Hackaday Links: May 11, 2014

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North Korean drones! Yes, your local hobby shop has the same aerial reconnaissance abilities as North Korea. Props to Pyongyang for getting v-tail mixing down.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the look of a well laid out resistor array, and the folks at Boldport have taken this to a new level. It’s an art piece, yes, but these would make fabulous drink coasters.

Here’s something even more artistic. [cpurola] found a bunch of cerdip EPROMs and bent the pins in a weird chainmaille-esque way. The end result is an EPROM bracelet, just in time for mother’s day. It’s a better use for these chips than tearing them apart and plundering them for the few cents worth of gold in each.

[John] still uses his original Xbox for xmbc, but he’d like to use the controllers with his computer. He never uses the third and fourth controller ports, so he stuck those in his computer. It’s as simple as soldering the controller port module to a connector and plugging it into an internal USB port. Ubuntu worked great, but Windows required XBCD.

[Kerry] has modified an FT232 USB/UART thingy as an Arduino programmer before. The CP2102 USB/UART is almost as popular on eBay, a little less expensive, and equally suited for ‘duino programming. It requires desoldering a resistor and soldering a jumper on a leadless package, but with a fine solder tip, it’s not too bad.

Sci-Fi Contest Winners

We’re happy to announce 16 winners of the Sci-Fi Contest! The Hackaday Crew is thoroughly impressed with pretty much everything that was entered. The 50 projects which were marked as “complete” spanned a wide range of Science Fiction universes, and showed off the talent of the hackers who posted them.

As a quick side note: Some people have confused this contest with The Hackaday Prize. That one is still on, runs into November, and offers a trip into space as the grand prize. Get hacking!

Prizes

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We have a range of prizes for the winners. The Grand Prize winning team can choose between two packages, one is anchored by a pair of oscilloscopes (an OWON DS7102 and a Rigol DS1052E), the other swaps out the OWAN for a soldering station and a rework station. Top Prize winners can choose between three packages which offer a rework station, a soldering station, or a collection of dev boards. And finally, the community favorites can choose from several Sci-Fi themed prizes like Blu-Ray, DVD, coasters, toothbrushes, and other kitsch.  For a complete list of the prizes, check out the contest announcement.

Grand Prize: Demolition Man Verbal Morality Statute Monitor

Demolition Man Verbal Morality MonitorThe Verbal Morality Statute Monitor project was an early favorite of ours because the choice of Sci-Fi tech was perfect; a symbolic centerpiece of a dystopian future that can be perfectly replicated with current technology.

[tdicola] and his suspect partner [colabot] moved far beyond that favored status with a solid build that included mechanical design (which was quite a hack), hardware, and software.

The shiny unit hangs on the wall and listens for profanity, sounding an alarm and printing a citation whenever one is detected. We do hope that this ends up in a public space — perhaps a hackerspace full of foul-mouthed members. The delight of the Morality Monitor is that it can generate extra revenue and we suspect offenders will be happy to pay-up… well, maybe at first.

Second Place: Animatronic Iron Man MKIII suit

Animatronic Iron Man SuitThe scope of this project, which is the work of [Jerome Kelty] and [Greg Hatter], is impressive. The full-size Iron Man suit is wearable, true to the look of the film version, and packed full of animatronics. It won’t stop bullets, blow up bad guys, or fly… but it looks as if it can do all of that.

From helmet to boots the exoskeleton is packed with electronics. These are comprised mostly of things that light up, and things that move parts of the suit. But you also need a way to control that functionality and this is one of the most clever aspects of the design.

Each glove has an RFID tag reader in the palm area, with tags on the fingertips of the third and fourth finger. Closing your fingertip to your palm initiates a programmed sequence. All of this is well-documented in the Project Details section, with code and schematics for each subsystem shared as Build Logs.

Third Place: M.A.R.S.

sci-fi-winner-3-MARS-roverThis rover looks like an elegant insect. In a world full of clunky-looking robotics projects that’s high praise. The name of the project is an acronym for the MADspace Advanced Robtics System; a project which, from the start, sought to recreate an Open Design version of the NASA Rovers known as Spirit and Opportunity.

