Roomba and virtual walls make up this theme family Halloween costume

It figures. You spend a ton of time making a cool set of costumes and then you can’t get your kid to pose for a picture. It’s okay though, we still get the point. This themed set of costumes dresses the little one as a Roomba vacuuming robot while mom and dad are suited up as virtual walls (modules that are used to keep the bot from falling down stairs, etc.). It’s fun and unique, but had it not been for some additional electronics this would have been relegated to a links post. For safety sake each costume was outfitted with a ring of LEDs. As a challenge, the lights were given the ability to sync up patterns with each other.

Each costume has a circular frame at the top with a set of RGB LED strings attached. To get them to display synchronized patterns an IR transmitter/receiver board was designed and ordered from OSHPark. Each costume has four of these modules so no matter where the wearers are facing it should not break communications. A demo of the synchronized light rings can be seen after the break

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Hard resetting your Ford Touch system the easy way

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[Jeff Clymer] owns a Ford Focus, and while he’s generally happy with the car, the “My Ford Touch/Sync” system can be buggy at times. He spends a lot of time in the car each day, so when the entertainment center locks up as it is frequently known to do, he has to turn off the car and pull a fuse to reset the system. Since pulling a fuse while on the road is pretty impractical, he decided to install a reset button, making system reboots a breeze.

He started by disassembling various fuses until he found one with an easy to remove fusible link. Once it was in pieces, he soldered a pair of wires to the fuse terminals and connected everything to a normally closed momentary pushbutton switch. After adding an inline fuse holder and reinserting the original fuse, he installed the button into the back of his glove box

Now instead of physically removing the fuse each time his stereo locks up, he can simply push a button and be on his way. Here’s hoping a software fix is coming for [Jeff’s] car sooner rather than later!

SNES controller dock for Dell Streak

The Dell Streak is an Android tablet. [Collin Meyer] wanted to use an original SNES controller to play emulated games on the device. What he came up with is a controller that is a dock for he handheld.

Several things have to come together to make this happen. The Streak uses a standard PDMI dock that connects to a computer via a USB connection. [Collin] repurposed a sync cable by connecting a couple of pins on the dock connector which forces the device to use USB host mode. From there he used a Teensy microcontroller to convert the SNES controller into a USB device (very similar to this hack). The Teensy and shortened sync cable find a new home inside the SNES controller body and, in the video after the break, it looks like he used something like sugru to add a bit of support for the Streak.

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Linux iPhone sync draws near

linux-iphone-sync-support

[Emuboy] lets us know about some software advances that will make iPhone and iPod Touch syncing possible under Linux. Apple made big changes to how the iPhone syncs compared to legacy iPods. Locking out all communications other than through iTunes was surely part of their motivation. This has left Linux users out in the cold with shoddy sync capabilities which should be coming to an end. If successful, syncing will be be possible with phones that have not been jailbroken.

One of the biggest hurdles in reverse-engineering the new protocol is the non-standard way in which the devices communicate over USB. The usbmuxd developers have been working to implement communications and now have a Release Candidate for the 1.0.0 version. Along with testing of this package, libgpod is now being updated to play nicely with the new database format and hash of the iPhone.

This isn’t quite at the plug-and-play level of convenience yet but if you’re comfortable working with Linux packages you should be able to get this working and help report any bugs you might find. But if you’re tired of open source playing cat and mouse with Apple you can always switch over to a device based on Android.

Multi-screen video with Ipod

multivid_ipod_multi_sync

[Marco Tempest] has developed some software called MultiVid that allows synchronized video across multiple iPhone or iPod Touch devices. For this to work, all of the devices must be connected to the same WiFi network. Playback can be controlled from any one of the iPhones/iPod Touches or from the Mac running the controller software. There is of course the option of connecting to larger monitors through a video output cable. The app also supports OSC. We’ve embedded the example video as well as a video detailing the software setup after the break.

The client software is available at the apps store and controller software can be downloaded from [Marco's] website. Both are free which is our favorite price point.

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Synchronizing Fireflies NG


[Alex] from Tinkerlog has revisited an old project with Synchronizing Fireflies NG. Fascinated by how fireflies blink at same rate and synchronize with each other, he built a digital version. Each board has an RGB LED and a phototransistor or photoresistor. A ping-pong ball is used as a diffuser. The blink rate is controlled by an ATtiny13v. The board power can be daisy chained, but each firefly mote operates independently of the others. The microcontroller has a fixed flash rate and monitors for other flashes. It attempts to sync by flashing earlier. The color of the LED expresses how satisfied the firefly is with its current sync. You can see a video of eight fireflies attempting to self organize embedded below.

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3D video with consumer cameras


While perusing our photos from the Hooptyrides, Inc. tour you may have noticed [Eric Kurland]‘s two handed stereoscopy rig. It’s constructed from two consumer grade Sony DV cameras. The problem with using two separate cameras to make stereo images or video is that a lack of clock sync will make objects appear out of their true position because of differences in framerate. To solve this problem Damir Vran?i? developed the 3D LANC Master. It reads the crystal frequency from one of the cameras and writes to the ram of the other camera using Sony’s LANC protocol. This constant monitoring keeps the clocks within +/- 3ms. The control box also has buttons to power on, zoom, and record in sync. The 3D LANC Master plans are completely open source and work with a large number of Sony cameras. We have more photos of Eric’s rig after the break.

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