Vacuum former toy

vacuum

Vacuum formers are still fairly rare in our community, so it was a surprise to see that in the 1960s Mattel marketed one as a toy. It used a hot plate to mold plastic sheets into various shapes. The design was updated by Toymax in the early ’90s to use a light bulb heating element to make car bodies, like some sort of manly Easy-Bake Oven. The home-built machines we’ve seen are a much larger scale. In 2005, we posted [Ralis Kahn]‘s version that employed an electric grill as the heating element. [drcrash] has since built on those plans, hoping to develop an even cheaper device.

[via Gizmodo]

Bicycling in the fall

bicycle

Every year, as it gets cold, many of us put our faithful two wheeled companion away for the winter.  Despite that, there have been a veritable smorgasbord of bicycle related projects posted to instructables this last week. In honor of our human powered transportation, lets take a peak at a few projects.

Bicycle safety is always paramount. They can be fairly difficult to see compared to a car. There are many ways to make them easier to spot, such as wrapping them in reflective material, or adding blinking tail lights. Even if people do see us, they often have no idea where we are planning on going. To remedy this, we can always add turn signals. It can also be hard to see where you are going at times. Adding a head light, or helmet light can really help. If you’re not a big fan of LEDs and want a little retro flair, you can always add an oil lamp.

For those who live in warmer climates, or just can’t give up their bicycles, you may wish to add some festive decorations. Covering your bike in Christmas lights doesn’t look too difficult, and a CFL lit wheel is a cheap way of adding some cool effects.

LED menorahs

4320_d

We’re barely past Halloween and people are already working on their next LED based holiday decorations. For Hanukkah, Gizmodo pointed out the PCB menorah pictured above. It uses a set of DIP switches to control which LEDs are lit. A couple years ago, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories put together a tutorial for building a more minimal LED menorah. Each of the nine LEDs are soldered directly to the legs of an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. Every time you power up the device an additional LED is lit. [Ori] liked the project and decided to take a slightly different approach. He used an LM3914 DIP18 LED bar driver. A potentiometer controls how many of the LEDs are illuminated.

Voting roundup

With the election coming up in less than a week, voting machine security (or the lack thereof) is critical, especially with the popularity of early voting this year. While we’ve previously discussed voting machine insecurities, it looks like the problems haven’t been fixed, and in some cases, it’s escalated. Voters in states like West Virginia and Tennessee have complained about voting machines “flipping” their votes, even after they were recalibrated as in the video above. Voters have been advised to avoid voting straight Republican or Democratic tickets, to avoid the likelihood of their votes being flipped. What if you actually do want to vote a straight ticket? Video the Vote is an organization that advises documenting as much of your voting process as possible. Other ways you can protect your vote include voting absentee so that a paper trail is available, and refusing to accept provisional ballots, which are often thrown out. After seeing videos of ROM swapping and finding out that the locks can be opened with hotel minibar keys, we’re waiting to see what’s going to fail this year… and voting absentee.

Wearable project inspiration

Yesterday, Gizmodo published a roundup of wearable gadgets for people who “don’t mind looking like a tool”. It’s interesting to see what has been deemed commercially viable and put into mass production. The list covers HMDs, embedded WiFi detectors, integrated keyboards, tech jackets, speaker hats, and others. We thought you might find some inspiration from the list for your next project. In the past, we embedded a WiFi detector in a backpack strap for our Engadget how-to. The natural choice for wearable projects is the LilyPad Arduino which was featured most recently in the turn signal jacket.

[photo: cksthree]

Palin hacking roundup

[David Kernell], the 20-year-old son of Democratic politician [Mike Kernell], turned himself in for hacking into Vice Presidential nominee Governor [Sarah Palin]‘s Yahoo! email account. He was indicted on one felony count of violating the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Although the charge would normally be a misdemeanor, the indictment invokes another statute, the Stored Communications Act to beef up its claim. Some lawyers are of the opinion that the U.S. Department of Justice overreached in charging [Kernell] with a felony. They claim that the government’s justification is flawed and relies on “circuitous logic”. [Kernell] has been released without bond, and instructed not to have any contact with [Governor Palin], her family, or any witnesses to the case. If convicted fully, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. We also discovered that this isn’t [Kernell]‘s first time in trouble. In high school, he received detention for guessing the password of the school server and obtaining access to some lesson plans.

Open source neural activity monitors

Yesterday we linked to an OCZ Neural Acutator Interface teardown. Several in the comments wanted to know more about the sensor electrodes. Check out the OpenEEG project and OpenEEG mailing list for information on sensing, amplifying, and recording brain activity (EEG). The OpenEEG project maintains an open source Simple ModularEEG design. Two other open source variants of the ModularEEG are the MonolithEEG and [Joshua Wojnas'] Programmable Chip EEG BCI. All three projects use Atmel microcontrollers, with designs in Cadsoft Eagle.

Brain activity is measured using passive or active electrodes. Passive electrodes require a conductive paste to make proper contact with the skin (examples: 1, 2). Active EEG sensors don’t need conductive goop because they have an amplifier directly on the electrode (examples: 1, 2, 3).

[via anonymous reader, comments]

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