[Guus van der Sluijs], [Paul Wagener], and [Tom Geelen] turned this project into a showcase of what today’s widely available design software and fabrication tools can accomplish. Most of the connecting pieces were 3D printed (check out all of them in the components list), with 10mm aluminum tubing making up the rest of the chassis, and rockers to support the six wheels. Speaking of wheels, check out all the fab work that went into those! And we haven’t even mentioned the hw/sw which drives the thing!

Fourth Place: Back To The Future Time Circuit Clock

sci-fi-winner-4-BttF-ClockThis one has a very visceral hacked feeling which immediately made us take note. When you start to dig into the work which [Atheros] and [bwa] put into the Time Circuit Clock from the movie Back to the Future, the project really stands in a place of its own. Inspiration to build this came from a design which was posted by Hackaday alum [Phil Burgess] over at Adafruit.

The large collection of 14 and 7 segment display modules which make up the three parts of the clock are all hosted on about 23 PCBs which were etched as part of the development process. The electronic assembly is solid, with ribbon cables and modular design to keep it as tidy as possible. The frames for the displays are cut out of wood and the entire thing is controlled from a keypad. The clock, alarm, and FM radio make this a perfect bedside device — if you can abide being blasted by three colors of LED displays as you try to sleep.

Fifth Place: Marauder’s Map

sci-fi-winner-5-Marauders-MapThis one is hard to sum up with a single image, because The Marauder’s Map uses radio frequency communication to track beacon locations of boards like the one pictured here. Well, they tried to use this custom hardware but were unable to work out all the bugs and ended up showing the proof of concept using some EZ430-RF2500 dev boards.

We’re certainly not holding that against [phreaknik] and [ wahwahweewahh]. The amount of software that went into the mapping system is arguably more impressive than a bug-free prototype board would have been. The system can take the dimensions for any room, as well as locations of the base stations. It then polls the base stations to triangulate relative position of the beacons with great accuracy.
We have confidence that the custom boards will work at some point (this would actually make a great entry for The Hackaday Prize, right?).

Honorable Mentions

Glasses block light when they sense dangerIt was heartbreaking that these Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses didn’t make it into the top five. This, and the five projects above, were all in a tight race for the prizes. Since this project isn’t going to make the list of Skulled or Followed projects we’ve decided to award it one of those prize packages anyway in recognition of the wonderful work [Minimum Effective Dose] and his AI partner [Colabot] pulled off. The project is, of course, based on [Douglas Adams’] Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tech which allows the wearer to avoid getting upset in times of peril. The shutter glasses originally meant for 3D television viewing have been modified to sense danger and block the wear’s view of it.

The rest of the Honorable Mentions are awarded the honor of being mentioned (in alphabetical order):

Community Favorites

There are also prizes for the most Skulled and most Followed projects. Here are those winners in rank order. This list was a snapshot from Wednesday, May 7th, and since Hackaday.io is a living site the totals will change over time. The five top winners are excluded from these prizes; Skulled winners cannot also win for Followers:

Most Skulled:

Most Followers:

Complete Entries Get Shirts

All hackers who submitted what we deem to be a complete entry will receive a shirt. We’ll email with instructions on how to tell us your shirt size and mailing address.

Another Arduino clone is the last thing the world needs

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One might think the last thing the world needs is for The Great Old Ones to rise from their near-death sleep deep in the Pacific ocean, and begin again their reign over Earth.  Actually, the last thing the world needs is another Arduino clone. Here’s this one. Fittingly, it’s called the Ktuluino.

Actually, this isn’t yet another attempt to build an Arduino clone that adds nothing to existing designs; it’s just [Jeff]’s attempt at PCB design. He needed something to practice on, so why not something that ends in -uino?

The board is just about as simple as Arduinos come – an ATMega328P is the brains of the outfit and also the most expensive component, closely followed by either the power jack or the header pins. As an exercise in PCB design, we’ll give this a thumbs up, but this could also be used for an ‘introduction to soldering’ workshop at a hackerspace, or alternatively a coaster.

