Building an inexpensive Squeezebox client replacement

squeezebox-replacement-built-on-the-cheap

[Andrew] is a fan of the audio quality provided by the Squeezebox hardware. Like many he was unhappy to hear that the devices were being discontinued, but he figured out a way to build a Squeezebox client clone for less than he could have bought an original.

He set several goals for the build. Most notably he wanted the system to be low-power, noiseless, and to support audio quality of at least 96 kHz at 24 bits. What he came up with is the Pogoplug seen in between the two speakers above. It can be acquired for under $20 and it runs embedded Linux. Another member of the Squeezebox community had been working on a custom distro called SqueezePlug to turn these types of devices into Squeezebox clients. After flashing the distro and tweaking the settings [Andrew] has accomplished his goals. The one caveat is the lack of an audio out port. Above he’s using some cheap USB speakers, but higher-fidelity is possible by choosing a more expensive external USB device.

This will work nicely with that Squeezebox server you built from a Raspberry Pi.

Veronica VGA board finalized

veronica-vga-board-finalized

The latest update in the Veronica 6502 computer project is this finalized VGA board which now has a home in the machine’s backplane.

We’ve been glued to the updates [Quinn Dunki] has been posting about the project for many months now. Getting the GPU working proved to take quite a bit of time, but we learned a ton just by following along. The video output had humble beginnings way back in March. That breadboarded circuit got complicated very quickly and that was before it was even interfaced with the CPU. As you can see from the image above, etching and populating the GPU board really cleans up the build. We’re sure it’s robust enough to move around at this point. We wonder if she’s planning on showing it off at a Maker Faire or another geeky gathering?

It really has become clear how wise [Quinn] was to design a backplane board early on. It plays right into the modular concept. She was even smart enough to include that SIL pin header on the near side of the board which was used heavily while prototyping this video module.

Replacement drivers for old LED signs

led-sign-driver-replacement

The LED signs sitting idle on the left are brought to life by an Arduino replacement driver shown to the right. The big one is made by Signature Electronic and used as an advertising display like you would see in front of a business. [Bob Davis] picked it up on eBay being sold as non-working. After some power supply repair he set to the task of driving them with his own hardware.

The images he shared give us a good look at the parts used on the sign. The display area is made up of a set of eight 8×5 pixel LED modules. Each module has a key and slot in the top and bottom to help align the rows properly when building a larger array. They use TPIC6B595 shift registers (the same ones seen in yesterday’s low-res gaming hack) and 74HCT138 decoders to multiplex the pixels. Most of this info is shared in the second part of his post.

He hasn’t quite gotten the larger sign to run properly. Each row displays the same data but one pixel lower than the last. If you’ve got some insight on why this is happening we’re sure he’d like to hear about it.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Extending the features of an IP camera

adding-external-control-via-IP-camera

[Dave Astolfo] wanted to be able to let his CNC mill run by itself with the ability to monitor it remotely. The only problem with that idea is that if he checked in and saw something bad happening he needed a remote kill switch as well. He ended up killing two birds with one stone by adding extra features to an IP camera.

These Internet Protocol cameras are pretty nifty. Just plug their power cord in and they’ll connect to WiFi and start streaming video. Many of them offer features like pan and tilt, and this model even features IR LEDs for night viewing that can be switched on and off through the web interface. That’s the point at which [Dave] started his hack. He patched into the leads on the IR LEDs. They’re monitored by an ATtiny85. When he turns on the LEDs via the webpage the ATtiny85 senses it and drives a servo motor to push the ESC key on the keyboard. As you can see in the clip after the break, this will stop the milling in its tracks. We especially liked the use of LEGO Technique pieces to make the servo mount removable.

[Read more...]

Printing images with a wood burning CNC machine

printing-images-with-a-wood-burning-cnc-machine

Just to clear up any confusion from the title, this wood burning CNC machine runs on electricity. The wood burner acts as the print head. It’s the thing in the upper right of the field that looks a bit like a soldering iron. In this case it’s being used like a dot matrix printer.

We suppose this is a form of halftone printing, although it doesn’t produce the uniformity we’ve seen with mill-based halftone techniques. [Random Sample] built the machine from wood, drawer sliders, and stepper motors with toothed belts. His Python script takes an image and transforms it into a file which can be used to guide each of the three axes of the machine. An Arduino receives these commands via the USB connection. Each image prints in a grid, with darker pixels created by leaving the hot tip in contact with the wood for a longer period of time.

Don’t miss the sample video embedded after the jump.

[Read more...]

Bluetooth Network Monitor

Bluetooth Network Monitor

[Zak] wanted to keep tabs on his network connection without needing to log into his router. Since his router was a PC running Debian Linux, he rigged up a Bluetooth Network Monitor to display the information.

The monitor is based on a ATMega328P that reads data from a Bluetooth serial connection and displays it on the TFT screen. It uses a low cost Bluetooth module to receive data from a router. A shell script fetches the data and formats it into a string that can be sent over the Bluetooth link.

A USB connection with a desktop computer is used to power the device, but [Zak] also added USB support using V-USB. He plans to use it to get data from the desktop. For example, he could display CPU load and temperature data.

Overall, this is a nice project for fetching data wirelessly and displaying it on your desk. [Zak] has provided the code and Eagle files with his write up for anyone interested in building their own.

Ask Hackaday: We might have some FPGAs to hack

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[Chris] is an IT guy for a medical clinic up in Alaska, and until very recently the systems he monitored, fixed, and beat with a wrench included over 100 Pano Logic “Zero Client” thin clients. Pano Logic just went out of business and all support for these little boxes have been cut off, leaving [Chris] with a hundred or so very interesting pieces of hardware.

The idea behind these “zero clients” is the ideal of a thin client – take all the storage, processing, RAM, and other goodies and move them to a server. Pano Logic took this one step further than other thin clients, removing the CPU, memory, and basically everything you’d find in a thin client. What was left was a Spartan-6 FPGA, a few chips to drive the USB ports, a pair of HDMI chips, and a few DDR2 modules. Basically, [Chris] has about 150 FPGA dev boards just sitting in a storage room. The only thing that is needed is a bunch of software and an extreme amount of cleverness.

After opening one of these zero clients, [Chris] found a Spartan-6 FPGA right next to what he thinks is a 6-pin programming port. Along with the FPGA are a few other chips that would make any FPGA dev board a very neat tool:

We’re going to agree with [Chris] these Pano Logic zero clients show a lot of potential. If you’re up to the challenge of creating a very, very cheap FPGA dev board out of some discarded hardware, head on over to ebay or chat up your local IT guy.

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