Coin-Op Weather

When you have access to your own CNC machine, you tend to make stuff first and ask questions later. That sounds like how [Rui Cabral] came up with a weather station stuffed into a miniature arcade game cabinet.

arcade28Standing only about 16 cm tall, the cabinet is quite detailed and resembles the familiar arcade form factor that has consumed countless quarters. It even appears to be made of particle board like the big boys. The screen cutout is filled by a 84×48 monochrome Nokia display, and the rest of the cabinet’s interior is stuffed with a CNC-milled PCB, temperature and humidity sensors, an RTC, and a Bluetooth module for uploading data to a phone. [Rui] even manages to work in an homage to the grand-daddy of all arcade games with a Pong splash screen.

Another good-looking display for this project might have been this ePaper badge made into a weather station. And we’ve featured even tinier arcade cabinets too, though perhaps not as functional.

[Rui] takes us on a video tour of his build after the break.

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New Part Day: Nordic’s New Bluetooth SoC

You don’t need to look very hard to find Nordic’s nRF51 wireless module; it’s found in hundreds of products and dozens of projects over on hackaday.io. The nRF51 is a SoC that includes an ARM Cortex M0 processor and a variety of radios for Bluetooth and other protocols. Useful, if a bit limited in processing power.

Now, Nordic has a new SoC. It’s the nRF52, a Cortex M4F processor, a Bluetooth radio, NFC, and a bunch of Flash and RAM to make just about anything you can think of possible. Yes, it’s an upgrade to the nRF51 – a better processor and NFC, and all the possibilities that come with that. Currently there’s only one part and two package options: a 6x6mm QFN48, or a wafer chip that will be covered with impregnable goo.

Already there are SDKs for IAR Workbench, Keil4 and 5, and gcc. The SDKs won’t help you quite yet; it’s not available through the usual distributors yet, but the nRF52 Preview develoment kit is. That’s a single board development kit for the nRF52, with Arduino pinouts and Mbed support.

Thanks [Alvin] for sending this in from Trondheim.

IR Remote For Smartphone Via Bluetooth Adapter

Quite often, the raison d’être for building a project is to learn and hone one’s skills. In which case it doesn’t matter if the end use seems a bit frivolous. [indiantinker] built BlueIR, a device to control Bluetooth A2DP devices using an archaic IR Remote using a BT-Aux Adapter.

Sounds convoluted? Let’s try again. He uses an old IR remote to send data to a MSP430-series  microcontroller, which is connected over serial to a USB Bluetooth Receiver Adapter, which in turn is connected to a set of wired speakers. The Bluetooth adapter is paired with his phone. The IR remote allows him to control the audio player commands on his phone from a far greater distance compared to the bluetooth adapter.

He begins by breaking open the BT adapter to find that the markings on the chip have been erased. What he did find instead, were two pads promisingly marked as TX and RX, but he still did not know the baud rate or the command set. Digging around the Internet, he figured out that the chip used was the OVC3860 Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR Stereo Audio Processor and found its list of AT Commands. After some tests using a serial console he figured out that it worked at 115600 baud. Soon enough, he had it hooked up to the MSP430 Launchpad and was able to communicate. Next up, he built a small PCB, using the toner transfer method. The board consists of the MSP430G2553 micro controller, IR receiver, LED, some decoupling capacitors and a few pull up resistors. He leached power from the 3.3V regulator on the host BT adapter. The assembled PCB is piggy backed on top of the BT adapter for the time being, and a 3d printed housing is on his to-do list. His code is available at the BlueIR Github repo and the video below shows it in action.

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On Your Phone While Driving an Electric Skateboard

Skateboards are fun, but you have to do all that pesky kicking in order to get anywhere. That’s why [Nick] decided to build his own electric skateboard. Not only is the skateboard powered with an electric motor, but the whole thing can be controlled from a smart phone.

[Nick] started out with a long board deck that he had made years ago. After cleaning it up and re-finishing it, the board was ready for some wheels. [Nick] used a kit he found online that came with the trucks, wheels, and a belt. The trucks have a motor mount welded in place already. [Nick] used a Turnigy SK3 192KV electric motor to drive the wheels. He also used a Turnigy electronic speed controller to make sure he could vary the speed of the board while riding.

Next [Nick] needed some interface between a smart phone and the motor controller. He chose to use an Arduino Nano hooked up to a Bluetooth module. The Nano was able to directly drive the motor controller, and the Bluetooth module made it easy to sync up to a mobile phone. The Android app was written using MIT’s App Inventor software. It allows for basic control over the motor speed so you can cruise in style. Check out the video below for a slide show and some demonstration clips.

It’s a popular project, and eerily similar to the one we saw a couple months back.

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Ask Hackaday: The Internet of Things and the Coming Age of Big Data

Samsung has thrown its hat into the Internet of Things ring with its ARTIK platform. Consisting of three boards, each possesses a capability proportional to their size. The smallest comes in at just 12x12mm, but still packs a dual core processor running at 250MHz on top of 5 MB flash with bluetooth.  The largest is 29x39mm and sports a 1.3GHz ARM, 18 gigs of memory and an array of connectivity. The ARTIK platform is advertised to be completely compatible with the Arduino platform.

