Auto dimmer hacked into keyboard backlight

keyboard-backlight-auto-adjustment

As the title says, [José Faria] added the ability to adjust his keyboard backlight based on ambient light levels. But that’s just one of the things he did during his hacking extravaganza with this Razer BlackWidow Ultimate.

When he first received the peripheral he didn’t like the blue LEDs used as backlights. So he removed all of them and put in white ones. He doesn’t talk too much about that but we’d image it was a ton of work. The new color was pleasing, but then the ability to adjust their brightness started to irritate him. There are four predefined levels and that’s all you get. Even the GUI which has a slider for adjustment couldn’t go outside of those levels.

His solution was to augment the controller with his own. He patched in an AVR chip to the transistor which controls the low side of the LED circuits. While at it he also noticed that the keyboard case was actually translucent. This let him hide a photosensor inside which automatically adjusts the light levels. But he did it in a way that still allows him to use the original functionality with the flip of a switch. See for yourself after the break.

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LEGO jukebox choses from different CDs

lego-jukebox

Music used to be delivered on round plastic sheets called Compact Discs. [Ralph] still has some of them lying around which he used in his latest project. It’s a CD changer built out of LEGO pieces. It reminds us of the mid-century jukeboxes that changed out 45s on a record player.

You can’t tell from this image, but the entire disc changer build is shaped to sit atop a computer case. The system is built in two parts. There is a transport arm which moves left and right along the rack of CDs. It uses that black and white strip as an encoder to track its movement. It can reach in, grab a disc, and take it all the way down to the right where it drops it off in a staging area. The second part of the build now takes over, grabbing the disc from the staging holder and rotating it down into the CD tray of the PC. All of this is demonstrated after the jump.

If you’re like us you prefer digital delivery for your music. We haven’t crossed that watershed with video games yet and that’s why we still love this Xbox 360 disc changer hack.

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Laser cutter helps make dual sided PCBs

laser-cutter-dual-sided-pcb

[Rich Olson] wrote in to share his technique for making dual-sided printed circuit boards using a laser cutter. Unfortunately this still depends on etching copper clad boards with chemicals. But his process makes it really easy to produce well-defined and precisely aligned etch resist on both sides of the board all at once.

This can be really tough to do with the toner transfer method. The most common way would be to use a light box to align the two printouts of resist, taping them together before putting the copper clad in between and sending the whole thing though a laminator. [Rich] uses a scrap of acrylic to ensure alignment. He tapes it to the bed of his Epilog laser cutter and cuts the board outline out (that’s the void you see in the image). He removes the scrap and uses it as a stencil for cutting out the copper clad. After prepping the board he coats both sides and sends it through the laser cutter to burn away the paint where he wants to remove copper. Don’t miss his video embedded after the break.

The acrylic outline trick is similar to the laser cutter fence we heard about several weeks back.

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