Hackaday Links: April 20, 2012

Introducing Hackaday: how it’s made edition

Ever wonder how the make the forms for marine propellers? Now you have. It turns out they use a bunch of plywood, Bondo, and sandpaper. Awesome viewing for a coffee break.

Finally a new way to hurt yourself!

[Darrell]’s solder flux pen was filled and capped at sea level. When this pen made it to his work bench high in the mountains of Colorado there was a significant amount of pressure in that pen. The flux squirted out right into [Darrell]’s eye. Better get some Visine on that, man.

The most accurate television portrayal of hacking ever

[Russell] was watching TV last night and saw an interesting commercial. It’s a bunch of electronic components, then a nook color showing the front page of Make: Projects, an Arduino schematic, and finally a happy robot. Two observations: firstly, someone in media and advertising doesn’t think ‘hacking’ is WarGames stealing bank accounts. Secondly, an ad exec looked into current users.

Here’s the official YouTube video of the commercial.

In a world… where components aren’t soldered… one man… uses a soldering station.

Adafruit linked to the most outrageous promo video ever. This Weller soldering station provides 240 watts, battles alongside Agamemnon at Troy,  has rework tweezers, and travels to Italy to wage war against the Latins.

An IDE for the 21st century

[Chris] is currently developing a new paradigm for programming. He calls it Light Table, and it’s designed to be an improvement over a simple text editor and project manager. All the documentation is at your fingertips, you can make changes on the fly. It reminds us of the zzstructure emulator we saw last year. It’s something to keep an eye on at least.

Redbull sends marketing doodad to hackerspace using an open source product


Looks like Redbull is harnessing the power of open source hardware to market their product to hackers everywhere. We’d say that it worked because here we are, posting up some free advertising for them. It seems that a rep for the company dropped off a package at a hackerspace in LA called Null Space Labs. It came in what is obviously a laser cut wooden box, a material that tends to make hackers salivate. Inside they found the board you see above. It took a bit of time to look over the hardware was eventually identified as an Uzebox. Sure enough, then plugged in an original NES controller to the controller port on the back of the board and were playing a version of  Pac-man in no time.

Marketing and advertising have their place in our lives which can be annoying and intrusive at times. But we have no problem with it when done creatively and targeted to our interests. Good job Redbull, and might we add, that’s a heck of a routing path for your PCB outline!

Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

Continue reading “Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging”

CBS to advertise using Video-in-Print technology

In what seems like another move to blur the line between digital and print media, CBS has announced that they will be introducing something called Video-in-Print technology in next month’s issue of Entertainment Weekly. Video-in-Print, or ViP, technology consists of a small LCD screen and circuit board that can be inserted into print media and play video and audio content. CBS is using the ViP technology to promote their fall prime-time television lineup. Video-in-Print technology is the brainchild of Americhip, a company that claims to specialize in multisensory marketing. The ViP player in next month’s issue of Entertainment Weekly incorporates a 320×240 resolution TFT LCD screen and a rechargeable battery lasting 50-60 hours. The battery can be recharged via the player’s on-board mini USB port. While this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen a magazine do something like this, as far as we know this is the first time that anyone has put a video player into a magazine. That being said, there seems to be no indication whether or not CBS will make it easy for us to modify the ViP player’s software like Esquire did with their e-ink display. We’re not entirely sure what we’re going to do with the ViP player, but the fact that it has a mini USB port gives us some interesting ideas. Juicebox, anyone?

Chalkbot Vs GraffitiWriter

For those who watched the Tour de France, you may have been pleasantly surprised to see some cool tech. Nike was using a robot to paint pictures on the street in chalk dot matrix style. It was accepted by the general public as new and innovative, as well as generally cool. In the hacker community though, a bit of trouble began to brew. The Chalkbot bears more than a passing resemblance to a project called GraffitiWriter. GraffitiWriter was a bot initially designed to protest the militarization of robotics. As it turns out, one of the early developers of the GraffitiWriter is behind the Chalkbot in a legitimate contract. The trouble doesn’t seem to be one of intellectual property legalities. People are mad at the corporatization of public work. They want kids watching to know that this system was designed by regular people in their spare time at their homes, not by a team of researches in a secret underground Nike laboratory.

The article takes a bit of a turn and talks some about the possibility of projects being taken and used for corporate advertisement. The specific item they are talking about is the Image Fulgurator which secretly projects images on objects in your photographs. You’ll have to go check that one out to see how it works.

Charter abandons packet monitoring advertising plan

Charter Communications has announced that it will no longer be attempting to target advertising based on user actions. The original strategy would have involved inspecting the contents of every packet sent or received by the customer. This usage pattern is associated with a specific IP and relevant ads are displayed on sites using NebuAd when that IP visits. NebuAd doesn’t directly share the IP, but we’ve seen in the past, even with obfuscation, a user’s search patterns alone have been known to give away their identity. The majority of all internet traffic is plaintext, but endusers have an expectation of privacy. User backlash is what eventually caused Charter to back down, but that doesn’t mean companies like NebuAd are going to be any less common.

[via EFF]
[photo: mattdork]