Each of these little IoT boards is also equipped with Samsung’s Secure Element. Worthy of an article on its own, this crypto hardware appears to be built into the processor, and supports several standards. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the preliminary datasheet (PDF) to each of these boards. It is this Secure Element thing that separates the ARTIK platform from the numerous other IoT devices that have crossed our memory banks, and brings forth an interesting question. With the age of the Internet of Things upon us, how do we manage all of that data while keeping it secure and private?

What is The Internet of Things?

These kind of terms get thrown around too much. It was just the other day I was watching television and heard someone talk about ‘hacking’ their dinner. Really? Wiki defines the IoT as –

“a network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.”

Let’s paint a realistic picture of this. Imagine your toaster, shower head, car and TV were equipped with little IoT boards, each of which connects to your personal network. You walk downstairs, put the toast in the toaster, and turn on the TV to catch the morning traffic. A little window pops up and tells you the temperature outside, and asks if you want it to start your car and turn on the air conditioning. You select “yes”, but not before you get a text message saying your toast is ready. Meanwhile, your daughter is complaining the shower stopped working, making you remind her that you’ve programmed it to use only so much water per shower, and that there is a current clean water crisis in the country.

This is the future we all have to look forward to. A future that we will make. Why? Because we can. But this future with its technical advancements does not come without problems. We’ve already seen how malicious hackers can interfere with these IoT devices in not so friendly ways.

Is it possible for our neighbor’s teenage kid to hack into our shower head? Could she turn our toaster on when we’re not home? Or even start our car? Let’s take this even further – could the government monitor the amount of time you spend in the shower? The amount of energy your toaster uses? The amount of time you let your car idle?

Clearly, the coming age of the Internet of Things doesn’t look as nice when we lose the rose colored glasses. The question is how do we shape our future connected lives in a way that is secure and private? If closed source companies like Samsung get their IoT technology into our everyday household items, would you bet a pallet of Raspberry Pi’s that the government will mine them for data?

This, however, does not have to happen. This future is ours. We made it. We know how it works – down to the ones and zeros. There is no fate, except that which we make. Can we make the coming IoT revolution open source? Because if we can, our community will be able to help ensure safety and privacy and keep our personal data out of the government’s hands. If we cannot, and the closed source side of things wins, we’ll have no choice but to dig in and weed out the vulnerabilities the hard way. So keep your soldering irons sharp and your bus pirates calibrated. There’s a war brewing.

3D Printed Headgear Turns You into a Sim

Stop what you’re doing and dust off that 3D Printer, you’re going to want this headgear for your next party. [Daniel Harari] has created the perfect start of a phenomenal The Sims costume with this Bluetooth-enabled plumb bob.

The iconic crystalline shape will be familiar to anyone ever exposed to the game. It served as a handle and indicator for each virtual character in the popular life-simulation video game. On a short build deadline (a party), [Daniel] found a model of the shape he wanted on Thingiverse. He printed it in translucent green PLA so that LEDs inside would make it glow.

A headband and an aluminum pipe connect this to the wearer. Inside the printed enclosure is a an intricately packaged set of electronics that include an Arduino pro mini, low-side transistors to control six RGB LEDs, and an HC-05 Bluetooth module to connect to his phone. Batteries were mounted on the side of the pipe but we bet a bit of head scratching could re-imaging the battery type and get it inside the enclosure as well.

[Daniel] muses about adding brainwave sensing to control the LEDs. For this build he didn’t even need to write an app; he was able to get an already available color-picker to work. We’d like to see this combined with sentiment; a concept starting to gain popularity which samples social media and ascertains mood to change the display base what is found.

You realize what’s missing from his writeup? We couldn’t find any pictures of him wearing the thing!

Wireless Trackpad Looks Like Fingernail Polish

All hands are on deck over at MIT where a very handy new trackpad has been created that will be able to give users a free hand to do other tasks. The device is called the NailO and attaches to one’s thumbnail, which allows the user an easy and reportedly natural way to use a trackpad while your hands are full, dirty, or otherwise occupied.

The device reportedly works like any normal trackpad, but is about the size of a quarter and attaches to the thumbnail in such a way that it takes advantage of the natural motion of running an index finger over the thumbnail. It communicates via Bluetooth radio, and has four layers which all go hand-in-hand: an artistic covering (to replicate the look of a painted fingernail), the sensors, the circuitry, the battery, and presumably an adhesive of some sort.

Details are quite sparse, but the device is scheduled to make its debut at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Seoul, South Korea very soon. If it can be made less bulky (although it’s somewhat uncomfortable to call something smaller than a quarter “bulky”) this might be, hands down, the next greatest evolution in mouse technology since multi-touch. We have to hand it to MIT for coming up with such a unique wearable!