Ever hear of the Ford Cylon?

OK, we haven’t heard of a Ford Cylon either. However, there is now a Mustang Cobra out there that has been given a famous Cylon characteristic. [Monta Elkins] picked himself up an aftermarket third brake light assembly, hacked it, and installed it on said Mustang.

The brake light assembly contains 12 LEDs, which unfortunately, are not individually addressable. Additionally, by the looks of it, the brake light housing was not meant to be opened up. That didn’t get [Monta] down though. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but he chose to use a hot knife to open the assembly, which worked quite well. A rotary cutter tool was used to cut the traces between the LEDs allowing them to be individually controlled with an Arduino. A Bluetooth module allows him to control the new brake light from his smartphone. There are different modes (including a special mode that he shows off at the end of the video) that can be selected via a Bluetooth Terminal app.

There is no schematic or code link in the video itself or the description, but [Monta] did hit the high points. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to replicate.

This isn’t the first brake light hack we’ve featured. This one goes way beyond just animated lightsThis one requires no programming. Rather wear your brake light? We’ve got your back(pack).

Monitoring batch jobs the Cylon way with Python and a parallel port

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If you happen to do a lot of video encoding, you know that your computer can really drag while the process is carried out. Our own [Mike Szczys] transcodes videos at home fairly often, and because the process is automated, he doesn’t always know if a conversion is taking place in the background.

He has been tinkering with Larson Scanners recently and thought he could put everything he’s learned along the way to good use by using the scanner as a “busy” indicator for his PC. He hooked the scanner up to the computer’s parallel port, and took a few minutes to bang out some Python code that would alert him when his PC was busy.

He set his notifier script to launch along with FFMPEG, whenever his MythTV setup had something ready to convert. The Python script drives a pin on the parallel port high, triggering the Larson Scanner’s animation. Every minute, the script checks the status of FFMPEG and continues to hold the pin high until the application exits. Once the conversion is done, the scanner goes back to sleep, letting [Mike] know that the coast is clear.

Continue reading to see a video of his parallel port trigger in action.

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Animated turn signals add a little bit of Cylon to your automobile

[StarfireMX] churned out a fantastic turn signal replacement for his Mustang. When he switches on his blinker, a chasing pattern of amber LEDs is shown on the front corner of his car. Pretty cool, and as far as we can tell this is still street legal. But once he gets onto private property [StarfireMX] can have a little bit more fun with the replacements. The LEDs are actually fully addressable RGB modules. They can display a variety of colors and patterns, with wireless control from a touch-screen unit he also built.

Both the turn signal unit, and the remote controls are Arduino driven with XBee modules for wireless communications. Pop the hood and you’ll find even more blinky lights to accent the engine, which are also tweaked using the remote control.

Don’t miss the demonstration video after the break. Near the end of the clip you can see how the controller is mounted with heavy-duty Velcro behind the grill. Inside the project box there’s a voltage regulator which drops the 12V down to 5V and can put out a whopping four amps to make sure the LEDs have plenty of current.

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Larson scanner hacking

more MORE MOOOORRREEE

We all love a good larson scanner. They’re so iconic that Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories makes a kit. However, just getting a kit and building it isn’t enough for many of us. How would we make a larson scanner better? Simply by adding more. EMSL shows us how you can modify their kit in both hardware and code to chain them together.  They detail the modifications very clearly and show some video examples. You can see a three larson scanner chain in action after the break.

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Halloween Props: Pie of Sauron

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[Richard] combined creative carving with vacuum tube electronics for a unique pumpkin offering. He used the stencil-and-cut method of carving, making use of an inexpensive carving kit for great results. He salvaged an LED module from a flashlight to provide the internal illumination, but it’s the center feature that we like the best. [Richard’s] used a glow-transfer counting tube, or dekatron, which provides something like a circular cylon eye to the project. There’s a video of this after the break.

You might not have access to a wicked-looking dekatron but we’re guessing you’ve got a microcontroller and some LEDs lying around that can serve as a stand-in for one night. We’d love to do a reader jack-o-lantern roundup, so if you build something, send us a picture!

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