Leveraging the GPU to accelerate the Linux kernel

gpu-to-accelerate-linux-kernel

Powerful graphics cards are pretty affordable these days. Even though we rarely do high-end gaming on our daily machine we still have a GeForce 9800 GT. That goes to waste on a machine used mainly to publish posts and write code for microcontrollers. But perhaps we can put the GPU to good use when it comes compile time. The KGPU package enlists your graphics card to help the kernel do some heavy lifting.

This won’t work for just any GPU. The technique uses CUDA, which is a parallel computing package for NVIDIA hardware. But don’t let lack of hardware keep you from checking it out. [Weibin Sun] is one of the researchers behind the technique. He posted a whitepaper (PDF) on the topic over at his website.

Add this to the growing list of non-graphic applications for today graphics hardware.

UPDATE: Looks like we won’t be trying this out after all. Your GPU must support CUDA 2.0 or higher. We found ours on this list and it’s only capable of CUDA 1.0.

[Thanks John]

Self-balancing unicycle using Arduino and Sparkfun IMU

Raptor-Bike-self-balancing-unicycle

Here’s proof that you can build cool stuff with simple tools. This self-balancing unicycle uses an Arduino and a five degree of freedom IMU from Sparkfun to keep the rider upright. Well, it’ll keep you upright as long as you have good side-to-side balance. But that’s true of any unicycle, right?

The Raptor was built by [Nick Thatcker] who is no stranger to self-balancing transportation. A few years back he built a Segway clone and the same type of geared motor used in that project also went into this one. I connects to the wheel with a chain, allowing him to keep the motor hidden in the saddle. He gets between 90 and 120 minutes of used on one charge with a top speed of 10 MPH. The motor could move you along faster but he has limited this in firmware to ensure it has enough power to ‘catch up’ if you lean too far forward.

Don’t miss the demo after the break. If you like this unicycle there are several others worth looking at.

[Read more...]

Raspberry Pi used to automate a dimmable light bulb

raspberry-pi-controlled-dimmer

[Stephen] took the safe route when getting his Raspberry Pi to dim an AC light bulb. He didn’t roll his own outlet box with a mains-rated relay inside, going with a mechanical connection instead of electrical. By attaching a servo motor to the dimmer knob the RPi can adjust the light level without risk of electric shock.

He is using the ServoBlaster package to drive the servo motor with the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins. That’s all fine and good by itself, but he went the extra mile and designed a few different levels of functionality around the pairing. The motivation behind the hack was to build a sunrise clock that had a lot of power when it comes to luminosity. But he also plied the RPi’s networking features to serve up a web-based control. It has a slider to set the light level, as well as breath (like a slow fade) and flash features.

The servo is a bit noisy when moving quickly, but the sunrise alarm takes 30 minutes so the gears don’t really make any noise at all. Check it out in the clip after the break.

[Read more...]

Webmote: control anything with web-based remote

control-anything-from-the-web

We’ve seen a lot of projects that let you control all of your devices from a smartphone. But this universal web-based remote control system looks like the most versatile we’ve seen yet. The project is called Webmote as the controls are served up as a web interface so that you’re not limited to say an Android device. The UI can be customized by choosing what buttons you will use and where to place them on the display. You can get a good feel for this by viewing this G+ album. Setup is made a bit easier thanks to an add-on system that has predefined layouts for common things like controlling XBMC.

The hardware seen above is the business end of Webmote. It’s an Arduino with an IR receiver, IR LED, and an XBee module. For your common home entertainment devices you can teach the system your codes using the IR receiver. The IR LED is used to transmit those codes back, and the Xbee gives you the ability to control X10 (home automation) devices. Right now the setup requires the hardware be connected to a server via USB, but it shouldn’t be hard to set up some type of wireless alternative.

A Hexapod Robot Made from Scrap

radial-robot

Many if not most good hacks come from scrap or unused parts, but this hexapod robot takes it to a new level. [Helmut] wrote in to tell us about his ‘bot built from discarded electronics. As with most of the little walkers that we’ve featured here, this robot features some basic obstacle avoidance with a sensor array on the head unit.

The way the head controls this robot is really the interesting thing about this setup.Rather than send a signal to tell servo motors to walk in a certain gait, the head physically tilts in the direction that it should go. Although it’s somewhat hard to tell, it appears that a driving motor in the head assembly pushes a sort of camshaft down into the body. This is then mechanically coupled to the legs causing it to walk in the correct direction.

Be sure to check out the videos after the break, featuring narration by a computer in English, or by a human in German if you happen to sprechen sie Deutsch. [Read more...]

Deck the cubes

deck-the-cubes

[MrBuildIt] has lived up to his name when it comes to this year’s Christmas decorations. He built a rig that spreads Christmas cheer from one end of the cubicles to the other.

In the demo video after the break you’ll see that the system is controlled by a nicely polished Android app. It lets you choose from three different Christmas songs (or no music at all) as Santa Claus makes his rounds. The app includes buttons for switching all of the lights on or off but we think it’s more corny fun to see then turn on as Santa flies overhead.

The sleigh and three tiny reindeer are suspended from a pulley system. When they make it to one end of the office a hall effect sensor serves as a limiting switch. From the look of it you’d think Santa will be flying backwards on the return trip but there is a servo that flips the thing around so that he’s going the right way.

This is quite a gaunlet to have thrown down when it comes to office decor. We’d like to see what geeky thing’s you’ve been doing with your own decorations. Get some details up on the web and send a link our way!

[Read more...]

DSLR trick lets you change focus after taking the picture

dlsr-lytro-camera-hack

Here’s two photographic takes on the same subject, each with a different depth of focus. [Chaos Collective] came up with a way to make interactive still images that allow a user to adjust the depth of focus by clicking on different objects in the image.

This was inspired by the Lytro camera which uses an array of lenses to take multiple pictures at once. Each of those images has a slightly different depth of focus. The technique used here doesn’t require that you buy one of those $400+ cameras. But it’s not a cheap hack unless you already own a camera that can shoot video and has manual focus.

The technique used by the [Chaos Collective] is to move the camera’s manual focus setting from the nearest to the furthest target while capturing a video. That file can then be processed using their browser-based tool which turns it into an embedded HTML5 image.

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