Cloning the Trinket for a USB Volume Knob


A while back, [Rupert] wrote a blog post on using V-USB with the very small, 8-pin ATtiny85. Since then, the space of dev boards for 8-pin micros with USB has exploded, the most recent being Adafruit’s Trinket. [Rupert] liked what he saw with the Trinket bootloader and decided to clone the circuit into a useful package. Thus was born an awesome looking USB volume knob complete with a heavy aluminum knob, rotary encoder, and RGB LED strip.

[Rupert] got his V-USB/ATtiny85/rotary encoder circuit working, and at the expense of a ‘mute’ control, also added an awesome looking RGB LED ring powered by Adafruit’s Neopixels. The PCB [Rupert] fabbed is pretty well suited for being manufactured one-sided. If you’ve ever wanted an awesome volume knob for your computer, all the files are available form [Rupert]‘s blog.

Just as an aside, [Rupert] has been working on getting the Trinket bootloader working on the ATtiny84, a very similar microcontroller to the ’85, but with eight analog pins. It’s a neat device that I’ve made a small V-USB breakout board for, but like [Rupert], I’m stuck on porting the bootloader. If anyone has the Trinket/Gemma firmware running on an ATtiny84, send that in. We’ll put it up.

Long-distance High Frequency APRS Tracking Using The FreeTrak63


If you dabble in the ham radio hobby we’re sure you’ve heard of GPS position monitoring or tracking using APRS packet data commonly transmitting over the VHF ham band and FM modulated. One of the issues you’ll face using this common method is range limitations of VHF. [Mike Berg] a.k.a [N0QBH ] tipped us off to his latest project to greatly increase the range of a standalone APRS system utilizing the HF bands on single-sideband (SSB).

There are some unique challenges transmitting packet data using SSB over HF bands.  High Frequency APRS has been around for decades utilizing FSK AX.25 packet transmissions at 300 baud, but it was quite susceptible to noise and propagation aberrations. More recently PSK-31 at the slower 31 baud speed helped alleviate many of these issues. [Mike] utilized the somewhat updated APRS with PSK-63 and the “APRS Messenger” program to overcome these challenges. [Mike’s] hardware solution consists of a PIC 16F690 micro which is coded to receive data from a GPS receiver, convert it into PSK-63 and then transmit on 30 meters over an attached HF radio. A second receiving station or stations at great distances can pick up and decode the transmission using the “APRS Messenger” program connected to the receiving radio over the computer’s soundcard. The program can then forward the tracking information, if good, to tracking websites like and APRS.FI.

You can build your own FreeTrak63 by downloading [Mike’s] parts list, assembly code, HEX file, manual and schematic. The PCB is available on OSH Park if you don’t want to make your own or wire point-to-point. Let’s not forget to mention how hackable this hardware is, being really just an eight bit DAC, micro, serial in and radio out. One could reprogram this hardware to do other modulation schemes like AX.25 packet or MFSK16, the sky’s the limit. If short-distance on VHF with existing Internet linked receiver networks using an Arduino compatible platform is more to your taste, then checkout the Trackuino open source APRS Tracker.

Commodore 64 Power Glove Is So Bad


The Nintendo Power Glove was terrible. Really, really terrible. Thanks to modern components, though, it’s possible to recreate the Power Glove experience in a way that doesn’t suck so much. That’s what [Leif] did with his motion sensing glove for the Commodore 64.

Instead of rolling his own IMU and putting it in a glove, [Leif] is using SonicWear SoMo, a glove originally designed to generate MIDI data for performance pieces. Inside this glove is a 9 DOF gyro/accelerometer/magnetometer, uC, battery, and XBee that can be easily reprogrammed to do something a little more (or less) useful than simply sending MIDI notes and commands.

[Leif] reprogrammed the XBees to use I/O line passing instead of sending serial data, and connected the recieving XBee to the C64 joystick port through a very simple circuit with a hex inverter.

All the code to turn a SonicWear glove into a C64 controller is available on the Github, and there’s a neat demo video of [Leif] demoing his glove at the VCF Midwest late last month.

Human Powered Hydrofoil, the Wingbike!


[Steven] has been working for the past year on a very cool pedal powered hydrofoil, which he calls the Wingbike.

We’ve seen plenty of trampofoils before, which are hydrofoils that can convert a human bouncing up and down… to horizontal movement. There have even been some pedal powered versions before, but its a rather tricky mechanism to get just right.

[Steven] has built his Wingbike almost entirely out of carbon fiber, and it only weighs 10kg.The biggest problem is balance, as you’re about 1.5M above the foils. If you lean too much, you fall. If you slow down too much, you sink. The current model he is working on has fairly large foils, which does help a bit with the balance, but that also increases the amount of energy required to propel it. He plans on creating new designs with much smaller and faster foils in the future.

