The chill of autumn is upon us, and with it comes the awkward sport of trying to work touch-sensitive phones and gadgets with gloved fingers. One can try toughing it out with fingerless gloves, or we’ve seen some costly solutions in the forms of specialized gloves and capacitive-compatible styluses, but sometimes simple is best: all it takes is a few stitches of conductive thread in the fingertips.
Conductive thread is available from various sources; SparkFun Electronics comes naturally to mind, but most vendors carrying the LilyPad Arduino will stock a suitable thread as well. Don’t fret if you’ve never sewn before — just a few simple loops are required, and it doesn’t need to be especially tidy. In principle this should work for trackpads and capacitive mice as well, if you use those in the field. For multitouch devices, add a separate conductive bit to each fingertip.
[Humberto] from NerdKits is one of our favorite tipsters. We like how he can take a concept that seems so extremely complicated, in this case touch capacitance sensing, and present it in a clear and concise manner thats impossible to not love. As previously mentioned the most recent NerdKits hack is on touch capacitance; by using a resistor capacitor pair and some clever switch timing, anyone is able to detect the presence of a human limb. Now who’s going to be the first to adapt this concept further in their own hack?
[Agent420] brought up this touchpad and VFD hack in the comments on our capicitive sensor guide post. He had broken dell laptop from which he harvested the touchpad and an HP laserjet that contributed the VFD. Though the touchpad communicates using standard PS2 protocol, he wanted to use it with his Atmel 8535 AVR which required him to write some custom code. In the picture above, you can see the VFD displaying the coordinates of his finger. You can download his code as well as the spec sheets for the different pieces on the project thread.
Embedded above is a demo video of an iPhone running a Linux 2.6 kernel. The iphone-dev team has created a new bootloader called OpeniBoot. The bootloader lets you boot into a Linux console, which you can talk to over a USB serial device. They’ve got busybox working, but there is no touchscreen support yet. The instructions are not that difficult and include how to back up your settings. It works on first and second gen iPhones and first gen iPod Touch. This is a very early port, but the future is wide open… Android iPhone?
Popular Mechanics contributor [Anthony Veducci] wanted a virtually indestructible video player that he could use anywhere. Not finding a commercial solution, he decided to build his own. He already had a large waterproof case and another for the iPod Touch. The 8″ display came from an iPod accessory. Unfortunately it was developed before Apple implemented their stupid accessory locking, so he had to use an Apple approved video cable through several adapters to get it to work. The speakers were also salvaged parts. The case was assembled using a jigsaw and a whole lot of epoxy. The speaker openings are covered with latex from a pair of gloves and everything is sealed with silicone. We’re usually trying to escape technology when we head outside, but we’ll be looking back at this the next time we need to ruggedize something.
Macintosh makes a lot of wonderful pieces of technology, but they do not make a tablet. Pictured above is the Modbook, the closest you can currently get to a Mac tablet. Though not officially built by Apple, they are an Apple Premier Developer and that isn’t too shabby.
Several people have taken it upon themselves to fashion Mac tablets of their own, varying from extremely professional looking finishes down to duct tape and wire. Lets take a look at some of the more popular ones out there.
Continue reading “Mac tablets made by fans”
Following today’s earlier post on data gloves, HandUSB is a glove interface designed to relay fingertip touch data to a computer via USB. Although the gloves themselves are not extremely interesting or useful for your average hacker, the project has some good documentation. The electronics are all open source and he has links to the EAGLE files and the AVR Libc code. You can also find a demo program written for DOS. This project uses AVR-USB by Objective Development so if you are looking to move on from your USB-serial chips, this project would be a good resource to study.