The trials of repairing a MacBook

mac

As a favor to a friend, [Phil] traded a unibody MacBook logic board for one with a broken headphone jack, a busted keyboard controller, and a nonfunctional fan. Not one to let bad hardware go to waste, he set off to repair this now-broken laptop by scavenging parts wherever he could. The whole thing ended up working, and became a very impressive display of soldering skill in the process.

The first step for the keyboard transplant was to cut a properly sized hole in the newer unibody MacBook for an older, pre-unibody MacBook Pro 17″ keyboard. This was done by cutting out the keyboard pan of the pre-unibody case and very carefully epoxying it into the unibody chassis. The MBP had a separate keyboard and trackpad controller, so of course [Paul] needed to find some space inside the chassis for these new electronics. This space was found next to the internal hard drive, and a liberal application of hot glue held everything together.

In the future, [Phil] plans on adding more LEDs, a 3.5 mm jack, and a USB to TTL converter – a necessity for any true ‘hacker’ laptop. It’s still a wonderful piece of work, and an incredible amount of effort and skill to get it where it is today.

RF wireless kernel module for Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and others

rfm12b-kernel-module

If you’ve done any wireless work with hobby electronics you probably recognize this part. The green PCB is an RFM12B wireless board. They come in a few different operating bandwidths, the 433 MHz is probably the most common. They’re super easy to interface with a small microcontroller but what about an embedded Linux board? That is the focus of this project, which builds a kernel driver for the RF module.

You can get your own RFM12B for a few bucks. They’re quite versatile when paired, but a lot of inexpensive wireless consumer goods operate on this band so the board can be used to send commands to wireless outlets, light fixtures, etc. [Georg] has been working with the BeagleBone, BeagleBone Black, and Raspberry Pi. His software package lets you build a kernel module to add an entry for the device into the /dev directory of a Linux system. So far the three boards listed are all that’s supported, but if you have five I/O pins available it should be a snap to tailor this to other hardware.

Wondering what else you can do with the setup? This will get the receiving end of a text-messaging doorbell up and running in no time.

[Read more...]

Hackers in Africa are building their own aircraft

hacked-heli

While you’re trying to come up with an idea for your next project this guy’s been building his own helicopter from whatever parts he can find. He’s just one of the aeronautical hackers featured in a story in the Daily Mail. The article’s narrative leaves us with many questions, but there’s enough info to make it worth a look.

In addition to the heli seen above there are also a couple of airplane builds to gawk at. Africa has already produced a couple of very ingenious hacks like [William Kamkwamba's] projects which improved his village infrastructure. He gained enough notice from his work to land a scholarship to continue his education and that opportunity has also been afforded the creators of these aircraft.

At first we figured this helicopter project was possible because of lack of air traffic regulation in this part of the world. That’s not the case as [Onesmus Mwangi] — who makes his living as a farmhand — has been forbidden to fly the craft by local police. There may be another opportunity for him to fly later in life. He’s received funding to study aircraft maintenance abroad.+

Unfortunately we couldn’t find any video of this thing in action. If that’s unacceptable to you try getting your fix from this human-sized octocopter.

[Thanks Brandon]

The Thunderball jetpack becomes a quadcopter

thunderball

At the beginning of the fourth Bond film, 007 escapes from a French château with a jetpack. While the jetpack has yet to take off for those of us who aren’t secret agents, there is a way for anyone to fly just like Bond. It can’t lift a full-scale human yet, but [Rodger]‘s Project Thunderball can let a mannequin hover for several minutes.

The stand in for [Sean Connery] in [Rodger]‘s build is a 2.2 lb mannequin – actually an ‘inflatable companion’, if you will – stuffed with styrofoam peanuts. The actual jet pack is a quadcopter souped up with larger motors, propellers, and enough batteries to deliver 1kW. There’s no belt for this quad; the mannequin rides the machine like you would a horse, straddling the electronics while very high-speed props spin just inches away from the tender bits of an inflatable plastic doll.

[Rodger] is able to get about 8 minutes of hover time out of his quadpack, an impressive feat that also allows his flying machine to deliver beer and pizzas.

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Measuring ketosis with an Arduino

key

A bit of biology and nutrition before we roll into this: Ketosis is when your body runs on fat reserves instead of carbohydrates. This is the basis of diets such as Atkins, and despite the connotations of eating hamburger patties and butter, you can actually lose weight on these diets. One problem with a keto diet is the difficulty of measure how many ketones your liver is processing; this can be done with a urine sample, but being able to measure small amounts of acetone in your breath would be the ideal way to measure ketosis. [Jens] came up with a device that does just that. It’s called Ketosense, and it will tell you how well your keto diet is doing by just having you blow into a sensor.

[Jens]‘ device consists of an Arduino, LCD display, and two sensors – one for acetone, and another for temperature and humidity. By carefully calibrating a TGS822 sensor, [Jens] was able to measure the acetone content of an exhaled breath along with temperature and pressure. This gave him a reading in parts per million, and with a short bit of math was able to convert that into something that made sense when talking about ketosis, mmol/l.

Without access to a lab that can measure blood ketone levels, it’s difficult to say if [Jens] device really works as intended. If he were to find his way into a lab, though, it would be possible to correlate his sensor’s values with blood ketone results and improve the accuracy of his sensor.

Astrosmash style video game as Sony SmartWatch firmware

sony-smartwatch-native-video-game

Here’s a firmware hack that brings a video game to the Sony SmartWatch. It’s pretty impressive considering the limited screen real estate and the fact that it has to be shared with the touch input. But we find it equally impressive that a game of this quality followed so quickly on the heels of Sony announcing the ability to make your own firmware for the watch. The speedy development is thanks partly to the community driven effort to hack the Arduino IDE to load sketches on the watch.

The advent of this IDE hack means that taking your Arduino sketch writing abilities to this hardware now has a fairly low learning curve. And reading through [Asier Arranz's] game code will make it even easier. He calls his game Star Wars but it reminds us more of Astrosmash. There’s a little green semicircle which is your ground-based defense vehicle. You need to fire the laser to shoot falling items out of the star-strewn night sky while also collecting power-ups that fall to the ground. Game play video is below.

Just remember, if you come up with a cool firmware app for the SmartWatch we want to hear about it.

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