Reusing an old pacemaker as a flash timer

pacemaker-flash-timer

Most people use pacemakers to, you know, keep their heart pumping at a steady rhythm. [David Prutchi] on the other hand has found a pretty novel use for some of the old pacemakers he has in his collection.

We really had no idea that pacemakers had uses outside the world of medicine, but [David] has taken advantage of their reliability in one of his favorite hobbies – high speed photography. In a darkened room, he set up an infrared barrier which feeds its signal to the atrium input of an old pacemaker. The signal is relayed through the ventricular output, which then fires his camera’s flash.

The pacemaker allows [David] to set an “AV” delay, which is the interval between when the atrium input receives an electrical impulse and when that signal is repeated from the ventricular output. This allows him to finely tune how much time elapses from when a drop of milk breaks the IR barrier to when his flash actuates.

We think this is a pretty cool way to reuse an old pacemaker, but check out the shots he has captured and judge for yourself.

Scam-o-Matic determines if you bought fake SD cards

[Andrew] recently got scammed on an SD card purchase and put together a small tool that can help you determine if you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes as well.

You see, he purchased a set of MicroSD cards, all of which had an advertised capacity of 4GiB. When he tried to use them, they all failed to write more than about 115MiB of data, so he knew something was up. He sat down with some tools that can be used to check the actual capacity of flash media, but he says they were unbelievably slow to scan the cards.

While he waited for one of the scans to complete, he decided to create a utility of his own that would do the same thing in a fraction of the time. His quick and dirty application, called “Scam-o-Matic”, writes random data to the card, double-checking the written region to ensure that data can be read back. If it finds errors your card is likely either a fake or damaged, but if not, it automatically prepares the media for use.

Obviously this sort of situation is relatively rare, but if you think that you have picked up some shady SD cards, be sure to check out [Andrew’s] Github repository.

NES controller is a slick way to carry around your portable OS

nes-controller-linux-drive

[Oliver] had an old NES controller laying around, and without any other use for it, he decided to repurpose it as a portable storage device.

He gutted most of the controller, removing the plastic standoffs, leaving the D-pad and remaining buttons intact. He crammed a 32 GB flash drive inside, along with the guts from an SD card reader. Using a Dremel he cut several openings into the controller, one for the flash drive and SD card reader’s USB ports, as well as for the SD card itself. When the physical modifications were finished, he installed a small Linux distro on the flash drive, which can be run by any PC that supports booting from USB.

While some might argue, we think it’s a neat way to reuse an old gaming peripheral that he might have otherwise thrown out. The portable OS is something that would certainly come in handy, though we can’t wait until the Raspberry Pi is finished – it would be awesome to have a complete computer packed in there too.

Cookie projector uses that dusty film camera of yours

This hack is not for photographers with weak hearts. We’re going to be talking about destroying the body of a Single-Lens Reflex camera. But out of destruction comes something new. A broken camera paired with a flash and functional optics can be used to project light patterns for picture backgrounds.

The hardware is often referred to as a cookie projector, and a commercial unit can cost several hundred dollars. But if you or someone you know has a non-functional film SLR you’re already half way to making your own. Just snap off the back cover, yank out the mirror and shutter, and the bloody part is over. Slap on a lens with a large aperture, create your own slide with the pattern you’d like to see in your images, and affix a flash to the gaping hole on the back of the camera body. The video after the break shows the diy cookie projector hanging out on the flash stand, synchronized with your DSLR flash to add some pizzazz to the photo shoot.

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Camera flash marquee: Real of Fake?

 

It’s time for everyone’s favorite comment thread game: Real or Fake? This week’s edition comes in from a tip that [Fabian] sent us about the music video Bright Siren by the band Androp. The video starts by showing bundles of cables being sorted and connected to breadboards. We get a brief shot of a large LED matrix (presumably being used for testing purposes) then footage of a lot of DSLR cameras with external flashes. These are mounted on racks to produce the marquee seen in the image above. The band performs in front of it for the rest of the video.

We’ve embedded the original video, as well as a ‘making of’ video after the break. There’s also a website you can checkout that lets you write your own message on the marquee. That bit could be easily done in flash so there’s no que, you’ll notice there’s no live feed. While we think the theory is real, we’re a bit skeptical about whether this performance is real or video editing magic. In the behind the scenes clip you can see breadboards attached to each camera flash with rubber bands so we’d guess that at least some of the hardware was setup. But we’re wondering if the animated effects were done in editing like that tea light animation. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

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Flashing Arduinos with a Zipit

zipit_arduino_flashing

[Giacomo] finds that every once in awhile, he needs to flash a sketch to an Arduino while on the go. While he doesn’t always carry his laptop with him, he almost certainly has his Zipit Z2 on hand. He prefers to use the Zipit because it’s tiny, it uses Debian, has built-in WiFi, and can run for about 5 hours before requiring a recharge. The only shortcoming is that the device lacks a serial port.

Following instructions we featured last year he added a serial port to his device, then built a small converter cable that allows him to connect it to virtually any Arduino. He says it only takes a moment to get avrdude up and running on the Zipit via apt-get, and once that’s done, he is in business. He wrote a short script that saves him from entering the flash command over and over, so the process couldn’t be simpler.

He does mention that since the Zipit does not have a DTR line, Arduino resetting must be done manually. For the convenience of flashing sketches from the palm of our hand, we can deal with that.

Check out the video below for a quick demonstration of his setup.

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Destroying an Arduino’s EEPROM

We’ve seen projects test the lifespan of an EEPROM before, but these projects have only tested discrete EEPROM chips. [John] at tronixstuff had a different idea and set out to test the internal EEPROM of an ATmega328.

[John]’s build is just an Arduino and LCD shield that writes the number 170 to memory on one pass, and the number 85 on the next pass. Because these numbers are 10101010 and 01010101 in binary, each bit is flipped flipped once each run. We think this might be better than writing 0xFF for every run – hackaday readers are welcomed to comment on this implementation. The Arduino was plugged into a wall wart and sat, “behind a couch for a couple of months.” The EEPROM saw it’s first write error after 47 days and 1,230,163 cycles. This is an order of magnitude better than the spec on the atmel datasheet, but similar to the results of similar experiments.

We covered a similar project, the Flash Destroyer, last year, but that tested an external EEPROM, and not the internal memory of a microcontroller.

Check out the hugely abridged video of the EEPROM Killer after the break.

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