Breaking Open The Quirky Nimbus


The Nimbus is a little Internet-connected device put out by a company called Quirky. It features four analog dials, each with graphic LCDs, with WiFi connectivity to show you how many tweets you’ve made in the past day. You know, in case you forgot, or something.

[Edu] didn’t find the social media-oriented Nimbus very useful, but Internet connected analog gauges are just so cool, so out came the screwdriver and the writing of new firmware commenced.

Inside the Nimbus there’s an SPI Flash, PIC micro, and an Electric Imp, a tiny ARM microcontroller and WiFi adapter stuffed inside an SD card. The Imp is always tied to a cloud service, in this case, a Quirky-lined cloud, but the folks at Quirky were keen to help [Edu] in his quest for better firmware.

After figuring out all the traces, [Edu] wrote a simple firmware that can control everything there is to control – the dials, displays, two buttons, and a speaker. So far he’s put some graphics on the display and PWM’d the theme from Monkey Island. This is just scratching the surface of what the device can do – [Edu] can still make use of the WiFi connectivity, and those dials can do much more than spin around in circles.

Monkey Island video below.

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World’s Smallest Comic Etched Onto a Human Hair

world's smallest comic

[Sébastien Bourdeauducq] had the idea to create the world’s smallest comic — so he assembled a team and was able to produce a comic strip where each panel is <20um across, etched on a human hair.

They used focused ion beam (FIB) etching, where a high-speed jet of matter is generated and blasted at a hair to etch the comic. Think of it kind of like a super focused laser beam. Check out the original microscopic imagery of it over on their GitHub.

The cool thing is they really just did this for fun — it’s purpose is to advertise the EHSM conference in Hamburg. The Exceptionally Hard(ware) & Soft(ware) Meeting is a massive gathering of the opensource and DIY hacking world. If you happen to live in Europe we’d recommend checking it out — just take a look at their conference talks they have lined up! The Maker Movement Meets Patent Law, Optics & Photonics with Lego Bricks, the Basics of Quantum Cryptograhy, the Principles of Mass Spectrometry… the list goes on!

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