Traffic lights tell you when your Xbox Live friends are gaming

It sounds like [Andrew] is trying to build a Pavlovian response into his behavior when it comes to online gaming. He wants to make sure he doesn’t miss out when all his friends are online, so he built this traffic signal to monitor Xbox Live activity. It will illuminate the lights, and drive the meters differently based on which of his friends are currently online. When the light’s green, he drops everything a grabs a controller.

The base of the light is a black project box. Inside you’ll find the Arduino compatible chip which drives the device mounted on a piece of protoboard. A WIZnet W5100 adds network connectivity at the low price of around $25. There is one problem with the setup. The API which [Andrew] found doesn’t use any authentication. This means that he can only see the public status of his friends; anyone who has set their online status set to private will always register as ‘online’. If you know of an existing Xbox Live API that would solve this issue we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

MITx 6.002x wraps up; here’s a review from one of the students

[Jorge] just finished MITx 6.002x with the fine score of 99.1%. Congratulations! We just finished reading through this review of his experience (translate) with the 14-week class and it sounds like the program is extremely well executed. For those that don’t remember, this is an intro to circuits and electronics course offered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Except 6.002x is free to all as an online course (but if you actually want a certificate a fee may be involved).

Above is one of the many screenshots which [Jorge] took of the student web interface. It looks great, and offers pretty much everything you need to complete the class. The textbook, which runs at least $65 for a paper copy, is available through the web interface as part of the course. The labs even include web demos you can use to simulate circuits and probe and measure the resulting signals and wave forms. If you have questions there is access to the teachers, but also a set of forums where you can work with other students.

Perhaps most interesting is [Jorge's] assessment of the time you will spend working on the class. He thinks that if you’re already familiar with electronics the work can be complete in about one afternoon per week. Scheduling is flexible — tests are available for one week, but once you start taking one it must be completed in 24 hours.

He believes this will be offered again in the fall so keep a look out for registration to begin.

[Thanks Pan]

Online chip reference trims the fat

partsdb

Quick: which pins are used for I2C on an ATmega168 microcontroller?

If you’re a true alpha geek you probably already know the answer. For the rest of us, ChipDB is the greatest thing since the resistor color code cheat sheet. It’s an online database of component pinouts: common Atmel microcontrollers, the peripheral ICs sold by SparkFun, and most of the 4000, 7400 and LMxxx series parts.

The streamlined interface, reminiscent of Google, returns just the essential information much quicker than rummaging through PDF datasheets (which can also be downloaded there if you need them). And the output, being based on simple text and CSS, renders quite well on any device, even a dinky smartphone screen.

Site developer [Matt Sarnoff] summarizes and calls upon the hacking community to help expand the database:

“The goal of my site isn’t to be some comprehensive database like Octopart; just a quick reference for the chips most commonly used by hobbyists. However, entries still have to be copied in manually. If anyone’s interested in adding their favorite chips, they can request a free account and use the (very primitive at this point) part editor. Submissions are currently moderated, since this is an alpha-stage project.”

Remote control whiteboard


Whenever [sprite_tm] sends in his latest project, it’s like getting a Christmas present and a night off. He put together a whiteboard, x/y stepper system, serial interfaced microcontroller and added a webcam with perspective correction for the online view. Me? I’m tempted to build one of these for leaving notes for the wife when I’m out.

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