Freedom Toaster dispenses FOSS… for free

The Seneca College Linux Club figured out a fantastic way to help promote Linux to a wider audience. They took some surplus hardware and made an Open Source software vending machine. That is and isn’t a play on words. The project itself is an open source project, and the goal is to dispense other open source software in the form of CDs and DVDs.

Their build page shares all of the details. They acquired an older server cabinet which was on the way out from the IT department. It’s more than large enough to fit a person inside, which is overkill but it makes it much less likely that someone will try to walk off with the thing. Inside you’ll find a computer, two monitors (one is a touch screen for consumer use, the other is just an extra hidden inside for maintenance.

You must bring your own blank CD-R or DVD-R (but the burning is free). You can see the DVD shelf at waist-level on the fully painted kiosk above. The only thing we think is missing here is a USB port for brewing up a bootable USB stick.

[Thanks MS3FGX]

RGB laser projector is a jaw-dropping build

We can think of no better way to describe this laser projector project than Epic. [C4r0] is a student at Gdansk University of Technology and he’s been working on this projector for at least a couple of years. It uses several different laser diodes pulled out of DVD burners, Blu-Ray drives, and entertainment equipment (the green diode is from a disco laser).

In order to direct the beams he built a series of brackets that hold dichroic filters which reflect some wavelengths of light while allowing others to pass straight through. Each diode also needs a driver, most of which he built from scratch. And once the hardware has been designed and tested, what does one do with it? If you’re [C4r0] you build it into a money case with professional-looking results.

Don’t miss the video demo after the break. And make sure you have a rag ready to wipe up the drool before you look at his forum post linked above.

Continue reading “RGB laser projector is a jaw-dropping build”

Automated CD ripper build from Lego and other parts

[Paul Rea] decided it was finally time to get rid his CD and DVD library by ripping the data onto a hard drive. He has a rather extensive collection of discs and didn’t relish the thought of ripping them one at a time. So he set to work building his own automatic CD ripper/duplicator.

Right off the bat he had several specifications for the build. He wanted it to be platform independent, reliable, and cheap to build. We think he really hit the mark, but he does mention that he’s got a second duplicator build in mind already. This version makes heavy use of Lego parts for the arm and gearing. The base has a stepper motor which swings the arm in an arc which reaches the input pile, the optical drive try, and the output bin. The arm itself has a two-part wooden gripper that is positioned over a CD and uses a limiting switch to sense when the vertical orientation is at the proper point for gripping a disc. We enjoyed reading his log as he discusses the various building challenges he encountered and how each was overcome.

We’ve seen a few other builds like this before. One of our favorites is from way back.

Continue reading “Automated CD ripper build from Lego and other parts”

Laser light show comes to life from the junk bin

In a project that only spanned about three weeks [Lars] built this laser light show projector using parts scavenged from his junk bin. We’ve seen the concept many times before, all you need is a laser source and two mirrors mounted on a spinning bases. The laser diode for this project was pulled from a recordable DVD player. That beam passes through the optics from a laser printer to give it the focus necessary to get a good projected image.

[Lars] played around with the mirror angles until he achieved just the right look. The first mirror is mounted about 4 degrees from being flat with its motorized base; the second is off by about 6 degrees. This introduces slight oscillation in the beam direction when the motors are spinning. By adjusting the speed of each motor you get different patterns. Adjustments are happening completely at random thanks to the BasicStamp2 microcontroller which hadn’t been used in years. Fifteen lines of code were all it took.

Want a laser that’s not controlled at random? Check out this addressable galvanometer-based show.

Playing DVDs on an iPad

[Harrison Jackson] figured out how to add DVD playback to an iPad. It doesn’t require a jailbreak, or any hardware modifications to your prized tablet. The work is done with some server-side processing and played back through the browser.

The popular open-source multimedia player VLC has the ability to encode from the command line during playback. [Harry’s] option flag mastery of the program allows him to convert a DVD to a 320×240 format that is iPad friendly. But this alone doesn’t get the video any closer to being on the iDevice. You’ll need to be running a webserver that can stream video. This example is on OSX, but since he’s using an Apache server it should be simple to reproduce on any Unix variant. Once you’ve enabled m3u8 files in the Apache mime-types, the iPad browser can be pointed to the file address VLC is kicking out and you’ll be watching a movie in no time.

We’ve wondered about replacing our home theater front-end with an ATV 2 running XBMC but the thought of having no optical drive in the living room requires some contemplation. If this becomes a feasible option (that isn’t downscaled from DVD quality) it will be a no-brainer to make that jump.

Don’t miss the demo video after the break. Full instruction are in the comment section of that clip.

Continue reading “Playing DVDs on an iPad”

Ignore UOP on the OSX dvd player

If you’ve been frustrated by the inability to skip past parts of DVDs on OSX the here is one solution. It’s a patch script that uses some binary hacking to remove the User Operation Prohibition locks from DVD playback software. Using UOP flags is a way to force users to watch trailers or warnings as part of the DVD experience. This script can patch Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard systems. It also has the ability to generate diagnostic information for other installations that will lead to expanded support in the future.

Extra extra: Now legal to jailbreak iPhone

For those living under a rock, the latest ‘greatest’ news to hit hacking front page is the the Copyright Office granting Six Exemptions Regarding the Circumvention of Access-Control Technologies. Of the six the one of the two regarding iPhones is as follows,

“(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.”

Which (along with section 3) really just means that you can unlock and crack cellphones and companies can no longer fine you $2,500. Not that many ever have but the threat was there. Apple however, can and still will void your warranty if you jailbreak.

The 4 other areas not involving phones are the ability to circumvent DVDs for portions of video, video games in order to better the security of said game, computer programs that require dongles but dongles are no longer available, and literary works that prevent read-aloud or rendering to a specialized format.

One tidbit I keep hearing about in these exemptions is the ability to now break DRM on music, as much as I wish this were true, I can’t seem to find any sources on it, sorry pirates.

Regardless, now that the world is one step closer to an open framework, whats changed? For me, I’ve been jailbroken for years so sadly nothing. If you agree with the ruling, disagree, or just want to tell about your now legal jailbreaking joys, please leave a comment.

Additional Sources: FOXNews and CNNMoney thanks to [Voyagerfan99], [Ryan Knight], and [Steve S.] respectively.

[Image credit: Fr3d.org]