Hackaday Links: December 13th, 2012

Cardboard box computer

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[Alistair] chapman had a Laptop with a broken screen sitting in his parts bin. He knew he had an LCD panel on hand that would probably work with it, but it wouldn’t fit in the case. His solution was to transplant all the computer parts into a cardboard box from a motherboard.

This violin is garbage

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The kids in this orchestra live in a villiage built on top of a landfill. But they make the most out of what they have. This orchestra is composed of instruments built from garbage and they seem to work pretty well. [Thanks Bruce]

More LED mystery puzzles

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[Henryk] is at it again. He puts together some very impressive circuits that play tricks on your engineering mind. His latest is three LEDs in series. Look closely and you’ll see they’re not performing as expected. Watching the solution to one of his previous puzzles will help you figure out how he’s doing it. His work is simply amazing.

Netbook framed as a dedicated weather station

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Not wanting to get rid of old but still working hardware, [Retro Toaster] built a dedicated weather station by mounting the screen, keyboard, and track pad in a picture frame.

Current and voltage testing your USB projects

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This dev board is a pass-through for USB devices. It makes voltage and current testing your device quite simple.

How to used an Android device with a shattered screen

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This screen is not just cracked, it’s devastated. We can all agree that you’re not going to be carrying this around with you anymore, but it might still be useful in other endeavors. [Mr Westie] wanted to use it for the camera which is undamaged. The issue is how do you control an Android device with a broken screen?

He knew there are apps out there that let you control your device remotely. But these still depend on you being able to install and launch the program. He found he could get the image from the screen on his computer using a package called Screencast. It runs on your computer and doesn’t need to be installed on the phone, but it will require a rooted phone and the user must click to authorize root access. He got around that hangup by pushing keypress commands to the phone via ADB. The only problem left is if debugging mode is not enable.

Using two chargers with one laptop

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This one’s a riot! [Nico] got a new computer and didn’t want to change the six power supply cords he had strategically placed around his home and at work. So he just added a second charging jack that accepts a different style connector.

First off the laptop is used — but it’s new to him. So cracking it open and soldering in a new jack doesn’t affect the already expired warranty. He had an unlimited supply of Dell laptop chargers available from work. They are rated 19.5V and the charger for this computer is rated 20V so he figured this should be no problem. Instead of just swapping out the old charging port he added a second where the RJ-11 connector (for a telephone modem) was located. Now he doesn’t need to waste money buying more chargers for the new-old machine.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone replace a power jack. But it is the first computer we’ve seen that takes two different chargers.

ARM powered rack mount USB test equipment

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This is a device which [Limpkin] has been developing at his day job. It’s a high-speed testing interface for use with Physics experiments. We find it interesting because it uses an ARM microcontroller to implement CDC and MSD over USB.

The design is in two parts to make it work in a rack-mount situation. That big white connector allows cards to be swapped out. You can see the board on the right has a USB-A connector. When plugged in this enumerates as a control device (CDC) and a mass storage device (MSD) using fat32 as a file system.

The platform is being developed with open hardware and open source software in mind. If you’re working on a project that uses either of these USB functionalities this makes a swell reference. The ARM Cortex-M3 chip that he’s using is an AT91SAM3U but it should not be too hard to port the code for other similarly-capable ARM processors.

Python can be your best friend when it comes to binary math

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If you’re into microcontrollers you know the ability to think and perform math in binary is a must. [Joe Ptiz] has been looking for a way to keep from being distract by the math when coding while still keeping the binary strings in the forefront of his mind. The solution he came up with is to use the Python interpreter as a binary math aide.

We knew that you could use Python to convert between decimal, hexadecimal, and binary. But we failed to make the leap to using it for troubleshooting bit-wise operations. We can see this being especially useful when working with sixteen-bit I/O ports like those found on STM32 chips. For us it’s easy to do 8-bit math in our head, but doubling that is another story.

The image above is one screenshot from [Joe's] tutorial. This illustrates a few different bit-wise operators given decimal inputs but displaying binary as output. He also illustrates how you can use python to test out equations from C code by first setting the variables, pasting the equation, then printing the result to see if the output is what was expected.

Rooting your AT&T U-verse modem

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Unhappy with the performance of his U-verse modem [Jordan] decided to dig in and see if a bit of hacking could improve the situation. Motorola makes this exclusively for AT&T and there are no other modems on the market which can used instead. Luckily he was able to fix almost everything that was causing him grief. This can be done in one of two ways. The first is a hardware hack that gains access to a shell though the UART. The second is a method of rooting the device from its stock web interface.

We think the biggest improvement gained by hacking this router is true bridge mode. The hardware is more than capable of behaving this way but AT&T has disabled the feature with no option for an unmodified device to use it. By enabling it the modem does what a modem is supposed to do: translate between WAN and LAN. This allows routing to be handled by a router (novel idea huh?).

A pair of N64 portables

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Casemodding has moved far beyond the old portabalized Ataris and NESes of only a few years ago. Now, the new hotness is more modern consoles including the GameCube, Dreamcast, and the venerable N64. Two N64 case mods rolled into our tip line over the past few days, and we can’t think of a better display of case fabrication and console modification than these two.

First up is [Travis]‘s N64 handheld. The case was constructed out of a sheet of ABS plastic with Bondo used to make everything sleek and smooth. There’s a 7″ display in this handheld as well as two LiIon batteries able to provide up to three hours of play time. The fit and finish on this build is spectacular, a testament to [Travis]‘ patience and Bondo skills.

Next up is a very very tiny build claiming to be the smallest N64 portable. It’s the work of [bud] and is barely larger than an N64 cartridge. Inside is a 3.5 inch screen and enough LiPos to provide about 2 hours of gaming time. Unlike other (larger) builds, [bud] put the cartridge slot on the outside of the case allowing the cartridge to stick out at a 90 degree angle.

Both very awesome builds that really show off what can be done with a lot of sanding and body filler. You can check out the videos for each casemod after the break.

[Read more...]

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