Controlling Chromecast: AirCast APK released

[Koush] is at it again, this time releasing AirCast, an Android app that’ll push videos to the Chromecast from Dropbox, Google Drive, and your phone’s Gallery. Astute Hackaday readers will recall that AirCast has been around for a few weeks now, but limited to only his whitelisted Chromecast. As [Koush] explains it, he had to reverse engineer the protocols and now he simply avoids the Chromecast SDK entirely. If you’re lucky enough to have a Chromecast, you’ll want to hurry and grab the APK (direct download link) and have some fun with it before it self-destructs. [Koush] isn’t ready to release it for more than a 48 hour period, but we encourage you to take advantage of AirCast and contribute to his call for feedback, bugs, and crash reports. You have a little under a day left.

See “AllCast” work its magic in the video below. No, that’s not a typo. Apparently [Koush] has been struggling with available names for the app, and you’ll hear him call it “AllCast” in the Youtube video. That name was taken for some other product, though, and “AirCast” has now replaced it. If you suddenly regret not immediately ordering a Chromecast and are sitting this one out, go read [Mike’s] rant and get psyched up for when they’re back in stock.

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Rant: Why I love what the Chromecast stands for

I’ve had my hands on this Chromecast for almost a week now and I love it. Years ago I hacked my first Xbox after seeing [Kevin Rose] do it on The Screensavers (I did the hardware mod but that’s inconsequential). Why did I do this? So that I could run Xbox Media Center, the predecessor of XBMC. Since then I’ve dreamed of a device which can be hung on the back of the TV with Velcro and run XBMC. We basically got there with the Raspberry Pi, but the Chromecast is the form-factor that I had always envisioned. This lets me watch Netflix, while the RPi runs XBMC. The two are match made in heaven for under a hundred bucks.

That’s why I love the Chromecast device itself, but the bigger picture is that I love what it stands for. Keep reading to see what i mean.

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Google Science Fair finalist explains squid-inspired underwater propulsion

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Meet [Alex Spiride]. He’s one of the fifteen finalists of the 2013 Google Science Fair. A native of Plano, Texas, [Alex] entered his squid-inspired underwater propulsion system in the 13-14 year old category.

The red cylinder shown in the image inlay is his test rig. It is covered well on his project site linked above. You just need to click around the different pages using the navigation tiles in the upper right to get the whole picture. The propulsion module uses water sprayed out the nozzle to push the enclosure forward. The hull is made of PVC, with a bladder inside which is connected to the nozzle. The bladder is full of water, but the cavity between it and the hull is full of air. Notice the plastic hose which is used to inject pressurized air, squeezing the bladder to propel the water out the nozzle. Pretty neat huh?

We think [Alex’s] work stands on its own. But we can’t help thinking what the next iteration could look like. We wonder what would happen if you wrapped that bladder in muscle wire? Would it be strong enough to squeeze the bladder?

You can see all fifteen finalists at the GSF announcement page. Just don’t be surprised if you see some of those other projects on our front page in the coming days.

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Raspi Internet radio with Google Music

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It’s not his first Internet radio, but [Matthias]’ modernization of a classic Bakelite radio is a real, functional piece of art. Not only does it retain the look of an old radio, it also has the capability to listen to streams and his entire MP3 collection through the Internet.

For the software, [Matthias] used jquery to pull down web radio streams and soon figured out how to play all his MP3s through Google Music. This, and a web-based remote for his mobile device, allows the new old-school Internet radio to play everything [Matthias] would ever want to listen to.

The controls for the radio are rotary encoders, with indication provided by a really fabulous numbered LED display (seen above) replacing the 70-year-old tuning dial. These numbers indicate both the current Google Music playlist or the currently playing Internet stream, depending on what mode the selector knob is at.

It’s a beautiful piece of work, and the knobs and dials look like something that could have come from a real 70-year-old radio. That’s a win in our book.

[Limor] from Adafruit to hang out with President [Obama]

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In a positive twist on the usual publicity events that our administration has experimented with over the years, President [Obama] will be hosting a google+ hangout with some lucky people to discuss, well, whatever matters. It is nice to see the people running the country finally getting to grips with some technology. It is still scary to hear how many people making the laws about data still don’t even use a computer.

[Limor] from Adafruit was selected as one of the few that would get to ask the President some questions. She will be focusing on manufacturing and small businesses.  We think she’s a great candidate to do so. We’ve watched her go from someone who just did some really well documented hacks to someone who runs a successful business focusing on open information and education (and gadgets of course). You can also submit your own questions, and if they get enough votes, the president will answer them.

Add an Arduino to a Google+ Hangout

Google+ Hangouts provide a group video chat with the ability to add apps. [RobotGrrl] created a Node.js web app to control an Arduino that can be added to a Hangout.

There’s a Javascript client that runs inside of the Hangout and communicates with the Node.js server running on an EC2 server over WebSockets. The server receives this client data and sends commands to Processing using TCP sockets. Processing deals with communicating with the Arduino, allowing you to control many things from the Hangout.

In this simple example, [RobotGrrl] demonstrates how to toggle an LED from the Hangout. This includes a tutorial on setting up your EC2 instance, full source for the server and client apps, the processing sketch to control an Arduino, and the code to allow the app to be added to a Hangout.

This example shows the basics, but there’s a whole slew of things that could be controlled with this system. [RobotGrrl] even demonstrates some robots that are controlled from a Hangout interface.

Check out an overview video after the break.

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Meet OSCAR, the Google Hangout robot

[Gus] made it to the Google+ developers vlog to show off his new Google+ hangout controlled robot. This robot, named OSCAR (Overly Simplified Collaboratively Actuated Robot), drives around according to the whims of everyone in a Google+ hangout. Not only is the robot under remote control through a Google+ hangout, it also features a camera, allowing a hangout audience to explore a space in real time.

[Gus] built OSCAR out of an old Roomba he found in his parent’s basement. After attaching an Android tablet to the Roomba with some binder clips, [Gus] put a web server on the tablet and wrote a Google+ hangout extension allowing all hangout viewers to remotely control OSCAR.

Right now, all the commands received on the hangout are put into a queue, meaning everyone on a hangout has control of OSCAR. The next version will change those commands to deltas, or changes in the current state, canceling out conflicting commands. If only we had one of these while we were streaming for the Red Bull competition

You can check out a demo of OSCAR after the break.

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