DIY HHO Mini Torch

Fascinated by hydrolysis apparatuses? Me too. Here’s a cool how-to that might convince you to make one! It’s a very simple and easy to build HHO torch using plumbing parts from the hardware store.

The entire build uses almost all standard readily available parts — except for the nozzle assembly. It’s an easy modification though, under the copper pipe endcap is a brass M6 nut that has been soldered in place – this allows you to switch out the MIG welding tips at any time.

[Peter] also shows off another useful tip that allows you to reduce the orifice size of the MIG welding tip – simply hammer a ball bearing into it. Seriously, check out the Instructable and see for yourself! This allows him to reduce the orifice size down to non-standard sizes which in turn allows him to increase the intensity of his HHO flame.

Now all you need is a source of HHO — but don’t worry, we’ve covered that before too!

[via Reddit]

An Open Source GPU

Unless you’re bit-banging a CRT interface or using a bunch of resistors to connect a VGA monitor to your project, odds are you’re using proprietary hardware as a graphics engine. The GPU on the Raspberry Pi is locked up under an NDA, and the dream of an open source graphics processor has yet to be realized. [Frank Bruno] at Silicon Spectrum thinks he has the solution to that: a completely open source GPU implemented on an FPGA.

Right now, [Frank] has a very lightweight 2D and 3D engine well-suited for everything from servers to embedded devices. If their Kickstarter meets its goal, they’ll release their project to the world, giving every developer and hardware hacker out there a complete, fully functional, open source GPU.

Given the difficulties [Bunnie] had finding a GPU that doesn’t require an NDA to develop for, we’re thinking this is an awesome project that gets away from the closed-source binary blobs found on the Raspberry Pi and other ARM dev boards.

An homemade 48cc V8 engine with injection

A few months ago we mentioned [Keith]‘s first project in the works, a 1/4 scale V8 engine. Today, we are amazed to see that his engine is finished and running really smoothly. What is even more impressive is that the entire project has been completed on manual mills and lathes. The thread on the Home Model Engine Machinist forum contains his build log in which he details how all the different parts were made. The engine has an electric starter, uses a fuel injection system and [Keith] even made his own injection molds for several plastic parts. The ECU is based on the Megasquirt-II, we guess it must have taken [Keith] many tries before correctly setting its parameters. A video of the engine in action can be viewed after the break.

You can find our previous coverage of this project as well as other miniature engines on this feature from last April.

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Light Up Earrings

light up earrings

Unfortunately [ch00f's] been too busy to write for Hack a Day lately, but he has finished off an awesome little project — Christmas LED earrings!

As with all his projects, there is a brilliant write up that covers everything — even for the stuff that didn’t work. But what we really have to admire about this project in particular is the scale at which he was working. The tiny battery squished in between the two boards? A mere 19mAh. Which is actually enough to power the earrings for a few hours, but is only the size and thickness of a few microSD cards!

The second thing that really popped out at us was the boards themselves, there’s just no room for a programming header! To work around this [ch00f] actually made the PCBs in 3 segments, programmed it, and then cut off the programming header section! If that’s not enough ingenuity, how about this – He also included hall effect sensors on-board to turn them off while charging! Not to mention an intricate wood box to charge them in…

Stick around after the break to see the great demo video, it even has some classy music from the 1930′s which really sets the mood.

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Circuit Bent Toy Keyboard is MIDI Controlled

The [Tymkrs] crew has come up with a pretty neat circuit bent toy keyboard hack. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good circuit bending hack. This project started as a way to demo the [Tymkrs] “MIDI In Me” kit. A cheap toy keyboard was sacrificed for its sound generator board. Like many cheap mass-produced toys, this board is based upon a COB (chip on board) package. The silicon die of the main ASIC is placed directly on the PCB and bonded out to pads. A round epoxy blob keeps everything protected.

The [Tymkrs] found a number of the chip’s pads were unused in their keyboard. The inputs appeared to trigger drums, possibly for use in a different toy. These inputs, coupled with the ‘demo song’ buttons turned out to be the basis of this hack. MIDI input is sent to a Parallax Propeller. The prop runs a program that will set its I/O pins based upon MIDI Note On/Off commands. The I/O pins then drive transistors which inject signals into the button inputs of the keyboard.

The [Tymkrs] even went so far as to use a voltage divider on the main clock circuit of the keyboard. Changing the main clock causes a sort of pitch bend effect often heard with circuit bent toys. As with the buttons, a MIDI signal commands the prop to enable or disable oscillator signal injection. A potentiometer is used to tweak the oscillator frequency.

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SDRAM controller for low-end FPGAs

There are very few ‘recent’ FPGAs out there that can be easily soldered. Due to their important number of IOs, they usually come in Ball Grid Array (BGA) packages. The Xilinx Spartan 6 LX9, a TQFP144 FPGA (having pins with a 0.5mm pitch) is one of the few exceptions that can be used to make low end development boards. However, it doesn’t have a lot of logic and memory resources or an on-chip Memory Control Block implemented in the silicon. Therefore, [Michael] designed an SDRAM controller with a small footprint for it.

Writing an SDRAM controller from scratch isn’t for the fainthearted – first of all you really have to know how SDRAM  works (RAS, CAS, precharges, refresh cycles), and because of the high speed and accurate timing required you also have to learn some of the finer points of FPGA off-chip interfacing. In addition, most publicly available open cores are very complex – for example just the RTL core of the sdr_ctrl controller on adds up to over 2,700 lines of Verilog. Even if it is not an accurate comparison metric, [Michael]‘s controller is only 500 lines long.