Pocket Serial Host acts as an Apple II disk drive

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[Osgeld] is showing off what he calls a sanity check. It’s the first non-breadboard version of his Pocket Serial Host. He’s been working on the project as a way to simplify getting programs onto the Apple II he has on his “retro bench”. When plugged in, the computer sees it as a disk drive.

The storage is provided by an SD card which is hidden on the underside of that protoboard. This makes it dead simple to hack away at your programs using a modern computer, then transfer them over to the retro hardware. The components used (starting at the far side of the board) are a DB9 serial connector next to a level converter to make it talk to the ATmega328 chip being pointed at with a tool. The chip below that is a level converter to get the microcontroller talking to the RTC chip seen to the right. The battery keeps that clock running when there’s no power from the 5V and 3.3V regulators mounted in the upper right.

The video after the break shows off this prototype, the breadboard circuit, and a demonstration with the Apple II.

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Fruit piano uses a different circuit than the Makey Makey

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[Hasbi Sevinç] is using perishable goods in his electronics project. The orange, tomato, and two apples seen above act as keys for the virtual piano. The concept is the same as the Makey Makey which is often demonstrated as a banana piano. This implementation uses an Arduino to read the sensors and to connect to the computer running the piano program.

You can see there’s a fair amount of circuitry built on the breadboard. Each piece of fruit has its own channel to make it into a touch sensor. The signal produced when your finger contacts the food is amplified by transistors connected in a Darlington pair. That circuit drives the low side of a optoisolator transmitter. The receiving side of it is connected the I/O pin of the Arduino. You can see the schematic as well as a demo clip after the break.

This use of hardware frees up a lot of your microcontroller cycles. That’s because projects like this banana piano use the timers to measure RC decay. [Hasbi's] setup provides a digital signal that at most only needs to be debounced.

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Wall votive display controlled with a glowing cube

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This wall hanging would look great even if it did no more than light up. But thanks to a unique controller it’s meant to work as an interactive display for your living area.

The rectangles and votive candle cups are a set of three store-bought hangings. But lighting the candles and remembering to blow them out was a pain, so [Adiel Fernandez] decided to add the LEDs to make the job easier. But why stop at that, in addition to an RGB light for each cup he made them fully addressable. It’s all the better for a light show, but this also opens up the arena for all manner of different uses.

Accompanying the wall installation is a palm-sized cube meant to sit on the coffee table. Whichever side of the cube us up sets the function for the display, with a rotation tweaking the function, and a fast spin used as a select. If the power icon is on the side facing up, a fast spin will turn the display on or off. There are also functions for weather, temperature, transportation (we were thinking something like a bus schedule notifier but it’s actually a bit different) and animation patterns. After the break you can watch a demo of the cube functionality.

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Brilliant auto-off feature for a bike light

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If you’re going to use your bicycle as transportation at night you really must have a head and tail light in hopes that the crazy drivers don’t hit you. For good reason, these lights don’t turn themselves off. But [Miceuz] kept forgetting to shut it down upon arrival and always ended up with dead batteries. His quest for an auto-off feature that actually worked ended in a brilliant and simple add-on circuit.

He first thought about using an accelerometer, but couldn’t find one that fit the bill without also adding a microcontroller. He came up with an even simpler circuit, which can be seen at the base of the black plastic housing. It’s a bit of copper clad board with a small spring attached. The spring completes an RC timer circuit which drives a MOSFET. When that circuit is charged, the MOSFET connects power to the bike light. When the cap runs out the MOSFET threshold cuts power and everything turns off. Since the spring jiggles while he rides it provides the momentary connection necessary to charge the capacitor. Stay stationary for about 30 seconds and the auto-off kicks in.

Making karaoke worse

kaoss belt

Karaoke just isn’t fair. Not only do you have people who can’t sing choosing to belt out extremely difficult to sing songs, but the variety of songs generally isn’t that great. In an effort to make the karaoke situation at the pubs he frequents better – or worse, depending on how you look at it – [cosmic blooper] is now bringing a vocal effects processor to karaoke. Yes, now he’s got pitch shifting that takes him into [Bieber] territory, and auto tune to emulate the [T-Pain] and the Black Eyed Peas.

To bring the world of synths and effects to a karaoke party, [cosmic blooper] took a battery-powered Kaoss Pad and attached it to his belt with the help of some sheet metal. An RCA to XLR adapter connects the Kaoss Pad to the karaoke microphone, while a mic of questionable quality takes [blooper]‘s voice to be transmuted into a horrifying display of effects and pitch shifters.

There’s no video of [cosmic blooper]‘s karaoke machine in action, but he tells us he’ll be getting one up soon.

Raspberry Pi camera board incoming

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Your Raspberry Pi has on-board connectors for cameras and displays, but until now no hardware demigod has taken up the challenge of connecting an image sensor or LCD to one of these ports. It seems everyone is waiting for official Raspi hardware designed for these ports. That wait is just about over as the Raspberry Pi foundations is hoping to release a camera board in the coming weeks.

The camera module is based on a 5 megapixel sensor, allowing it to capture 2560×1920 images as well as full 1080 video with the help of some drivers being whipped up at the Raspberry Pi foundation.

Considering the Raspi USB webcam projects we’ve seen aren’t really all that capable – OpenCV runs at about 4 fps without any image processing and about 1 fps with edge detection – the Raspberry Pi camera board should be less taxing for the Pi, enabling some really cool computer vision projects.

The camera board should be available in a little more than a month, so for those of us waiting to get our hands on this thing now, we’ll have to settle for the demo video of the Pi streaming 1080p video to a network at 30fps after the break.

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Complete Siri home automation controls everything but the kitchen sink

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[Elvis Impersonator] spent three full days but in that time he managed to hand control of everything in his house over to Siri. The technique used is a familiar one. A Raspberry Pi running SiriProxy listens for commands from the iPhone and acts on them based on [Elvis'] predefined configuration. The difference here is that it’s not just a single device (read: lamp) that is being controlled to prove the concept. His video (embedded after the break) shows him operating an entire range of devices in his home.

The demonstration starts off with his garage door being opened and closed. From the YouTube video description we know that he’s using Trendnet IP cameras and it looks like one of them lets him see if he remembered to close the garage.  Next he disarms his home security system as shown in the image above. From there he adjusts the Nest thermostat, switches off the living room lights, and changes the TV channels.

We think the need to give voice commands would get old pretty quickly. But that aside we applaud his work to pull everything together into one single interface.

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