Hackaday Links: December 29, 2013

hackaday-links-chainThere are a ton of cheap RF transceiver boards available. [Martin] recently took a look at several of the most common ones and reports back on what you want to look for when acquiring wireless hardware for your projects.

Ikea picture frame plus old laptop equals a roll-your-own digital picture frame which [Victor] built. It runs Ubuntu and is more powerful and extensible than anything you could purchase outright.

Our friend [HowToLou] sure loves the FlowRider. So much so that he’s trying to figure out how to make them less expensive to operate. He put together an example of how he thinks a standing wave can be created that follows the rider as they move along the surfing area.

[Garrett] released an Arduino library that offers threading, debugging, and error handling. The usertools package can be downloaded from his Github repository.

There’s only one way to gauge your Christmas cheer — hook yourself up to the XMeter built by [Geoff]. He’s the same guy who built a breathalyzer a couple of years back. It flashes images of holiday activities on a television while measuring galvanic response using a couple of DIY probes.

And finally, play around with a virtual x86 system. [Fabian Hemmer] wrote the incredibly full-featured virtual machine in JavaScript. You can get your hands on the code via his GitHub repo. [Thanks Martin]

20 Android Tablets form an Interactive Photo Collage

20tabletFrame

You might not have a small army of unused tablets lying around, but if you did, you should try turning them into what Minn calls a “Giant Interactive Photo Array Display:” A Giant IPAD. Har har.

[Minn's] first step was to hit eBay, hoping to find a score of low-priced, broken-yet-easily-repairable tablets. The only ones available (and for cheap), however, were resistive touch screens with narrow viewing angles. After waiting patiently for nearly half a year, [Minn] hit the capacitive touch jackpot: snagging a pile of 10″ and 7″ Android tablets. The frame is custom made to provide a solid surface for mounting and enough depth for the tablets to fit correctly. Rather than form his own brackets to hold each device, [Minn] re-purposed some IKEA cupboard handles, screwing them into the MDF backboard and clamping the tablets to them with bolts that press against the case. An adhesive rubber bumper stuck to the top of the bolts prevents any damage.

Providing power to the diverse collection required another custom solution; two 5V 10A supplies and one 9V 16A supply fit into an accompany box safely deliver the needed juice. [Minn] chose an app that will grab photos from cloud storage so he can update the collection without having to dig around inside the frame. See the result in a video below! Want to try this project but only have one tablet to spare? The in-wall tablet mount might help.

[Read more...]

The tiniest arcade cabinets you’ve ever seen

arcade

After perusing Amazon one day, [Dave] found a very interesting piece of kit: a small, 1.5″ digital picture frame. They’re not very complex, just an LCD, a few buttons to cycle the picture, and a battery to keep everything portable. He decided the best use of this tech would be a tiny arcade cabinet, featuring screen shots of the best games a darkly neon lit arcade of the late 80s had to offer.

After sourcing a few of these digital picture frames on eBay, [Dave] set to work disassembling the frames and designing a custom enclosure. He wanted a few specific features: controls in the right place, replaceable sides, and the glowing red eyes of a coin acceptor slot. [Dave] whipped a model up in OpenSCAD and sent the parts over to his printer.

The controls for the digital picture frame were connected to a quartet of tact switches on the control panel, and a red LED provides the glow from the coin acceptor. With a USB plug and the frame’s memory loaded up with screen shots, [Dave] has a fabulous desk toy.

All the relevant files are up on Thingiverse if you’d like to build your own.

A wearable Pipboy 3000

[Zachariah Perry] builds a lot of replica props, and judging from the first few offerings on his blog he’s quite good at it. We enjoyed looking in on the Captain America shield and Zelda treasure chest (complete with music, lights, and floating heart container). But his most recent offering is the wearable and (kind of) working Pipboy 3000 from the Fallout series.

From his description in the video after the break it sounds like the case itself came as a promotional item that was part of a special edition of the game. He’s done a lot to make it functional though. The first thing to notice is the screen. It’s domed like the surface of a CRT, but there’s obviously not enough room for that kind of thing. The dome is made from the lens taken out of a slide viewer. It sits atop the screen of a digital picture frame. [Zachariah] loaded still images from the game into the frame’s memory, routing its buttons to those on the Pipboy. He also added a 12 position rotary switch which toggles between the lights at the bottom of the screen.

A little over a year ago we saw a more or less fully functional Pipboy. But that included so many added parts it was no longer wearable.

[Read more...]

Linux picture frame serves as wireless Raspberry Pi display

Here’s a novel approach to adding a display to your Raspberry Pi. Instead of using a wired display — either via the HDMI (which can feed a DVI port with a simple hardware adapter) or the composite video out — [Chris Bryden] decided to use Bluetooth to provide a wireless display. This really depends on the hardware that you have available. He snapped up a hackable digital picture frame for a song and used the 320×240 display for this project.

You can see the USB nub plugged into the RPi in the image above. It’s a Bluetooth dongle and there’s with a matching one on the digital frame. With the two networked in such a way [Chris] got to work setting up a VNC that would let him pull up the X desktop over the network.

This ends up being one of the best uses we’ve seen for the Bluetooth protocol, and the small screen offers a huge advantage over the use of a simple character display.

This digital picture frame runs Linux better than you might think

Ah, the beauty of spreading the guts of some hackable hardware across your workbench. This happens to be the circuit board and LCD screen from a Parrot DF3120 digital picture frame. The device is pretty powerful, considering you can still find them available for around $25. You’ll get a 3.5″ screen, ARM9 processor with 8MB or RAM, Bluetooth, a tilt sensor, and more. It seem that [BusError], [Sprite_tm], [Claude], and few others really went to town and spilled all of the secrets this device has to offer.

Their goal of the hack was to get their own Linux kernel running. It is possible to reprogram the processor using its JTAG interface. And if you really want to drill down to the good stuff, there’s access to all of the BGA pins on the bottom of the board thanks to a grid of micro vias. But the device can be tricked into flashing your own firmware just by altering a stock upgrade image.

You can get a pretty good idea of what there is to do once you’ve replaced the firmware from the video after the break. A RAM upgrade (using a chip from an old PC133 stick) lets the video run smoothly as it’s controlled via a Wii remote.

[Read more...]

Adding a little polish to your cellphone charging setup

Cable management can really be an eyesore, but a little creative camouflage and you can have a cellphone charging station that also serves as decoration.

[Kitesurfer] wanted to use one of the cubbyholes in his new Ikea book shelf for charging but wasn’t keen on the rat’s nest of wires that would go along with it. Also not wanting to take on the challenge of wireless charging he hit the As-Is section of the home furnishing giant and grabbed a leftover board that matched the same finish as the cabinetry. It now serves as a false-back for the charging center behind which a power strip and wall-warts hide.

This covers up the problem, but a blank white box filled with the business end of the charging wires isn’t a whole to better. As with a magic show, the trick is in redirection. [Kitesurfer] cut a hole in the false-back and added the guts of a digital picture frame. Right now he’s got it scrolling through different charging icons, but it’s easy enough to change up the slide-show if he gets tired of them. We’d love to see a subsequent hack that lets the picture frame access the photos on your phone via Bluetooth.