Cobalt RaQ Retrofit Help Geek Up Your Entertainment Center

cobalt-raq-jukebox

Even network engineers who toil away in hot server rooms (which aren’t actually all that hot because they’re well climate controlled) deserve nice things. That’s why Cobalt came out with these gorgeous front bezels for their rack mounted equipment… around twenty years ago. [Geekmansworld] is reviving the look, but he’s not hiding it away in a server rack. He scrapped the guts and used the front bezel and controls as part of his media server.

His first new addition to the case was a pair of hard drives which connect to an eSATA hub also stored in the enclosure. He buttoned it up and gave it a test run. Everything worked smoothly and he hopes that it will continue that way without overheating when the summer rolls around again.

Of course a dead front bezel is no fun so he cut off the portion of the original circuit board which hosts the buttons seen on the right. These buttons now connect to a U-HID board which turns the button presses into mouse or keyboard inputs using a USB connection. The original display was swapped out for a backlit character LCD. The LEDs to the left are a refit which turns the status indicators into a VU-Meter. See the entire thing at work after the break.

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Easy Multi-Touch Table

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 1.53.13 PM

[2bigbros] put up an Instructable on his multi-touch table build. It’s a nice setup, using the typical frustrated total internal reflection method for touch sensing. Tinkerman’s Method was used for the screen itself, which involves rolling silicon onto vellum with a paint roller to improve the bond. [2bigbros] then built a nice aluminum and wooden frame for the whole thing. He’s light on some details, but most people with a basic understanding and Google will be able to figure it out.

This is a very accessible project for most builders. If you’re interested in getting into it, there are plenty of projects to reference. We previously covered the basics, as well as a more involved build. We’ve even seen an interactive tower defense game using multi-touch. If you decide to build one of your own, don’t forget the excellent resource at TUIO for finding frameworks and example implementations.

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Fubarino-Contest: 1980’s CD Player with MPD

fubarino-cd-shelf-player

[Ronald] had to scramble to get his submission in, but we’re glad he did. His demo video shows the display of a 1980’s CD player working with Music Player Daemon. It’s really just the original display itself that works, but the project is not yet finished. However, is far enough along to show our URL when a track reaches the 22:00 mark.

The display is driven by an ATmega32 chip which uses a USB connection to receive commands from the computer running MPD. [Ronald] had troubles figuring out how to send int values over USB so he hacked his own protocol that just uses the LSB of each byte coming over the bus. After the break you can see the video, and read the description which he included with his submission. There is also a code package available here.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Sniffing Out LG Smart TV Tracking Protocol

lg-smart-tv-tracking

[DoctorBeet] noticed the advertisements on the landing screen of his new LG smart television and started wondering about tracking. His curiosity got the better of him when he came across a promotional video aimed at advertisers that boasts about the information gathered from people who use these TVs. He decided to sniff the web traffic. If what he discovered is accurate, there is an invasive amount of data being collect by this hardware. To make matters worse, his testing showed that even if the user switches the “Collection of watching info” menu item to off it doesn’t stop the data from being phoned home.

The findings start off rather innocuous, with the channel name and a unique ID being transmitted every time you change the station. Based on when the server receives the packets a description of your schedule and preferred content can be put together. This appears to be sent as plain data without any type of encryption or obfuscation.

Things get a lot more interesting when he discovers that filenames from a USB drive connected to the television are being broadcast as well. The server address they’re being sent to is a dead link — which makes us think this is some type of debugging step that was left in the production firmware — but it is still a rather sizable blunder when it comes to personal privacy. If you have one of these televisions [DoctorBeet] has a preliminary list of URLs to block with your router in order to help safeguard your privacy.

[Thanks Radcom]

Primer Tutorials for Arduino IR Remote Cloning and Keyboard Simulation

ir arduino

We’ve featured loads of IR Arduino projects and they are all exciting and unique. The projects spring from a specific need or problem where a custom infrared remote control is the solution. [Rick’s] double feature we’re sharing in this article is no exception, but what is interesting and different about [Rick’s] projects is his careful and deliberate tutorial delivery on how to copy infrared remote codes, store the codes with a flavor of Arduino and then either transmit or receive the codes to control devices.

