Hackaday Links: August 24, 2014

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Remember those ‘cocktail’ arcade cabinets? The Ikea Lack table has existed for years, so why not make one into an arcade table? Raspberry Pi with RetroPie as the brains,  and an ancient 4:3 monitor as the display.

Old Unixes! Running on PDPs, Novas, and IBMs! Thanks to Simh, you can emulate these old machines. [Matt] put up a guide to getting Simh running on a Pi that includes running Unix V5 on an emulated PDP-11.

Ever wanted to run your own telecom? The folks at Toorcamp did just that, 50 lines, 10,000 feet of 1-pair, and 1,500 feet of 2-pair. There’s a facebook album of all the pics.

Remember last week when Sparkfun said they shipped 2000 Microviews without a bootloader? Make interviewed [Marcus Schappi], the guy behind the MicroView. There’s also a tutorial on how to fix the issue.

Barbie needs an exorcism.

Remember the [Lord Vetinari] clock from way back when? It’s a clock that ticks 86400 times a day, but the interval between each second is just slightly random and enough to drive people insane. Here’s a kit on Tindie that makes it pretty easy to build a Ventinari clock, or a variety of other clocks that are sufficiently weird. There’s also a martian clock that’s 39 minutes and 36 seconds longer than normal, perfect for the folks at JPL.

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Toorcamp: The Tesla Gun

We discussed [Rob]‘s Tesla Gun in the past. At that time, the build looked very impressive, but had not been fired yet. Fortunately, [Rob] got the device working and brought it to Toorcamp. He took the gun out every night and demoed the handheld Tesla Coil by having volunteers catch the streamers with a knife.

The gun uses a cordless drill battery for power, and a flyback transformer to generate the ~20,000 volts needed to drive the coil. The power electronics module was designed to be easy to replace, and [Rob] had extras at Toorcamp in case he burnt one up. [Rob]‘s build log is very detailed, and definitely worth reading through. It explains how he cast the enclosure out of aluminium, built a custom porcelain high voltage switch, and designed the power electronics.

While this build should probably get a “do not try this at home” label, he definitely created something unique. We’re looking forward to when [Rob] shows the gun off next.

Toorcamp: Nibble Node.js Widget

The hardware hacking village at Toorcamp provided space and tools to work on hardware. It was interesting to see what hardware hacks people had brought to work on. One example is [Owen]‘s Nibble Node.js Widget. The widget combines the popular node.js platform and custom hardware to create a node for the “internet of things.” The hardware consists of a Arduino Pro Micro, a bluetooth module, a LCD display, and a speaker in a laser cut box.

By using a custom package in node.js, the Nibble becomes an object which can be controlled by its methods. This allows for the developer to push messages to the display and control the device without worrying about the details of the hardware. Since node.js is designed for web applications, it’s simple to make the device controllable from the web.

[Owen] also wrote an emulator for the DCPU from the upcoming game, 0x10c. DCPU assembly is passed in from node.js, which compiles it and sends it to the Nibble. The device can then run the application using the DCPU emulation, which also allows for control of the display and the speaker.

There’s a lot of neat things that can be done with this minuscule cube, and [Owen] plans to release an NPM package for the node.js code.

Toorcamp: The Church of Robotron

“Only 72 years until the Robotrons conclude that the human race is inefficient and must be destroyed. Only the mutant produced by a genetic engineering accident can save us now!” –Church of Robotron Doctrine

Based on the 1982 arcade game Robotron: 2084, Dorkbot PDX’s Church of Robotron was an impressive installation at Toorcamp. Located in a large dome, the Chruch features an altar where the the player kneels and finds out if they are the saviour.

Many things in the Church are triggered by game events. Lasers fired in time with the game, a bright LED flashes at the player when they die, and the LCD display above the altar shows high scores. There’s a webcam that takes a player’s picture when they die so that it can be added to the high score list. There was also a Jacob’s Ladder and a fog machine to add to the eerie feel of the Church.

A side room in the dome has a TV displaying list of high scores, handouts of their doctrine and documentation, and stickers of the Church’s logo. Aside from the electronics, the group also created lore around the installation. There was a sermon that played on a constant loop at night, and the doctrine handouts explained the story of the Church. This is all documented on their website, and the build details and source are also available.

The combination of art, lore, and electronics made this installation one of my favourites at Toorcamp, even though I’m awful at the game. I’ll need to practice my Robotron for next time the group sets up the Church.

Toorcamp: Kelp Horns

[Ari] and Jake from Noisebridge were out on the beach at Toorcamp when they saw some giant kelp and had an idea. Using a pocketknife, [Ari] cut a mouthpiece into the stem and cut the bulb in half. After some practice, they figured out how to play the kelp horn. [Jimmie], shown here, was able to get a pretty good range of notes out of it by playing it like a bugle. [Neil] tried to cut holes into the stem to play it like a flute.

The horns were fairly loud, so they attracted a few people who wanted to make their own. Once the group had six or seven horns playing various tones, they headed to the camp to show off their new instruments. They weren’t quite in tune, and didn’t taste very good, but they did make a variety of odd sounding tones. Leave it to a camp of hackers to make musical instruments of whatever they find washed up on shore.

[Photo maltman23]

Toorcamp: The Lock Picking Village

The Open Organization Of Lockpickers (TOOOL) ran the lock picking village at Toorcamp. They gave great workshops on how lock picking works, provided a lot of examples of security flaws in popular locks, and let everyone practice with their locks and tools. Lock picking is a bit addictive, and I spent quite a bit of time at the village.

TOOOL is an international organization that aims to advance the general public knowledge about locks and lockpicking. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about locks, you can check out their list of chapters to see if there’s one in your area, or send them an email to see if there’s other lock picking enthusiasts near you. Their detailed slides that were used for the village are also available.

[Eric] from TOOOL worked on building a lock picking installation called the Labyrinth of Locks. The first prototype of this consists of locks enclosed in 3D printed enclosures, and lit by LEDs. The goal was to string them up in the woods and challenge people to find and pick the locks. MakerBot Industries printed the orange and flower shaped enclosures that the LEDs and locks were mounted into.

This is a first prototype, and [Eric] plans to expand on the idea and use it at other lock picking events he attends. It’s a neat way to mix lock picking and an art installation into an interactive activity.

Toorcamp: Milling PCBs With KiCad

[Hao] from Noisebridge showed me their CNC mill being used to etch PCBs. Using copper clad board, this MAXNC 10 mill routes the PCB with decent accuracy. This makes for very rapid prototyping of single sided PCBs.

[Hao] designed the PCB using the open source KiCad EDA tool. This was used to draw the schematic, layout the PCB, and generate the Gerber files. Next, pcb2gcode was used to convert the Gerbers to G-code, which is a standard set of instructions for controlling CNC devices. Finally, LinuxCNC was used to send the G-code instructions to the mill. It’s a powerful application of a completely open source workflow.

The PCB being milled is for a pressure based touch sensor. It uses the Freescale MPL115A barometric pressure sensor encased in a rubber housing. This sensor is being incorporated into the Dora Opensource Robot Assistant project, which [Hao] and the Noisebridge folks are working on. We’re looking forward to hearing more about the Dora project in the future.

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