Building a game clock for Go or Chess

[Matias] is just getting into hobby electronics and decided to push the limits of his skill by building this game clock. He comes from a software design background and that really shows through in the UI design seen in the video after the break. We enjoy the journey through his prototyping process which started with an Arduino and a breadboard, and ended with this standalone timer.

After building the first working prototype with four buttons and a character LCD, he migrated to a plastic ice cream container as an enclosure. This worked well enough, but the flimsy case needed an upgrade. As he looked toward the next version he decided to move to an Arduino Nano board to save on space. The rest of the components were soldered to some protoboard, with a pair of pin headers to receive the Nano. The finished board is the same length as the Nano and only about twice as wide.

The box was modeled on the computer (it looks like SketchUp to us be we could be wrong) then cut from pieces of Masonite. It hosts the character LCD with a pair of arcade buttons for each player to shift the time burden to his or her opponent. The middle button pauses the game, and there’s a trimpot on the back to adjust the screen contrast. [Matias] managed to include a surprising number of settings which will make this little box useful for a wide range of game types.

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Smother yourself in addressable LEDs

Guess where this guy’s headed in his suit of many colors? If you said Burning Man give your self a pat on the back. After making a half-hearted EL suit for the festival in 2010 [Sander] decided he needed to step it up this year. He bought and affixed 200 LED modules to this suit so that he could light up the night.

They’re mounted in a grid, and in order to keep the changing patterns orderly he mapped the physical location of each in his code using a two-dimensional array. The controller uses an Arduino nano to push the patterns out to the array via SPI.

[Sander] included several different visual effects for the controller. One strobes the suit starting from the right cuff when he shakes someone’s hand. There’s also an audio spectrum analyzer chip and microphone that let him pulse the lights to music. You can see how bright this thing is in the image above, but to get the full effect shouldn’t skip the video after the break.

He’s entered the project into the Full Spectrum Laser Cutter giveaway. If he wins, we expect laser cut goodness for next year’s festival!

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Repair stuck iPod Nano buttons

A system is only as strong as its weakest link and [Roberto Barrios] found that on the sixth generation iPod nano the buttons are the problem. It makes sense that the buttons would be exposed to wear since they’re movable parts. The issue isn’t one of contacts or springs wearing out, but how the buttons are assembled. Each consist of a couple of parts; the tactile piece that you see and press, the electrical switch which converts that force into an electrical signal, and a shim that bridges the gap between the two.

After two months of use the iPod [Roberto] was fixing had stopped responding to presses of the Power button. It turns out that the shims are attached with double-sided tape. Inspection of the internals revealed that the shim had slid to one side and no longer made contact with the electrical system. His solution was to remove the tape and clean off the goo, then reattach the shims using “two-part metal cement”.

With the shim back in place all is well but he made sure to execute this fix on all of the buttons before reassembly.

iPod nano 6g closer to being cracked

[Steven Troughton-Smith] figured out how to push signed firmware through to the iPod Nano 6g. This is accomplished by modifying iRecovery to recognize the device on the USB after forcing a recovery mode reboot. So no, this doesn’t mean that it has been cracked since it checks the firmware you push and reboots if it’s not approved. But if you can figure out how to craft a custom image that passes the check you can call yourself a jailbreak author.

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SmartLCD makes video for microcontrollers easy

[Rossum] developed a host board that makes it easy to drive a TFT screen using an inexpensive microcontroller. He’s looked around at a bunch of LCD’s that are easy to get your hands on and decided that the iPod Nano 2G screens are the right balance of performance (176×132 TFT) and low cost ($1-$5). They’re not particularly difficult to talk to, but with 22 pins they’re a bit hardware hungry.

He takes us through the signal sniffing he used to figure out the communications process. From there he harness the power of an ARM Cortex M0 processor, which he’s worked with in the past, to drive the screen. His implementation results in a driver board called the SmartLCD that takes care of the screen’s parallel protocol, power, and backlight. From there it’s just four connections and you can use a small microcontroller like the Arduino seen above with ease. See what it can do after the break.

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Making magnetite nanocrystals

Unlike many chemistry projects we post here, making magnetite nanocrystals doesn’t require anything that can’t be found in a local grocery store. All that is required is oil, vinegar, crystal drain opener, and rust. We don’t recognize the specific brand of drain cleaner that they are using, but we’re sure that you could find one with the same ingredients. Magnetite nanocrystals  are used to remove arsenic from water. If you are in the USA or most of Europe, that’s not a big concern, but it can’t hurt can it?

[via Make]

Linux (via iLoader) out for Nano 2G

Iloader

[Linux4Nano] over at the [Gna! repositories] have just finalized a breakthrough for their bootloaderproject.  Because the iPod Nano 2G has a hardware encryption chip, it could previously not be flashed with a custom firmware. By digging around in some assembly code (and working their magic) the team was able to get Linux onto the 2G, develop drivers for its peripherals (screen, clickwheel and serial interface are a few), and put all of that code into a package convenient to install by the end user. If you’ve ever considered installing uClinux (the ported distro) on your Nano, the [Linux4Nano] team have made the iLoader an easy place to start.

Update: Closer inspection yields that the iLoader is not yet able to load uClinux onto a 2G because it has not been ported. However, it can reload it with other custom firmware which is still a solid breakthrough.