Things to do with your laptop batteries when they’re dead

18650_things_to_do_with_dead_laptop_batteries

[Roy] over at GeekDad had a dead laptop battery on his hands, and decided he would disassemble it to see what useful things he could do with the cells inside. He mentions in his article that even though your laptop might be convinced that its battery is toast, more often than not just one or two cells are damaged. This may not be news to all of our readers, but is worth pointing out to those who might not be aware.

With the bad cells separated from the good, [Roy] thought up a couple of different uses for his newly acquired batteries. His initial idea was to power an LED flashlight that was made to run on the 18650 cells he recovered from his laptop – not a stretch of the imagination, but definitely useful. The second use he came up with was to pair two of the cells together in order to simultaneously power an Arduino and some small Lego motors.

[Roy] lays out all of the standard caveats you would expect regarding the care and feeding of the lithium cells, and even suggests rebuilding the laptop battery as an option for the more skilled members of his audience.

Now we understand that dismantling and re-using old laptop cells is not necessarily groundbreaking, but it’s definitely something that’s worth a bit of discussion. [Roy] admits that his two ideas fall far short of the “18650 Things” his article title suggests, so how about adding a few of your own?

If you have stripped down some laptop batteries to salvage the cells, let us know what you did with them in the comments – we would be interested in hearing about it.

Polarized art fixture made from a busted laptop screen

laptop_screen_polarized_art_fixture

[Pedro] had a busted laptop LCD screen on his hands, but rather than throw it out, he brainstormed what he could possibly do with what would typically be considered a worthless item. He decided to make a simple art installation using the scrapped part, so he gathered a few other supplies and got to work.

The first thing he did was pull the LCD screen from the laptop, separating the front panel from the backlight panel. He drained the liquid crystal fluid from the display, and set it inside a picture frame in place of the glass. He added spacers around the edge of the frame so that the backlight could be mounted several inches behind the LCD panel.

[Pedro] then found a few polystyrene and polycarbonate plastic items from around the house, and placed them inside the frame. As you can see in the picture above, the polarizing filter built into the LCD screen makes for some pretty cool effects.

While you could debate for hours over exactly what is art, there’s no denying that his PolFrame looks cool and is a great way to save electronics from the scrap heap. We just want to know what he did with the LC fluid he drained from the screen!

Creating music from GPU noise

Yep, that’s a picture of a Laptop rocking out on an electric guitar. In what can only be described as a truly bizarre hack [CNLohr] discovered that the RF noise from the computer can be used to play music through the guitar’s pickup.

Check out the clip after the break to hear an annoying, but very discernible rendition of Jingle Bells. Once [CNLohr] stumbled onto the fact that changes in what the graphic processing unit is doing was affecting the pitch detected by the pickup he started writing some code. Now he’s got a program that automatically calculates the size of the window, and produces a white square on a black background to dial in the GPU at the right frequencies.

He mentions in the notes accompanying his video that he had to turn off Vsync to get this to work right. We don’t understand why but we’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: Monday, May 30th

Huge, fully functional NES game pad replica

huge_nes_pad

Students at Dutch TU Delft university recently built a huge replica of the original NES controller (Google Translation), which is fully functional and can be used to play games on a large display screen they also installed. How big is it, you ask? It’s about 6 meters wide – over 30 times the size of the original NES game pad and requires participants to jump on the buttons to play.


Convert any image to G-code

bitmap_to_gcode

Members of [Forskningsavdelningen], a Swedish hackerspace, are working on software that will allow users to vectorize bitmap images in order to convert them to G-code files for CNC milling. A good portion of the project is complete, but there is still a bit of work to do, so you won’t see it in action for a while. When it’s ready, we’ll be sure to let you know.


Convert your lame Dead Space plasma cutter into a bonafide laser weapon

dead_space_laser

If you forked out big bucks for the special edition of Dead Space 2, you know how lame the included plasma cutter replica is. Check out this video, that shows you how to convert your LED toy to a dual laser, fire starting, laser pistol. The process is pretty simple, so what are you waiting for?


Synchronized, LED-lit juggling balls

led_balls

[Jonathan] wrote in to share a project he and some friends have just finished. He’s not sharing a ton of details at the moment, but he has put up a video showing off their wireless LED juggling balls. All we know is that they use bright RGB LEDS, Zigbees for communication, and that they are awesome. We can’t wait to hear more about them!


