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.
Continue reading “extMEDIA: An XBMC disc changer interface”
Let’s face it – gamers have a reputation for being pretty lazy. In the most recent episode of his web series, [Ben Heck] takes on the stereotypical gamer role and cranks the laziness factor to 11, lamenting the fact that he needs to get up off the couch to swap discs in his Xbox 360 console. Never allowing laziness get in the way of his hacking, he springs into action, hauling off to his shop in order to construct an Xbox DVD changer system.
He grabbed a pair of CD changers and popped them open to see how they operated. After choosing the best candidate based on its CD loading method, he got to work disassembling the changer. The old CD player and its guts were removed, which he replaced with DVD drive components ripped from his Xbox. Quite a bit of trimming and tweaking was required to swap out the components, but it seems that [Ben] got things working just fine.
With the mechanical portion of the project out of the way, he dug into the electronics. The CD changer had no way of knowing how to interface with the Xbox and vice versa, so [Ben] had to devise a way for the two devices to communicate. He used an Arduino Uno to control the systems, triggering the CD carousel only when the Xbox thought it had its drive slot opened.
While the system looks a bit unpolished, and the controller quite bulky, we love this thing! No matter if you are lazy or not, jamming these two devices together is exactly what hacking is all about.
If you have visited a hospital any time recently, you probably noticed quite a few automated hand sanitizer dispensers scattered throughout the hallways and in each patient’s room. Since hospital-acquired infections are a growing problem, there has been a push for all personnel to use these hand sanitizers regularly to lessen the likelihood of spreading disease.
In the most recent episode of his web show, [Ben Heck] took on the challenge of hacking one of these dispensers to use motion sensors in order to sense when hospital personnel are near, as well as to remind them that they should sanitize their hands on the way out.
He disassembled the dispenser to see how it operated, then worked on replacing the IR sensor pair with a set of motion detectors. He hooked the motion sensors to a Propeller board, which uses a separate add-on board for keeping time. Once the motion sensors are triggered, the passer-by is given a window of time before the machine notifies them to kindly sanitize their hands. All movements and sanitizer dispensing events are logged to an SD card connected to the controller, which can be reviewed to ensure policy compliance.
If you have about 20 minutes to spare it’s worth checking out, and if you are interested in more hand washing tech, check out this DIY hand dryer we featured a while back.
3D holographic fog display
Some researchers in Japan are hard at work building a 3D volumetric fog display that would allow you to live out some of your Leia-related Star Wars fantasies. Using a column of fog and three projectors, they were able to create a display that looks three-dimensional from any angle. It might be a while before the technology hits your living room, so don’t clear your calendar just yet, Obi Wan. [via Neatorama]
The Claw – a three-fingered robotic gripper
Instructables user [AntMan] has been hard at work revising his robotic claw gripping mechanism. Laser cut from wood, this servo-driven claw can easily grasp small objects with little effort. We can’t wait to see someone build a version from milled aluminum!
Ben Heck’s retro Xbox 360
[Ben Heck] is at it again, and has recently given the Xbox 360 a sweet retro makeover. Taking inspiration from gaming consoles of the 70’s, he converted an Xbox 360 into a laptop-style portable (again), but this time with the look and feel of an old Atari 2600. Retro gamers rejoice, you can now get your Xbox on while enjoying the sweet simulated wood-grain you grew up with.
Rocket-based ice fishing notification system
What fun is ice fishing if you have to sit outside freezing your butt off? We’re assuming that was the driving thought behind [Mike’s] rocket-based ice fishing rig. A model rocket is attached to his fishing sledge, which is triggered when a fish is detected on the line. Using a low-tech detonator, the rocket lets him know it’s time to check the lines. Now only if we could get the fish to fillet themselves…
Case modding video series hits the web
The “Mod Men” is a fairly new web series that takes you out of the basement and into the garage for some professionally constructed case mods. Described as “American Chopper for geeks with a dash of This Old House”, the creators aim to showcase over-the-top case mods with a professional flair. They already have three episodes under their belt, all of which are available on their site.
This swivel arm LCD screen is [Ben Heck’s] latest hack. It replaces the hinges that normally only allow one point of rotation on the screen. You can still use the laptop like normal, but when space is at a premium a second adjustment, both in rotation and linear position, has been added using the slots and screw knobs seen above. Ostensibly this is to use on an airplane, where there may not be enough space to fully open your laptop. We’ll let you decide if it’s wise to try to get your own hacks past airport security. Historically, the TSA hasn’t been impressed with hardware hackers. We like how this came out and could see ourselves using these techniques to make a convertible tablet notebook by reworking the cable routing.
We’ve embedded [Ben’s] quick demo of the finished product after the break. If you want to see the whole build process it is the subject of Episode 5 of the Ben Heck Show.
Continue reading “Swiveling arms replace Laptop LCD hinges”
That’s right, Benjamin J. Heckendorn (aka Ben Heck) has started churning out episodes of his own Internet TV show. We finally got around to watching the first episode and enjoyed it greatly. You’ll see him alter an Xbox 360 controller for a disabled gamer, making custom foot interfaces to take over the traditional role of your right hand. Also in the episode is part of a big build; making an Xbox 360 laptop out of the new slim model. We’re very interested in that overall build, but in this episode you only see him removing the components from the factory case. But we guess the promise of seeing the rest of the project is the hook to get you to watch the next episode.
Think that you haven’t heard of Ben Heck before? If you’ve been following Hackaday for a while you have. We’ve looked in on quite a few of his builds over the years, including his pinball machine, Xbox 360 portable, and his access controller.
No, your eyes do not deceive you, you are looking at a [Bill Paxton] pinball machine. [Ben Heck], commonly known for his portable gaming system modifications has finally finished his pinball machine build. We’ve had our eye on it ever since [Jeri Ellsworth] challenged him to see who got theirs done first. As you can see, he’s done a fantastic job on the machine itself. He has also documented it fantastically, there’s a build log, a gallery, demonstration videos etc.