Hackaday Links: Sunday, May 5th, 2013


Let’s start off this weekend’s links post with some advertising. We like targeted ads (mostly because we don’t have pooping problems and are tired of hearing about Activia). So we applaud IBM for finding our number with this commercial which produces a stop-motion animation using single atoms as pixels. Wow! [via Reddit and Internet Evolution]

Speaking of commercials, here’s some snake-oil which lets you touch a boob without being in the same room with the person [Thanks Michael].

Moving right along we’ve got a trio of trackpad hacks. There’s one that lets you use the keyboard and trackpad of a MacBook as a standalone USB input device [via Reddit]. Or you could take a Toshiba laptop to the tablesaw to turn it into a USB trackpad. But maybe your Acer C7 Trackpad doesn’t work very well and you just need better grounding.

[Nick McGill] is a member of the team developing an upper body exoskeleton as an assistive technology. This made the rounds on tech websites but the lack of in-depth build info on the project site kept it from getting its own feature here.

If you have a router capable of running DD-WRT here’s a method of setting up a PPTP VPN for free.

And finally, you may remember hearing about the original Prince of Persia source code being discovered and released about a year ago. Well [Adam Green] figured out how to compile it into the original Apple II floppy disks. [Thanks Arthur]

MSP430 touchscreen piano


[Rohit Gupta] wrote in to share this touchscreen piano project he built around the TI Launchpad. It provided a way for him to explore using a resistive digitizer found on a lot of mobile devices. These are simply stuck to the top of LCD screens and replacements are inexpensive, but salvaging one from old hardware is an option as well.

The first thing he did was to test the four outputs of the digitizer with his multimeter. Logging the changing resistance will help make sure you’re reading the correct wires and are able to zero in the settings before you start coding. [Rohit] uses the ADC on the MSP430 chip to read from the screen. He went with the algorithm from one of TI’s app notes to convert the readings in to X and Y coordinates.

He separated the screen into seven columns, each generating a different tone. Touching higher or lower on that column will alter the pitch of the note produced. You can hear an example of this in the demo after the jump.

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Asteriods: the belt buckle


This is going to change the way you play with yourself. What if every time you got a little bored you reached for your belt rather than your smart phone? [Cunning_Fellow] may be doing that more often now that he finished this slick-looking video game belt buckle which plays the classic Asteroids game.

It isn’t just an intriguing concept. The build was pulled off at a very high level of quality… this thing should have no problem standing the test of time. First off he had to figure out if it was even possible to run the game at a respectable frame-rate. Cheap 320×240 LCD screens don’t have a frame marker (think of it as a vertical sync signal with can be used as an interrupt for the microcontroller). But he thought it was possible that the frame marker pin just wasn’t connected like on more expensive screens and he was right with at least one model he acquired.

With that out of the way he laid out and etched a beautiful double-sided board to house all of the electronics. But he still needed a case. To get a one-of-a-kind look he masked and etched a sheet of brass. Once cut out and folded ti gives a wonderful look and protects the electronics inside quite well.