Halloween receives the bulk of the attention for installation-type hacks, but [Stephen’s] animated elf hack-in-progress provides the perfect example of bringing the Christmas spirit to life.
[Stephen] constructed both the background and the elf’s body from a scrap piece of plywood, drawing and painting everything by hand, and then secured the plywood with a simple 2×4 that serves as a stand. The bulk of the hack is rather simple, and reflects the longstanding technique of traditional cel animation: the non-moving portions are kept stationary and only the moving parts need to change. In this case, [Stephen’s] shortcut is to insert a tablet as the elf’s face.
The tablet is a BlackBerry PlayBook, which moves the eyes around and spouts off a few Santa-related quips while animating the mouth. [Stephen] encountered a problem with the PlayBook’s 5-minute screen timeout function, and had to design a custom application to prevent the tablet from entering sleep mode while it played through the animations. His future plans are to drill a hole through the plywood and expose the tablet’s light sensor to detect when someone walks by, then have the elf spring to life in response. You can see his progress so far in the video below.
Continue reading “An Animated Elf”
[Hubert] sent us a tip about a friend’s project to rescue a laundromat from its failing electronics. We’re not entirely sure what went wrong with the old control center, but considering a replacement would have cost nearly 25,000 EUR, we think [Stefan] found the perfect solution: he gave it an Arduino and Android overhaul (translated).
Although [Stefan] explains that the boards were defective, perhaps one of our German readers can help us out with a more specific translation. More clear, however, are the steps taken to upgrade the system. The situation at the laundromat was a bit of an emergency: there was no way for customers to pay for use of the machines. As a result, [Stefan] had free reign to overhaul things as he saw fit. He decided to remove the complex button setup in favor of a touchscreen Android tablet, which provided users with a simple interface to make selections. The tablet serves only as an input device. The heavy lifting is handled by an Arduino Mega 2560, which hooks up to what remains of the original system and controls the 27 machines in the laundromat.
[Stefan] admits that he isn’t a particular fan of the Arduino, but that for the price, it’s a tough solution to beat. He’s not the only one overhauling with Arduinos. Check out some other examples of upgraded machines, like the Arduino-enhanced PopCARD vending machine.
UPDATE: [Andreas] sent in a better translation of the project page which we’ve included below. He worries his written English isn’t the best, but we think it is a lot easier to understand than the machine translation. Thank you for you work [Andreas!]
Continue reading “Running a Laundromat with an Arduino”
[Michael] just missed the deadline for the Trinket Contest but we still think his tablet is pretty cool. He says it predates the iPad and uses a custom aluminum case, a SoC he ripped from a Gecko Edubook, powered by eight NiMH batteries. Check out the front, the guts, and the sides.
Speaking of portable power sources, After doing a teardown of a 12V 6800 mAh Li-Po battery [Howard] strapped some prototyping equipment to either side of it and now he’s got a prototyping power supply that’s easy to take with him.
Blinky goodness doesn’t have to look hacked together (even if it is). This Raspberry Pi logo looks like a professional sign! It was cut from foam and plastic, primed and painted, then stuffed with addressable LED strips.
While we’re on the topic of refined RPi projects, check out this Raspberry Pi MAME cabinet. It’s a bit bigger than the Galaga cabinet we saw recently but still small enough to keep around the house without getting in the way.
If you’re a fan of automotive hacks you should check out this effort to build an Electronic Diesel Control.
We’ve been saving the gnarliest link for last. [Matthew] laments that his missed Halloween to show off this project. But we don’t think an almost-entirely wooden spider-like walker needs to be paired with a holiday. It’s very cool and somewhat operational, but still needs help working out all of the kinks. Our favorite moment in the video is when [Matthew] exclaims “It wants to live!”.
3rd party console game controllers sometimes sport a “rapid-fire” button to give gamers an unfair advantage. [Connor’s] project is along the same lines, but his hack had a different goal: automate the input of GTA5 cheat codes. [Connor] admits that this is his first Arduino hack, but aside from a small hiccup, he managed to pull it off. The build connects each button on a PS3 controller via some ribbon cable to its own digital out on an Arduino Uno . After plugging in some pretty straightforward code, [Connor] can simply press one button to automate a lengthy cheat code process.
[Matt’s] hack manages to save him even more user input in this second video game hack, which automates finger clicks in an Android game. [Matt] pieced together a couple of servos plugged into a PICAXE-18M2 microcontroller, which repeats one simple action in [Matt’s] Sims Freeplay game: continuously “freshening” (flushing?) a toilet. To mimic the same capacitive response of two fingers, [Matt] built the two contact surfaces out of some anti-static foam, then grounded them out with a wire to the ground on the board.
Check out a gallery of [Connor’s] controller and a video of [Matt’s] tablet hack after the break, then check out a rapid fire controller hack that attacks an XBox360 controller.
Continue reading “Video Game Automation Hacks”
There’s a building downtown built about ten years ago that has tablet-sized LCD screens next to the entrance of each large meeting room. They’re never on and we always wonder why they didn’t just use one of those things that holds a sheet of printer paper to label what’s happening in the meeting space? Now this is a similar idea but with much better execution. Instead of just displaying data the in-wall tablet mount makes your room interactive.
[Tim’s] been working on it for a couple of years. He started out trying to house an iPod Touch behind a junction box cover plate. There are some pictures of that at the top of his build album. That didn’t quite take so keep scrolling to see the path to the finished product shown above. He cut a hole in the drywall and figured out how to mount a tablet dock that includes inductive charging. It holds the tablet in place with the small ledge and a few magnets, keeping its battery charged without a need for wires. Once tested he mudded, sanded, textured, and painted for a perfect finished product.
[Mick] has been playing around with the VTech Innotab – a $70 tablet computer aimed at kids – for a while now. He’s successfully turned this tablet soon to be found at yard sales the world over into a Linux tablet and can play everything from those magical LucasArts SCUMM adventure games to Angry Birds. What his tablet is missing, though, is any sort of Internet connection. He recently fixed this by soldering a USB WiFi adapter directly to the CPU of his InnoTab.
In all fairness, there’s not a terrible amount of software hackery going on here. VTech’s InnoTab 2s uses the same chipset as the cheaper InnoTab 2 but has an additional board soldered directly to the mainboard. This additional board provides a WiFi connection with an RT5370 chipset; soldering a WiFi dongle onto the InnoTab 2’s CPU D+ and D- USB lines effectively turns it into the WiFi enabled InnoTab 2s.
It’s an impressive piece of work for a low-power tablet that one can safely assume is both bullet and childproof. [Mick] was also able to mount a USB thumb drive on his upgraded kid’s tablet, so if you’re looking for a cheap tablet that doesn’t need much horsepower, you might want to check out your local Toys ‘R Us.
This hack, which adds external flipper controls to Android pinball, is a great way to cut your teeth at Android hardware hacking.
[Ruben] decided to go with the TI Launchpad for this project. The MSP430 dev board offers serial communications via a USB connection, but it’s not quite as easy as just finding the right cable. His tablet does support USB On the Go (OTG), but the board identifies itself as an ACM device which needs to be handled differently. In order to get the tablet talking to the Launchpad he compiled a CDC_ACM module for the Linux underpinnings that make up every Android OS. In this case the module is tailored for the Allwinner A10 chip inside his model of tablet, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt his guide for other processors.
Of course you could go a different route and use Bluetooth for connectivity. We’ve seen several gaming peripherals that use this technique with Android devices.
Continue reading “External pinball controls for an Android tablet”