Computer monitor Ambilight clone shows remarkable performance

ambilight-project-discreet-led-boards

Check out this fantastic Ambilight clone for a computer monitor which [Brafilus] has been working on for a few years. It’s actually the third revision and watching the demo video below left our jaws agape.

Details are only available as comments on the YouTube page. But he’s given us just enough to be satisfied. His self-etched board hosts a PIC 18F14K50 microcontroller. It is talking to each of the 28 LED pixels which themselves live on tiny hunks of diy PCB as well. He wrote his own PC software in C# to capture the colors around the edges of the screen. He also worked hard to ensure there are plenty of tweaks available for true color matching between the monitor and what your eye sees bouncing off of the wall.

If you’re looking for something like this on your television set go back a couple of days and check out that standalone unit.

[Read more...]

Type4me is a hardware clipboard for your digital copy and paste needs

type4me-hardware-clipboard

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again we find ourselves wanting for a more extensible cut and paste experience. Most notably we’ve searched for something that makes is very easy to keep multiple things in the clipboard and paste them as needed. Although we’ve tried several software offerings nothing really made it up to grade, but this hardware clipboard looks very promising. [Luca Dentella] calls it Type4me as it functions as a USB keyboard.

The PIC 18F14K50 enumerates as a USB keyboard, allowing it to send characters anywhere the cursor is located. It sends whatever string is stored inside, with an optional return character at the end. In addition to its keyboard properties it also establishes a serial connection, which allows you to push new strings to the device. This setup does require you to do copy or type your strings into a serial terminal, along with one of four special commands which are parsed by the microcontroller. One of these commands allows you to save the string to EEPROM so that it will be persistent through a power cycle.

The pasting back to the computer takes a mere push of the button. We’ve embedded the video demo after the break. It’s in Italian but there are English subtitles. Near the end [Luca] shows off the device as a macro button for gaming.

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SquareWear sewable microcontroller board

If you’re into adding electronics to your wearable items this little board will be of interest. The 1.6″x1.6″ board is called SquareWear and comes in several different flavors.

It may be a bit of a surprise that this is not an Arduino compatible board. [Ray] tried a few projects with PIC microcontrollers and ended up really liking them. He chose to go with the PIC 18F14K50 for this project. The chip has USB functionality and is running a bootloader. He thinks this makes it easier to work with over a wide range of computers than the Lilypad (a sewable Arduino compatible board which sometimes runs into FTDI driver issues the first time you try to program it).

We like the fact that it is open source. As we mentioned earlier, it comes in a few different flavors. There is a red or white version that uses a LiPo battery, and one that is driven from a CR2032 coin cell. If you’re working on a small project to which you would like to add a rechargeable battery this will serve as a cheap and easy reference design.

[via Adafruit]

PlayStation 3 controller made fully remappable

[Hazer] managed to take a PlayStation 3 SixAxis controller and modify it so that all of the buttons can be remapped in hardware. Aside from this being really cool, he had a good reason for doing it. Regular readers should remember the feature regarding [Chuck Bittner's] internet petition calling for button mapping as a feature in all games. As the industry still hasn’t taken up the torch in this area, [Hazer] developed this mod for [Chuck] to use and has released it for any others out there who wish to give it a try.

The hardware alterations are pretty hardcore. On the left of the image, just below the rumble motor, a DIP microcontroller is nestled dead-bug style. This is a PIC 18F14K50. It’s running a bootloader, and has its own USB port on the opposite side of the controller. By cutting traces and soldering to vias, this chip intercepts button presses and shoots them off to the controller’s processor based on alternative mapping stored in EEPROM. There’s a helper app that lets you plug the controller into a computer to specify what each button does, including features like toggle for the buttons. Check out [Chuck's] thoughts on the hardware in the video after the break.

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Classical’s greatest hits on hardware’s greatest flops

We get a lot of tips about old hardware playing recognizable tunes. But once in a while one of these projects goes above and beyond the others and this is a shining example of great hardware music. [FunToTheHead] put together a music video (embedded after the break) that shows his custom MIDI device playing Bach’s Toccata in d minor. He left some comments that clue us into the way he did it. Most obviously, he’s using the stepper motors from four floppy drives to create precisely pitched sounds. Internally, a PIC 18F14K50 acts as a MIDI-over-USB device, taking commands for all 128 MIDI notes as well as the pitch bends associated with them. The first four channels are played directly on each drive and the other twelve are triaged among the hardware by the microprocessor. But for the results heard in the video you’ll need to code your MIDI files by hand.

Bonus points to the video editor for the Phantom’s floppy-laden appearance in the video… it’s good to laugh!

[Read more...]

MCP2200 USB to serial chip hacked to do your bidding

Mircrochip has a new USB to Serial converter available called the MCP2200. [Sjaak] suspected that it may have been made from an existing 20-pin PIC and found that reading the device signature with the PICKIT3 shows that the chip is an 18F14K50. Most likely this is running Microchip’s USB stack but it’s hard to tell because chip is code-protected, reading back all zeros. So he set out to write some replacement firmware which would provide the same functionality and give you access to the rest of the chip’s features.

There were some speed bumps along the way. The first one is that Microchip’s licensing for their USB stack won’t allow you to open source your firmware. That’s okay, it seems there is already a USB stack that can be ported which doesn’t have this restriction. The second wrinkle in the plan is that [Sjaak's] code doesn’t come with a VID/PID pair that you can use like V-USB does for AVR chips. But that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of getting the device to work by echoing back characters it receives. Full USB to serial support with the replacement firmware is on the way.

[Thanks Chris]

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