Bluetooth Thingies at Maker Faire

In case you haven’t noticed, one of the more popular themes for new dev boards is Bluetooth. Slap a Bluetooth 4.0 module on a board, and you really have something: just about every phone out there has it, and the Low Energy label is great for battery-powered Internets of Things.

Most of these boards fall a little short. It’s one thing to throw a Bluetooth module on a board, but building the software to interact with this board is another matter entirely. Revealing Hour Creations is bucking that trend with their Tah board. Basically, it’s your standard Arduino compatible board with a btle module. What they’ve done is add the software for iOS and Android that makes building stuff easy.

Putting Bluetooth on a single board is one thing, but how about putting Bluetooth on everything. SAM Labs showed off their system of things at Maker Faire with LEDs, buttons, fans, motors, sensors, and just about every electrical component you can imagine.

All of these little boards come with a Bluetooth module and a battery. The software for the system is a graphical interface that allows you to draw virtual wires between everything. Connect a button to a LED in the software, and the LED will light up when the button is pressed. Move your mouse around the computer, and the button will turn on a motor when it’s pressed.

There are a few APIs that also come packaged into the programming environment – at the booth, you could open a fridge (filled with cool drinks that didn’t cost five dollars, a surprise for the faire) and it would post a tweet.

The Hackaday Store Lives Again!

hackaday-store-lives-again

Once upon a time there was a store where you could find the most amazing Hackaday shirts and other swag. If you managed to get one of the rare Jolly Wrencher adorned shirts back then, it’s probably about worn out by now. Prepare to rejoice, Hackaday has a completely new store packed with T-shirts, tools, and stuff to help you fill up those waking hours with hardware hacking goodness.

We’ve had a little fun over the last couple of days with posts that hint (maybe a bit too subtly?) that this was coming. We always try to have a little bit of fun for those of you who are really paying attention. Now we’re wondering who will be the first to implement the one-time pad as a dedicated piece of hardware… project ideas need to come from somewhere, right?

Take a look around the general store and you’ll see this time we have more than just stuff you wear. Hackers need tools and we’ve selected a small but inspiring group of must-have’s. The kits and toys we’ve selected are surely a rabbit hole of personal challenges and evolving hacks for you. And the best part is that these choices are one more way for us to promote the virtue of Open Design (it is the way). The only question now is what other open hardware do you want to see added to those ranks?

Cloning Tektronix Application Modules

SIM

Tektronix’s MSO2000 line of oscilloscopes are great tools, and with the addition of a few ‘application modules’, can do some pretty interesting tasks: decoding serial protocols, embedded protocols like I2C and SPI, and automotive protocols like CAN and LIN. While testing out his MSO2012B, [jm] really liked the (limited time) demo of the I2C decoder, but figured it wasn’t worth the $500 price the application module sells for. No matter, because it’s just some data on a cheap 24c08 EEPROM, and with a little bit of PCB design <<removed because of DMCA takedown>>

The application module Tektronix are selling is simply just a small EEPROM loaded up with an <<removed because of DMCA takedown>>. By writing this value to a $0.25 EEPROM, [jm] can enable two applications. The only problem was getting his scope to read the EEPROM: a problem easily solved with a custom board.

The board [jm] designed <<removed because of DMCA takedown>>, with the only additional components needed being an EEPROM, a set of contacts for reading a SIM card, and a little bit of plastic glued onto the back of the board for proper spacing.

UPDATE: Learn about the DMCA Takedown Notice that prompted this post to be altered: http://hackaday.com/2014/08/05/hardware-security-and-a-dmca-takedown-notice/

Hackaday Links: May 4, 2014

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We’ve seen a few builds from the Flite Test guys before, like a literal flying toaster, airsoft guns mounted to planes, and giving an electric plane an afterburner (that actually produced a little extra thrust). Now the Flite Test crew is gearing up for the Flite Fest, an all things remote-controlled flight convention in Malvern, Ohio during the last weekend in July. Seems like a pretty cool way to spend spend a weekend.

Unless you get one of those fancy resistor kits where every value has its own compartment in a case or plastic baggie, you’ll soon rue the day your loose resistors become disorganized. [Kirll] has an interesting solution to hundreds of loose resistors: packaging tape. If you want a resistor, just grab a pair of scissors.

