Sci-Fi Contest: Source Universe Roundup

sci-fi-contest-universe-roundup

The Hackaday Sci-Fi contest has 36 entries so far. Since there are fifteen prizes available, you stand an excellent chance of winning; but you can’t win if you don’t play. It’s pretty easy to be considered for the contest. You simply need to hack together something Sci-Fi related and show off your work. Head over to the contest page and check out the details. Ten of the prizes are popularity-based, so posting early is the best bet! For those that were put-off by the team requirement, there’s a hack to get around that.

Since this is a themed contest we thought we’d give you an update on where inspiration is coming from. Below is the break-down of each Sci-Fi universe that has been so-far adopted by the entrants. We’d like to point out that this isn’t limited to movies, as the bulk of inspiration is to be found in literature. Why don’t we get a comment thread going here to help brain-storm for people who want help locking onto an idea?

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the banner images. These were taken from three of the contest projects. The upper left is a GLaDOS replica controlled by Google Glass (complete with Nerf dart gun) inspired by Portal. Bottom left is a pair of Peril-Sensitive sunglasses inspired by A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And the bottom right is a life-sign scanner inpired by Stargate Atlantis.

  • Unknown (genre or misc themes) 9
  • A Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy 4
  • Back to the Future 3
  • Star Wars 3
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey 2
  • Doctor Who 2
  • Stargate 2
  • Thor 2
  • Blade Runner 1
  • Demolition Man 1
  • ET: The Extra Terrestrial 1
  • Futurama 1
  • Harry Potter 1
  • Knight Rider 1
  • Portal 1
  • Prometheus 1
  • Start Trek 1

Throwback Handheld Built with Modern Hobby Hardware

magpi-gaming-handheld

Remember all of those fantastically horrible handheld LCD games that hit the toy stores back in the ’90s. You know, the ones that had custom LCD screens to make for some fake animation. Here’s an example of what those should have been. It’s an LCD-based handheld with some soul.

The entire thing is roughly the size of a television remote, with a 3D printed case making it very presentable. But looking at the wiring which hides inside proves this is one-of-a-kind. The Arduino Pro Mini is probably the biggest difference in technology from back in the day compared to now. It has plenty of space for all of the different settings and games shown off in the clip below. The user interface itself is definitely a throw-back though. The Nokia 3310 screen boasts a whopping 84×48 pixel monochrome area. There are four buttons serving as a d-pad, and two as action buttons. Perhaps the greatest feature (besides the printed case we already mentioned) is the ability to recharge the internal battery via USB.

[Zippy314] built this with his son. What’s more fun: learning to program the games, or mastering them and discovering the bugs you missed along the way?

 

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Fail of the Week: CPLDs That Release Blue Smoke

fotw-floppy-emulator-burned-cpld

The card you see above is a floppy drive emulator for Macintosh. [Steve Chamberlain] has been hand assembling these and selling them in small runs, but is troubled by about a 4% burn-out rate for the CPLD which has the red ‘X’ on it. He settled into figure out what exactly is leading to this and it’s a real head-scratcher.

He does a very good job of trouble-shooting, starting with a list of all the possible things he thinks could be causing this: defective part, bad PCB, bad uC firmware, damage during assembly, solder short, tolerance issues, over-voltage on the DB connector, or bad VHDL design. He methodically eliminates these, first by swapping out the part and observing the exact same failure (pretty much eliminates assembly, solder short, etc.), then by measuring and scoping around the card.

The fascinating read doesn’t stop with the article. Make sure you work your way through the comments thread. [Steve] thinks he’s eliminated the idea of bad microcontroller code causing damage. He considers putting in-line resistors on the DB connector but we wonder if clamping diodes wouldn’t be a better choice (at least for testing purposes)? This begs the question, why is he observing a higher voltage on those I/O lines during power-up? As always, we want to hear your constructive comments below.


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story – or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

Hackaday Links: March 31, 2014

hackaday-links-chain

Wanting to display his Google calendars [Chris Champion] decided to mount an old monitor on the wall. The hack is his installation method which recesses both the bracket and the outlet while still following electrical code (we think).

Since we’re already on the topic. Here’s a hack-tacular project which hangs a laptop LCD as if it were a picture frame. We do really enjoy seeing the wire, which connects to the top corners and hangs from a single hook a few inches above the screen bezel. There’s something very “whatever works” about it that pleases us.

