Aftermarket Visor-mounted GPS better than OEM

mini_gps

When [Roberto] bought his Mini Cooper, he opted to forgo the factory GPS system as it was over priced and didn’t have the best of reputations. He decided that he still needed GPS in his car, so he committed himself to install a TomTom unit in a way that would not detract from the car’s interior.

He dismantled the driver’s side sun visor, taking measurements of the original plastic housing that contained the mirror and lighting. He then drew up a 3D model of a replacement housing that would allow him to fit both the GPS unit and the speaker in the same amount of space formerly occupied by the mirror.

He gutted his TomTom unit, removing any extraneous parts he could find. A smaller speaker was sourced due to size constraints, then everything was mounted in his new housing once it arrived.

The end result is amazing. The GPS unit looks like it was installed at the factory – there is no sign that this was any sort of aftermarket modification. We are sure people will be quick to say that would be difficult to keep your eyes on the road while looking at the navigation screen, but as [Roberto] points out, you should be following the spoken directions once the car is in motion anyhow.

DSLR bellows-mounted lens retrofit

dslr_lens_retrofit

While digging through a pile of old camera equipment, [Jake] stumbled upon a camera that belonged to his grandfather and was curious to see what sorts of images the old lens would produce. He wasn’t interested in messing around with a film-based camera for his experiments, so he needed to find a way to mount the vintage lens on his newer Canon DSLR.

After considering several options including custom machined adapters and mounting rings built from old Canon lenses, he found a much cheaper solution. He purchased a lens adapter made to mount a particular type of lens to a modern DSLR, and then modified it to fit his lens. It worked perfectly, though he admits the resulting images are not that different than those taken with his regular lens.

Underwhelmed with the images, he decided to mount the lens on a set of bellows he picked up at the local dump. It looks pretty neat, but he has yet to get a chance to take any pictures with his new setup. Hopefully we’ll see some test shots soon.

If anyone has experience with using bellows lenses on a modern DSLR, we’re always up for seeing some sample pictures. In the meantime, check out this other DSLR/bellows hybrid project we featured a short while back.

[via BoingBoing]

Quick hack brings Wi-Fi to an aging laptop

usb_wifi_adapter

[Jarrod] has an older Compaq laptop he is still pretty keen on, but he has one niggling problem – the laptop doesn’t have a built-in wireless card. He recently changed security protocols on his home wireless network to WPA and realized that his old Linksys PC card only supports WEP. He decided it was time to find another way to connect wirelessly, so he started searching around for options.

It turns out that his laptop does have the ability to accept a LCD-mounted add-on wireless card, but it costs about $100 and doesn’t support WPA. He figured that the card slipped into some sort of glorified USB port, and after disassembling the laptop, he found that he was right.

He quickly soldered a few wires and a USB adapter to the Bluetooth board that already occupied the card slot, then plugged in a wireless mouse to see what would happen. The mouse’s radio powered on without issue, and much to [Jarrod’s] delight, the port was USB 2.0 compatible.

Now that he knows the port is live, he plans on finding a small USB 802.11 G or N adapter to cram into the slot – with the deluge of miniature USB Wi-Fi adapters on the market, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Surgical microscope gets LED retrofit

[Roberto Barrios] picked up a surgical microscope to add to those other fun lab toys you seen in the background. These work very well when soldering small components because they don’t have to be as close to the viewed objects as traditional microscopes. But [Robert] didn’t care for the heat generated by the incandescent bulb so he build his own LED replacement. If you recognize his name it’s because we saw a beautifully crafted in-visor GPS system that he built back in April. This project exhibits the same level of craftsmanship in which he utilized the base of a spare bulb to add an LED, heat sink, and driver board that is adjustable on all three axes.

He also mentioned that he overhauled his site design and it now plays nicely with all browsers.

Industrial CNC controller retrofit

[Jerry] had a beefy CNC lathe whose controller wouldn’t respond. He cracked open the case and found a large scorch mark surrounding one of the servo controllers. Rather than just replace the IC and still be stuck with a 23-year-old controller he decided to retrofit the machine with modern controls.

The journey from a brick of steel to an incredible machine is fascinating. Using a combination of commercially available boards like the ModIO controller and custom-built circuits, he cleaned up control signals and give life to the lights on the original faceplate. The machine is now working beautifully with a new monitor, automatic oiling, and wireless connectivity.