Have you ever wanted to see what it’s like inside of a PCB assembly factory? Have you ever wondered how digital storage oscilloscopes work? If so, be sure to check out the EEVblog podcast. The Electronics Engineering video blog podcast, hosted by [Dave Jones], was created for anyone interested in learning more about electrical engineering. While some knowledge of electronics definitely helps, [Dave]‘s thorough explanations and firsthand knowledge in the field of electrical engineering make the video blog easily accessible to beginners in the field. The EEVblog covers a wide range of electronics related topics, offering everything from multimeter reviews to GSM mobile phone audio design advice. In the latest episode (shown above), [Dave] discusses and demonstrates how to solve the infinite resistor problem, involving measuring the resistance at different points of an infinite grid of resistors that all have the same resistance. In addition to giving a detailed explanation, [Dave] created a 14 x 14 grid of 420 10ohm resistors to demonstrate how to solve the problem. While we’ve only mentioned a few episodes here, be sure to check out all 25 episodes of the EEVblog podcast and subscribe to the RSS feed so you’ll never miss an episode.
We’ve seen our fair share of AVR projects, but this one’s pretty cool. AVGA is a color video game development platform based on the Atmel AVR family of microcontrollers. As seen in the picture above, one of the AVRs that the project uses is the popular ATMega168. There were several technical hurdles to using the AVRs to run color video games; one of the most difficult problems was figuring out a way to display detailed graphics from AVRs limited onboard RAM. Eventually, the developers figured out a way to display detailed graphics using a TILE-based driver. The TILE driver works by dividing the screen into X and Y coordinates, dividing the graphics into tiles. Then, when a graphic is needed it’s addressed from a reference table that’s stored in the AVR’s onboard RAM, allowing the bitmap graphic to be loaded from a game’s ROM. Currently, the only games available for the platform are a Super Mario clone, a Pacman clone, and a Snake clone. While there are only a few games available, the platform definitely looks promising. If anything, this project serves as a great example for what off the shelf microcontrollers are capable of.
Following up on their post about the new Defcon 17 badges, Wired recently posted some of the best badge hacks of the con. Among the hacks featured were an LED frequency meter hack, a sound seeking dirigible powered by three badges, and a wireless geiger counter random number generator that sent random numbers back to a laptop equipped with a zigbee card. Probably one of the most impressive hacks mentioned, the hack that won the badge hacking contest, was the LED equipped baseball cap modeled above by [Joe Grand], Defcon’s defacto badge designer.
The hacked badge is connected to the cap by an ethernet cable, where the LEDs pulse on and off in order to defeat facial recognition systems. The cap’s designer told Wired that he initially designed the cap in order to sneak into [Grand]‘s room to steal the über badges under his protection. Needless to say, the winner doesn’t have to worry about stealing the badges anymore as he was awarded his own über badge at the award ceremony. While we’re not completely sure who pulled off this awesome hack, we congratulate you and all of the participants of the badge hacking contest on your fantastic hacks.
Update: We’ve confirmed that the badge contest winner was in fact [Zoz Brooks], [Grand]‘s co-star on the popular Discovery channel show Prototype This. From all indications, his hack seems to be legitimate and not a clever idea, however we are still looking to confirm this. Also, even though Wired’s article stated that the dirigible was sound seeking, we have confirmed that it is sound avoiding. Thank’s to everyone in the comments for pointing these things out.
Defcon is upon us once again, and that can only mean one thing: new badge designs. Our friends over at Wired posted the picture above along with a description of this year’s new badge. Since our last post, there has been little new information released regarding the components used for the new badge. However, we now know that it utilizes a microphone and a full color LED along with the Freescale mc56f8006, an advanced digital signal processing microcontroller. [Grand], the badge designer, told Wired that while this year’s design is a bit simplified compared to last year’s design, it is not nearly as easy to hack. Just like last year, the functionality of the badge hasn’t been announced yet. We’re hoping for some kind of communicator. Be sure to check out Wired’s article if you want to see the high res pictures.
Using an MSA-T MIDI Decoder from Highly Liquid, [Rob Darman] was able to take the MIDI output of his Roland V-Drums and use that output to control fire shooting cannons, forming a setup that he calls fire drums. As seen in the video above, the response time between the V-Drums and the fire drums is pretty impressive. While this is by far one of the coolest things that we’ve seen controlled by MIDI, we’re naturally thinking about taking this to the next level; MIDI-controlled fireworks, anyone?
You may remember the MSA decoder devices from people wiring up MIDI drums to Rock Band.
It seems that our french friends over at BlogEEE.net have gotten their hands on a prototype of the Asus EEE Keyboard all-in-one keyboard computer. After plugging it in and messing around it a little bit, they decided to take it apart. Although BlogEEE.net is in French, we were able to learn several things about this prototype. According to the site, the PCB in their EEE keyboard is marked as Revision 1, meaning that it is very possible that this could be the finalized version of the PCB that will be seen in retail units. Also, they mention the presence of a Silicon Image sil1392cnu, a chip responsible for sending HD graphics via the EEE’s onboard HDMI port, supporting resolutions anywhere from 480i to 1080p. Perhaps one of the most impressing details uncovered was that when weighed the EEE keyboard clocked in at an impressive 2.1 pounds, lighter than most keyboards that don’t have an onboard CPU or display. While we’ve learned a lot about the Asus EEE Keyboard so far, there is still no information available regarding its release date.
When [Tom] got tired of the large size of his Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 keyboard, he decided to hack a recently acquired Apple Adjustable Keyboard for use with Windows. After removing the ancient ADB based control board from the Apple keyboard, he was able to map the keys and transplant the Microsoft keyboard’s USB control board into the Apple keyboard. After soldering the control board into the keyboard with old IDE cables, all that was left was to add some diodes to prevent ghost key presses, and the keyboard hack was complete. [Tom] offers a spreadsheet of the results of his key mapping on his site, and while you’re there be sure to check out his other projects, like his DIY Proton Pack that he made for Halloween last year.