The R2D2-‘O-Lantern Reddit Doesn’t Want You To See

unnamed The people here at Hackaday aren’t dedicating their entire lives to moderating comments and sending press releases to the circular file; some of us actually have jobs and hobbies. [James Hobson] works at a projector company that was having a pumpkin carving contest today. He came up with the best possible use of a pumpkin projector – a R2D2-‘o-lantern that plays the message from [Leia] to [Obi-Wan Kenobi]. [James] submitted this to reddit, but one of the mods deleted it. We’re much cooler than a few mods and their little empire, so we’re putting it up here.

Instead of a knife, [James] used a rather interesting method for carving a pumpkin – a laser cutter. By maxing out the Z height of his laser cutter, he was able to cut a perfect R2D2 graphic on the surface of a pumpkin. No, [James] isn’t removing any of the pumpkin’s skin after the lasering is done, but the result still looks great when backlit.

Inside the pumpkin is a projector playing the famous distress message made from the captured Tantive IV. It’s not entirely accurate – [James] put the projector behind R2’s radar eye and not the holographic projectors, and to project [Leia] in mid-air he would need something like this, Still, it’s a great project we expect to see cloned a year or so from now.

A Graphics Card for a Homebrew Computer

VGA

One of [aepharta]‘s ‘before I die’ projects is a homebrew computer. Not just any computer, mind you, but a fabulous Z80 machine, complete with video out. HDMI and DisplayPort would require far too much of this tiny, 80s-era computer, and it’s getting hard to buy a composite monitor. This meant it was time to build a VGA video card from some parts salvaged from old equipment.

When it comes to ancient computers, VGA has fairly demanding requirements; the slowest standard pixel clock is 25.175 MHz, an order of magnitude faster than the CPU clock in early 80s computers. Memory is also an issue, with a 640×480, 4-color image requiring 153600 bytes, or about a quarter of the 640k ‘that should be enough for anybody.’

To cut down on the memory requirements and make everything a nice round in base-2 numbers, [aepharta] decided on a resolution of 512×384. This means about 100k of memory would be required when using 16 colors, and only about 24 kB for monochrome.

The circuit was built from some old programmable logic ICs pulled from a Cisco router. The circuit could have been built from discrete logic chips, but this was much, much simpler. Wiring everything up, [aepharta] got the timing right and was eventually able to put an image on a screen.

After a few minutes, though, the image started wobbling. [aepharta] put his finger on one of the GALs and noticed it was exceptionally hot. A heatsink stopped the wobbling for a few minutes, and a fan stopped it completely. Yes, it’s a 1980s-era graphics card that requires a fan. The card draws about 3W, or about two percent of a modern, high-end graphics card.

Using Excel to Watch Movies at Work

excelMediaPlayer

The Excel subreddit exploded earlier this week when redditor [AyrA_ch] shared his custom spreadsheet that allowed him to play video files on a locked-down work computer. How locked down? With no access to Windows Media Player and IE7 as the only browser (all plugins disabled, no HTML5), Excel became the unlikely hero to cure a 3-hour boredom stint.

Behind the cascade of rectangles and in the land of the Excel macro, [AyrA_ch] took advantage of the program’s VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) functions to circumvent the computer’s restrictions. Although VBA typically serves the more-complex-than-usual macro, it can also invoke some Windows API commands, one of which calls Windows Media Player. The Excel file includes a working playlist and some rudimentary controls: play, pause, stop, etc. as well as an inspired pie chart countdown timer.

As clever as this hack is, the best feature is much more subtle: tricking in-house big brother. [AyrA_ch]‘s computer ran an application to monitor process usage, but any videos played through the spreadsheet were attributed to Excel, ensuring the process usage stayed on target. You can download it for yourself over on GitHub.

Custom Video Streaming Box

tv streaming

There are a lot of options out today for streaming video to your Internet-connected devices. Whether it’s Hulu, Netflix, Slingbox, or the late Aereo, there is no shortage of ways to get your TV fix. However, [Jaruzel] wasn’t happy with any of these services and wanted a more custom solution, so he built his own TV-streaming box out of hardware he had lying around.

[Jaruzel] gets TV from a service called SkyTV, but wanted to be able to stream it to his tablet, laptop, and XBMC. While rummaging through his parts bin, he came up with a WinTV tuner card for capturing TV and a Mini-ITX board to process everything and stream it out over his network.

Once the computer was put in a custom enclosure, [Jaruzel] got to work installing Puppy Linux. He wrote a boot script that configures the WinTV card and then starts VLC to handle the streaming service which allows him to view the TV stream over HTTP on the network. This is a great hack that would presumably work for any TV stream you can find, even if it’s just an over-the-air source.

DIY Camera Stabilizer Takes The Shakes Out Of Filming

 

DIY Camera Stabilizer
We’ve all prematurely stopped watching some Youtube video because of shaky camera work that makes the video unwatchable. There is a solution available for this problem, it’s a device called a camera stabilizer and it is designed to compensate for jerky camera movement. There are several types available for purchase but they can get fairly expensive. Even the cheaper ones at a few hundred dollars are not economical for hobbyists. [John] set out to make his own camera stabilizer using some unorthodox parts.

