Hackaday Links: April 3, 2016

April Fool’s Day was last Friday, and the Internet was garbage for a day. Our April Fool’s prank was amazing, and in a single day garnered more views than the Raspberry Pi 3 launch announcement from a month prior. There just might be a market here for Apple. Here’s a short roundup of some of the best electronics April Fool’s posts:

This, surprisingly, was not an April Fool’s post. [Dave Jones] has been looking to upgrade his workspace for a few years now. He’s finally found a place. It’s the old Altium office in Sydney. [Dave] worked at Altium before spinning up the EEVblog, so this really is his old stomping grounds. It’s 4000 square meters (43,000 square feet), and exactly 3950 square meters larger than his current lab. What is he going to do with all that space? He’s looking for suggestions, but I would suggest an awesome model train layout. A [Dave Haynie]-style tour would also be acceptable.

Yesterday was the unofficial geekhack / deskthority / r/mechanicalkeyboards SoCal Mechanical Keyboard meetup at Datamancer in Montclair, CA. I was there, got a Control key to replace the Caps Lock key on my Novatouch, and took a lot of pictures.

It’s a presidential election year in the US, and that means millions of people are going to make America great again by polluting their front yard with campaign signs. These campaign signs are usually made out of coroplast, a material that looks like corrugated cardboard, but is made out of dead dinosaurs instead of dead trees. Coroplast is a very interesting material, and [uminded] tipped us off to some guy that makes mini speedboats in this rather uncommon material.

There are some things you just shouldn’t do. Combining octocopters with chainsaws, for example. You shouldn’t do it, but someone will anyway, and YouTube exists. Here’s an octocopter with a chainsaw.

Foxconn is buying Sharp. Sharp has a rather large portfolio of LEDs and optoelectronics, but this deal is mostly for Sharp’s large contract manufacturing business.

How-to: turn on a light bulb


All too often, the commentors here on Hackaday display some parsimony in their engineering prowess. If someone uses a Raspberry Pi to blink a few LEDs, someone will invariably chime in that an ARM microcontroller would do just as well. Switching a relay on and off belies the capabilities of a 32-bit Cortex microcontroller when a simpler 8-bit build would certainly suffice. Of course this can always be reduced to a 555 circuit and further still to conditioned pigeons tapping a key in response to either food or opiates. I’d like to take this opportunity to present a tutorial. Not just any tutorial, but the actual foundation of everything we love here at Hackaday: blinky, glowey things.

You can check out the rest of this tutorial after the break.

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Kinect hack makes April Fools’ prank a reality


Unless you have been hiding out in a cave for the last week or so, you have heard about this year’s April Fools’ joke from Google. Gmail Motion was purported to be an action-driven interface for Gmail, complete with goofy poses and gestures for completing everyday email tasks. Unfortunately it was all an elaborate joke and no gesture-based Gmail interface is forthcoming…at least not from Google.

The team over at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies have stepped up and made Google’s hoax a reality.  You might remember these guys from their Kinect-based World of Warcraft interface which used body motions to emulate in-game keyboard actions. Using their Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST), they developed a Kinect interface for Gmail which they have dubbed the Software Library Optimizing Obligatory Waving (SLOOW).

Their skeleton tracking software allows them to use all of the faux gestures Google dreamed up for controlling your inbox, however impractical they might be. We love a good April Fools’ joke, but we really enjoy when they become reality via some clever thinking.

Stick around for a video demo of the SLOOW interface in action.

[via Adafruit]

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Capslocker 2


Almost exactly a year ago, we posted the random USB capslocker. [Garrett] has revisited the idea to build a smaller, neater version. He has posted the build process to give us an idea how he goes about building things. The overall build is quite nice, but part if its neatness can be attributed to the fact that he had access to an Epilog laser cutter. If you think you might be using one in the near future, this is a great writeup for you.

[via the Hack a Day flickr pool]

How-to: Fix your stupid internet


Dear Hack a Day,
Websites keep publishing poorly executed jokes today; how can I fix this?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions on the tip line like the one above, so we put together this one-step illustrated how-to. If you’re not the physical labor type, you can use [Steve Lambert]’s SelfControl.

[Related: Hack a Day goes autonomous, Craft a Day]

Hack a Day goes autonomous


After declaring our independence last fall, complete site autonomy seemed like the next logical step. Using some clever coding we have developed a system that will let Hack a Day run without any intervention. The first layer in this system is topic selection. All tip line submissions are sent through a series of filters. These look for keywords like “firmware”, “POV”, “microcontroller”, “video”, “linux”, “WRT”, “GPS”, “PCB”, “TLA”. Each submission is given a l33tness ranking based on these words and the best tip is immediately thrown away. The second highest link is then passed through our advanced anti-duping engine that confirms the link hasn’t been posted in the last week. The post text is generated using Markov chains in what top scientists suspect is a miracle. The story is then automatically cut and pasted into Digg without credit. To foster discussion the reader comments are automatically seeded with “first post” and “this is not a hack” on every post. This system is implemented using a large quantity of duct tape (code and literal) on our brand new Linksys WRT54G beowulf cluster. We hope this system serves you well. We’ve been working on an “auto-hacking robot” to generate how-tos as well, but on its test run it instinctively disassembled itself.

Related news: Team Hack a Day merges with Team Engadget
[photo credit]

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