Last chance to enter The Hackaday Prize.

Astronaut Or Astronot: Don’t Try To Record SQL Queries At DEFCON

It’s Friday morning and time for another round of Astronaut Or Astronot, the little lottery thing where we’re giving away lots of dev boards, programmers, and an awesome meter to someone on if they have voted in the latest round of voting.

There’s no video this week because, you know, DEFCON, but the person randomly chosen did not vote. Too bad.

This means the voting will continue next week, same time. If you want a chance to get your grubby mitts on a bunch of awesome gear, vote. Do it now.

Building A Home Made iPhone

iThing A few years ago, [Michele] built a mobile device with a touch screen, a relatively powerful processor, and a whole bunch of sensors. To be honest, the question of why he built this was never asked because it’s an impressive display of electronic design and fabrication. [Michele] calles it the iGruppio. Although it’s not a feature-packed cell phone, it’s still an impressive project that stands on its own merits.

Inside the iGruppio is a Pic32mx microcontroller, a 240×320 TFT touchscreen, and enough sensors to implement a 10 DOF IMU. The software written for the iGruppio is heavily inspired by the iPhone and a completely homebrew project – all the software was written by [Michele] himself. While the first version of the iGruppio was a little clunky, the second revision (seen in the pic above) uses an old iPhone case to turn a bunch of boards and plugs into a surprisingly compact device.

No, there’s no cellular modem inside the latest version, but [Michele] has put all the sources up on Github, and anyone wanting to build a homebrew cell phone could do worse than to take a look at his work. Video demo below.

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THP Entry: A CPLD Video Card With VGA And NTSC


[PK] is working on a very simple video card, meant to output 640×480 VGA with a cheap CPLD. The interface will be 5 Volt SPI, meaning there’s a ton of potential here for anyone wanting put a reasonable (and cheap) display in a microcontroller project. The project has come a long way, and his latest update showcases something that has only been done once before: color NTSC with programmable logic

The brains of the outfit is a $5, 100-pin CPLD from Xilinx. Apart from that, the rest of the components are a crystal, PLL, and an almost hilarious number of resistors for the R2R ladder. The one especially unique component is the 25.056815 MHz crystal – multiply by that by two, and it’s fast enough to drive a VGA monitor. Divide the crystal by seven, it’s the 3.579545 MHz you need for an NTSC colorburst frequency. That’s VGA and NTSC in a single programmable logic project, something the one FPGA project we could find that did color NTSC couldn’t manage.

The next step in the project is designing a PCB and figuring out the code for the framebuffer. [PK] put up a demo showing off both VGA and NTSC; you can check that out below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

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The Arduino Yun Shield


A few years ago, the most common method to put an Arduino project on the web was to add a small router loaded up with OpenWrt, wire up a serial connection, and use this router as a bridge to the Internet. This odd arrangement was possibly because the existing Arduino Ethernet and WiFi shields were too expensive or not capable enough, but either way the Arduino crew took notice and released the Arduino Yun: an Arduino with an SoC running Linux with an Ethernet port. It’s pretty much the same thing as an Arduino wired up to a router, with the added bonus of having tons of libraries available.

Since the Yun is basically a SoC grafted onto an Arduino, we’re surprised we haven’t seen something like this before. It’s an Arduino shield that adds a Linux SoC, WiFi, Ethernet, and USB Host to any Arduino board from the Uno, to the Duemilanove and Mega. It is basically identical to the Arduino Yun, and like the Yun it’s completely open for anyone to remix, share, and reuse.

The Yun shield found on the Dragino website features a small SoC running OpenWrt, separated from the rest of the Arduino board with a serial connection. The Linux side of the stack features a 400MHz AR9331 (the same processor as the Yun), 16 MB of Flash, and 64 MB of RAM for running a built-in web server and sending all the sensor data an Arduino can gather up to the cloud (Yun, by the way, means cloud).

All the hardware files are available on the Yun shield repo, with the Dragino HE module being the most difficult part to source.