Obstacle avoiding LEGO rover uses CDs for wheels

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This rover built by [Sath02] is a great example that you don’t have to be a mechanical engineering wizard to get into robotics. He used LEGO pieces to help ease the difficulty of getting a rover up and running.

In this case the use of LEGO is strictly structural. The electronics are not the NXT parts you would expect to see when working with these popular toy blocks. Instead he’s put the Arduino Palm Plus into service. It’s an Arduino board that has rows of holes at either end to make it LEGO compatible. It also carries an LM293D motor controller and [Sath02] added an XBee module for wireless control.

At the top of the assembly is an IR distance sensor which is used for obstacle avoidance. You may not be interested in building and exact replica, but the techniques he uses for attaching the distance sensor, CD wheels,  and fabricating the rest of the rover are good examples if you take on a LEGO build in the future.

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Tracking cicadas with Radiolab and an Arduino

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Once every 17 years, a population of cicadas ranging from Connecticut to the Appalachian highlands of North Carolina emerges to annoy everyone within earshot. The last time east coasters saw this brood was in 1996, making 2013 yet another year of annoying insect pests. The only question is, when will we start to see this year’s cicada brood?

Radiolab, the awesome podcast and public radio show, has put together an awesome project that asks listeners to track when the cicadas in their area will emerge. Cicadas generally enter their loud and obnoxious adult stage when the ground temperature 8 inches below the surface reaches 64º F. Armed with an Arduino, thermistor, and a few wires and resistors, any Radiolab listener can upload soil temperature data to Radiolab servers where all the data will be correlated with documented cicada sightings.

After following the page’s instructions for wiring up a bunch of LEDs and a thermistor to an Arduino, just upload the most well-commented code we’ve ever seen and go outside to take soil temperature measurements. The temperature is displayed in a pseudo-binary format on nine LEDs. To decode the temperature without counting by powers of two, Radiolab has an online decoder that also allows you to upload your data and location.

The story behind developing the Sifteo from an engineer’s perspective

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The video game industry must be one of the most secretive sectors when it comes to developing the electronic hardware used in the gaming consoles. The big guys don’t want to give anything away — to the competition or to the hackers who will try to get around their security measures. But it seems Sifteo doesn’t share those secretive values. We had a great time reading about the bumpy ride for the developers bringing the gaming system from concept to market. [Micah Elizabeth Scott] wrote the guest post for Adafruit Industries. She was brought on as an engineer for the Sifteo project just after the first version of the interactive gaming cube was released. From her narrative it seems like this was the top of the big hill on the roller coaster ride for the company.

What’s seen above is one gaming cube. The system developed in [Beth’s] story puts together multiple cubes for each game. The issue at hand when she joined the company was how to put more power in the hardware and rely less heavily on a computer to which it was tethered. She discusses cost of components versus features offered, how to deliver the games to the system, and all that the team learned from studying successful consoles that came before them like the long line of Nintendo hardware. It’s a fascinating read if you’re interesting in how the sausage is made.

Seeed Studio shows off their wares

Everyone’s favorite Open Hardware store – Seeed Studio – was at Maker Faire this last weekend. They showed off a bunch of cool toys, oscilloscopes, Arduino shields and other hardware goodness, but one of the more interesting products was from their B Squares line.

As [Colin] from Seeed showed us, each B Square is a small plastic enclosure about the size of a drink coaster. The corners of these squares are clad in metal, and each one has magnets inside. The idea behind the B Squares system is to provide power to other B Square boards via magnetic connections.

So far, Seeed has released an Arduino square, battery, solar, and LED squares, as well as iPod docks and prototyping boards. These boards can also be orthogonally, meaning it’s entirely possible to turn six B Squares into a B Cube.

These magnetic connections only provide power connections; there is currently no way to transfer data between different B Squares. We suspect, though, that anyone wanting to replicate the Apple MagSafe power adapter and invent a magnetic I2C bus would find these boards perfectly suited to the task.

Video after the break.

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