Dallas Makerspace Tour

[Paul] sent us this video tour of the Dallas Makerspace made by member [Andrew Floyd], who walks us around and provides narration for a very impressive space. Once inside the 6000 sq ft facility, he takes us past the entrance lounge and into the electronics room, which has more electronics component storage than visible wall space, and down the hall to show off some laser-cut and 3d-printed creations.

Every makerspace has its specialties, and the Dallas gang shows off their awesome darkroom (complete with creepy, lurking Nic Cage) and blacksmith/forge work areas. They even have bi-weekly blacksmithing classes from a local master blacksmith. The space has since expanded, conquering their next-door-neighbors to expand project storage, add a biolab, a second classroom, a conference room, and more.

Enjoy the video after the break, and then head over to their website for more info: dallasmakerspace.org.

Continue reading “Dallas Makerspace Tour”

20 Android Tablets form an Interactive Photo Collage

You might not have a small army of unused tablets lying around, but if you did, you should try turning them into what Minn calls a “Giant Interactive Photo Array Display:” A Giant IPAD. Har har.

[Minn’s] first step was to hit eBay, hoping to find a score of low-priced, broken-yet-easily-repairable tablets. The only ones available (and for cheap), however, were resistive touch screens with narrow viewing angles. After waiting patiently for nearly half a year, [Minn] hit the capacitive touch jackpot: snagging a pile of 10″ and 7″ Android tablets. The frame is custom made to provide a solid surface for mounting and enough depth for the tablets to fit correctly. Rather than form his own brackets to hold each device, [Minn] re-purposed some IKEA cupboard handles, screwing them into the MDF backboard and clamping the tablets to them with bolts that press against the case. An adhesive rubber bumper stuck to the top of the bolts prevents any damage.

Providing power to the diverse collection required another custom solution; two 5V 10A supplies and one 9V 16A supply fit into an accompany box safely deliver the needed juice. [Minn] chose an app that will grab photos from cloud storage so he can update the collection without having to dig around inside the frame. See the result in a video below! Want to try this project but only have one tablet to spare? The in-wall tablet mount might help.

Continue reading “20 Android Tablets form an Interactive Photo Collage”

Arduino-based Enigma Replica is Fully Functional

This open-source Enigma replica by the folks at [ST-Geotronics] is simply stunning. They drew their inspiration from a hilarious build we saw a few years ago that hacked a children’s toy into an Enigma machine. Their project is instead modeled on the original Enigma M4 cipher machine, and aside from a bit of artistic license, we think they nailed the visual style. As for functionality, the guide claims everything works, right down to the plugboard.

Rather than try to immediately cram everything into the final enclosure, the [ST-Geotronics] gang painstakingly worked out a prototype to be sure the four 16-segment LED displays had been wired correctly and functioned properly. The next step was laying out a swarm of buttons and resistors on a 6″x8″ perfboard. They used charlieplexing to handle the 16-segment displays (which actually have 17 LEDs each), and deceptively disguised each display as a nixie tube by mounting them vertically and encasing them in a transparent dome. The case follows the M4’s original dimensions and consists of a plywood box with scrap steel for the top plate.

Swing by their Instructables page for more details. There you can find several Arduino sketches to test functionality and the code for five different M4 operation modes.

Custom Arcade Control Panel

Anybody can fire up an emulator and play arcade games of yesteryear, but if you want to capture more of the nostalgia, you should build a custom arcade control panel. [Quinn] started her build by narrowing down which games she was most interested in playing, and decided on a straightforward 2-player setup. The biggest challenge was finding joysticks that would allow for switchable 4-way or 8-way control: some games such as Ms. Pac Man were made for 4-way joystick input, and the added positions on a 8-way can lead to confused inputs and frustrated players.