THP Entry: A Holonomic Drive 3D Printer


[Sugapes] always wanted to cut a few corners and build a really, really cheap 3D printer, but the idea of using linear actuators – pricing them, sourcing them, and the inevitable problems associated with them – scared him away. One day, he realized that moving in a plane in the X and Y dimensions wasn’t hard at all; cars and robots do this every day. Instead of moving a 3D printer bed around with rods and pulleys, [Sugapes] is moving his 3D printer around with wheelsIt’s different, it’s interesting, and it’s the perfect project to show of his creativity for The Hackaday Prize.

The drive system [Sugapes] is using is called a holonomic drive system. In his build, three omnidirectional wheels are attached to continuous rotation servos, each of them mounted 120 degrees apart. The print bed is simply placed on these wheels, and with the right control algorithms, [Sugapes] can move the bed in the X and Y axes. With an extruder on a Z axis above the bed, this setup becomes a 3D printer with a theoretically unlimited XY build axis. Pretty clever, huh?

There are a few problems [Sugapes] will have to overcome to turn this project into a proper printer. The omnidirectional wheels aren’t the best at transferring movement to the bed, so a quartet of USB optical computer mice are being used for a closed loop system. [Sugapes] put up a video of his project, you can check that out below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

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A Mechanically Scanned LIDAR For Autonomous Robots

LIDAR[Patrick] has spent a lot of time around ground and aerial based autonomous robots, and over the last few years, he’s noticed a particular need for teams in robotics competitions to break through the ‘sensory bottleneck’ and get good data of the surrounding environment for navigational algorithms. The most well-funded teams in autonomous robotics competitions use LIDARs to scan the environment, but these are astonishingly expensive. With that, [Patrick] set out to create a cheaper solution.

Early this year, [Patrick] learned of an extremely cheap LIDAR sensor. Now [Patrick] is building a robotics distance measurement unit based on this sensor.

Early experiments with mechanically scanned LIDAR sensors centered around the XV-11 LIDAR, the distance sensor found in the Neato Robotics robot vacuum cleaner. [Patrick] became convinced a mechanically scanned LIDAR was the way forward when it came to distance measurement of autonomous robots. Now he’s making his own with an astonishingly inexpensive LIDAR sensor.

The basic idea of [Patrick]‘s project is to take the PulsedLight LIDAR-Lite module, add a motor and processing board, and sell a complete unit that will output 360° of distance data to a robot’s main control system. The entire system should cost under $150 when finished; a boon to any students, teams, or hobbyists building an autonomous vehicle.

[Patrick]‘s system is based on the PulsedLight LIDAR – a device that’s not shipping yet – but the team behind the LIDAR-Lite says they should have everything ready by the end of the month, all the better, because between these two devices, there’s a lot of cool stuff to be done in the area of autonomous robots.

Automated Judging Of Hackaday Prize Entries


We have some of the Internet’s hacking elite judging The Hackaday Prize, and that means they can’t enter any projects into the prize. All the better for everyone else, we suppose. One of the judges, [Sprite_tm], is a resourceful guy and when it comes to judging the entries for The Hackaday Prize, he’s going to do what comes naturally to him: build a machine to automate the task.

[Sprite]‘s plan for the JudgeTron 9001 is to use neural networks embedded in biological specimens to do the judging for him. Honestly, we really appreciate the effort he put in to this; biohacking is really in vogue right now, and we do love the classic throwback to the AI renaissance here. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s using a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino for this project, either.

Grabbing a touchscreen LCD and a few other parts out of his junk drawer, [Sprite] quickly whipped up a project that would display entries to The Hackaday Prize to the biologically embedded neural nets. These nets needed a little bit of encouragement to select winning entries, so a ‘feed’ back mechanism was laser cut out of acrylic, mounted to a servo, and filled with positive reinforcement.

The software running on the Pi crawls through the list of entries to The Hackaday Prize, extracting images from each one. The plan was for the biological neural nets to select winning entries and be rewarded via the feedback mechanism. These neural nets proved to be very sensitive to the sound of the servo gears of the feedback mechanism, and [Sprite]‘s attempt at finding a winning entry with his creation has so far proved unsuccessful. Still, there’s a video of it in action, you can check that out below.

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