bobbing are purely mechanical, using the revolving motion to turn a spindle as the cat makes its way around the brim.

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DSO Quad contest has a quartet of cash prizes

Seeed Studios has launched a contest centered around the DSO Quad. In case you’re unfamiliar with the hardware, the DSO Quad is a low-cost standalone oscilloscope. It’s got four channels, two of which are analog, and includes an ARM Cortex-M3 processor as well as an FPGA. Why are we recapping the hardware with the contest announcement? Because the contest rules state that you are allowed to alter the hardware despite the fact that this is more of a software-focused event.

But what you really should know about are the cash prizes going to the winners. Rank in the top four and you’ll claim $3000, $1500, $800, and $300 in cold hard cash. But even if you don’t take one of the top spots everyone still wins. That’s because all entries are open source and will be found in Seeed’s DSO Quad forums.

If judging people is more your thing Seeed needs some help with that too. They’re looking for qualified judges and application details are includes at the bottom of the contest page.

[Thanks Petteri]

Halloween Props: Monster in a box

This furry Halloween decoration proves to be a simple build, but it’s still quite popular with the little ones. [Chris] had a Halloween party for a group of 2-5 year olds and this monster that peeks out of a box was a huge hit. The trick really isn’t in the complexity of the build, but in the interactivity.

The enclosure is just a shoe box which has been covered in synthetic black fur. The lid was hinged on the back, and a hobby servo with a bit of an extension on the arm is used to lift the front which reveals the monster’s paper eyes. Inside you’ll find an Arduino, breadboard, and battery pack. It’s not visible above, but a distance sensor on the front of the box is monitored by the Arduino. When it detects something in front of it the servo fires up and pops open the lid. The firmware includes a timer so that the monster waits a bit before taking its next peek at the party.

Scrapped DVD player turns into a full featured clock

[Dmitry] really went the distance with this project. It started as a broken DVD player scrapped for parts, and turned into this clock with way too many features. That link is a pretty a dry technical collection of the work. You’ll definitely want to have a look at it, but we’d suggest first watching the demo video after the break which is initially much more exciting.

The donor DVD hardware included a Vacuum Fluorescent display which is the nugget which [Dmitry] was after. But that board came along with some other nice things, like an integrated IR receiver. He also chose to use the PSU from the device. An Arduino is used to drive the clock. We’re not sure where he found it, but the video shows the service manual for the DVD player which must have a been a real help in interfacing with the display. The white dome on the right is a PIR motion sensor. It brings the device out of sleep mode when someone is in the room.

The case is laser-cut and started as cardboard to ensure everything fit as designed. The enclosure makes it a showpiece, but the features of displaying day, date, time, and temperature make it functional as well. Since the VFD is alpha-numeric we think this could even see future upgrades to be used as a new-mail/tweet/IM alert as well.

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Optimus Prime keeps a vigilant watch over the hen-house

[shOOter---]  and his family are just starting to keep chickens and need a coop in which the hens could roost. He wanted it to be mobile and protective and what is more mobile and protective and the leader of the Transformers? As you can see, his chicken coop is modeled after Optimus Prime.

The cab of the truck serves as the hen-house. It’s made of marine grade plywood held together with glue and galvanized nails. The exhaust stacks, which are made of PVC pipe, are not just decorative. They are chutes for the feed trays to either side of the blue ramp (you can’t really see the trays in this image). To give the chickens a way to stretch their legs he brought his welding skills to bear. The trailer portion of the build is a welded metal frame covered in mesh which provides a rather large exercise yard. Since the habitat is enclosed there’s really no need for an intricate motorized door.

[Thanks James]

Bluetooth control for your DSLR or just about any other IR operated device

Just the other day we were reading a Reddit thread asking about how to control a television with a smartphone. The conversation started by talking about adding an IR LED to the phone.  Then it was suggested that there should be standalone Bluetooth devices that convert commands to IR, and came around to the ideas that TV’s should ship with native Bluetooth hardware. We couldn’t agree more but we’re also not about to replace our TV just for this option. That’s why we were delighted to find this project waiting on our tip line. It’s a method of controlling a camera shutter from a smartphone using Bluetooth. But the technique will work for any device which uses an infrared remote control.

The video after the break shows two different devices controlling the camera shutter. As you can see in the diagram above, the iPhone is the master controller, connecting to a Bluetooth headset mounted on the camera. That headset was altered to feed the speaker connections into an IR LED pointed at the camera’s receiver. The iPhone plays an encoded audio track matching the IR remote command, resulting in the properly formatted message flashing on the LED. The watch doesn’t have the ability to playback audio, but it can send a message to the phone, which then plays the proper audio track through the headset.

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Extracting data with keyboard emulation

A common challenge for computer security specialists is getting data out of a very locked-down system. Of course all network traffic on these test machines is monitored, and burning a CD or writing to a USB Flash drive is out of the question. Where there’s a will there’s a way, so [András] figured out how to extract data from a computer by emulating a keyboard.

Emulating a USB HID device is nothing new; the newest Arduino can do it, as can any AVR with the help of V-USB. [András]‘s build emulates a USB keyboard that can download data from a computer by listening to the NUM, CAPS and SCROLL lock LEDs.

Of course, [András] first needs an app to transmit data through these keyboard status LEDs. To do this, his build carries with it a Windows executable file on the AVR’s Flash memory. After plugging his device into the computer, it writes this program to disk and is then able to send data out through keyboard status LEDs.

It’s not very fast – just over one byte per second – but [András] did manage to extract data from a computer, circumventing just about every anti-leaking solution.