A clever solution for constantly locking workstations

ROBOT

[Vasilis] works at CERN, and like any large organization that invented the World Wide Web, they take computer security pretty seriously. One ‘feature’ the IT staff implemented is locking the desktop whenever the screen saver runs. When [Vasilis] is in his office but not at his battlestation, the screen saver invariably runs, locking the desktop, and greatly annoying [Vasilis].

The usual Hackaday solution to this problem would be a complex arrangement of RFID tags, webcams, and hundreds, if not thousands of lines of code. [Vasilis] came up with a much better solution: have the computer ping his phone over Bluetooth. If the phone is detected by the computer, kill the screen saver.

The code is up on Github. It’s not much – just 20 lines of a Bash script – but it’s just enough to prevent the aggravation of typing in a password dozens of times a day.

Human powered emergency cell phone charger

Emergency-human-powered-cell-phone-charger

Power outage? For the average citizen it’s very easy to take electricity for granted. Go a few hours or more without it though, and you’ll suddenly be reminded just what a luxury it is. During an emergency situation, sometimes you have to come up with alternative methods to get the job done. This human powered cell phone charger is a great example.

Using just a few ordinary around the house items, [The King of Random] turned a cordless electric drill into a human powered electrical generator. If the drill is run in reverse and cranked by hand, the generated energy can be transferred through the battery terminals to a connected device.  So, he cut a USB charger cable in half and wired it up to the terminals to be able to charge his cell phone. Some yarn, a salad fork, a mixing beater, a scrap 2″x4″, some aluminum foil, and scotch tape were the only other materials he used. Using this technique, a totally dead phone battery was charged in around 3 hours.

Remember that this method is only intended to be used in an emergency, not as every day practice. Using these methods could potentially overheat or damage your gear, so be careful.

Check out the MacGyver worthy video tutorial after the break.

[via Neatorama]

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Smartphone controlled Labyrinth

smartphone-controlled-labyrinth

This entire project could have been done as an app, drawing the maze and ball virtually on the screen. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as what [Matt] accomplished. He built a little Labyrinth which responds to the accelerometer in his phone.

Take a close look at that handset. It’s not an Android, an iPhone, or a Blackberry. That thing is a Windows phone…. no, really! The phone doubles as a timer, which we think is a nice touch. It communicates with a Netduino which is both driving and monitoring the Labyrinth.

You may have noticed that the maze is hand-built rather than a modified commercial version of the toy. He mounted some hardboard on a pair of servo motors, then built up the maze on that surface. There is also sensing hardware that detects when the metal ball bridges two contacts. This gives us fond memories of our Minotaur’s Revenge build.

We’ve embedded the demo video after the break.

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Video phone Arduino shield

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We’ve seen Arduino-powered Twitter machines, and even some that can send text messages, but how about one that’s a video phone? That’s what the guys over at Cooking Hacks put together with their very impressive 3G Arduino shield.

On board the shield is an internal GPS receiver, microphone, speaker, 3G module, and a camera sensor with VGA resolution. The 3G module is able to act as a 3G modem via a USB connection, allowing any computer to take advantage of wireless Internet with a SIM card.

While in their tutorial the guys use a terminal running on their computer to send AT commands to place a call, it’s possible to simply put all that info in a sketch making for a small, battery-powered video link straight to your cell phone. Seems like the perfect piece of hardware for a wireless, 3G-enabled video feed for a robot. You can check out the video from their tutorial after the break.

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Bringing the Zach Morris phone into the 21st century

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With the gravitas of [Michael Douglas] in Wall Street and the technological amazement of [Zach Morris] on Saved By The Bell, the classic 1980s ‘brick’ cell phone has a lot to offer these days. Not only is it large enough to be used as a blunt weapon, it’s also useful as an anchor and more durable than an old-school Nokia. Most, if not all of these phones have gone silent since analog cellular service went dead a few years ago, but that didn’t stop [Andrew] from bringing his back to life.

The core of this build is a 128×64 OLED screen that replaced the old seven-digit, seven-segment display and a very small GSM module. The ancient PCB was discarded and a new hardware revision was created in Eagle based on an Arduino-powered microcontroller. The buttons from the original phone remained, thanks to a custom designed resistive button footprint on the PCB and a bit of conductive ink.

What’s surprising is this phone actually works. [Andrew] can not only receive texts on his phone, but also send them using his own implementation of a number pad keyboard. It’s an awesome build, and from what we can tell, the first proper DIY cell phone we’ve ever seen. About time someone got around to that, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better form factor.

LED ice cubes prevent alcohol induced blackouts

cube

On November 23rd last year, [Dhairya] attended a little shindig at MIT. Three drinks into the night, he blacked out and woke up in the hospital the next day. It was an alcohol-induced blackout, and like all parties at MIT, there’s an ingenious solution to [Dhairya]‘s problem.

[Dhairya] came up with an alcohol-aware ice cube made of a coin cell battery, an ATtiny microcontroller, and an IR transceiver are molded into an edible gelatin ice cube. The microcontroller counts the number of sips per drink, and after one glass of adult beverage changes the color of the flashing LED from green to yellow. After two drinks the LED changes from yellow to red, signaling [Dhairya] to slow down.

If [Dhairya] feels the night is too young and keeps on drinking, the IR transmitter signals to his cell phone to send a text to a friend telling them to go take [Dhairya] home.

Less than three weeks after waking up in the hospital, [Dhairya] tested out his glowing ice cubes at another party. Everything performed wonderfully, even if he admits his creation is a little crude. A neat piece of work, and we can’t wait to see an update to this project.

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Making a TARDIS bigger on the inside

tardis-pan

Over Thanksgiving, [Greg] had a little time on his hands and decided he needed an afternoon project. Having a few bits of plywood, an xacto knife, and some blue paint on hand meant a miniature TARDIS would take shape on his workbench. After finishing the model, [Greg] continued improving it with a blinky LED when the thought of adding an interior to the TARDIS entered his mind. An idea too good to pass up, really.

The TARDIS, of course, is smaller on the outside, so [Greg] needed a way to virtually model the interior of [9] and [10]‘s home. After playing around with Blender for a few days, [Greg] had a reasonable 3D facsimile of the TARDIS interior. Now the only problem was to display it behind the front door.

[Greg] whipped up a small app for his phone that reads a zebra print pattern behind the door and overlays the 3D modeled TARDIS interior. Yes, it’s only viewable through augmented reality, but tilting the desktop TARDIS from side to side makes the entire console room visible. You can check out [Greg]‘s TARDIS interior in the video after the break.

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