[Jaspreet] build a datalogger in an FPGA. He put together a short video demo of the project but you can find a bit more info from his repo. He’s using a DE0-Nano board which is a relatively low-cost dev board from Terasic.

Want to see what’s under the hood in the processor running a Nintendo 3DS? Who wouldn’t? [Markus] didn’t just post the die images taken through his microscope. He documented the entire disassembly and decapping process. Maybe we should have given this one its own feature?

If you’re streaming on your Ouya you definitely want a clean WiFi signal. [Michael Thompson] managed to improve his reception by adding an external antenna.

We always like to hear about the free exchange of information, especially when it comes to high-quality educational material. [Capt Todd Branchflower] teaches at the United States Air Force Academy. He wrote in to say that his ECE383 Embedded Systems II class is now available online. All the info can also be found at his Github repo.

And finally, do you remember all the noise that was made about 3D printed guns a while back? Well [Mikeasaurus] put together the .iStab. It’s a 3D printed iPhone case with an integrated folding blade…. for personal protection? Who knows. We think it should be a multitasking solution that functions as a fold-down antenna.

Arduino Day is Today

arduino-day-2014

Did you know today is Arduino day? A day to pull that little teal board out of the bin and blink some LEDs or dive deeper to challenge your skills. There’s a map of local events, but unless you’re near Italy (the birthplace of the movement) events are a bit hard to find.

There can be a lot of hate for Arduino around here, but we consider it the gateway drug to learning hardware design so why not support wide-adoption of the platform? We’ve even seen Hackaday-associated projects adopting compatibility. Both the Mooltipass and the FPGA shield projects have the platform in mind. Break down the assumption that electronics require mythical-levels-of-wizardry to toy with and we’ll be on our way to a world filled with hardware hackers. If you do want to get some really cheap boards to hand out Sparkfun has Pro Mini’s for $3 today, as well as some other deals [Thanks Jeff].

Are you still unconvinced and ready to rage in the comments? Before you do head on over to our Arduino anger management site to exercise some of that aggression.

Sci-Fi Contest Prize Acquisition Issues — Oh Noes!

sci-fi-contest-prize-woes

We spent quite a bit of time picking out prizes for the Sci-Fi contest. But wouldn’t you know it, literally the day after announcing the contest we cued up The Amp Hour and heard about a worldwide stock shortage (34:00) of BeagleBone Black boards. About a week later Adafruit ran an explanation of the issues. It became clear why we were having issues sources a quintet of boards so that we could deliver on our prize offer.

To further compound problems we a somewhat smaller issue sourcing Spark Core boards. We put in an order for a quintet of them when we posted the contest; at the time they were supposed to be shipping in late March, but now shipping estimates have been delayed to mid-April. Assuming no more delays these should be available by the time the contest ends at the end of April so keep your fingers crossed.

We have a good relationship with the folks over at Spark Core and can probably ask them to help us out if we do get in a bind. But we don’t think anyone is going to be able to deliver the BeagleBone Black boards (which we have on backorder) in time for the end of the contest. So here’s the deal: if you win and really want these exact boards in the prize package you select, we’re going to do what needs to be done to get it for you, eventually. If you don’t want to wait and there is a suitable alternative we’ll make that happen.

We wondered what people are doing if they don’t want to wait out these shortages. Are there any other open-hardware projects that are similar in price and functionality? Our gut says no (that’s why they’re in such high demand). But we’d love to hear about some alternatives. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Fail of the Week: Secret Agent-Style Book Hideaway

fotw-book-hideaway-with-laser-cutter

Ah, the movies are an inspiration for so many projects. How many times have you seen a spy movie where a cutout in the pages of a book are hiding something? This was the inspiration which led [Paul] and his crew to try using a laser cutter to remove a handgun-shaped cutout from the pages. The fail began before the project even got started. The sacrificial book they had chosen was too thick to cut directly so they tore it in thirds for the cutting process.

The hijinks are portrayed well in the clip after the break. The infectious giggling as this first trace of the laser cuts the outline makes the video worth watching. As they try to go deeper, the success falls off rapidly. This makes for a great Fail of the Week discussion: Why can’t you cut through multiple layers of a book with a laser cutter? Is this merely a focal length issue that would be solved with a higher-end cutter or is there something else at play here. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

 

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