Running Calculus on an Arduino

It was Stardate 2267. A mysterious life form known as Redjac possessed the computer system of the USS Enterprise. Being well versed in both computer operations and mathematics, [Spock] instructed the computer to compute pi to the last digit. “…the value of pi is a transcendental figure without resolution” he would say. The task of computing pi presents to the computer an infinite process. The computer would have to work on the task forever, eventually forcing the Redjac out.

Calculus relies on infinite processes. And the Arduino is a (single thread) computer. So the idea of zeno_03running a calculus function on an Arduino presents a seemingly impossible scenario. In this article, we’re going to explore the idea of using derivative like techniques with a microcontroller. Let us be reminded that the derivative provides an instantaneous rate of change. Getting an instantaneous rate of change when the function is known is easy. However, when you’re working with a microcontroller and varying analog data without a known function, it’s not so easy. Our goal will be to get an average rate of change of the data. And since a microcontroller is many orders of magnitude faster than the rate of change of the incoming data, we can calculate the average rate of change over very small time intervals. Our work will be based on the fact that the average rate of change and instantaneous rate of change are the same over short time intervals.

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Decoding data hiding in Star Trek IV

1986: The US and Russia signed arms agreements, Argentina won the world cup, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home hit the theaters. Trekkies and the general public alike enjoyed the film. Some astute hams though, noticed a strange phenomenon about halfway through the film. During a pivotal scene, Scotty attempts to beam Chekov and Uhura off the Enterprise, but has trouble with interference. The interference can be heard over the ubiquitous Star Trek comm link. To many it may sound like random radio noise. To the trained ear of a [Harold Price, NK6K] though, it sounded a heck of a lot like packet radio transmissions.

cray-2By 1989, the film was out on VHS and laser disc. With high quality audio available, [Harold] challenged his friend [Bob McGwier, N4HY] to decode the signal. [Bob] used the best computer he had available: His brain. He also had a bit of help from a Cray 2 supercomputer.

[Bob] didn’t own his own Cray 2 of course, this particular computer was property of the National Security Agency (NSA). He received permission to test Frequency Shift Keyed (FSK) decoder algorithms. Can you guess what his test dataset was?

The signal required a lot of cleanup: The original receiver was tuned 900 Hz below the transmission frequency. There also was a ton of noise. To make matters worse, Scotty kept speaking over the audio. Thankfully, AX.25 is a forgiving protocol. [Bob] persevered and was able to obtain some usable data. The signal turned out to be [Bill Harrigill, WA8ZCN] sending a Receive Ready (RR) packet to N6AEZ on 20 meters. An RR packet indicates that [Bill’s] station had received all previous packets and was ready for more.  [Bob] called to [Bill], who was able to verify that it was probably him transmitting in the 1985 or 1986, around the time the sound editors would have been looking for effects.

That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment, especially considering it was 1989. Today, we carry supercomputers around in our pockets. The Cray 2 is roughly equivalent to an iPhone 4 in processing power. Modern laptop and desktop machines easily out class Seymour Cray’s machine. We also have software like GNU Radio, which is designed to decode data. Our challenge to you, the best readers in the world, is to replicate [Bob McGwier’s] work, and share your results.

A Pocket-Sized Warp Core

Designed in the 2350s at the Utopia Planita shipyards, the warp core found in Galaxy class starships Yamoto, Odyssey, Challenger, and yes, Enterprise was a incomparable work of engineering, leading to more than one Daystrom Prize for its development. We’re still at least fifteen years away from the great [Zefram Cochrane]’s birth – and another 200 years until [Richard Daystrom] is born – but now, thanks to our advanced technology, a miniature warp core is within reach.

About a year ago, [Alex] found a warp core table lamp based on the one found on the Enterprise. it called out to him, but it’s a an extremely large build and only having a Solidoodle 2 as a 3D printer, [Alex] decided to scale it down to 25%.

Inside the warp core are a few Neopixel strips driven by a 5V Trinket. It’s not the ideal solution – if all the LEDs are turned on at the same time, the Trinket will brown out. It’s enough for an accurate pulsating effect, though, and was a nice enough gift to appease even the most discerning Trek fans he gave these mini models to.

Video below.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Star Trek

Star Trek Banner

Ah yes, how could we miss Star Trek? To be honest, we’re surprised there aren’t more entries of Star Trek related projects in our Sci-Fi Contest!

Star Fleet Communicator Badge

4053121396952461870There’s actually no info on this project yet, but we have to admit — it’s a pretty cool (albeit nerdy) concept. They want to fit a Bluetooth headset with a loudspeaker into a Star Fleet Communicator Badge, activated by tapping on it gently.

