Hackaday Links: December 13th, 2012

Cardboard box computer

links-cardboard-box-computer

[Alistair] chapman had a Laptop with a broken screen sitting in his parts bin. He knew he had an LCD panel on hand that would probably work with it, but it wouldn’t fit in the case. His solution was to transplant all the computer parts into a cardboard box from a motherboard.

This violin is garbage

links-landfill-instruments

The kids in this orchestra live in a villiage built on top of a landfill. But they make the most out of what they have. This orchestra is composed of instruments built from garbage and they seem to work pretty well. [Thanks Bruce]

More LED mystery puzzles

links-led-puzzle

[Henryk] is at it again. He puts together some very impressive circuits that play tricks on your engineering mind. His latest is three LEDs in series. Look closely and you’ll see they’re not performing as expected. Watching the solution to one of his previous puzzles will help you figure out how he’s doing it. His work is simply amazing.

Netbook framed as a dedicated weather station

links-netbook-weather-display

Not wanting to get rid of old but still working hardware, [Retro Toaster] built a dedicated weather station by mounting the screen, keyboard, and track pad in a picture frame.

Current and voltage testing your USB projects

links-USBTesterFront

This dev board is a pass-through for USB devices. It makes voltage and current testing your device quite simple.

A talking reverse geocache puzzle box

Here’s a talking reverse geocache puzzle box which [Erv Plecter] built as a wedding gift for his friends. The box itself isn’t really the gift, but a surprise delivery system for a collection of cash from the couple’s circle of friends to go toward the honeymoon. We think this is about fifty times more fun that getting a fat envelope of bills. Who would really expect to find cash inside once you finally get to the target location?

Unlike the other geocache box we saw recently, this one has no display to show you clues to the destination. Instead, it plays back audio clips which [Erv] recorded himself. They’re quite tongue-in-cheek which is another nice personal touch. The pin seen protruding out of the right side of the box can be removed to play a clue and check the location. It’s connected by a little chain to a 5 euro-cent piece which conceals an emergency release mechanism for the lid. The device is powered with a Lithium battery and can be recharged without opening the box via a USB port in the side.

We’ve embedded the video demonstration of the box after the break.

Continue reading “A talking reverse geocache puzzle box”

Freakyphone has a puzzle for you!

freakyphone

[Mime] likes to make puzzles and games for his friends to play, often using recycled electronics to construct them. He had been contemplating a sound-based game for some time when he came across an old rotary phone at a garage sale that would be perfect for what he had in mind.

He calls his creation the Freakyphone, and the goal of the game is to guess the name of a historical figure via a series of audible clues. The phone was constructed using an Arduino that plays audio using a sound shield from Adafruit. While he was ultimately unable to get the phone’s ringer to work properly, [Mime] says that the build process was relatively easy overall.

When activated, the phone buzzes for attention, prompting the player to pick up the handset. After introducing the game, the phone will ring additional times with random sound clips to clue the player into the historical figure’s name. If the player correctly enters the person’s name using the rotary dial, they receive a “winning tone” and the game is over.

It’s always nice to see someone building gadgets for their friends just for the sake of fun – nice work!

Continue reading to see a video showing how the Freakyphone was built along with a demo of the game.

Continue reading “Freakyphone has a puzzle for you!”

Bejeweled Blitz bot makes your high score look just sad

Programmers don’t need to get good at a game to achieve a high score, they code a bot for that instead. Take [hypnotizd] for instance. He was learning to write in the C# language and decided to make a bot that plays Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. He figures he took between 48 and 72 hours of coding over a couple of weeks, but remember, he was learning the language at the same time. We think you’d be hard pressed to achieve a 1.5 million range score by yourself, even with that amount of practice time.

We spoke with [hypnotizd] yesterday afternoon to get a bit of background on how he made this happen. His code (he’s not releasing it so you’ll have to write your own) scrapes the screen image as input. You can see at the beginning of the video after the break that he sizes his app to properly align each jewel in its grid. The program then identifies each game piece by finding the center of the cell and taking a 25 square-pixel average color. Many of the jewels are easily recognized in this first pass, but some are harder and require several different tests to identify. That’s the difficult part, choosing the best move is just a matter of coming up with your own rules on how the bot should play the game.

Continue reading “Bejeweled Blitz bot makes your high score look just sad”

Locking notebook enclosure

[Dombeef] made a locking enclosure for his sketchbook. The diamond seen in the center of the book is formed by the four sliding parts of the lock. Only with the proper movements will you get the cover open so you can plan your next hack.

He was inspired by this wooden version created by artist [Kagen Schaefer]. There were no tips about how the mechanism was made but a bit of deep thinking led [Dombeef] to discover the secret. Being the papercraft ninja that he is (he makes things like gyroscopes, strandbeests, and claws) this was created using cardstock as the parts. There is a wooden pin on the right that serves as the latch. Each of the four puzzle pieces moves around each other to free a slot from its hold on the notched latch.

There is a diagram showing the parts and their movements in the post linked above. [Dombeef] also mentioned an animated GIF that he promises to publish soon.

MB LED is next generation of LED video block puzzles

Meet MBLed, a set of interactive 8×8 LED tiles. Put them next to each other and they will orient themselves into a video screen which is the sum of the parts. If this sounds familiar it’s because we’ve seen the concept before in the GLiP project. [Guillaume] tells us that MB Led is the new version of GLiP and from what we’ve seen they’ve made a lot of progress.

The hardware is well designed. A PCB hosts the STM32 microcontroller and a pair of pin headers which receive the RGB LED matrix module. A pair of AA battery holders make up the legs for the device. Each has infrared receiver/emitter pairs on each of the four edges and constantly polls for its neighbors.

What really impresses us is the algorithms they’re using for communications. FreeRTOS runs on the ARM processors, and a series of messages was developed which allow the blocks to elect a leader, and follow its commands via the distributed system. Check out more about those algorithms on the page linked above, and join us after the break to see the demo video.

Continue reading “MB LED is next generation of LED video block puzzles”

Mystery Box out of Lego

[Todd] recently completed completed his biggest LEGO project, and its pretty wild. The Mystery Box is an 8 compartment LEGO brick puzzle box, covered in a psychedelic pattern of interconnecting question marks.

The question mark pattern was inspired by a few things, the book called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” contained an illustration that looked sort of like a M.C. Escher painting, which with some looking around brought up tessellation. With the look in mind [Todd] sat down with a paint program, drew out a grid, and started flood filling blocks until the pattern was perfect.

In puzzle box tradition, to gain access to the contents you must remove each compartment in the specific mystery order, and to accomplish this was no easy task. Lego Digital Designer was used to prototype everything on the box and then once happy, [Todd] broke the model down for a parts count.

Nearly 8,000 parts, 35 brick orders, and some long waits, the box was finally completed and its definetly worth a look. If you’re not that extreme, they also make cool electronics enclosures.