Hinged NES case hides an integrated LCD screen


We’ve sure been seeing a lot of original NES cases used in projects lately. This time around the thing still plays the original cartridges. This was one of the mains goals which [Maenggu] set for himself when integrating the LCD screen with the gaming console. There is a quick video clip which shows off the functionality of the device. It’s embedded after the break along with a few extra images.

To our eye the NES looks completely unmodified when the case is closed. The cartridge slot still accepts games, but you don’t have to lower the frame into place once that cartridge has been inserted. The image above shows a ribbon cable connecting the top and bottom halves of the build. It routes the signals for both the LCD screen and the cartridge adapter to the hardware in the base. He mentions that he used the original power supply. We’re not sure if the original motherboard is used as well or if this is using some type of emulator.

[Read more...]

A clever solution for constantly locking workstations


[Vasilis] works at CERN, and like any large organization that invented the World Wide Web, they take computer security pretty seriously. One ‘feature’ the IT staff implemented is locking the desktop whenever the screen saver runs. When [Vasilis] is in his office but not at his battlestation, the screen saver invariably runs, locking the desktop, and greatly annoying [Vasilis].

The usual Hackaday solution to this problem would be a complex arrangement of RFID tags, webcams, and hundreds, if not thousands of lines of code. [Vasilis] came up with a much better solution: have the computer ping his phone over Bluetooth. If the phone is detected by the computer, kill the screen saver.

The code is up on Github. It’s not much – just 20 lines of a Bash script – but it’s just enough to prevent the aggravation of typing in a password dozens of times a day.

Playing MAME Games on a RGB Laser Projector

MAME Laser Projector

Vector based displays were used for arcade games in the ’70s and ’80s. A typical CRT uses raster graphics, which are displayed by deflecting a beam in a grid pattern onto a phosphor. A vector display deflects the beam in lines rather than a full grid, drawing only the needed vectors. Perhaps the best known vector game is the original Asteroids.

[Jeremy] built up a RGB laser projector, and wanted to run some classic arcade titles on it. He started off by using the XMAME emulator, but had to modify it to communicate with the laser and reduce flicker on the display.

To control the laser, a modified version of OpenLase was used. This had to be enhanced to support RGB color. The modified sources for both the MAME emulator and OpenLase are available on Github.

[Jeremy]‘s friend, [Steve], even got a vector based game that he wrote working on the system. “World War vi” is a shoot-em-up battle about the vi and emacs text editors.

The results of the build are shown in a series of videos after the break.

[Read more...]

Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum


A [Hank Drum], as explained here, is a steel drum-type instrument made out of a propane tank. The name comes from the [Hang] or [Hang Drum] which is significantly more expensive than that $40 or so an empty propane tank costs. Of course, you’ll have to do some work to get it to play beautiful music, which can be seen in a time-lapse construction video after the break.

The details of how this instrument was made can be found here, including how to lay everything out and cut out eight relatively neat “tongues” for producing different tones. I used a Dremel tool, but this can also be done using saber saw for a curved top. This method is explained here with a template, but the results may not be as neat.

If you want to try this yourself, make sure to use an empty, unused propane tank. This is extremely important. For another entirely different homemade instrument, why not check out the [Whamola] that we made a year or so ago? [Read more...]

DEFCAD, the island of misfit objects


Defense Distributed, the guys working on 3D printed guns and lower receivers for an AR-15, have a storied history with makers, corporations, and our elected representatives. When the news broke they were designing a 3D printed weapon, their $25,000 leased 3D printer was taken away from them. When their designs were too controversial for Thingiverse, they were taken down. Defense Distributed keeps on firing back, though, and now they’re hosting their own 3D model repo called DEFCAD.

In another one of Defense Distributed’s well-produced promo videos, they make their case for a repository of 3D models that doesn’t respond to takedown requests. Basically, 3D printing is a disruptive technology and is too important to be beholden to copyright lawyers, talking heads of the media, and, “the collusive members of the maker community”.

DEFCAD isn’t only about guns. They plan on hosting anything those in the upper echelons of power don’t like – or at least those with a copyright, patent, or trademark gripe – and never responding to a takedown request. It’s a great idea, somewhat akin to The Pirate Bay for physical objects, but actually popular.

“Hacking the Xbox” Released for Free in Honor of [Aaron Swartz]

Hacking the Xbox Cover

[Bunnie], the hardware hacker who first hacked into the original Xbox while at MIT, is releasing his book on the subject for free. The book was originally released in 2003, and delves into both the technical and legal aspects of hacking into the console.

The book is being released along with an open letter from [Bunnie]. He discusses the issues he faced with MIT legal and copyright law when working on the project, and explains that the book is being released to honor [Aaron Swartz]. [Swartz] committed suicide in January following aggressive prosecution by the US government.

The book is a great read on practical applications of hardware hacking. It starts off with simple hacks: installing a blue LED, building a USB adapter for the device’s controller ports, and replacing the power supply. The rest of the book goes over how the security on the device was compromised, and the legal implications of pulling off the hack.

[Bunnie]‘s open letter is worth a read, it explains the legal bullying that hackers deal with from a first hand prospective. The book itself is a fantastic primer on hardware hacking, and with this release anyone who hasn’t read it should grab the free PDF.

Hackaday Links: March 12, 2013

Thankfully saved from steampunkers


[Chris] found a really cool pocket watch-style multimeter in a box of junk that was passed down from father to son. There aren’t any markings on it, so he’s looking for any information he can get on it. It’s a cool piece of vintage tech in any occasion; check out the pics he sent in below:

Here’s a fix for your illegal stuff


[Don] ‘acquired’ one of those China-only Raspberry Pis, but after plugging it in, only the power light would stay on. The fix, apparently, is putting these three files in the /boot folder of a Red Pi SD card.

Not a pocket watch


[Tom] picked up an old DC volt meter in an antiques shop. He quickly gutted it to make an analog meter display for his Raspberry Pi. There’s  a few status lights to remind [Tom] of something he hasn’t figured out yet. Bonus points for a cheap buck boost converter, though.

Smashing monitors? Really?

NESIT Hackerspace

The Meriden, CT hackerspace, the New England Society of Information and Technology, was vandalized last week. They’re dealing with some real punks here; their computers weren’t stolen, they were just smashed. NESIT is looking for donations (both money and equipment), so if you have a few monitors or old boxxen and live around there, consider donating them.

Help a guy out here.


[Jonathan] is a real cool dude that’s working on his master’s thesis on ways to build a sustainable company through the development of open source hardware. He wants you to take a survey. How do we know he’s cool? He had something posted on HaD back when we had the old black and white and scotch tape images.