Okay, these Adafruit “totally not Muppets™” are awesome. The latest video in the Circuit Playground series is titled, “C is for Capacitor“. There’s also “B is for Battery“, because when life gives you lemons, light up an LED. Here’s the coloring book.

A few years ago, a couple of people at the LA Hackerspace Crashspace put together an animated flipbook device – something between a zoetrope and the numbers in those old electromechanical clocks – and launched a kickstarter. Now they’re putting on a show, presented by Giant Robot, featuring the animated art of dozens of artists.

Vintage electronics? Yes. Vintage Soviet electronics? Here’s 140 pages of pictures, mostly of old measurement devices.

 

A FPGA based Bus Pirate Clone

XC6BP

A necessary tool for embedded development is a device that can talk common protocols such as UART, SPI, and I2C. The XC6BP is an open source device that can work with a variety of protocols.

As the name suggests, the XC6BP is a clone of the Bus Pirate, but based on a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. The AltOR32 soft CPU is loaded on the FPGA. This is a fully functional processor based on the OpenRISC architecture. While the FPGA is more expensive than a microcontroller, it can be fully reprogrammed. It’s also possible to build hardware on the FPGA to perform a variety of tasks.

A simple USB stack runs on the soft CPU, creating a virtual COM port. Combined with the USB transceiver, this provides communication with a host PC. The device is even compatible with the Bus Pirate case and probe connector. While it won’t replace the Bus Pirate as a low-cost tool, it is neat to see someone using an open source core to build a useful, open hardware device.

Table Saw Kickback Video Ends Badly

sawkickback

Our comments section has been pretty busy lately with talk of table saws and safety, so we decided to feature this sobering video about table saw kickback. [Tom] is a popular YouTube woodworker. He decided to do a safety video by demonstrating table saw kickback. If you haven’t guessed, [Tom] is an idiot – and he’ll tell you that himself before the video is over. There are two hacks here. One is [Tom’s] careful analysis and preparation for demonstrating kickback (which should be fail of the week fodder). The other “hack” here is the one that came breathtakingly close to happening – [Tom’s] fingers.

Kickback is one of the most common table saw accidents. The type of kickback [Tom] was attempting to demonstrate is when a board turns and catches the blade past the axle. On a table saw kickback is extremely dangerous for two reasons. First, the piece of wood being cut becomes a missile launched right back at the saw operator. We’ve seen internal injuries caused by people being hit by pieces of wood like this. Second, the saw operator’s hand, which had just been pushing the wood, is now free to slid right into the blade. This is where a SawStop style system, while expensive, can save the day.

The average 10 inch table saw blade has an edge traveling at around 103 mph, or 166 kmh. As [Tom] demonstrates in his video, it’s just not possible for a person to react fast enough to avoid injury. Please, both personal users and hackerspaces, understand general safety with all the tools you’re using, and use proper safety equipment. As for [Tom], he’s learned his lesson, and is now using a SawStop Table.

[Read more...]

Repairing a mill that cost as much as a car

miters

Years ago, someone at the bio-instrumentation lab at MIT needed to change a CMOS battery in the controller for a three axis mill. This reset the machine’s BIOS and was widely regarded as a bad move. The mill sat in the lab for a few years before  Prof. [Ian Hunter] donated it to MITERS – the student shop at MIT. And so the task of repairing a machine that cost as much as a car fell upon a plucky group of students.

The machine – a  Dyna-Myte 1007 has a 10″x7″x10″ work area, pneumatic tool changers and carousel, and the working for a fourth axis. It is. however, driven by an ancient Pentium computer running DOS with all the fun of ISA slots and IRQs that entails.

The MITERS began their repair by digging around in the software configuration, finding the axis drive is controlled via IRQ 3, which was currently occupied by COM 2. Changing that in the BIOS let the computer control the axes and, with a few solenoids and an air compressor, the tool carousel also worked.

With a bit of digging around, the MITERS also got the spindle working, giving them a very awesome and very expensive CNC milling machine for free. Even though the computer could be replaced with a $35 Raspberry Pi, we really have to admire the MITERS for fixing what they already had; it’s a cheaper and much, much faster way to get their new toy up and running.

[Read more...]

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