Just don’t wear a red shirt with it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball Machine

star trek the mirror universeThis ones a really cool hack. A team of four have taken a 1978 Bally Star Trek Pinball machine, and converted it into a Star Trek  Mirror Universe Pinball machine based on the TOS episode Mirror, Mirror where Kirk and his crew are transported to a parallel (mirrored) universe!

Notable features include the custom CNC machined table with custom artwork, a Nixie tube score board, and that they’ve made the design open source! Minus copyrighted artwork of course…

 

JJ Tricorder

The JJ Tricorder, named after its team [Julia] and [Jaromir] is planned out to look just like the SR-580 type Tricorder — except its going to be backed with 21st century technology.

jj tricorderThe main goal of the project is to have it be able to detect and analyse electromagnetic, geographic and environmental parameters. There’s lots of inspiration for it, like the now-open-source Berkeley Tricorder or the Tricorder Project itself!

 

 

 

Still haven’t entered the contest? Don’t worry — there’s still time for you to put an awesome Sci-Fi project together to win some crazy cool prizes! It just needs to be done and documented by April 29, 2014!

5 Year Mission Continues After 45 Year Hiatus

There have been many iterations of the Star Trek franchise since the original Star Trek 5 year mission series aired in 1966 including a cartoon series in 73, a new television series in 87 and many movies on the big screen. Those series and movies inspired many youngsters to pursue a career in the fields of science, engineering, technology and cinema. Now the franchise is coming full circle with a fan based Kickstarter funded web series. Those inspired fans are attempting to complete the original 5 year mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, which ended after only three seasons on the air. The fan based and fan supported reincarnation is cleverly titled “Star Trek Continues” and has CBS’s consent.

The production company behind this effort, [Far From Home, LLC], is owned and operated by [Vic Mignogna], who also plays Kirk in this web series. They have already finished the first amazing 51 minute web-isode titled “Pilgrim of Eternity“. The film may seem campy, but it’s not. They are sticking to the original format and using the sets that were used in the sixties, rightfully so being this is the continuation of the mission. This new web series has some very interesting actors. One is the well-known Mythbuster [Grant Imahara], who plays the role of Mr. Sulu. The actor playing Mr. Scott is [Chris Doohan] the son of [James Doohan], who played Mr. Scott in the original Star Trek series.

There are more details and episode 1 after the break.

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Hackaday Links: Sunday, June 9th, 2013

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This week we saw an interesting animated motorcycle tail light over on Reddit. But there wasn’t really enough background to get its own feature.

The NeuroKnitting project captures brainwaves by weaving them into a scarf.

On Semiconductor is showing off an 8x8x8 LED cube which they claim as 12,000 LEDs. We can’t figure out where all those LEDs are used in the design, but maybe you can. Here’s one that we know has 4096 LEDs in its matrix.

[Jeff] used hard drive platters as the disc section of his original Enterprise desk model.

Play around with an SNES controller and Arduino by following [Damon’s] guide.

Hackaday Alum [Jeremy Cook] posted an update of his laser graffiti project. His earlier effort used camera tricks to capture the image but this time around he’s exciting phosphorescent glow material to make a persistent display visible to the human eye.

This server hides in plain sight after being wrapped in a hard cover book binding. Hopefully this won’t cause heat dissipation problems.

[Trumpkin] built his own Nixie tube wristwatch which we think has the potential to be as neat as the one [Woz] wears.

 

Tricorder project brings the fabled devices into existence

Whether or not you love Star Trek we’d bet you know what a Tricorder is. The handheld device capable of gathering information about the environment around you, or taking health diagnostics about an injured crew member, seemed like unfathomably advanced technology when first seen on the original television series. But our technology has advance so quickly that you can now build a Tricorder of your own. That’s exactly what [Peter Jansen] has done. He founded the Tricorder project as a way to put a useful scientific instrument in the hands for the curious masses.

In the promo video embedded after the break [Dr. Jansen] gives us a recap of his progress so far. Three versions of the project have already been produced, and a fourth is under way. The first iteration could take atmospheric, spacial, and magnetic readings. This covers things like temperature, humidity, GPS data, light intensity, and distance measurements among others. Housed in a dark grey case it looks much like the original prop.

The second model, which is seen above, implements a swapable sensor board. That’s the part hanging off the top, but the finished model will enclose that part of the case. The hardware on this is fantastic, using an ARM processor running Linux and two 2.8″ OLED touchscreen displays. But both of these models have a price tag that’s just too high for widespread use. He’s been working on two more, the Mark 3 and Mark 4. The most recent is in software development right now with the hopes of mass production when all the details are worked out.

There’s a lot of info to dig through on the project’s site. It’s open source and all the goodies we usually look for are there.

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