[Jeri] uses light bulbs in an oscillator

Way back when [Ms Ellsworth] was a kid, she kept seeing the same circuit over and over again in her various op-amp books. It was a Wien bridge oscillator, a small circuit that outputs a sine wave with the help of a light bulb. Now that [Jeri] is much wiser, she decided to play around with this strange oscillator and found it’s actually pretty impressive for, you know, a light bulb.

The interesting portion of the Wien bridge is the gain portion of the circuit. It’s just a simple resistor divider, with a light bulb thrown in on one of its legs. When the current increases, this causes the light bulb to warm up (not enough to glow, though). When the temperature increases, the resistance in the light bulb increases, making the oscillator reach an equilibrium.

It’s a clever setup, but what about swapping out a resistor in place of the light bulb? In the video, [Jeri] tries just that, and it’s a mess. Where the light bulb circuit is amazingly stable with very, very low distortion, the resistor circuit looks like a disaster on the scope with harmonics everywhere.

A very cool build that would be perfect for an audio synth, but as [Jeri] says in her YouTube comments, “This doesn’t have enough distortion for indie bands.”

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One dimensional PONG, take two

Needing a Christmas present for his 4- and 5-year-old nieces, [John] built a one-dimensional PONG game, sure to be the delight of rosy-cheeked children on a Christmas morn.

The new and improved 1D PONG game is built around a digital RGB LED strip with an LPD8806 LED controller. The speed of the ‘ball’ is controlled by a pot on one side of the game. With each player pressing their button at the right time, the ball bounces back to the other player. Missing the ball awards a point to the other team and most likely an increase in the player’s frustration, greatly increasing the risk of this game being thrown across the room.

While it’s not an obscenely long 1D PONG game like [Jason]‘s previous 5 meter version, it’s more than enough to keep a pair of kids occupied for more than a few minutes, a remarkable achievement for just a microcontroller, buttons, and a piece of LED strip.

You can get [John]‘s AVR code in this pastebin or just check out the video after the break.

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Controlling a quadcopter with a Leap Motion

A few folks over at National Instruments going under the name LabVIEW Hacker have gotten their hands on a Leap Motion dev kit. The Leap is an interesting little input device designed to track fingertips in 3D space, much like a Kinect but at much higher resolution. Needing something to show off their LabVIEW prowess, these guys controlled their office AR Drone with the Leap, making a quadcopter controller that is completely touchless.

Building on their previous AR Drone hack, the LabVIEW team spent the better part of a day adding wrappers around the Leap SDK and adding in control for their RC quadcopter. Now, simply by moving their fingertips over the Leap sensor, they can control their office quadrotor using a very high-resolution 3D scanner.

Video after the break.

[Read more...]

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