In the case of his space heater an Arduino was used to record and later retransmit the “power on” IR code to the heater before he awakes on a cold morning. This way his room is toasty warm before he has to climb out from under the covers, which has the added benefit of saving the cost of running the heater all night. Brilliant idea if you don’t have a programmable heating system. Maybe he will add a temperature sensor someday so it doesn’t have to run on strictly time.

A more complicated problem was controlling DVD playback software on his computer remotely. [Rick] says he sits at a distance when watching DVDs on his computer but his computer doesn’t have a remote control like a normal TV. Arduino to the rescue again! But this time he pulls out a Teensyduino because of its added feature of being able to emulate a keyboard and of course the computer DVD playback software accepts keyboard commands. Once again he used the “IRremote.h” library to record certain button codes from an old remote control before adding the retrieved codes to a Teensyduino setup and programmed to receive and decode the remote’s IR signals. The Teensyduino then maps the IR codes to known keyboard shortcuts and transmits the simulated keyboard shortcut commands to the computer via its USB cable where the DVD playback software recognizes the key commands.

As always [Rick] shares all his libraries and sketches on his blog so follow the above links to download the files. You will not miss a single step if you follow his excellent videos below. Plus, here are some other ways and other tools for using an IR remote with your Arduino and cloning an infrared remote.

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Home Theater for One Shakes Souls, Removes Fillings

hmmmm

Sometimes an earth-shaking home theater setup just won’t do. A speaker enclosure can only fill the average sized room with so much sound. [Kevin Bastyr] has figured out a way around this. Do away with the room, and build the home theater INSIDE the speaker enclosure! [Kevin’s] creation is called Humorously Maniacal Milwaukee Makerspace Multimedia Machine, (or HMMMMMM for short). As the name implies, HMMMMMM was created at the Milwaukee Makerspace. The HMMMMMM reminds us a bit of the sensory deprivation chambers which were so popular in the 70’s. HMMMMMM’s purpose in life however, is anything but deprivation. The user (victim?) climbs through a 27” hatch and settles into a reclining position. An LCD display is mounted a comfortable distance away from the users eyes. Then movie (or brainwashing program) begins.

The sound system is what sets the HMMMMMM apart. The HMMMMMM utilises a 5.16 surround sound system. That’s 5 speakers and 16 10″ high efficiency subwoofers. We’re not sure if it would be better to call it a sound system, or a full-out frontal assault on the senses. We’re not kidding when we say senses as well. Bass this loud can be felt as much as it is heard. The HMMMMMM is has been measured at 148.6dB at 40Hz. That’s well into the hearing damage range. To be safe, HMMMMMM users must wear double hearing protection: foam earplugs and earmuffs.

[Kevin’s] graphs aren’t all smoke and mirrors either – he’s an audio engineer by trade, and made his measurements with a laboratory grade 1/2″ Bruel and Kjaer microphone. Sound pressure level testing isn’t without its dangers. During testing the 2050 watt amplifier powering HMMMMMM encountered a fan failure. The amp’s circuit board ended up scorched black with delaminated traces. The HMMMMMM however was none the worse for wear. Future plans for the HMMMMMM include RGB LEDs that flash to the beat, and a smoke machine to create that extra atmosphere when the escape hatch is opened.

Raspberry Pi Smart TV

raspberry pi inside tv

[Tony] decided his “smart” LED TV wasn’t quite smart enough. So he stuffed a Raspberry Pi in it.

Upon opening the case of his 40″ Hisense Smart LED TV, he discovered that the logic board actually had two unused USB pads — what luck! He tapped off of them to get 5V @ 500mA to power the Pi… Later on he realized this wasn’t the ideal solution — when the TV turned off, it cut the Pi’s power too. So he pulled out his multimeter and probed the board, this time finding a 5V source that remained on while the unit was plugged in.

Next up was the placement of the Raspberry Pi. The included speakers on this particular TV weren’t that good, and since [Tony] uses a surround sound system anyway, he decided to make use of their space better. Cutting out the grill and removing the whole assembly left him with more than enough room to store the Pi and mount a 3D printed LAN and USB port cover!

He’s running Raspbmc which lends the TV tons of functionality. If you don’t mind voiding your warranty, this is a great hack!