Tiling your TV Remote

The Tile is a small Bluetooth chip, speaker, and enough battery for a year in a keychain format. If you lose your keys in the morning, simply use the app on your phone to find the keychain. If you lose your phone simply get out your second phone.

This planned obsolescence didn’t jive with [JM] when his Tile stopped being discoverable. He didn’t want to toss a gadget that had served him so well into the landfill. So, like any good hacker, he cracked its plastic case open.

The Tile itself is a really interesting product. The largest component is the battery which has tabs spot-welded to its surface. Attached to those is a well laid out board. [JM] points out the clever use of spring contacts to engage the piezo element for the speaker as a nice example of good design for manufacture.

The hack itself was pretty easy to complete. Some electrical tape and soldering was all it took to embed the tile into the remote. Now he can take out his phone and press a button to hear a forlorn beep coming from under the couch cushions.

Building a kegerator with visual style

Let’s face it, most kegerator builds go something like this: acquire old refrigerator, drill hole for tap, profit. But [GiveMeMyNickelback] recently had the opportunity to do better and he delivered. Above you can see the stylish chest freezer mod that serves up six beers on tap.

Chest freezers are perfect for these builds as their top door design helps keep the cold air inside to boost the efficiency. The trick is to modify them without messing up the insulating properties of the appliance housing. [GMMN’s] approach is a common one, build a cuff to go in between the lid and the body of the freezer. He started by building a wooden box open at both the top and the bottom. Many would have stopped there but to bring the bling he tiled the sides and front of that cuff, leaving an empty spot for the shank of each tap. With that taken care of he glued insulation to the inside of the cuff, and added weather-stripping to the bottom to seal with the top of the case. He used the holes from the lid hinge brackets to attach his add-on so that the freeze can be converted back to stock without any sign of his alterations.

We’d love to see a Bluetooth or Wifi add-on that monitors the beer volume in each keg.

[via Reddit]

AVGA: The AVR based video game platform


We’ve seen our fair share of AVR projects, but this one’s pretty cool. AVGA is a color video game development platform based on the Atmel AVR family of microcontrollers. As seen in the picture above, one of the AVRs that the project uses is the popular ATMega168. There were several technical hurdles to using the AVRs to run color video games; one of the most difficult problems was figuring out a way to display detailed graphics from AVRs limited onboard RAM. Eventually, the developers figured out a way to display detailed graphics using a TILE-based driver. The TILE driver works by dividing the screen into X and Y coordinates, dividing the graphics into tiles. Then, when a graphic is needed it’s addressed from a reference table that’s stored in the AVR’s onboard RAM, allowing the bitmap graphic to be loaded from a game’s ROM. Currently, the only games available for the platform are a Super Mario clone, a Pacman clone, and a Snake clone. While there are only a few games available, the platform definitely looks promising. If anything, this project serves as a great example for what off the shelf microcontrollers are capable of.