Progressive MyRate hackable?

Progressive Insurance announced that it will be rolling out its MyRate plan nationally. You participate by plugging a monitoring device into the ODB-II port on your vehicle. Once every six months you upload the collected data from every trip you’ve made. You’ll receive at least a 5% discount and maybe more based on your driving habits. In some states though, you could actually have your rates raised. Progressive will show you the direct impact your driving behavior has on your rate.

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Hexapod CNC bot

With all the 8 legged beasts lumbering about and hosting sausage fests, it’s nice to see the robots with 6 legs actually being productive. [Matt Denton]’s hexapod robot CNC router is quite an impressive piece of machinery. The B.F. Hexapod was built using Hitech’s HSR-5995TG which are much higher torque than similar sized units. Each foot is ball joint mounted to ease terrain adaptation. Only recently has [Matt] started playing with CNC. First, he did a pen plotter proof of concept. Now The bot can mill 3D surfaces in polystyrene. It’s still a little course and will probably always be a bit imprecise since it’s not bolted down. He’s also still planning to convert it from standard 1/8inch bits to 3mm router bits. We’d love to see this bot working away at an intricate bas-relief. Having no fixed work envelope really opens up the possibilities for machines like this and Hektor. Video and final product are embedded below.

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Embedded LED Pong table

There are few things that are enduring and axiomatic in life, but one of the things on our short list is love of Pong. Designer [Moritz Waldemeyer] apparently shares our obsession: you may remember the LED-lined stage uniforms he designed for OK Go, but this concept for a Pong table is certainly older and arguably several times more awesome.

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IKEA Linux cluster

Building a render cluster doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, even if you’re buying brand new hardware. [Janne] built this 6 unit cluster inside of a 6 drawer IKEA Helmer cabinet. He wanted the cluster to be low power and low cost. After finding a good price on 6 65nm Intel Core 2 CPUs, he found 6 cheap Gigabyte motherboards. The memory on each board was maxed at 8GB. With 24 2.4GHz cores consuming 400W, the power consumption and cost isn’t much more than a high end PC. Each board is running Fedora 8 and mounts an NFS share. Dr Queue is used to manage the render farm’s processes. [Janne] says jobs that previously took all night now only require about 10-12 minutes. The estimated capacity is 186Gflops, but plans are already in motion for a12Tflop version.

His site also has plans for an underwater camera housing like our recent post. If you want to see more IKEA abuse, check out IKEA Hacker, even if it’s not very technical.

[via Hackzine]

[UPDATE: yep, we duped ourselves]

Media streamers: buy or build?

The market is flooded with new media streamers, but which one is for you? One of the cheapest and easiest options is the unambiguously titled Netflix Player. With an active account, the Netflix Player streams movies and television shows from their online library (currently around 10,000 videos). It connects to the internet via 802.11b/g WiFi or ethernet, but delivers low-quality video if your connection speed is less than 1Mbps. It costs $99 plus at least $8.95/mo for a Netflix subscription. It runs Linux so hopefully we’ll see some hacks for it soon like we did with previous Roku products. A fine device, if you want to stream movies and nothing else, but if you want to stream data from other sources, like a network, usb hard drive, or (gasp) bittorrent, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

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Toaster oven reflow controller

[Nathan] sent in his toaster oven reflow controller. He’s using a Triac to drive the heating elements, a thermocouple to monitor temperature and a PIC controller to run the show. I’m giving him extra points for style on the control pad. Hopefully he’ll have time to put out a complete write up when he’s got it finished. You can check out the project photos here.

Wine cellar monitoring

I’ve been getting back into wine, and ran across this handy one wire wine cellar monitor. Aside from the usual iButton air temp sensor, they built a simple immersed 18S20 sensor to monitor liquid temperature as well. (I’d toss some sulfites in the water to prevent mold) To keep an eye on air conditions, they used a TAI8540A humidity probe. Looks like just the thing for the geek wine cellar.