Why Should You Enter The Hackaday Prize? Because [Ben Heck] Says So.

[Ben Heck] is well-known in the circles we frequent for being a consummate modder, tinkerer, builder, and hacker. We’ve seen his XBox 360 laptops, portabalized PS3s, the ultimate glue gun, and shutter shades that are too cool for [Kanye]. Now he’s telling us about something else that’s really cool – The Hackaday Prize.

All you need to be in the running for prizes that range from a thousand dollars in electronic components to milling machines to a trip to space is build a project that is open, connected (smoke signals count), and documented on hackaday.io. Think you don’t have time to submit an entry before the first round cutoff next week? You’re wrong. You can sit down and hit all the requirements in an hour. All you need is an idea at this point, and you have until November to actually build it.

Talking to Hackaday readers IRL gives us the impression that a lot of you have an idea for something cool and spaceworthy, but you just need a kick in the pants to write it down and start building it. Here it is. Go.

Oh, the People You’ll Meet! (at Maker Faire)

 

I might argue that the best thing about Maker Faire isn’t the booths at all, but the people you’ll run into. To that end, I spliced together a series of these impromptu run-ins that I thoroughly enjoyed. What’s remarkable to me is that these people of not weren’t themselves attracting a crowd. If you want to meet the hackers who you respect in the hacking world, you can still have a casual and friendly conversation with them!

First up is [Jeremy Blum] who is a long-time friend of Hackaday, author Exploring Arduino, and one-year member of the Google[x] team. We ran into him along with [Marcus Schappi], CEO of Little Bird Electronics in Australia. [Marcus'] crew recently saw a successful crowd-funding run with the Micro-view.

Next up is [Ben Heck] of The Ben Heck Show. He talks a bit about his recent hack of a pair of texting radios using the eRIC radio modules and he riffed on his past robotic luggage project as well.

The rest of the video is devoted to Hackaday alum. I ran into [Caleb Kraft] who recently started as Community Editor over at MAKE, and [Phil Burgess] who now builds gnarly projects for Adafruit. The clip wraps up with [Ian] from Dangerous Prototypes. He’s fresh off of his Hacker Camp in Shenzhen which covered everything from reballing BGA components by hand, to finding good deals on custom wardrobe, and making sound gastronomic choices while in China.

We talked to a horde of people over two days. Perhaps it was the foam Jolly Wrencher that I wore around? But the point is that everyone at an event like this is interesting to talk to, approachable, and well worth the cost of entry. If you haven’t been to a hacking convention it’s time to start looking around for the one nearest you!

[Ben Heck] Builds The Ultimate Glue Gun

glue

For how many can be found on the workbenches and in the toolboxes of makers and hackers the world over, finding a glue gun that does more than just heat up and drip glue everywhere can be a challenge. [Ben Heck] finally solved this problem with a hot glue gun that’s more like an extruder from a 3D printer than a piece of junk you can pick up at Walmart for a few dollars.

By far, the most difficult part of this project was the glue stick extruder. For this, [Ben] used a DC motor with a two-stage planetary gear system. This drives a homemade hobbed bolt, just like the extruder in 99% of 3D printers. The glue stick is wedged up against the hobbed bolt with a few 3D printed parts and a spring making for a very compact glue stick extruder.

The electronics are a small AVR board [Ben] made for a previous episode, a thermistor attached to the hot end of the glue gun, a solid state relay for the heater, and analog controls for speed and temperature settings. After finishing the mechanics and electronics, [Ben] took everything apart and put it back together in a glue gun-shaped object.

The finished product is actually pretty nice. It lays down constistant beads of hot glue and thanks to a little bit of motor retraction won’t drip.

You can check out both parts of [Ben]‘s build below.

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[Ben Heck] builds his smallest 360 laptop ever

[Ben Heck] is no stranger to building Xbox 360 laptops. Over the years he’s built dozens, but for this week’s episode of The Ben Heck Show he’s throwing down the gauntlet and building the smallest Xbox laptop ever.

The latest and greatest Xbox laptop build is based around the newest and smallest  $199 4 Gig Xbox. A few compromises had to be made to turn this console into a laptop, though: The power that would have gone to a Kinect was repurposed to power the very thin 15.6″ LED LCD, while the port that would power a hard drive was used to drive a perfboard stereo amplifier. You can check out the official [Ben Heck] blog post here.

