Antique Electromechanical Calculating Machines

electromechanical calculator Hamann 505

The decision to use electronics for our calculating machines has long been decided.  However, that doesn’t mean that mechanical engineers didn’t put up a valiant, if ultimately futile, fight. [Dvice.com] has an interesting article comparing the calculating technology of the 1960s, such as the [Haman 505], to today’s iPad.

This comparison and pictures were made possible by [Mark Glusker]’s excellent collection.  These models can be divided into two categories, rotary calculators, and printing calculators. According to [Mark]‘s site, the printing calculators stayed on the market a few years after the rotary calculators, which were off the market by 1970.

Although we may never see machines like these made again, anyone even a little bit mechanically inclined would be hard pressed not to be inspired by this collection. Be sure to check out the video of a [Madas 20BTG] calculator after the break to see what one of the rotary models looks like in action! Continue reading “Antique Electromechanical Calculating Machines”

Tablet cover from old hardcover books

Here’s a way to look hip and destroy books at the same time. This table cover is made from an old hardcover book. It’s not difficult to do, an afternoon is all it takes, and if you follow all of the instructions we’d bet this will hold up for a long time.

It’s basically another version of the Moleskine cover for the Kindle Fire. You find a donor book (second-hand shops are packed with ’em) with a hardcover which you really enjoy. Kids books would be the most fun because of the artwork – if you can find one thick enough. With book in hand remove all of the pages. This will leave the binding a little flimsy, and since this is a project by the company which make Sugru, you can see why they used the moldable adhesive for that purpose. But check out the brackets in the picture above. They covered the Kindle in cling wrap, then molded Sugru around the corners. Once set, it can be peeled away from the plastic wrap, but will retain its shape. Nice.

Circuit Playground – An electronics reference app from Adafruit

It’s not everyday that we review software around here, but the folks at Adafruit recently put together an iOS app that I figured might be of interest. Their iPad/iPhone compatible application is called “Circuit Playground”, and it includes all sorts of handy electronics reference tools. For the context of this review, it should be noted that I paid for the application myself, and that I have had no communication with the Adafruit team regarding my assessment of the app.

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Augmented reality using Pez dispensers

[Johan] really got himself out of a bind with this one.

After his son started playing AppMates, he desperately wanted the requisite figures to complete the experience. AppMates is an iPad game where a child drives a small plastic car around a virtual environment displayed on the touchscreen. Unfortunately for [Johan]’s son, the officially licensed Cars characters would take at least three months to make it to his home in Sweden. [Johan] did the next best thing and made his own.

[Johan] took a pair of Cars Pez dispensers and took off the figure. The bottom of the character was covered with a bit of plastic from the base of the Pez dispenser and a little bit of conductive foam and was added to the body. Now [Johan]’s son can drive his toys around Radiator Springs just like he could with the official figurines. There’s also the aspect of not making a child wait months for a bit of plastic, so we’ll call this one a win for [Johan].

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iPad 2 gets a home in hacked iDJ Live console

[DJ FileSpnR] did a number on this IDJ Live hardware to make room for an integrated iPad. Those that have seen the hardware before may not even recognize it. In stock condition the controller has two turn-table actuators with cross-fader control in between them. The iPad perches on top like a book, making it a fairly bulky setup.

In its hacked format, the device is much more mobile. The physical turntables have been removed, and the center console was moved to one side. This leaves just enough room to fit the iPad 2 (the original iPad is probably too thick for this to work). A cresent of the original turn table bezel has been retained to clamp the iPad in place, and to protect the dock connector at the same time. Now the touchscreen serves as turntable control, with physical sliders to the right which mange the cross-fading.

Check out the video after the break where the DJ explains his alterations and demonstrates the finished project.

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Retractable iPad dock for the kitchen

[Evan Flint] and his wife use a lot of online recipes in the kitchen. Rather than printing them out, they bought an iPad as a cooking companion. But in their cramped kitchen he needed to find a place for the high-end hardware that is out-of-the-way yet accessible. Some head scratching and parts bin diving led to this under-cabinet iPod dock.

The dock itself is a cradle made out of sheet aluminum. After cutting to shape, [Evan] bent up the sides and bottom to center the iPad. Since this is not a permanent fixture he needed to make the cradle collapsible. He used a CAD program to design the base tray to let the cradle lay flat, while giving several options to the angle when it is in use. Once the cooking is done just fold it up and the drawer slides make for easy under-cabinet storage.

Because he doesn’t own the house he didn’t want to make permanent alterations to the cabinet. But he does lament the unfinished look of the drawer slides. We’d just grab some pre-finished oak crown molding from the home store and wrap the entire thing. The left-edge of molding could slide out with the cradle when in use.

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.

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