Visualize Twitter with an LED matrix


What’s your favorite color? Don’t tell us, Tweet it to [Sebastian’s] favorite color Twitter display and you’ll be contributing to the artwork hanging on his wall.

This answers a very important question, what do you do with your projects after they’re completed? For us the best part is the planning and building. Once it’s done the thrill is pretty much gone for us. We haven’t even switched on our Ping Pong clock in over a year. But [Sebastian] recently dusted his 10×10 LED matrix for this project.

Tweets are parsed by a Python project he wrote to try out the Twitter API. It looks for a set list of colors . He asserts that people aren’t that creative when you solicit their favorite color but to prove him wrong we’re going to say our favorite is Amaranth. After it finds the color it pushes it to the next pixel in the spiraling pattern shown above. But wait, there’s more! To give the pixels a but if extra meaning he uses the total length of the tweet to set intensity.

If you need a Titter enabled hack that displays a bit more specific data you’ll want something that can actually display what was Tweeted.

Color NTSC video directly from an AVR chip


We’ve seen composite video out from AVR chips many times before. But we can’t remember coming across one that managed to produce a color signal. This project does just that, producing a color video signal from an ATmega168 without using external integrated circuits.

[CNLohr] is seen here showing off his accomplishment. You’ll remember him from the glass-slide PCB server project he’s been working on recently. This time around it’s a small piece of gaming hardware which he’s working on. But using four pins from the microcontroller, connected via resistors in parallel, he is able to generate a color NTSC signal without using a chip like the AD723.

After the break you can see the two minute demo in which he shows the game running for just an moment, then gives a general overview of how the signals are being built. There isn’t a ton of explanation, but he did post his code as well as a resource for you to teach yourself more about the NTSC standard. Maybe you can make a color version of that AVR tetris game?

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Soft robots given veins the let them change their stripes

If it were alive this robot would be classified as an invertebrate. It lacks a backbone and interestingly enough, all other bones are missing as well. The Harvard researchers that developed it call it a soft robot. It’s made out of silicone and uses pathways built into the substance to move. By adding pressurized air to these pathways the appendages flex relative to each other. In fact, after the break you can see a video of a starfish-shaped soft robot picking up an egg.

Now they’ve gone one step further. By adding another layer to the top, or even embedding it in the body, the robot gains the ability to change color. Above you can see a soft robot that started without any color (other than the translucent white of the silicone) and is now being changed to red. As the dye is injected it is propagating from the right side to the left. The team believes this could be useful in a swarm robotics situation. If you have a slew of these things searching for something in the dark they could pump glowing dye through their skin when they’ve found it. The demo can be seen after the jump.

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Doom for your calculator gets a color upgrade

You’re not still playing nDoom in black and white, are you? What decade do live in? Thankfully, the Doom port for TI-nspire calculators has been upgraded to support color. That is if you’ve got the hardware to run it.

The video after the break (and the image above) shows a TI-nspire CX running the popular first-person-shooter. It’s seen several upgrades since the beta version which we saw piggy-backed with a different TI-83 hack a year ago. The control scheme has been tweaked, and a menu system was added. It’s not the same on-screen menu that you would see with the DOS version of the game, but it accomplishes that same thing. This port is packaged with the Ndless program that unlocks the hardware so that you can perform your own hacks.

Unfortunately there is still no sound available for the game but that is a project for a different time. We know it must be possible because we’ve seen a TI-84+ used to play music stored on a thumb drive. Continue reading “Doom for your calculator gets a color upgrade”

Make Your Own Custom Hot Glue Sticks

Hot glue guns can be very handy tools for bonding all sorts of surfaces, while getting you accustomed to plastic burns. The one thing they lack though is color, and while yes, you can on occasion find colored glue sticks, there is usually only a limited selection and they cost way more than the normal amber or clear sticks.

[Ken] solves the blandness problem of hot glue sticks in his kitchen, as shown in this cool slideshow. In a melt and recast process, glue sticks and crayons in a 3:1 ratio are slowly heated on an electric stove in a old can. Metal tubing is lined with silicone parchment paper to act as a release agent. The now vivid and scalding hot glue is poured into the tube and left to cool.

You might be wondering how mixing colored wax into ethylene-vinyl acetate effects the glue’s strength . According to the author if you need  decrease the mix viscosity, you can add up to 10% paraffin wax by weight without effecting the bond strength. Color and viscosity control? Hot glue just keeps getting better!

It’s like… I can tell the time just by the color, man

[Alex] has reduced the resolution of his timepiece as a trade-off for speedy-readability. At least that’s what he claims when describing his color-changing clock. It uses a ShiftBrite to slowly alter the hue of the clock based on the current time. The concept is interesting: 12:00 starts off at white and slowly fades to green at 3:00, blue at 6:00, red at 9:00, and back to white by 12:00 to start the process over again. He has gotten to the point where he can get the time within about 15 minutes just with a quick look. But he did need to spend a few days acquiring the skill by having the color clock sit next to a traditional digital clock.

The build is pretty simple and we’d bet you already have what you need to make your own. [Alex] is really just proving a concept by using the ShiftBrite and an mBed, there’s no precision RTC involved here. So grab your microcontroller of choice, and an RGB LED of your own and see if you can’t recreate his build.

Of course you could always choose to build a color-based timepiece that’s even harder to read.

Lightsaber color selector

[George Hadley] developed a nice setup to control the color of a replica Lightsaber. A small PCB houses a PIC 18F2221 and three switching transistors for the colors. A powerful LED resides in the tip of the handle, lighting up the diffuser that makes up the blade. But our favorite part is the control scheme. He’s embedded a small RGB LED in the handle, giving feedback as to which color of light can currently be adjusted (red, green, or blue). One button scrolls through the colors and a slide potentiometer adjusts that them.

We wouldn’t go as far as calling this a Halloween prop, we think it’s better suited for serious replica builds. But it would make an amazing addition to the little one’s costume. See it in action after the break.

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