Unfortunately, the water is getting quite cold in the Netherlands, so he’s going to spend the rest of the winter months optimizing the bike from a design perspective. Stick around after the break to see his latest successful test video!

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Fail of the Week: Automatic Baby Rocker


The art of hacking requires you to straddle many different types of engineering. In this case, it looks like [Dan] could use a little bit of brain-storming on how to get this doubly-failed project back on track. Do go easy on him as he wasn’t the one that submitted the write-up for this week’s Fail.

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Simple NFC Tag

[Nicholas] built a simple NFC tag using an ATtiny84 microcontroller, four resistors, three capacitors, a diode, and an antenna. It implements ISO 14443-3, a standard for identification cards, and can communicate with the NFC chip sets found in most new smartphones.

This standard uses on-off keying for communication, which makes the hardware slightly more complex than the AVR RFID tag that we saw a few years back. The antenna and a variable capacitor form an LC circuit tuned at 13.56 MHz, which is the carrier frequency for the protocol. The diode acts as an envelope detector, letting the microcontroller recover the signal.

It may not be fully compliant with the standard, but [Nicolas] successfully tested out the device with his Lumia 620 phone. The firmware is available on Google Code so you can program your own tag data into main.c, build the firmware, and send some NFC packets. You can also check out a demo of the device after the break.

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Ask Hackaday: (How) should we control Kickstarter campaigns?

Kickstarter campaigns helped bring new and innovative products to the market during these last years. However there often are failures that can happen at several stages. We’d like to hear your opinion about them and discover what you think could be done to foresee/prevent these kinds of bad experiences that damage the trust between individuals and funding platforms.

Post-funding failures

There are a few project teams that give up a few months after receiving the funds, like the people behind the iControlPad 2 recently (disclaimer: we’re not backers). Even if [Craig] stated that he would document the entire production process on film and be open about all the project life steps, that didn’t prevent the project from being dropped (oddly enough) exactly one year after they received the funds. The more the project was headed towards failure, less was the frequency of updates regarding the project’s current state. The official reasons for this decision were difficulties that arose with the chosen LEDs, we’ll let you make your own opinion by having a look at the updates section. Thanks [Nikropht] for the tipping us about it.

Pre-funding failures

What is happening even more often on kickstarter is (usually successful) campaigns being canceled by the website itself after a few people rang the alarm bell. This may be due to an unfeasible project idea, a fake demonstration video/photos or even an attempt to resell an existing item under a new name.

The best examples for the first category undeniably are free energy generators. Here is an indiegogo campaign which actually succeeded. The creators announced one month ago that the project is running a bit behind schedule (aha), that the machine will cost around $5000 and that they’ll “need the funds before they make the units”. What can be done to educate the public that such energy is not created out of thin air?

The second category includes the recently canceled LUCI advanced lucid dream inducer (thanks [Michael] for the tip), which ended 2 days before the deadline. Technical guys got skeptical when they saw that the electrode signals were amplified several feet from the brain with an audio amplifier. At first glance, this was the only sign that this project may have been a scam (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt). Further research indicated that GXP (the company behind the campaign) didn’t exist, and most of their pictures were photoshopped. Here is a link to a quick summary of the situation and if you want to be entertained we advise you to make some pop-corn and head to the comments section of the project. What’s terrible here is that backers started to turn against each other, as the company always had a ‘good’ explanation for all the backers’ questions.

At last, there are some persons that just make funding campaigns with already existing products. This is the case of the eye3 flying robot and the vybe vibrating bracelet (don’t order!). Note that all of them were successfully funded. The eye3 was created by the same persons that made LumenLab, a company that created the microcnc. You’ll find more details here. The vibrating bracelet was just this one, which would be made in different colors. We just discovered this website that covered both project in greater lengths as well as many others.

Kickstarter fraudsters

Scams can also happen on the backers’ side. Recently, a Kickstarter backer named “Encik Farhan” attempted to rip off many Kickstarter projects. A ‘credit card chargeback’ technique was used, were the backer would contribute to the campaign, receive his perk and later cancel his credit card transaction using diverse reasons. The money would later be taken from the campaign funding by the payment processor.

What can be done?

The examples cited in this article set precedents which may turn people away from crowdfunding. In your opinion, what could be done to prevent this? Another reason we ask is because Hackaday may launch a sponsored product soon, thanks to the new overlords. This hypothetical product would be designed with the Hackaday community in a completely transparent process.

In the meantime, if you find any perpetual motion machines on kicstarter or indiegogo, be sure to send them in. You may also want to checkout this website predicting the success probability of a given kickstarter campaign.