Making Point Contact Transistors

[Jeri Ellsworth] is back at it again. We seem to cover her work a lot here. Her latest video above covers how she created a point contact transistor from a 1N34 germanium cat whisker diode. After opening the glass casing on the diode, she uses sharpened phosphor bronze metal from common electrical connectors as the collector and emitter. A 330 microfarad capacitor charged to 20 volts and then discharged though a 680 ohm resistor to the base and collector leads forms the collector region. Her test jig is a simple oscillator circuit such that a properly formed transistor will start the circuit oscillating and make and audible sound. We look forward to more esoteric knowledge of electronic devices being brought to our attention.

Kilobuck Open Kinect Project Prize

Full of video and audio sensors, the newly released Kinect is Microsoft’s answer to Nintendo’s Wii MotionPlus and Sony’s PlayStation Move. Now there is money up for grabs to hack it. Adafruit is offering up a one thousand dollar prize to open source the driver for the Kinect. What do they want this driver to do? They want RGB and distance values. We’re excited to see the hacks that will come around because of this product, and now that prize money is involved, everything has been turned up a notch.

Update: The bounty has been raised to $2000 after a Microsoft response to CNET:

But Microsoft isn’t taking kindly to the bounty offer. “Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,” a company spokesperson told CNET. “With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”

Test Beds and Jigs with Pogo Pins

Pogo pins – spring-loaded pin contacts are pretty fun to play with and even cooler when they get used in electronic devices like Adafruit and SparkFun’s test jigs. Check after the break for how these two companies have created their own production hacks. [Read more...]

How-to: Program PICs using Linux

Arguably, Microchip’s PIC microcontrollers do not get enough posts here. One of the drawbacks for some of us is that Linux support for PICs is not very well known. The information is out there, but no one has laid out the process of going from writing C code to programming a chip. Written for Linux users that are familiar with microcontrollers, basic circuits, the C programming language, and can read a datasheet, this how-to should get you up and programming a PIC quickly with Linux.

[Read more...]

Arduino UNO and Mega 2560

The Arduino Team presented some new products at Maker Faire this weekend. It’s a significant update. The Arduino UNO and Arduino Mega 2560 update the Duemilanove and Mega respectively. They now use an ATMega8U2 instead of an FTDI USB to serial converter chip. Allowing an Arduino to become nearly any kind of USB device. A fourth mounting hole has been added to the UNO for more stable mounting. The booloader is now the Optiboot bootloader. The boards can run firmata out of the box. We are not sure about existing Arduino boards, but the last six bytes of EEPROM have a unique serial number. At this point, the Mega 2560 has some kind of issue with gcc on certain platforms and unable to use the full memory available until there is an update to the IDE.

The team also gave a preview of some works in progress. Arduino Ethernet POE can be power over ethernet and loaded with TFTP. Available October 18, TinkerKit will be released. Geared toward designers, the kit has PCB modules that include a joystick, soft pots, transistor, relay, power MOSFET, push button, LEDs and motor driver. That same day will be the launch of the multi-lingual Arduino Store.

These developments will be a nice addition to the toolset out there that you can use and we look forward to new projects using these tools.

Update: [PT] sent us a link to an ever-growing FAQ about this hardware.

World Maker Faire New York 2010

A quick heads-up to those of you that will be at the New York Maker Faire and the Open Hardware Summit.One of our writers, [Devlin Thyne], will be there checking out projects and handing out Hack a Day stickers. Be sure to stop him to say hello and maybe show off your projects. We look forward to seeing you and your projects.

BeagleBoard Cluster

What do you do after you make a BeagleBoard graphing calculator? [Matt] over at Liquidware Antipasto made a BeagleBoard Elastic R Cluster that fits in a briefcase. Ten BeagleBoards, are connected to each other though USB to ethernet adapters and a pair of ethernet switches connected to a wireless router. The cost for this cluster comes in around $2000 and while consuming less than 40 watts of power, out-paces a $4500 laptop. How might you use this cluster? What improvements would you make? [Read more...]

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