Hackaday Links: August 17, 2014

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[wjlafrance] recently picked up an old NeXTstation, complete with keyboard, mouse, display… and no display cable. The NeXT boxes had one of the weirder D-sub connectors a still weird DB-19 video connector, meaning [wjla] would have to roll his own. It’s basically just modifying a pair of DB-25 connectors with a dremel, but it works. Here’s the flickr set.

The guys at Flite Test put on a their first annual Flite Fest last month – an RC fly-in in the middle of Ohio – and they’re finally getting around to putting up the recap videos. +1 for using wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men as an obstacle course.

My phone’s battery is dead and my water pressure is too high.

Stripboard drawing paper, written in [; \LaTeX ;].

Remember the Commodore 16? [Dave] stuck a PicoITX mother board in one. He used the Keyrah interface to get the original keyboard working with USB. While we’re not too keen on sacrificing old computers to build a PC, it is a C16 (sorry [Bil]), and the end result is very, very clean.

A Chromecast picture frame. [philenotfound] had a 17″ LCD panel from an old Powerbook, and with a $30 LVDS to HDMI adapter, he made a pretty classy Chromecast picture frame.

 

DEFCON 22: The HackRF PortaPack

What do you get when you combine one of the best (and certainly one of the best for the price) software defined radios with the user interface of a 10-year-old iPod? The HackRF PortaPack, developed by [Jared Boone], and demonstrated at DEFCON last weekend.

[Jared] is one of the original developers for the HackRF, a 10MHz to 6GHz software defined radio that can also transmit in half duplex. Since the development of the HackRF has (somewhat) wrapped up, [Jared] has been working on the PortaPack, an add-on for the HackRF that turns it into a portable, ARM Cortex M4-powered software defined radio. No, it’s not as powerful as a full computer running GNU Radio, but it does have the capability to listen in on a surprising amount of radio signals.

Because [Jared] is using a fairly low-power micro for the PortaPack, there’s a lot of tricks he’s using to get everything running smoothly. He gave a lightning talk at the Wireless Village at DEFCON going over the strengths and weaknesses of the chip he’s using, and surprisingly he’s using very little floating point arithmetic in his code. You can check out the video for that talk below.

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Robotic Scalextrics

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At the Volkswagen factory there are two towers – AutoTürme – filled with gigantic robots lifting cars into parking spaces. It’s by far the most efficient way of putting a huge number of cars in a small footprint. Slot cars exist, so how about a completely overwrought yet entirely awesome robotic parking garage for 1:32 scale cars? (.es, Google translatrix)

The project is built around several ‘racks’ to hold cars arranged around a central elevator. An Arduino takes care of moving all the motors and reading all the sensors, with the basic idea behind the project being the ability to select a car and have it appear in the pit of the track a few moments later.

Although this is just one small part of what is already a very impressive slot car track, it is however the most electronic. Other unique additions include a very unique cantilever/suspension bridge and the usual modeling techniques of creating a landscape with little more than cardboard and glue.

The best way to get a sense of how cool the parking garage is through the video. You can check that out below.

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THP Entry: A 6502 SBC Robot (On Multiple Boards)

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Robots have always been a wonderful tool for learning electronics, but if you compare the robot kits from today against the robot kits from the 80s and early 90s, there’s a marked difference. There are fairly powerful microcontrollers in the new ones, and you program them in languages, and not straight machine code. Given this community’s propensity to say, ‘you could have just used a 555,’ this is obviously a problem.

[Carbon]‘s entry for The Hackaday Prize is a great retro callback to the Heathkit HERO and robotic arms you can now find tucked away on a shelf in the electronics lab of every major educational institution. It’s a 65C02 single board computer, designed with robotics in mind.

The 6502 board is just what you would expect; a CPU, RAM, ROM, CPLD glue, and a serial port. The second board down on the stack is rather interesting – it’s a dual channel servo board made entirely out of discrete logic. The final board in the stack is an 8-channel ADC meant for a Pololu reflective sensor, making this 6502 in a Boe-bot chassis a proper line-following robot, coded in 6502 assembly.

[Carbon]‘s video of his bot 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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Why Should You Enter The Hackaday Prize? Because [Ben Heck] Says So.

[Ben Heck] is well-known in the circles we frequent for being a consummate modder, tinkerer, builder, and hacker. We’ve seen his XBox 360 laptops, portabalized PS3s, the ultimate glue gun, and shutter shades that are too cool for [Kanye]. Now he’s telling us about something else that’s really cool – The Hackaday Prize.

All you need to be in the running for prizes that range from a thousand dollars in electronic components to milling machines to a trip to space is build a project that is open, connected (smoke signals count), and documented on hackaday.io. Think you don’t have time to submit an entry before the first round cutoff next week? You’re wrong. You can sit down and hit all the requirements in an hour. All you need is an idea at this point, and you have until November to actually build it.

Talking to Hackaday readers IRL gives us the impression that a lot of you have an idea for something cool and spaceworthy, but you just need a kick in the pants to write it down and start building it. Here it is. Go.

Astronaut or Astronot: Somebody Won Something!

It’s time once again for our weekly installment of people complaining about our community voting system for The Hackaday Prize! The theme this week – as it was last week – is ‘too cool for Kickstarter’. We’re looking for projects that are so awesome they would never see any mainstream appeal. If you’re still wondering what we mean by that, if this amazing project doesn’t make the top ten in this round of voting, I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Just like last week, we’re trying to give away a goodie bag of programmers, dev boards, and essential bench tools (prize list here) to someone on hackaday.io who has voted for a project that is too cool for Kickstarter.

This week one of you got lucky. Because [Eric] is such a good sport and was kind enough to click a few buttons during this round of community voting, we’re sending him a boat load of dev boards, all the programmers he’ll ever need, a meter that will last him for the rest of his life, and a pretty good power supply. Awesome. Now go congratulate him.

There’s only five days left until the cutoff, so get your project into The Hackaday Prize. At this stage the requirements are extremely minimal, and you can knock everything out in a few hours.

THP Entry: A 433MHz Packet Cloner

ookloneThe first generation of The Internet Of Things™ and Home Automation devices are out in the wild, and if there’s one question we can ask it’s, “why hasn’t anyone built a simple cracking device for them”. Never fear, because [texane] has your back with his cheap 433MHz OOK frame cloner.

A surprising number of the IoT and Home Automation devices on the market today use 433MHz radios, and for simplicity’s sake, most of them use OOK encoding. [Texane]‘s entry for THP is a simple device with two buttons: one to record OOK frames, and a second to play them back.

Yes, this project can be replicated with fancy software defined radios, but [Texane]‘s OOKlone costs an order of magnitude less than the (actually very awesome) HackRF SDR. He says he can build it for less than $20, and with further refinements to the project it could serve as a record and play swiss army knife for anything around 433MHz. Video demo of the device in action below.

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