Browsing the web one step at a time

After modifying his new manual treadmill to fit under his standing desk, [Brian Peiris] found a way to let him stroll all over the internet.

After removing the treadmill’s original time/distance display, [Peiris] reverse engineered the speed sensor to send data to an Arduino and his PC.  We’ve seen a number of projects that interface treadmills with virtual worlds, but what really makes this project stand out is a simple script using the Throxy Python library which allows the treadmill to throttle his machine’s internet connection.

The end result is a browsing experience that reacts to how fast the user runs.  In the demonstration video, you can see Peiris tiptoe through images or jog through YouTube videos.  A minimum bandwidth setting keeps the connection live, so if you can’t make it all the way through that HD Netflix movie, taking a breather won’t time out the connection.

It’s certainly a great way to get in shape, or at the very least, it’ll make your ISP’s bandwidth cap feel a lot bigger.

Video after the jump.

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Dead drop concept inspired by [Ender Wiggin] family


[Tyler Spilker's] DDD project is a Digital Dead Drop system based on Python and a Raspberry Pi as a server. It’s pretty rough around the edges at this point — which he freely admits. But we like the concept and figure it might spark an interesting conversation in the comments section.

Now by far our favorite dead drop concept is this USB drive lewdly sticking out of a brick wall. But you actually need to be on-site where this drive is mortared into the wall in order to access it. [Tyler] instead developed a webpage that gives him a text box to enter his messages. These are encrypted using key pairs and pushed to his remote RPi server. This way he can write down his thoughts knowing they’re stored securely and never in danger of being accessed from a lost or stolen cellphone.

If free thought isn’t what you’re trying to transfer from one place to another you probably want something like a Pirate Box.

Leapcast emulates Chromecast in your Chrome browser


Our Chrome browser thinks it’s a Chromecast dongle. Here’s a screenshot of it playing a YouTube video. Note the tile banner and onscreen controls which are just like the ones you’d see on the actual hardware. Give it a try yourself by downloading the Leapcast Python package which [dz0ny] programmed.

After cloning the GitHub repo we had a few problems compiling the package. Turns out we needed to install python-dev and that took care of it. Starting the daemon is a simple command, we specified our Chrome binary path as well as added a few flags

leapcast --name HAD --chrome /usr/bin/google-chrome --fullscreen

Once that was running the Android YouTube app automatically detected Leapcast as a Chromecast device. It gave us a tutorial overlay mentioning the new share icon on the interface. Pressing that icon during playback launched an Incognito window which played the video. [dz0ny] links to a device config JSON file in the README. If you check it out you’ll notice that Netflix is listed as “external” while the others are not. This is because the Chromecast protocol uses a binary for Netflix. The others do it with local websockets or a cloud proxy so they work just fine with this setup.

Alarm clock uses Raspberry Pi to poll Google Calendar


We know a lot of people love using their smart phone as a bedside alarm clock. The problem is that a mobile phone is mobile by nature and eventually you’ll forget to put it in the bedroom one night. That’s why we like the solution that [Devon Bray] has chosen. He set up his Raspberry Pi as an alarm clock that is set using Google Calendar.

The setup which he shows off in his video is quite simple. The Raspberry Pi is connected to a set of powered computer speakers. It plays a song whenever an appointment called “wake” comes up on his Google Calendar. This is accomplished by using the Google Data APIs Python Client Library (isn’t that a mouthful?).

This only scratches the surface of what is possible. With this in place you could easily add LEDs to the room for a sunrise alarm. But if you’d prefer a more bare-bones hardware side of things that’s possible too.

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3D printing some sweet music


If you don’t mind ending up with oddly shaped 3D printed parts you can get your printer to sing to you. The exhibit shown above is doing just that. The Lulzbot is being driven specifically to produce a certain frequency of sound with its stepper motors. The results of a few different songs are what’s hanging on the wall to the right. You can hear it printing Bizet’s Carmen in the clip after the break.

[Rickard Dahlstrand] hacked together a Python script capable of parsing a MIDI file and outputting a G-code equivalent that will produce the frequencies and durations necessary to hear the audio on a stepper motor. As we mentioned, he uses a Lulzbot but the script appears to include setting for Cupcake, Thingomatic, Shapercube, and Ultimaker. The parser script as well as the example G-code files for a library of classical music can be downloaded from his repository.

Now if you’re looking for some other crazy CNC music ideas you can’t beat this wineglass music hack.

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Visualize Twitter with an LED matrix


What’s your favorite color? Don’t tell us, Tweet it to [Sebastian's] favorite color Twitter display and you’ll be contributing to the artwork hanging on his wall.

This answers a very important question, what do you do with your projects after they’re completed? For us the best part is the planning and building. Once it’s done the thrill is pretty much gone for us. We haven’t even switched on our Ping Pong clock in over a year. But [Sebastian] recently dusted his 10×10 LED matrix for this project.

Tweets are parsed by a Python project he wrote to try out the Twitter API. It looks for a set list of colors . He asserts that people aren’t that creative when you solicit their favorite color but to prove him wrong we’re going to say our favorite is Amaranth. After it finds the color it pushes it to the next pixel in the spiraling pattern shown above. But wait, there’s more! To give the pixels a but if extra meaning he uses the total length of the tweet to set intensity.

If you need a Titter enabled hack that displays a bit more specific data you’ll want something that can actually display what was Tweeted.

Rigol WFM viewer ported for non-Windows users


[Matthias Blaicher] may think this isn’t a big deal when it comes to the amount of work he put into the hack. But for us, anything that extends the functionality of the versatile yet affordable Rigol DS1052E is a win. In this case he’s taken a previous hack and made it work for more people by extending the functionality of the WFM file format viewer.

[Dexter2048] pulled off the original hack which allows this oscilloscope to be used as a spectrum analyzer. [Matthias] didn’t want the tool to be limited to running only on Windows systems so he got to work. This isn’t quite as easy as sounds because the only part of the original code that was released is the parser itself. [Matthias] had to build everything up from that starting point. His software uses standard Python to parse the WFM file and reformat the data. The features included in the current version allow you to export data as a CSV file and even plot the waveform and FFT as seen above.