Reverse geocache puzzle

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[Mikal] wanted to create an awesome electronic wedding gift for his friend who was moving to France. After experimenting with a few things, he settled on creating a puzzle box that would only open in a certain location. Since his friend introduced him to the Arduino, he fittingly used one in the design, along with a serial GPS module and a mini character LCD. The box itself is locked using a servo-controlled chopstick, which could theoretically be snapped if [Mikal] really screwed something up. To save battery life, he used a small Pololu module to provide power that uses only 0.01 microamps in standby, and can be shut off by the Arduino.

The box was designed to be mysterious yet self-explanatory. When the button on the front is pushed, the box comes to life for 3 minutes, displaying the distance away from secret location. Additionally, it warns how many tries are left: the button can only be pushed 50 times before it is sealed “forever”. In order to open the box, you have to be within 2km of the destination. Theoretically, you can narrow down the location to one of 2 points after 2 readings, but a less scientific approach would probably be a lot more fun.

This seems like an amazing gift, and the same concept could be repurposed into hundreds of other devices. For extra fun, he could have placed it at a geocache location.

3D Magnetometer mouse in processing

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[etgalim] works in Solidworks extensively and wanted a more intuitive way of rotating objects onscreen. To do this, he created a mouse that responds to rotation. He put a 3D compass module inside an old mouse and wired it up to an Arduino. The Arduino then relays the I2C sensor data to the computer. So far, he has a Processing script that uses the mouse to rotate a cube, but eventually he wants to write a Solidworks plugin. It’s a bit shaky, and we think it would be a bit smoother (and cheaper) if he used gyros like the jedipad. Video after the jump.

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$100 portable Wikipedia

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OpenMoko, the company behind the FreeRunner open-source phone, released their latest product today: WikiReader. It’s a small mobile device for browsing Wikipedia. Rather than use a wireless network to pull data off of the web, it has local copy of the database on a 8GB microSD card. This approach has been used before, and it lets the WikiReader be compact and really cheap. It uses a Kindle-esque touch-screen display that allows it to run on 3 AAA’s for about a year. The device itself costs just $99, but you can choose to receive updates by snail mail for just $29/year. Alternatively, you can just download the +4GB file and dump it on the card.

Like the FreeRunner, this project is also open-source. The code isn’t available yet, but they say it will be released soon. With luck, the device will be really easy to hack.

BBox MIDI drum sequencer

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We’ve covered sequencers before, but reader [Johan] sent in his latest project that is much more minimalistic approach. Dubbed the BBox, he based his drum generator on an Arduino and an LCD display. Rather than synthesizing sound, the Arduino just outputs MIDI which is then interpreted by his Roland Juno-D. In building the device he used a favorite trick of ours to keep the interface clean. He then found an awesome banana box to use as a case. Although, the project may not be as functional as some of the others out there, it certainly has flair. Video of it in action after the break.

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Arduino email alert

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The Arduino makes a great platform for alert systems because it doesn’t need additional parts, other than an LED or motor. [Torchris] made email notifier, and used an Ethernet shield to make it standalone. The Arduino polls your POP server seeing if there are unread emails. POP is an incredibly simple protocol, even simpler than HTTP; this made it easy to communicate with, even with little processing power. He hopes to add a servo or serial display to present the data better, but his current system seems to work well. Video of it in action after the break.

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Arduino muon detector

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[Sebastian Tomczak] was borrowing a homeade muon detector from his friend, and managed to hook it up to his computer through an Arduino. The detector itself uses 3 fluorescent tubes to detect radiation. Three separate tubes are used in order to filter out terrestrial radiation; cosmic radiation will fall in-line with the tubes and pass through at least two of them, whereas terrestrial radiation will only hit one. There is some basic circuitry to amplify the signal and then perform the OR operation.

[Tomczak]  used an Arduino to take the raw data and feed it into his computer. He then used Max/MSP to analyze the data and filter out background noise, leaving only the cosmic ray data. He didn’t mention what he was going to use the data for, though. Maybe he’ll hook it up to a synthesizer.

Related: Digital Geiger counter

[via @littlebirdceo]

Build an analog TV station

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With the transition to digital TV, the FCC has abandoned the old analog format. Luckily, you can take advantage of this and set up your own analog TV station. The FCC has a tool on their site to see what channels are open in your area to broadcast in. To broadcast, you need a TV transmitter, but cheap short-range models can be found on eBay or made at home [pdf]. Once you have a transmitter, you can pump in a video source, either your own content or videos from youtube. One group, OMGimontv is showcasing popular youtube clips on channel 14 in New York. On their site, users can vote for what clips they want to see. Although this isn’t as simple as making a radio station, it still has a lot of potential.

[via BoingBoing]