The RC transmitter that does everything

[Demetris] sent in a project he’s been working on over the last year. It’s called the Open Source Radio Control, and promises to be a modular platform for every imaginable remote control transmitter need. If you’d like to control a bipedal android or a 3D aerobatic model plane, the OSRC can do it while transmitting video from the cockpit down to your hands.

Last summer, we caught wind of the OSRC project to build an extensible and open source remote control radio that would do anything; from displaying video from the cockpit to serving as the brain of a UAV rig, the OSRC promised to do everything.

A fully decked out OSRC can be had for about $1400, putting it in the upper echelon of remote control radios. For that price, though, you get a fully customizable radio with your choice of shoulder buttons and a 4.8 inch LCD that receives a video feed from the cockpit of your favorite model. The base unit starts out around $700; still very expensive for a remote control radio, but reasonable when you consider all the possible upgrades.

[Demetris] and the rest of the team put together an outrageously long yet surprisingly beautiful video showing off a few features of the OSRC. You can check that out after the break.

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The folly of adding an auxiliary audio input to a Hyundai Sonata

Why auxiliary audio inputs haven’t been standard on automotive head units for decades is beyond us. But you can bet that if you’re looking at a low-priced sedan you’ll need to buy an entire upgrade package just to get an audio jack on the dash. [Jon W's] Hyundai Sonata didn’t have that bells-and-whistles upgrade so he decided to pop his stereo out and add his own aux port.

A big portion of this hack is just getting the head unit out of the dash. This is made difficult on purpose as an anti-theft feature, but [Jon's] judicious use of a butter knife seemed to do the trick. He lost some small bits along the way which were recovered with a Shish Kebab skewer with double-stick tape on the end.

With the head unit out, he opened the case and plied his professional Electrical Engineering skills to adding the input. Well, he meant to, but it turns out there’s no magic bullet here. The setup inside the unit offered no easy way to solder up an input that would work. Having done all of the disassembly he wasn’t going to let it go to waste. [Jon] grabbed a nice FM transmitter setup. He wired it up inside the dash and mounted the interface parts in the glove box as seen here.

It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who sometimes fail at achieving our seemingly simple hacking goals. At least [Jon] was able to rally and end up with the functionality he was looking for.

Building a simple FM transmitter bug

simple_fim_transmitter_hack_a_week

[Dino] got his hands on an FM transmitter “bug” kit via a friend, and thought it would make for an easy and fun Hack a Week project. The kit is simple two transistor half-wave FM transmitter, which the manufacturer suggests could be used to bug a room, hence the name. After poking a bit of fun at the instructions, [Dino] gets to work building the transmitter, wrapping things up in a little less than an hour.

Once he finished soldering everything together, he takes a few moments to test out the bug and to explain how various parts of the board work together in order to transmit the FM signal. He mentions that adding a dipole antenna would make it easy to extend the range of the transmitter, and briefly teases next week’s episode, where he plans on constructing a similar dual-stage transmitter.

This sort of FM circuit is one of the first few simple projects you would see in a beginner’s electronics class, so if you know anyone that is just starting to get their feet wet, be sure to pass this Hack a Week episode along.

Continue reading to see [Dino] explain the ins and outs of his FM bug transmitter.

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RF robot controlled from a terminal window

This robot can be controlled from the terminal window of your computer. You can see a manilla-colored board mounted between the wheels. This is the RF receiver which has quite a long antenna that we’ve cropped out to get a better look at the bot itself. [Ashish] picked up an RF transmitter/receiver pair for about $4 and after the break you can watch him walk us through the method he’s using for control.

First off, he had to find a way to interface the transmitter with his computer. He decided to use an Arduino because sending data to it from the computer is as simple as writing to /dev/ttyUSB0. The Arduino sketch just listens for incoming characters on the serial connection and pushes them over the RF transmitter.

We like his development methods. In the video he shows the command syntax used to drive and stop the robot. Once he figured that out he wrote a shell script to send the bot on a preprogrammed square path. From there a bit more coding would give him real-time control which could be extended to something like a web-based interface for smartphone control.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the bot itself it’s a kit robot which normally uses IR control. [Ashish] upgraded to RF since it doesn’t require line-of-sight to work.

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Simple FM transmitter that shows off its own circuitry

[Sean Michael Ragan] built this FM transmitter which shows off its circuitry via a clear plastic dome. The device is electrically identical to one we looked at in September. That version championed a construction method that used small squares of copper clad as solder points which were each super-glued to a large copper-clad platform serving as a ground plane. [Sean] is using a printed circuit board that was laid out by Sonodrome. You can check out their own glass-jar transmitter build where the board artwork is available for download.

One of the tips we enjoyed from [Sean's] step-by-step build is the coil wrapping. He used the threads of a 1/4-20 bolt to guide copper wire as he wrapped a total of four turns. Once the bending is done, just unthread the bolt to separate it from the coil and gently stretch the wire for a 12mm distance between the two leads. Not only is this visually pleasing, but it will help with transmission clarity.

Commandeering public video screens: real or fake?

It’s time for everyone’s favorite comment thread game: Real or Fake? This week’s edition comes in from a tip that [Phil] sent about a way to take over video screens in Times Square. Watch the video after the break to see the hackers using a two-part solution to rebroadcast video from an iPhone onto a screen in the busy urban setting. The first part is a transmitter that plugs into the iPhone, the second is a signal repeater that, when held close to a video screen, overrides the clip currently being displayed with the video from the handheld. The image above shows the repeater being floated up to the big screen using a giant red balloon which you can make out in the black bar to the left of the replayed video.

Our first thought is that someone just watched Tron: Legacy and wanted to have a little Sci-Fi fun with the Internets. We can’t imagine a hardware solution that would actually make this work, but please do share your thoughts about that in the comments. We’d suspect this is more of a video hack that uses After Effects, similar to how the stopped motion candle video of the eyelid shutter glasses videos were faked. But apparently there is a follow-up video on the way that will show how the prototype was made so we could be wrong.

update: [Phil Burgess] points out that the “repeater” looks awfully familiar.

Fake for a variety of already-stated reasons (e.g. video out the headphone jack?). But the smoking gun, watching the 720P video on YouTube, is that I plainly recognize the hardware they’re using as the “repeater”: it’s simply the internals from a Digipower JS1-V3 cell phone USB boost charger (having torn apart a few myself):

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Minty FM Transmitter

[Chis] wanted an FM transmitter bug device packed in a mint tin, and that is just what he made. Featuring only 17 discrete parts, running off of a 3volt coin cell battery, and small enough to fit inside of a plastic mint box and still have plenty of room for the mints.

Using a simple design the audio enters the device through a electret microphone and hits a transistor for amplification, the signal is then passed to the oscillator section of the circuit which features an LC tank type design which generates the carrier frequency and mixes that with the signal for a range of about 100 feet indoors.

Each section is broken down into steps where it is thoroughly explained with animations, theory, and simulation, if you are wondering how a transistor, wire, and capacitors make an FM transmitter, or if you would like to just make the final project, schematics, pcb files, and assembly instructions are provided as well.

Join us after the break for a short video and be sure to check out the other radio transmitters we have featured as well.

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