The final build is extremely compact and much smaller than [Ben Heck]‘s previous Xbox laptop builds. At just 2.125″ thick and 16 ” wide and 9 ” long, it’s quite possibly the smallest Xbox that’s possible to build. Without a new hardware revision from Microsoft (which seems unlikely at this point), this is probably the smallest an Xbox 360 laptop can be. We tip our hat to [Ben], and wish him luck in the next season of The Ben Heck Show.

Wrapping up Maker Faire with [Ben Heck], giant Arduinos, and an Apple Lisa

All good things, and apparently our coverage of Maker Faire, must come to an end. Here’s a few more things we saw in New York this last weekend that piqued our interest:

A 10x scale Arduino

[Robert Fitzsimons] of Part Fusion Electronics made a gigantic Arduino. It wasn’t quite functional, but [Robert] did manage to make a few 10:1 scale LEDs (with built-in circuit protection), 1 inch pitch headers, and a few other miscellaneous components out of foam and paint.

Since he’s from Dublin, Ireland, [Robert] didn’t want to take this giant board home with him. He graciously gave it to me in the hopes of turning it in to a proper working Arduino. I’ll do my best, [Robert].

There are hundreds of Lisas buried in a landfill in Utah.

Tekserve, an indie Apple store located in the heart of Manhattan, really knows how to put on a good show. For the entirety of their stay at Maker Faire, they had people showing off one of the first digital cameras, Apple Newtons, and an awesome collection of vintage Macs. No, your eyes do not deceive you; that’s a real Lisa there in the bunch.

Sadly, they didn’t have the boot disk to turn any of these on. Pity.

Yes, there were celebrities at Maker Faire

Well, celebrities to the Hackaday crowd, at least. [Ben Heck] showed off the electronic automatic sunglasses he built. It’s a pair of lensless glasses, a servo, light detector, and a pair of clip-on sunglasses. When [Ben] is out in daylight, the sunglasses swivel down. Inside, the amount of light received by the detector decreases and the shades rotate up.

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One Hackaday reader’s experience going on the Ben Heck show

In the Hackaday Froums, [Colecago] shares his experience collaborating with [Ben Heck]. They were building some “Robot Luggage”, and you can see the episode after the break below. The idea was that they would build a piece of luggage that would follow you through an airport instead of having to be dragged.

[Colecago] shares a little about the “behind the scenes process”. There’s a surprising amount of work that goes into a very little amount of video. From what we can gather, this video took over a month to make. [Jesse/Colecago] was quite embarrassed to have run into a mistake that he called “UART Dislexia”, where he repeatedly wired the circuit incorrectly. We say, don’t stress, it happens to everyone.

Another point he brings up is how much of a pain in the butt the Arduino was in this process. While people in the comments often argue about the use of the arduino, [Jesse] explains how this specific case would have been much easier without.

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extMEDIA: An XBMC disc changer interface

extmedia_dvd_bluray_changer_integration

A while back, [Ben Gilstad] built his first HTPC, loading XBMC on it to manage all of his digital media. He loved XBMC’s features and flexibility, but he needed a way to enjoy his DVD and Blu Ray collection on the device without too much hassle. Far before [Ben Heck] considered fitting his Xbox 360 DVD drive into a CD carousel, this [Ben] was busy hacking a Blu Ray player into his.

He bought a broken disc changer at a garage sale, and tore apart a standard SATA Blu Ray player in preparation for the optical drive transplant. An ATMega168 controls the changer’s mechanics, monitoring the carousel’s position and triggering the proper motors when discs need to be swapped out. The AVR currently takes its direction from the HTPC over its serial port via a UDP proxy as XBMC did not support a serial interface at the time he was building the changer.

The second half of [Ben’s] project is an XBMC add-on that he uses to manage his huge collection of optical discs. In order to get XBMC to recognize each disc as a valid ‘file’, he created a clever workaround involving blank WMV clips. This enables him to view his DVDs as if they were digital files on his hard drive, complete with cover art.

It’s a fantastic project, and [Ben] says that his system should be able to support any number of physical disc changers simultaneously, without much issue. Unfortunately the project went on hiatus when he lost his job, so it’s packed away in storage for the time being. Once he gets back on his feet however, he has a whole list of planned changes and improvements to work on – we can’t wait to see it once complete!

Keep reading to check out a video demonstration of his XBMC add-on in action.

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