Rear window LED display gives other drivers a piece of your mind

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[Gagandeep] was sick and tired of discourteous drivers on the highway, so he decided that he would put together a display to let them know what he thought of their poor driving skills. He planned on putting the display up in the rear window of his car, so he had to ensure that it did not obstruct his view while driving.

He decided that an LED matrix would be the best way for displaying images and text while on the go, so he got busy constructing a 40×16 mesh grid for his rear window. Using a wooden template to get the spacing and positioning just right, he spent several days soldering the 600+ LEDs to one another. He used 74HC595 shift registers to manage the LEDs in groups of 5 columns, while an ATmega AT89C51 was tasked with generating the text and images to be displayed. All of the ICs were deadbugged in place, helping achieve [Gagandeep’s] desire of keeping his view unobstructed.

While we’re not well-versed on the legality of such a display, it looks great when animated. There are plenty of pictures of the grid in various stages of construction as well as videos of it in action in his Picasa album, so be sure to check them out. If you are looking for code or Eagle files, you can find those here.

Engine Hacks: Electrified Datsun is the ultimate engine swap

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Forget the Tesla Roadster, we want an electric car like [John Wayland’s] White Zombie!

If it wasn’t plastered with sponsor stickers and the like, you would never realize that this otherwise unassuming ‘72 Datsun 1200 is an absolute beast of a car. The gas engine that used to provide a mere 69 horsepower was swapped out for a pair of custom-built electric motors which propel the Datsun to 60 miles per hour in under two seconds.

The electric motors supply 500 horsepower and a staggering 1250 foot pounds of instant torque, providing one hell of a ride. The car is powered by 12 custom 29.6V battery packs which provide 2,400 Amps of current each! Aside from laying down a quarter mile in under 11 seconds, White Zombie can make a 90 mile trek before requiring a recharge.

Needless to say, this impressive car takes plenty of people by surprise each time [John] hits the track. Continue reading to watch one poor sap learn the hard way that his brand new Maserati is no match for White Zombie.

[via Discovery]

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Racing wheel guided R/C car with video feed

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Instructables user [Kaeru no Ojisan] enjoys constructing R/C kit cars and wanted to build one that could be driven using a PC racing wheel he had on hand. Not satisfied with simply guiding it with the racing wheel, he added a web cam to the car so that he can monitor its location from the comfort of his desk chair.

The car is loaded down with all sorts of electronics to get the job done, requiring four separate battery packs to keep them online. An Arduino controls the motor and the steering servos, receiving its commands wirelessly via a Bluetooth add-on. The camera connects to a USB to Ethernet converter, which enables the car’s video feed to be transmitted via the onboard wireless router.

The racing wheel interface seems to work just fine, though we don’t doubt that the whole setup can be easily simplified, reducing both weight and battery count. While [Kaeru no Ojisan] says that the car is in its concept stages and there are a few bugs to work out, we think it’s a good start.

Stick around to see a quick video of the car in testing.

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IP-based engine remote enable switch

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[Mariano] owns a late 90’s Jeep Wrangler, and had no idea just how easy it was to steal. Unfortunately for him, the guy who made off with his Jeep was well aware of the car’s vulnerabilities. The problem lies in the ignition – it can be broken out with a screwdriver, after which, the car can be started with a single finger. How’s that for security?

[Mariano] decided that he would take matters into his own hands and add a remote-controlled switch to his car in order to encourage the next would-be thief to move on to an easier target. He describes his creation as a “remote kill” switch, though it’s more of a “remote enable” switch, enabling the engine when he wants to start the car rather than killing it on command.

The switch system is made up of two pieces – a server inside the car’s engine bay, and a remote key fob. The server and the fob speak to one another using IPv6 over 802.15.4 (the same standard used by ZigBee modules). Once the server receives a GET request from the key fob, it authenticates the user with a 128-bit AES challenge/response session, allowing the car to be started.

It is not the simplest way of adding a remote-kill switch to a car, but we like it. Unless the next potential car thief digs under the hood for a while, we’re pretty sure [Mariano’s] car will be safe for quite some time.

Hand-built car made almost entirely from scavenged parts

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So you’ve swapped out your car’s motor or added new tranny. Perhaps you’ve rewired your ancient VW bus from 6v to 12v. Do you think that makes you a car expert? [Orismar de Souza] might beg to differ.

The homeless Brazilian native has spent the last four years of his life building a car from sheet metal and junked parts. He searched high and low across the region looking for parts, scoring a 125cc motorcycle motor, among other various components – mostly from old Fiats. He scraped together $270 while panhandling and simultaneously fighting off starvation over the span of four months in order to purchase enough sheet metal to skin the vehicle. Crafting the body panels by hand using a borrowed hammer and chisel, he nearly gave up, but was resolute in not letting his dream die.

The car features more amenities than you would imagine. It can hit 50 mph on the freeway and includes a real car ignition, which replaces the old motorcycle kickstarter. It was recently fitted with a new gearbox that allows him to go in reverse, and if you look at the picture above closely enough, you will also see that he even took the time to install a stereo.

We are totally blown away by [Orismar’s] “Shrimpmobile” – it definitely takes scavenging to a whole new level. Got any amazing stories of scrounging and hacking? Share them with us in the comments.

RC pontoon from a toy car

[Kevin Sandom] built this boat using a radio controlled toy car. The two pontoons are recycled from Styrofoam packaging material using some thick wire to connect them and provide a framework for the propulsion and control circuitry. The motor itself is a hobby outboard, which really only required [Kevin] to develop a method for steering. He walks us through the build process in the video after the break, where we find out that the original toy has a pretty bad design flaw. It seems the car used four AA batteries to drive the motor, but one of the four batteries was also used separately from the other three to power the control circuitry. Running that battery down faster than the others shortens the life of the whole.

This is considerably easier than the underwater ROV hacks we’ve seen before. We do think that it would make for a fun weekend project, and we’d bet you’ll get some weird looks for piloting what appears to be garbage around a pond.

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