[Quinn] found the solution with a pair of Ultimarc Servo Stik joysticks, which use a servo motor to swap between 4 and 8-way mode. The output from both the joysticks and the buttons feed into an iPac encoder, which converts the signal to emulate a USB keyboard. The panel was first mocked up on butcher paper, with dimensions borrowed from various games: the panel itself resembles Mortal Kombat 2, while the buttons are spaced to match X-Men vs Street Fighter 2. [Quinn] chose some spare melamine—plywood with a plastic coating—to construct the panel, drilled some holes and used a router to carve out space for the joysticks. A USB hub was added to power the servos and to make room for future additions, which [Quinn] will have no difficulty implementing considering that her electrical layout is enviably clean. To cap it all off, she fit two “coin slot” buttons: a quarter placed into a slot serves as a start button when pressed.

Be sure to see the videos after the break that demonstrate the coin buttons and the servos, then check out a different retro joystick hack for a tripod controller, or look to the future with the Steam Controller.

Continue reading “Custom Arcade Control Panel”

VCR Centrifuge

VCR’s practically scream “tear me open!” with all those shiny, moving parts and a minimal risk that you’re going to damage a piece of equipment that someone actually cares about. Once you’ve broken in, why not hack it into a centrifuge like [Kymyst]? Separating water from the denser stuff doesn’t require lab-grade equipment. As [Kymyst] explains: you can get a force of 10 G just spinning something around your head. By harvesting some belt drives from a few VCR’s, however, he built this safer, arm-preserving motor-driven device.

[Kymst] dissected the video head rotor and cassette motor drive down to a bare minimum of parts which were reassembled in a stack. A bored-out old CD was attached beneath the rotor while a large plastic bowl was bolted onto the CD. The bowl–here a microwave cooking cover–acts as a protective barrier against the tubes spinning inside. The tube carriers consist of plastic irrigation tubing fitted with a homemade trunnion, which [Kymyst] fashioned from some self-tapping screws and a piece of PVC. At 250 rpm, this centrifuge reaches around 6 G and best of all, gives a VCR something to do again. Take a look at his guide and make your own, particularly if your hackerspace has a bio lab.

Solar power for your bike

After the headlight on his bike died, [Patrick] decided this was the best time to hack the remains and solve a few problems: namely a constantly drained battery from accidentally forgetting to turn the light off. He opted for a solar solution, as he already had both an Adafruit solar lithium charger and a Seeed Li-po Rider. [Patrick] picks the Adafruit board for its extra safety features like temperature sensing to prevent the cell from overheating.

The build uses 9 eBay-sourced 2V mini solar panels attached neatly on the bike’s mudflaps. Three groups of 3 panels in series provide the needed 6V into the Adafruit lithium board which safely charges a spare 900mAh Nokia phone battery from the junk drawer. [Patrick] admits this solar setup may be overkill. He decided to include a USB jack to keep his phone charged for some Google maps navigation. The Adafruit board does not step up to 5V, however, so [Patrick] tacks on a Mintyboost kit to kick the Lipo’s output up high enough to charge the phone.

Solar’s not the only alternative way to power your bike’s lights. Check out the RattleGen from earlier this year if you missed it.

Yet Another Self-Balancing Unicycle

No one has time to hone their balancing skills these days, and if building your own Segway doesn’t generate enough head-turning for you, then the self-balancing unicycle from the guys at [Scitech] should. Their build is chain-driven, using easy-to-find salvaged Razor scooter parts. Throw in a motor controller, 5DOF IMU and some batteries and it’s almost ready to burn up the sidewalks in hipster-tech style.

Some of the previous unicycle builds we’ve seen are a little on the bulky side, but the [Scitech] cycle aims for simplicity with its square tube steel framing and footrests. As always, unicycle builds like these take some effort on behalf of the rider: shifting your weight controls steering and throttle. The [Scitech] gang also discovered that it’s usually best when you don’t accidentally wire the motors up to the controller backwards. We recommend that you find a helmet and watch the video after the break.

Too-cool-for-unicycle hackers can build a dangerously fast e-skateboard instead.

Continue reading “Yet Another Self-Balancing Unicycle”