The Nottingham Hackspace


Hackerspaces (or hackspace in this case) come in all shapes and sizes, from those just starting up, to some that are very impressively equipped. [Dominic] wrote in to tell us about the Nottingham Hackspace, which would fall solidly into the second category. We’d invite you to take a look at their intro video after the break, but be prepared to wish you lived near their location.

If you do happen to live there, in addition to a nicely polished website and intro video, they have nearly 4500 square feet of space at their facility. Naturally they have the now ubiquitous 3D printers, but they also have an impressive array of more traditional as well as computer-controlled tools. These include a lathe, welders, CNC router, laser cutter, and even basic PCB-making facilities. Storage space is also included, both for member projects and bicycles.

So be sure to check them out. They have around 130 members right now, but naturally would love to see you there! [Read more...]

The Firecracker Crossbow


If there are two things that we love at [HAD], giant German firecrackers, and medieval weapons would have to be close to the top of this list. This clever hack gives us both, with a toy crossbow capable of both lighting and launching firecrackers to a safe distance. We didn’t see a blooper reel, but being ready to run in case of a malfunction is probably a good idea as well.

The post has some pictures of the mechanism, but at its heart, this hack consists of ripping up a grill igniter, and placing the contacts into a shortened-stock toy crossbow. Safety is of course encouraged, as much as it can be with this type of device. It’s especially important here as apparently “firecracker” roughly translates in German to “small sticks of high-explosive,” or possibly “road flare.”

Be sure to check out this modded crossbow in action in the video after the break!

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Pinoccio Web Rover


Before assuming that the title should be “web crawler,” just shush your shussins’ and check out the video after the break. The Pinoccio, as previously noted, is a board in development as a sort of web-enabled by default Arduino. This makes it perfect for a project like this one where a little rover is controlled from 10,000 Kilometers away, or around 6000 Miles for those of us that dwell in the US.

This setup uses a cell-phone accelerometer in Brazil to allow control of this robot in Nevada. Although close, the control isn’t quite real time, so that has to be accounted for. Something like this could be easily used for a telepresence ‘bot.

If you want to build your own, the assembly time is estimated at 1 hour. Instructions, as well as source code can be found on their page after the video. Although the Pinoccio board won’t be available until at least this summer, maybe this will give someone inspiration to try something similar in the mean time! [Read more...]

The Universal Geospatial Light Switch

project rita

Home automation has existed in one form or another for quite some time, but we thought this take on controlling lights was quite interesting.  Instead of having a menu of lights that you can turn on and off, this Android app lets you point your phone at the device and turn it on or of. Undoubtedly similar to how [Darth Vader] controls his lights at home.

Although the really technical details of this project aren’t listed, this setup reads the compass and GPS output of the Android device to figure out where it’s pointed in space. Combined with a script that understands the layout of the room, and an [X10] automation controller, it’s able to control lights accurately.

Be sure to check out the video of this device in action, or check out [Mike]‘s [Project Rita] blog to see the other interesting projects that he’s working on!

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Pinoccio – An Ecosystem for the Internet of Things


[Pinoccio] is currently an Indeigogo crowd-sourced project that aims use the real-world programmability of the Arduino through the internet using a wifi connection. One could rightly point out that this can already be done through the use of a wifi shield. Before ruling this device out, just “shush your shussins” and consider that it’s designed specifically for interfacing with “things” over the internet. This can replace several components (see 1:10 in the video after the break) and should be less of a hassle.

Additionally, with a shield on one of these devices, several other [Pinoccio] boards can communicate with the Internet using this as a hub in a mesh network. This is similar to how the many “smart” electrical meters work, with a grid router being a central hub for communications. Additionally, this board has a built in temperature sensor and a RGB (instead of a single-color) LED, so you can do some interesting stuff with it right out of the box. Assuming this project gets funded, which seems likely at this point, we’re excited to see the projects that get built using it! [Read more...]

Operation StratoSphere


Panoramic photos are nice, however a full 360 degree x 180 degree, or spherical panorama would be even better. [Caleb Anderson] decided to take this concept much further, attempting to extract panoramic photos from video taken at 100,000 feet using a high-altitude balloon and six GoPro cameras.

The overview of this project can be found here, and gives some background. The first task was to start prototyping some payload containers, which for a device that you have little control over once out of your hands is quite critical. As well as some background, there’s a cool interactive panorama of the first test results on this page, so be sure to check it out.

The “real” hacking in this experiment wasn’t a matter of putting a balloon into the stratosphere or recovering it, however. Chaining these images together into pictures was a huge challenge, and involved a diverse set of skills and software knowledge that most of our readers would be proud to possess. There are several videos in the explanation, but we’ve embedded one with the cameras falling out of the sky. Be sure to at least watch until (or skip to) just after 1:05 where all the cameras impressively survive impact! [Read more...]

The PICnDuino Review


For those of you that can’t make a decision between buying an Arduino and a PIC processor, [Brad] has come up with a novel solution, the PICnDuino. We’ve featured him before with his [Retroball] project, but this time Brad has been full funded on Kickstarter, and is pre-selling boards for delivery in March.

[HAD], specifically I, was fortunate enough to be sent one of the boards to try out early. I’ve worked with an Arduino before, but never a PIC processor, so read on to see if it was actually as easy as the tutorial video (at the end of the article) would have you believe it is to get started. [Read more...]