Smartphone controlled Labyrinth

smartphone-controlled-labyrinth

This entire project could have been done as an app, drawing the maze and ball virtually on the screen. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as what [Matt] accomplished. He built a little Labyrinth which responds to the accelerometer in his phone.

Take a close look at that handset. It’s not an Android, an iPhone, or a Blackberry. That thing is a Windows phone…. no, really! The phone doubles as a timer, which we think is a nice touch. It communicates with a Netduino which is both driving and monitoring the Labyrinth.

You may have noticed that the maze is hand-built rather than a modified commercial version of the toy. He mounted some hardboard on a pair of servo motors, then built up the maze on that surface. There is also sensing hardware that detects when the metal ball bridges two contacts. This gives us fond memories of our Minotaur’s Revenge build.

We’ve embedded the demo video after the break.

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Dissecting a firmware image

dissecting-a-firmware-image

[Leland Flynn] did a great job of picking apart the firmware image for a Westell 9100EM FiOS router. Unfortunately he didn’t actually find the information he was looking for. But he’s not quite done poking around yet either. If you have never tried to make sense of an embedded Linux firmware image this serves as a great beginner’s example of how it’s done.

He was turned on to the project after port scanning his external IP and finding a random login prompt which he certainly didn’t set up. Some searching led him to believe this is some kind of back door for Verizon to push automatic firmware updates to his router. He figured why not see if he could yank the credentials and poke around inside of the machine?

He started by downloading the latest firmware upgrade. Running ‘hexdump’ and ‘strings’ gives him confirmation that the image is based on Linux. He’s then able to pick apart the package, getting at just the filesystem portion. His persistence takes him through extracting and decompressing three different filesystems. Even though he now has access to all of those files, broken symlinks meant a dead-end on his login search.

NFC tags control your home’s lighting

nfc-controlled-home-lighting

Here’s a home lighting hack that doesn’t require you to think about it after the initial setup. Instead of requiring the user to launch an app and select a lighting state, it uses NFC tags to select a lighting configuration. The tags can be placed in different parts of the house so that setting your phone on the table beside the door while putting your coat on will turn everything in the house off. Of course you need to crawl before you can walk so right now this proof-of-concept only switches the Phillips HUE bulb in the desk lamp.

That bulb is compatible with the Ninja Blocks system — but a Ninja Block or an Arduino with an Ethernet shield could be used to switch whatever you wish. The Ninja client code is an integral part of the system which is why the hardware side needs to relate to the platform. Also used is the On{X} service which bridges the gap between your Android phone and the home automation hardware. Once that is in place it’s only a matter of programming the NFC tags to do as you wish. Don’t miss a demo of this in the clip after the jump.

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A Bitcoin mining example for the BeagleBone with an FPGA shield

beaglebone-fpga-bitcoin-mining

If you’ve got a BeagleBone and an FPGA board you should give this Bitcoin mining rig a try. The hardware uses brute-force to solve hashes, looking for the rare sets that can be used as digital currency. This particular example is designed for the LOGi-bone which is an FPGA shield for the BeagleBone. But we don’t see anything that would make this difficult to use with other FPGA hardware.

We’ve seen FPGA hardware bitcoin mining in the past. It doesn’t offer as much horsepower as an array of GPUs would, but the ARM/FPGA combo can be used in a cluster in order to speed up the process. This sounds like a fun group project to take on at the local Hackerspace.

Door hidden by bookcase is a marvel of DIY engineering

bookcase-hides-shotgun-storage

Taking on a giant build just to hide your shotgun collection may seem a bit over the top. But we couldn’t be more impressed with the project. [Korostelevm] did an amazing job of hiding a small closet with a bookcase-door. It’s something straight out of a Hardy Boys novel.

Possibly the most important part of the build is figuring out how to hinge all the weight a bookcase will carry. His solution was to use a set of four heavy-duty casters. He cut off the wheels from one pair and the mounting brackets from another. By welding the brackets on in place of the wheels he has a sturdy way to mount both the frame and the bookcase. When closed the unit latches using a strike plate and lock set from a door. This is connected to a book using some cabling and pulleys. As you’d expect, just find the right hard-cover and tilt it toward you to open the hidden storage behind. [Korostelevm] shows off the final product after the jump.

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Panelizing PCBs in Eagle

final_panel

A lot of the board houses out there including Seeed and ITead studios have a fixed size for circuit boards before the price goes up. A one-inch square board costs the same as a much larger 5cm x 5cm board, making panelized PCBs a great way to get more boards for the same amount of money. Trying to panelize a board in Eagle with copy and paste is a chore without the right tools, though, so we’re happy to see a great panelization tutorial from [Victor].

To panelize one of his boards for a PCB order, [Victor] used one of Eagle’s User Language Programs to duplicate the part names on the additional boards. After that, it was a simple matter of running a CAM job to generate the necessary Gerber files.

Of course once the boards arrive, you’ll have to cut them apart from each other. This can be done with everything from a Dremel to a hack saw to a metal shear, but we’re wondering what other Hackaday readers are using to cut up PCBs. Leave a note in the comments with your preferred method of depanelization.

Hackaday Links: February 22, 2013

Playstation π

PS3

Yeah, it’s another home made Raspberry Pi case, but [Gabriel]‘s Mini Playstation 3.14 is the bee’s knees. The enclosure was once a metal gift box originally intended for gift cards. With a few whacks of a Dremel, the world finally has a new PS3 that runs Linux.

Up there with The Secret Life of Machines

mechatronik

[Mattias] sent in a tip about a really cool TV show airing in Sweden. It’s called Mekatronik, and it’s basically the interesting parts of Mythbusters where [Jamie] and [Adam] build random cool stuff. It’s a Swedish language program, so if anyone would like to make some subs for the episodes, we’ll be more than happy to link to it again.

Web-based software defined radio

sdr

The amateur radio club at University of Twente in the Netherlands came up with something really cool: a web-based software defined radio.  So what, you ask? It’s just streaming audio or something over the Internet? Nope. You can actually control this SDR over the web.

We’re deeply sorry for turning the hardware turn to slag. Really, we are.

Junk box Tesla coil

tesla

[JJ] whipped up a homemade Tesla coil out of junk he had lying around. Basically, it’s a piece of PVC pipe, a tennis ball, and aluminum foil. Even the transformer was pulled from a long-forgotten project. [JJ] is getting some really good arcs, so we’ll call this a win.

Time circuits active

time

[Danilo] was invited to a costume party with a movie theme. He wanted something Back to the Future-is, so he whipped up a flux capacitor (translation). It’s based on a PIC12F675, with the microcontroller running a bit of code that flashes the LEDs just like the movie. Now on to the hoverboard project…

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