Mega Tree Game Display

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Christmas may be over, but the holiday hacks keep rolling in, like this awesome interactive Mega Tree Game Display!

[Lior] loves setting up light shows every year (just check out last year’s awesome White Christmas display with music!), but taking them down just… well… sucks! So this year he decided to make a fully controllable non-holiday specific light display that he can reuse it all year long.

It features 12 x 5 meter long waterproof RGB LED strips secured firmly to the front of his house, making a trapezoidal 12 x 150 pixel display. It was originally controlled with an Arduino but he found the USB connection was far too slow for the high frame rates he was aiming for — so he’s using a combination of a Raspberry Pi and a Teensy 2.0 instead.

Now, just making a programmable light show suitable for all holidays is pretty cool we must admit, but as [Lior] puts it, a plain light show is “so last decade”. So he’s gone and made the whole thing smartphone interactive. Yep, you can actually log in with your phone and play a silly game that involves dropping gifts on houses and snowmen. He’s also got a pretty cool Hanukkah display that features a spinning dreidel! Check out the full demonstration video after the break.

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Apple And Raspberry Pis

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Deep in the bowels of the Internet there are some crazy people who have a wish list for what the next Apple II should look like. The capabilities of this dream machine of 80s retrocomputing is generally said to be something with a 32-bit CPU, a UNIX OS, modern graphics, and networking. This sounds a lot like a Raspberry Pi, so [Dave] built an Apple II to Raspberry Pi adapter card.

Having a Pi talk to an Apple II over a serial connection doesn’t really give either machine the full capabilities of the other. To fix this issue, [Dave] wrote two pieces of software. The first is a UNIX daemon that listens to the Apple II on a serial port connection, handling the Apple II keyboard connection. The second piece of software is a ProDOS disk image file running on the Apple II. With these two pieces of software, [Dave] can run the Apple on the Raspi, or run the Raspi on the Apple, sending files and data back and forth with no problem.

Aside from providing a strange and awesome Apple II to UNIX interface, the Apple II Pi also has a lot of advantages that might not be readily apparent. An Apple II compact flash adapter can be used as an internal hard drive for these pieces of classic apple hardware, and the Uthernet Ethernet card for the AII brings networking. Both of these devices are absurdly expensive compared to the component cost of the Apple II Pi, and what they bring to the table can be easily copied by the Apple II Pi.

The Apple II Pi is just a simple double-sided board with a few resistors, a cap, header, a 7404 inverter, and a communications chip that’s $5 for quantity one. If you already have a Raspi hanging around your workbench and want to soup up an Apple II with some crazy hardware capabilities, you really can’t do better than getting one of these Apple II Pi boards. Now if we could only find the board files…

Video of the Apple II Pi below, showing off all the awesome capabilities of a Pi-powered Apple. Thanks [Itay] for sending this one in.

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Re-purposing an Old Laptop Display

InitsEnvironment[Tim] found himself with a laptop that had a good 18.4″ screen, but otherwise didn’t run properly. It would be a shame to throw that away, so he decided to salvage the screen by turning it into a standalone monitor. This isn’t exactly new, as he did what many people have done and looked to eBay for an after-market LCD controller board. The real beauty is in the enclosure he built. [Tim] had some scrap wood available from a previous project, so he set about designing a new frame for the monitor, and a very nice adjustable stand, as can be seen in the photo above.

One nice detail is in the control panel buttons. The LCD controller comes with a separate board housing the controls, and while he made a mistake mounting it initially, he ended up with a nice set of oak buttons that match the frame perfectly. He then built a nice backing out of styrene that holds the screen in place as well as housing the electronics.

Overall, it’s a nice looking project, and it is always nice to see electronics re-purposed rather than ending up in a landfill. We can’t help but think this would be a great frame for building a picture frame or a wall-mounted PC as well.

Fubarino Contest: FPGA Pong

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For [Eric]‘s entry for our Fubarino Contest, he went down to very low-level hardware and created Pong on an FPGA.

[Eric] used a Basys 2 FPGA board to create this virtual, logic gate version of Pong. Output is via the VGA port, multiplayer and an AI player is implemented, and all the required mechanics for Pong – collision detection, button and switch input, and score keeping are also in this project.

The Fubarino contest requires an easter egg, of course, so when the score for the left player reaches 13 and the score for the right player reaches 37 (get it? 1337?), the previously square ball turns into an extremely pixeley version of the Hackaday logo. The Hackaday URL is also displayed, thanks to [Eric]‘s FP(V)GA module for displaying text on his FPGA board.

The improved Pong ball and URL only appears when the scores are 13-37, making this an extremely well-hidden easter egg. Video of [Eric] demoing his Pong below.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Jello Shot Printer

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While inspecting some jello shots for a friend’s upcoming 25th birthday, [Sprite_tm] had an epiphany. What if you could print designs inside the jello shots? He quickly grabbed a syringe and proceeded to inject food dye into one of the jello shots — it worked. Unfortunately, his friend pointed out that it would take far too long to do each jello shot by hand, to which [Sprite] responded:

Never mind that, I’ll just whip up  a 3D printer that can make nice figures in the jelly for you.

Classic. The great thing about the hacker-mindset is that you never say no when confronted with a problem!

To achieve this printer, [Sprite_tm] has taken a handful of old CD-ROM drives to create a three axis moving platform. He’s using a forth drive’s ejector assembly to depress a syringe which pushes a concoction of banana liquor, green food colouring and cornstarch through medical tubing to the ink-head. To control it, he’s just using an ATTiny2313 with a mere 2K of memory. It took a bit of fiddling with to find the right flow, but works surprisingly well. Stick around after the break to see its printing capabilities.

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Fubarino Contest: Hackaday In Your Soldering Iron

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Besides a coffee pot, the most important tool on the electronic tinkerer’s workbench is the soldering iron. Surprisingly, though, we haven’t seen many people build their own soldering stations. [Pjkim] did, and went so far as to include an easter egg for our Fubarino contest.

A few years ago, [Pjkim] received a free Soldering Iron Driver from Dangerous Prototypes. This awesome kit provides everything you could want out of a soldering iron – USB and serial data logging, a 2×16 display, compatibility with a whole bunch of solder tips, and it’s completely reprogrammable.

[Pjkim]‘s task for the Fubarino contest was to put an easter egg somewhere in the soldering iron. He did that by having the Hackaday URL display when the iron is ready for use. This isn’t the only firmware modification, either: the new firmware also debounces the button presses and adds auto repeat.

If you’re looking for some code, [Pjkim] put everything up on the Hackaday forums. There’s also a video showing off the easter egg available below.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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NeverWet on Electronics?

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Does NeverWet work on electronics? The team over at Adafruit just had to find out — and to an extent, it does work!

But wait, what’s NeverWet? It’s Rust-Oleum’s miracle water-repelling coating which is super hydrophobic. It actually works, and we’re kind of surprised we haven’t seen it used in a hack yet! Anyway, let’s start this hack with a quick disclaimer. NeverWet is not designed for waterproofing electronics.

But when has that ever stopped the pursuit of science!?

The experimenters chose a few electronic guinea pigs to test out NeverWet’s capabilities. An Arduino Micro, a FLORA LED broach, and a Raspberry Pi. Using the proper application method they coated the unlucky electronics with a few generous layers of the product. Using plain NYC tap water they tested each component. The FLORA LED broach (shown above) lasted underwater for about 4 hours before it died. The Arduino Micro fared similar, however the Wet Raspberry only booted once before losing connection to the SD card.

For full details check out the full experiment or stick around after the break to see a video of the tests.

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