Weather Clock Puts OLPC to Work

weather-clcok

A clock to tell the weather? [Andrew] has created a device to do that and more. Inspired by [Sean's] weather clock, [Andrew's]clock displays the current weather conditions, temperature, moon phase, and of course the time. The whole project started years ago with a broken keyboard. [Andrew] wanted to try to use the keyboard controller PCB as a bidirectional computer interface. Data to the computer would go in via the key matrix. Output data would be read via the status LEDs. Cheap simple microcontroller boards like the Arduino sidelined the project for a few years, but he never completely left it behind.

With an unused OLPC XO-1 in hand, [Andrew] pulled out his old keyboard controller and started hacking. His first task was getting meaningful data out of the keyboard LEDs. He coded up his own keyboard led control library in python. On the hardware side an op amp took on the roll of a comparator to ensure proper logic levels were present. [Andrew] then hooked two LEDs up as clock and data lines to standard 74 series shift registers (most likely 74HC/HCT595). He found that his data was completely garbled due to bounce. A second shift register buffering the clock cleaned things up. [Andrew] was left with a stable 40 bits per second serial link to his shift registers. With all this done, the next step was the clock itself. [Andrew] bought a RUSCH Wall clock from IKEA, and converted the clockwork to a gear reduction for a DC motor he pulled from an old answering machine. He could now move the hands at will, but had no way to determine their position. IR break beam sensors from old printers came to the rescue.

After connecting the motor drive, [Andrew] still had a number of outputs available. A few LEDs were in his parts box, so into the project they went. 12 LEDs around the outside of the clock to display the current time. 3 LEDs hide behind the weather icons as status indicators. [Andrew's] python software really ties this together. His OLPC grabs data from the internet and displays it on the clock. A web interface allows the user to perform manual updates on the clock and to set alarms. The alarms even incorporate speech output via eSpeak. We love the reuse and recycling of parts in this hack. The end result is a clock any hacker would be proud to display on their wall.

[Read more...]

OLPC tablet distribution proves concepts laid out in ‘The Diamond Age’

We don’t remember hearing about the One Laptop Per Child initiative distributing tablet computers but apparently a couple of shipments were distributed to rural communities in Ethiopia. The problem one might think of in this scenario is that the literacy rate in the two test villages was basically zero. But that’s exactly the population targeted with thr technology. The tablets were loaded with a software package called Nell. It was designed to guide a child in self learning by telling them engaging stories that include teachable moments. If you check out the white paper (PDF) you’ll find it’s pretty much the exact same teaching technique that [Neal Stephenson] wrote about in his book The Diamond Age. But keep reading that paper and you’ll see that this is because the researchers took their inspiration from that very novel.

Well the results are in and apparently [Neal] knows exactly what he is talking about. Not only did the children learn from the software, but within five months they were hacking the device (which runs Android) to get the disabled camera working.

[Thanks Alexander via Dvice]

Miniature PC packs a big punch

raspberry_pi

We are always looking out for smaller yet capable computers for our projects, and this newest offering by [David Braben] is looking mighty nice. [David] is the head of a UK-based games studio, but has recently been focusing on bringing small, affordable PCs to classrooms around the world.

The computer, called Raspberry Pi,  is about the size of your standard USB thumb drive and contains a 700 MHz ARM 11 processor as well as 128 MB of memory. It has an HDMI port which can display 1080p video on any compatible screen, along with a USB port for input peripherals. Mass storage is provided courtesy of an on-board SD card slot, and it looks like the ability to utilize add-on modules will be available as well.

There is sure to be no shortage of willing buyers if [David] is able to bring these computers to market within a reasonable timeframe. With a projected cost of about $25, this will certainly give the OLPC and others a run for their money.

Thanks to everyone who sent this story in… all of you. You can stop now… please. (don’t stop sending us tips, we’re just joking around)

OLPC pedal power

olpc-pedal-power

A One Laptop Per Child group out of Afghanistan have come up with a way to power the XO using pedals. The system interfaces a set of pedals with the Freeplay hand-crank charger, freeing up both hands for typing. Although not as compact, using both legs makes power generation much easier. Apparently a child as young as 3rd grade is able to pedal this well enough to power the computer in real time.

We just hope this contraption is used for learning and betterment, and not in a pedal-for-porn scenario.

[via Gizmodo]

Wireless hacking with the OLPC XO


Not even a week ago we asked what we should do with our OLPC XO. InformIT’s [Seth Fogie] has written a great two part article that covers turning it into a hacker toolkit. Part one is an overview of the OLPC, how to upgrade it, and do some usability tweaks. Part two covers installing Nessus, Metasploit, and doing some wireless sniffing. We’ll be building our own little green monster based on this and let you know how it goes.

[via Slashdot]

Hacking the OLPC now and the future

While we haven’t talked about the OLPC XO laptop much here, don’t think we haven’t had our eyes on its developments. Originally shipping last November, this unit captured the interest of many for its humanitarian goal, low cost, and potential hackability. After the break, let’s take a look at what has been done with this device and poke at the prototype for version 2.

[Read more...]

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