4D Systems micro drive


4D ┬áSystems micro drive provides both raw and FAT level access to microSD cards. The module contains a dedicated host controller that transforms what may be an otherwise intimidating card spec into a group of simple serial commands. With a wide supply range of 3.6-5.5 and .1″ lead spacing, this should be cake walk to tinker with. The device doesn’t support FAT32 yet. According to the GOLDELOX-DOS command set page 9, “FAT32 is currently not supported, if you mount a FAT32 formatted disk, you will not be able to access it at all, both FAT and RAW commands will fail”. At the moment the device seems limited at 2GB FAT16 partitions. This sure does seem like cheating after implementing SPI and Nibble mode SD card protocols.

[via Electronics-Lab.Com thanks mozzwald]

AVR ISP programming via Arduino

ardunio avr isp programming

We found this Arduino AVR ISP programmer particularly interesting. AVR microcontrollers can utilize an interface called In-System-Programming. ISP allows the chip to be programmed or reprogrammed while in an actual circuit via a pin header. Atmel’s solution is the AVR ISP MKII programing tool. The MKII can also be reprogrammed just as an AVR. The difference here is that most people are not likely to modify the MKII to be used as anything but a programmer. On the other hand if you already have the Arduino, fetch the avr.isp.03 firmware and AVRdude. Then program a device, for example an ATtiny13 using the Ardunio as the programmer. All the project information is provided under the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. On a related note we covered a Microcontroller cheat sheet which covers AVR devices and ISP pinouts.

Homemade regenerative tube radio

home made tube radio

There are no microcontrollers in this project. In fact you wont find a single transistor. This classic regenerative tube radio, modeled after an early 20th century homebrew is complete with schematic and additional photos. For those who are not familiar with tube designs and for simplicity, the regeneration circuit can be thought of as feedback though this relation may be argued. Read the rest after the break which includes a crash course in tube operation. Continue reading “Homemade regenerative tube radio”

Balloon based satellite


This project provides an opportunity to conduct near space experiments. The flight computer, BalloonSat Extreme, is controlled by a BASIC Stamp 2pe. The complete BOM with PCB artwork is provided. There is enough hardware to control cameras, servos, a Gps, and five digital I/O. The computer is also equipped with a 12 bit ADC to log experiment results. The device seems limited to 30KB of storage. Though the author suggests this memory limitation is more than adequate, we are wondering if an implementation of the Nyquist sampling theorem is in use at all. For further reading the author has provided information regarding Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning.

[via adafruit]

Various Cantenna builds


Here is a classic project used to increase wireless signal strength. Cantennas focus using a waveguide very much like a magnifying glass focuses light. [Robert] made a Natural Light beer cantenna, pictured in the upper left. His approach used three beer cans, a paper towel holder, and a shower curtain rod. On the tipline, he noted a signal boost from 11Mbps to 54Mbps. This is certainly something we can hack together if our room lacks adequate signal. Read about parabolic and seeking versions after the break.

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C64 USB keyboard


[Maarten] told us about a C64 USB keyboard that was modified to be used as a standard input device. An interesting aspect of the project is the use of V-USB (formerly known as AVR-USB). V-USB is a software only approach to slow speed USB HID. In essence this is a two fold mod, The C64 keyboard is patched to a PC, and an off the shelf AVR is software-hacked to bit bang the USB communications. The author notes an initial problem with multiple key presses that was later corrected in the application. For the other side of the spectrum, we had covered the C64 twittering client, and a commodore 64 laptop.

Capacitive discharge cutting

capacitive discharge cutting

Capacitive discharge cutting provides more control than linear transformer versions. A very large capacitor is charged to a precise voltage and then discharged through the material to produce a controlled cut. The same device can also be used for spot and tab welding. A video of copper roof flashing being cut is embedded below. An example of a linear transformer can be found in our our How-to: build your own spot welder.

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