[John's] chose a gimble style design that effectively lowers the camera’s center of gravity down close to the camera persons hand. The handle of the device must also be mounted in a manor to prevent angular and rotation movement of the supporting hand from transferring to the camera.

The handle is from a cement trowel, on top of which is a ball bearing mounted to a threaded rod. A PVC fitting was heated to soften it and the bushing pressed in. This bearing is responsible for allowing the rotational freedom between the handle and the camera. To decouple any angular movements, two hinges were attached to the PVC fitting. The hinges are perpendicular to each other, one allows forward-back tilting while the other allows left-right tilting. The upper hinge is attached to a piece of poplar wood that also serves as a base for the camera.

At this point, if you were to try to hold this contraption with the camera installed, it would immediately tip over due to gravity. To prevent this, the center of gravity of the moving parts (including the camera) must be lowered. [John] did this by using some aluminum tubing to support wood weights that reside lower than the pivot points created by the hinges.

If you like the DIYer-style stabilizers, check this other wooded one out. Want something more polished looking? How about this pistol grip stabilizer?

RGB Video Input Hack is a Master Hack for CRT Televisions

component-video-input-hackYou know those hacks that you see, and you totally understand them but are dumbfounded by how the person got there? This. This is the definition of that.

What’s shown on the screen above is about half-way through the process of hacking RGB video into a CRT television that’s not supposed to have it. The lettering is acting a bit like a layer mask, showing bits of the Super Mario Bros. start screen which is being injected from an original Famicom. [Michael J. Moffitt] figured out that he could patch his signals into the multiplexer which is responsible for overlaying the TV’s menu system. Obviously you can’t get your Mario on with this view, but the next step was as simple as finding the blanking pin and tying it 5V. Brilliant.

This particular hack is worthy of recognition. But read through [Michael's] write up and it’s obvious that he knows the driver circuitry beyond the realm of normal curiosity. If you ever get stuck while trying to do something custom, we’d recommend pinging him with your questions (sorry [Michael] but with great knowledge comes great responsibility).

 

Hacklet 15 – Arcade Fire

15

This week’s Hacklet is dedicated to arcade games. The arcade parlors of the 80’s and early 90’s may have given way to today’s consoles and PC games, but the classic stand-up arcade cabinet lives on! Plenty of hackers have restored old arcade cabinets, or even built their own. We’re going to take a look at some of the best arcade game-related hacks on Hackaday.io!

blackvortex[Brayden] starts things off with his Raspberry Pi Vintage Arcade. The Black Vortex is a tabletop arcade cabinet using a Raspberry Pi, an old monitor, and some nice carpentry skills. Black Vortex uses a Raspberry Pi B+. The extra GPIO pins make interfacing buttons and joystick switches easy. On the software side, [Brayden] is using the popular PiMame (now PiPlay) flavor of Linux built for gaming and emulation. Black Vortex’s shell is plywood. [Brayden] used a pocket hole jig to build a sturdy, cabinet without extra support blocks. A stain finish really works on this one!

custom-crtNext up, [fredkono] blows our minds with the Arcade XY Monitor From Scratch. [fredkono] repairs classic Atari vector game PCBs. He needed a test monitor for his lab. The original Amplifone and WG6100 color XY monitors used in games like Tempest and Star Wars are becoming rather rare. Not a problem, as [fredkono] is building his own. Much like the WG6100, [fredkono] started with a standard color TV CRT. He removed and rewound the yoke for vector operation. The TV’s electronics were replaced with [fredkono's] own deflection amplifier PCBs.  [fredkono] was sure to include the all- important spot killer circuit, which shuts down the electron guns before a spot can burn-in the CRT.

controlpanel[Rhys] keeps things rolling with a pair of projects dedicated to arcade controls. His TI Launchpad Arcade Control to USB Interface contains instructions and code to use a Texas Instruments Tiva C launchpad as a USB interface for arcade controls. [Rhys] puts all that to good use in his Arcade Control Panel. The control panel features MAME buttons, as well as the standard 2 player fighting game button layout. He finished off his panel with some slick graphics featuring red and blue dragons.

trongame[Sarah and Raymond] hosted a Tron:Legacy release party back in 2010. An epic arcade movie calls for an epic arcade game, or in this case, games. 16 table top arcades to be exact. All 16 machines were built in just 6 days. 8 of the machines ran Armegatron Advanced, a networked version of the classic Tron lightcycle game. The others ran a mix of classic games like PacMan or modern bullet hell shooters like Tou-Hou. The cabinets were built from expanded PVC with wood blocks as a support structure. [Sarah and Raymond] custom painted each cabinet with UV black light paint. We love the custom artwork on their personal signature machines!

mikesArcade[Mike] takes us back to the 80’s with Just Another Arcade Machine. Under the hood, this machine uses the standard Raspberry Pi and PiMame (now PiPlay) suite. [Mike] even added a trackball so he could play Centipede. What makes this arcade special is the cabinet. [Mike] found an old wardrobe with that perfect 80’s style metallic strip cladding. [Mike] removed the cladding, and cut up the chipboard frame. He re-assembled things into a stand-up arcade cabinet that looks like it came right out of Sears’ Electronics department in 1985.

Ok folks, that’s it for another episode of The Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 98,524 other followers