Double the Hertz, Double the Pleasure

[tinhead] has opened up a Tekway DST1102B oscilloscope and doubled its bandwidth to 200MHz, sharing his work in the eevblog forum. This is great news to anyone who is looking for a faster sampling rate but can’t afford the high-end models. Mind you, for a lot of us even these Hanteks and Tekways are hard to afford but there are more appropriate options for the ramen-dependent hacker.

In the hacking guide [tinhead] includes comprehensive information on the different scopes he originally considered (a Rigol, Atten and UniTrend) before settling on the Tekway, as well as links to regional distributors for the hackable scope. Good quality benchtop units are invaluable for development and troubleshooting, and it pays off to understand their inner workings. It’s heartwarming to know that even the tools of hacking can be hacked.

Five Free Evalbots

If you’re a member of a hackerspace and you’ve been hoping and wishing for an evalbot to tear apart with your bare hands, you’re in luck! [Dave Bullock] is giving out five evalbots to five lucky hackers chosen at random. We thought that the $125.00 deal we saw the other day was good but this is right outta town!

The draw is on Black Friday, so you’ve got a few days to submit your details. We’ve only had a few posts about the evalbot to-date covering the initial examination of the hardware and a USB power modification. We’re interested in seeing where people take this, and we’d love to follow how each of these free ‘bots turns out. For those already working on an evalbot, keep it up and take lots of pictures!

[Photo credit: Dave Bullock from eecue]

2010 Hacker Gift Guide

You’ve probably been fantasizing about getting amazing gifts this December, like robots with servo-mounted laser pointers and authentic battle damage. It’s time to realize that it’s unlikely that this will happen. Stay calm. You can still get sweet hacky things if you just forward this gift-giving guide to your friends and loved ones.

Join us after the break to see what we want and be sure to let us know what you’ve got your eye on.
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Stupid Friggin’ Robots

 

Some robots aspire to greatness, revolutionizing our humanoid behaviour in ways we struggle to understand. They have traveled in space, photographing the stars like celestial paparazzi or snatching Martians up like interplanetary bed intruders. Some robots are happy to perform their everyday functions with dignity and grace, scrubbing our floors and thanking us for recycling.

It may seem that every robot has a calling that–whether grandiose or humble–makes it a valuable part of our society. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some robots use our hard-earned energy resources to no good use, lazing around without a useful function, drinking flux and tonic all night while watching reruns of Lost in Space. They are stupid robots.

Many humans look upon such pitiful automatons as nothing more than flotsam in the whitewater rapids of human achievement, but the more empathetic among us are ready to celebrate the unique uselessness of stupid robots in grand style. Enter Bacarobo (translated), the premier event showcasing the quirkiest and most amusingly useless robots of our time.

This year the contest was held at the end of October, and the entrants were hilarious to say the least. The dancing olé-bot drew much applause, while the shivering toque robots wooed the crowd in a desperate attempt to escape their frigid prison. It will be fun to see whether any stupidly adorable robot designs will come out of our own Santa-bot competition, considering the source material. If you’ve ever built a stupid or useless robot (accidentally or not) please share your story in the comments. Sometimes the most endearing things about our technology are the parts that don’t work the way they’re supposed to.

Fixing the Future

[iFixit] (who we’ve posted about many times before) has launched a passionate manifesto promoting the skills and knowledge of repair as a solution to technological consumerism and waste. They use powerful footage of electronic waste dumps in Ghana to make the point that we must collectively change the way we use and relate to our high technology–take a look after the break.

The manifesto rallies against the practice of withholding repair knowledge such as manuals, error codes and schematics–putting responsibility in the hands of manufacturers–but also makes it clear that it is up to every one of us to inform ourselves and to value functionality over novelty.

Considering the many-faceted resource crisis that we are headed towards, any efforts to push our behavior towards a sustainable and considerate way of life should be considered. As hackers we repair, reuse and rethink technology as part of our craft–but we are also privileged by our enthusiasm for technical challenges. The real battle is to disseminate the kind of knowledge and skills we possess into the general population. This is where the heart of [ifixit]‘s message comes into play: the creation of an open, editable online repair manual for every electronic device. If you have something to teach, why not pop over and help expand their database?

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Monotron Openly Monophonic

Famous synth manufacturer Korg has released the schematics (get them here if you don’t like to fill out forms) for their wee little Monotron for all to see and use! This is great news for anyone looking to build up a synth from scratch or to circuit bend their existing monotron. The filter circuits alone would be fun to add to an existing electronics setup.

Granted there are already many examples of monotron mods out there, but that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with your own variations. Now with the schematics you can make fundamental changes to the architecture of the synth all from the comfort of your own CAD software. Want more oscillators? Distortion? It’s all out there for you to explore. We’re very interested to see how far people will run with this. And big ups to Korg for recognizing the value of hacking!

[via Retrothing]

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Android Talks Pulsewave

Serial communications are a mainstay of digital computing. They don’t require much physical infrastructure and they exist in variations to fit almost any application. The behaviour of serial communications lines, varying from high to low voltage in a timed pattern, is analogous to a 1-bit DAC. Using a whole DAC for serial communication would be a waste in most cases, but the [RobotsEverywhere] team found an exception which you may have encountered already.

Since the audio output of the Android is accessible and addressable, [RobotsEverywhere] wrote source code to use the left and right channels as separate serial communication lines. This circumvents the need to bust into the device and muck about with the hardware which is great if you want a no-risk hack that allows communications to an RS232 port. Any hardware on which you can write to the DAC (and control the sampling rate) is a potential target.

There are some external electronics required to convert the audio signal to TTL, but it’s not very complicated–a couple of comparators and change. You can see it in action after the break.

As a bonus, when you’re done for the day you can plug in your headphones and listen to the soothing poetry of pulse waves all night long.

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