Controlling a Flip-Disc Display Using Android

Android Flip Dot Display

There’s just something about electro-mechanical displays that enthralls most people when they see them; and while you’ll be hard pressed to find a split-flap display for cheap, you can still easily buy flip-disc displays! That’s what [Scott] did, and he’s been having a blast messing around with his and building a system to control it via his Android phone.

He picked up the display from a company called Alfa-Zeta in Poland, a company that’s been making electromagnetic displays since 1988. No mention of price, but it looks like some pretty awesome hardware. The beauty with electromagnetic displays is they don’t consume any electricity in idle state, making them far more efficient than almost any other display technology – not to mention perfect contrast in any lighting conditions!

They work by using permanent magnets, electromagnets, and a material that can retain magnetization. A short pulse to the electromagnet causes the disc to flip into the second position, which will then hold in place due to the permanent magnet — no more electromagnet needed.

The display comes with all the necessary hardware to drive the electromagnets and interface with a microcontroller. But, it uses the RS-485 standard, which isn’t natively supported by most other microcontrollers. [Scott's] using an Arduino which does have an RS-485 shield, but he decided he wanted to challenge himself and build a circuit to drive them himself!

All the info is on his blog if you’re looking to try something similar. Once he had it interfaced with the Arduino it was just a simple matter of writing an Android app to transmit controls over Bluetooth for the display. Take a look:

[Read more...]

Using the Wrong Screw: A Painful Lesson in iPhone Repair

iPhone trace repair

If you’ve ever had to repair an iPhone for a friend, you’ll know they have a ridiculous number of screws. Most companies standardize screws in their products, but since Apple doesn’t expect you to fix a phone yourself… they may have let this one slide.

You see, each of these screws is different.iPhone screws The red ones are 1.7mm long, the yellow one, 1.3mm, and the orange one, 1.2mm.

Guess what happens if you install either red or yellow screws into the orange spot, since your eyesight isn’t good enough to notice a 0.1mm difference? The screw will cut into the PCB and break several 50 micron traces, as shown in the picture above, causing a blue screen error on the phone.

Fun stuff.

[Sam Schmidt] is the owner of a repair outfit called iRepairNational, and he and his team spent a day trying to figure out the problem – it’s not exactly easy to spot. They’ve managed to repair it by cutting thin strips  of copper foil (the width of a human hair) and floating it into place using the surface tension of the flux they were using for soldering. On average it takes them around 2 hours to do the repair, though they’ve done a few in just under an hour.

Since discovering and sharing the problem, they’ve had customers around the world sending in phones for repair – often at the fault of someone else trying to repair something completely different in the phone, and then using the wrong screw as they put it all back together.

Delving Into the Design and Manufacture of a Keyboard

home made keyboard

A while back [Dave] decided he wanted to build his own keyboard. [Dave] has no experience in design, or dealing with manufacturing companies, or even sourcing materials – he just wanted to see if he could do it.

That’s the beauty of the DIY world – most of the time, you can do it, you just don’t know it yet. The keyboard is made out of laser cut steel and acrylic sheets. The switches and key caps are Cherry MX Browns, supplied by GONSKeyboards Works. A Teensy 2.0 lies at the heart of the keyboard acting as an HID device, and the whole thing assembled looks pretty slick – but it wasn’t easy getting to that point.

[Read more...]

Don’t You Just Love Comic Sans?

Type Writer Uses Comic Sans!

Trick question! Of course you do, everyone loves Comic Sans! It’s only like the best font in the history of the internet! Why would you ever use anything else?

Oh! Is it because you feel like writing your novella on a computer is cheating? You wish you could use Comic Sans on your classic Sears-branded Brother Charger 11 typewriter from the 70’s? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Jokes aside, this is actually a pretty clever hack. He’s modified a typewriter to use custom letters which he has laser cut out of acrylic and super glued to the strikers of the typewriter. [Read more...]

This Message Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds

Mission Impossible Self Destructing Messages

Good morning, Mr. Hunt. Your mission, should you choose to accept it… blah blah blah… This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

This is [Diego Trujillo Pisanty's] latest project dubbed “This Tape Will Self-Destruct“, and it’s a fully functional small scale printer, whose media catches on fire immediately after printing. Beyond the obvious Mission Impossible connection, you could also think of it as real-life snapchat — just throw a webcam on there and some faxing capabilities…

Apparently [Diego] was inspired to build this machine after the BBC reported that a Kremlin security agency was upgrading the office with typewriters in attempt to reduce privacy leaks from computer hardware, in fear of WikiLeaks and [Edward Snowden].

It is an art piece (the horror!) but is actually quite the piece of hardware. So unfortunately, like most art pieces, the artist doesn’t give much detail on how it works, because that would ruin the illusion of the project… or something. Still, it’s an amusing project. Video below.

[Read more...]

Margarita Drip Infuser Ensures a Perfect Mix

Margarita Drip Infuser!

In order to get a margarita just right, the various ingredients need to be mixed together quite vigorously to over-come the different viscosity of the fluids. Looking to create his own barbot of sorts, [TVMiller] decided to make a Margarita Drip Infuser to help make margaritas a bit easier.

Using various chem lab supplies, [TVMiller] has cobbled together something pretty awesome. The Infuser can take up to 8 different ingredients into its test tube reserves, and after the drink ingredients are programmed on the computer, the magic begins.

An Arduino Uno controls a bank of 8 relays which control small fluid solenoids, with each control pulse releasing just a single droplet of fluid. An LED for each valve is run in parallel adding a bit of a light show to the mixing experience. If that’s not enough, he’s also created a copper cooling coil to chill the drink as it is poured.

[Read more...]

3D Printing Models From Computer Games

3D printed Chivalry Medieval Warfare Mace

Wouldn’t it be cool to extract 3D models from your favorite video games and then 3D print them? As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to do!

In the following video tutorial he shows us how to extract the 3D meshes from a video game called Chivalry, Medieval Warfare. The game is based on the unreal engine which makes it super easy to get the files.

Quick note on legality: If you choose to rip 3D models from your video games and print them, make sure you’re just printing them for yourself, not to sell. 

To start, you’ll need a few pieces of software to help you out. First up is something called Umodel, which is an Unreal Engine Resource Viewer, which allows you to view and extract files from any game that uses the Unreal Engine. Once you find your model in the game directory, you can open it up in Umodel and save it as a .PSK file. From there you can open .PSK files with another program called Milkshape 3D, and then export in .OBJ file. Finally you can use MeshMixer to import .OBJ files, repair the mesh by removing the extra shells (you can use the cloud NetFabb service to help repair files for 3D printing as well), and then finally save as .STL ready to print.

[Read more...]

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