Water cooled PS3 Laptop

watercooled_ps3

[Pirate] recently unveiled his latest work, a water-cooled Playstation 3 laptop. It looks pretty sharp, and can undoubtedly rival some of Ben Heck’s work, even if it does have an external PSU. Obviously having a separate power component isn’t necessarily ideal, but when you are cramming all of that water cooling goodness into such a small package, something has to give!

Hackaday Links: Saturday, April 30th

Custom EBike with a 200+ km range

ebike

[Doctorbass] constructed an awesome electrical bike back in 2008 from a Mongoose bicycle. The bike boasts a top speed of 76km/h and a total range of 210 km on a single charge. Some car company needs to hire this guy STAT.

[via Make]

Build to order Xbox 360 laptops

xbox_laptop

[Ed] recently got his hands on a CNC machine and immediately constructed an Xbox 360 laptop. They look pretty sharp, and he’s willing to make a custom laptop if you are interested. We’re thinking someone needs to organize a contest between [Ed] and [Ben Heck].

A portable GameCube to rule them all

gamecube_portable

It’s no secret we enjoy portable console hacks around here, and this portable GameCube is quite the looker. Clearly a lot of thought and work went into this mod, and it shows.

[Thanks, Samjc3]

Ultrasonic backup sensor for the parking impaired

park_ranger

If you decided not to spring for those backup sensors on your new ride, [Eric's] got you covered. He walks us through how he created an ultrasonic backup sensor using an Arduino and an add on programmable logic board.

Mega laser construction begins

mega_laser

Europe’s Extreme Light Infrastructure project is set to start building the world’s most powerful laser measuring in at 200 petawatts. Scientists are betting on the laser to be able to tear apart the vacuum of space and time itself, if only for a fraction of a second. Seems like a solid plan to us – what could possibly go wrong?

[Thanks, KonaStar]

Laptop touchpad-based LED lighting control

touchpad_lighting

[Dave] needed some extra light above his desk/workbench area and decided to wire up some RGB LED light strips to brighten the place up a bit. He wasn’t content with using a standard switch to toggle them on and off, and after some brainstorming, he decided to build a capacitive touch circuit using a pair of copper tubes mounted in a project box. Just as he was putting the finishing touches on his switch, he saw a project online where a Synaptics touchpad was used in conjunction with an Arduino for lighting control. The copper tube switch was pitched, and he got busy working with his Arduino.

When connected to an Arduino, the touchpads can be used in two modes – relative and absolute. Relative mode is familiar to most people because it is used to guide the mouse cursor around on a laptop’s screen. Absolute mode however, relays coordinate information back to the Arduino, allowing the user to map specific areas of the pad to specific functions. [Dave] enabled his touchpad to use absolute mode, and mapped a handful of different functions on the Arduino. He can now fade his lights on and off or light the room on a timer, as well as use a sliding function to tweak the LEDs’ brightness.

It’s a neat, yet simple hack and a great way to repurpose old laptop touchpads.

Continue reading for a quick demo video he put together, and swing by his site if you want to take a look at the source code he used to get this working.

[Read more...]

Laptop BIOS password recovery using a simple dongle

laptop_bios_reset

In his line of work, Instructables user [Harrymatic] sees a lot of Toshiba laptops come across his desk, some of which are protected with a BIOS password. Typically, in order to make it past the BIOS lockout and get access to the computer,  he would have to open the laptop case and short the CMOS reset pins or pull the CMOS battery. The process is quite tedious, so he prefers to use a simpler method, a parallel loopback plug.

The plug itself is pretty easy to build. After soldering a handful of wires to the back of a standard male D-sub 25 connector in the arrangement shown in his tutorial, he was good to go. When a laptop is powered on with the plug inserted, the BIOS password is cleared, and the computer can be used as normal.

It should be said that he is only positive that this works with the specific Toshiba laptop models he lists in his writeup. It would be interesting to see this tried with other laptop brands to see if they respond in the same way.
Since no laptops are manufactured with parallel ports these days, do you have some tips or tricks for recovering laptop BIOS passwords? Be sure to share them with us in the comments.