Free Energy is for fools?

In her new element-14 video [Jeri Ellsworth] explains some  concepts about “free to you” energy and features the LTC3109EUF, an Auto-polarity, Ultra low Voltage Step-Up Converter and Power Manager, along with the LTC3588EMSE a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Power Supply.

Using the LTC3109EUF she is able to power a modified Nintendo Entertainment System, and LCD using a small generator and an exercise bike. The LTC3588EMSE is wired up to piezo’s in different applications including being squashed, vibrated, and temperature difference to power low current devices.

All this and a totally 80’s theme, so poof up your hair, get your spiked dog collar, and find those neon green shades because this is a fun and informative video available on element-14.

Animated Paper

What if you could make paper react on physical input. Maybe you want it to shy away and close up if someone reaches for it too fast, or maybe you want some realistic paper flowers? Moving on to that great first step is Animated Paper, which is simply nitinol memory wire bonded to paper via our favorite tool, duct tape.

Memory wire is first bent to its desired shape, and in order for it to hold that shape it needs to be heated to about 540 degrees Celsius, which is a easy task for a propane torch. Once it has its memory shape the wire can be bent into any shape desired, and when heated to about 70 degrees Celsius will return to its original set shape.

Taped down to a sheet of paper and letting some current from a battery run though it the wire quickly warms up and animates the paper, which could be exactly what one needs in a more artsy robot or electronic display. Join us after the break for a short video.

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Keyboard Converter 2 Pack

[REVENGE] pointed out a couple cool little project posts from the geekhack fourms converting vintage keyboards to USB with a Teensy. They both have VUSB support, so any avr micro controller that meets VUSB’s requirements in theory could be used.

First up is a PS/2 to USB keyboard converter, and while yes this has been done many times before, this one sports some extra features not often seen, like mouse keys, system and multimedia keys, and keymap customization. Instructions are also provided for use with a non USB enabled avr controller (like a mega 168, or 328) through the VUSB library (though with not all features available).

Next is pretty much the same thing, but it converts Apple Desktop Bus to USB, which is not exactly rare, but its lack of a clock serial signal, somewhat variable timing, and the fact that you wont find a bucket of Apple keyboards for a buck at the thrift store makes any ADB converter worth mentioning.

VUSB instructions seem to be the same for either, source is available and there are some cool pictures and info listed, and besides what is more fun than being able to plug your Model M into your netbook, or your Apple Extended Keyboard into your mac mini.

Hacker Classifieds featured find: Free Sony video wall projectors

projectors

[paulgeering] has a set of 10 video projectors, usually found inside Sony’s RVP 4010Q 40″ rear projection system that he must get rid of.  He is offering them up for free to any Hack-a-Day reader that is interested. He doesn’t have the room to store them any longer, but he can’t bear to see them go into the trash. These projectors can still be found for sale online to the tune of $3500 apiece, making this an incredible bargain!

All he requests is that you either pick them up or pay for shipping from the UK. He is willing to part out the projectors and ship individual parts if requested.

If you do end up having one of these shipped to you, be sure to keep us posted on what you do with it. We would love to see some giant video wall hacks in the near future.

If you have something lying around that needs to go, be sure to post it in our classifieds.

.Net OS for your ARM

Pyxis 2 is a recently released new embedded operating system. The first Pyxis OS would run on an arduino with a touch screen, and provided a nice GUI. Pyxis 2 on the other hand has departed from most of its predicator, and is now made on top of the .NET micro framework, and natively supports FEZ Cobra and ChipworkX systems. It supports 320×240, 480×272, even 800×480 (if you have the ram), LCDs.

Some of the features of the OS include alpha blended desktop icons, file dialogs, prompts, input, color selection, file box, buttons, all the standard stuff to construct your applications, support for network, USB, SD and Mp3. Since it is .NET you can also use C# visual studio to construct everything without dedicating yourself to hardware until you are ready.

Join us after the break for a short video.

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A Briefing on Integrated Circuits

Although technology is constantly racing to faster / smaller / more, so many of the fundamentals of how it is made remains similar, if not the same. This interesting 30 minute video clip [thanks to The Computer History Museum] was made in 1967 by Fairchild Semiconductor as a briefing on integrated circuits, and shows the different steps to produce ICs including:

Design, making the photo masks, manufacturing the silicon ingots, preparing the wafers, building of the circuit and its components (like transistors, resistors, and capacitors), testing, and final packaging. Add in some other cool items of interest such as a 1960’s pick n place machine, wave soldering, an automatic wirewrap machine, and toss in some retro computer action and it’s surely a video worth watching, with something for everyone.

So join us after the break, kick back and enjoy the show!

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SIM card carrying traffic lights

Apparently some of the traffic lights in Johannesburg, South Africa have SIM cards in them to help maintain the network without a physical connection. Now that’s some and not all, but apparently thieves have learned that the SIMs can be used in cell phones to make anonymous and unlimited calls. Officials are convinced that the thieves have inside information because they only crack open the lights that DO contain a card.

We’re white hats here at Hackaday and certainly don’t want to give out information that aids criminals. But since this is already a huge problem we have an idea of how thieves might be identifying which lights to rob. Sure, they probably do have inside information, but wouldn’t it be fairly simple to track down which lights use cellular communication by using a home made spectrum analyzer? We guess it would depend on how often the lights send out communications bursts. Does anyone have insight on this? Leave you thoughts in the comments.

[Thanks Bob]