Hackaday Links: March 8, 2013

Cheap GPS modules

GPS

If you’re making a GPS-enabled project, you may have noticed the commonly available GPS modules are pretty expensive – usually around $50. Here’s one for $8. It’s a U-blox PCI-5S GPS receiver on a PCI Express card. There are test points for serial and USB data, though, so fitting this in your project is a breeze.

Grandfather clock makes a giraffe’s scarf

knit

Here’s a clock project from [Siren Elise Wilhelmsen]. Over the course of 365 days, the clock knits a giant, 2-meter tube of yarn that should be the perfect start for a half-dozen pairs of socks. No video for this, but if you find one, post a comment.

A huge hackerspace for Hotlanta

hotlanta

Atlanta is getting a new hackerspace. It’s called My Inventor Club and they’re starting to move into their space. Judging from [Scott]’s pictures of the new space it’s huge. We can’t wait for the video tour once they’re done moving in.

Ardino and Windows 8

arduino Uno eega

Windows 8 is… weird… and you can’t install unsigned drivers without a lot of rigamarole. This means installing the Arduino IDE is a pain but [Dany] has a solution. Reboot into “test mode” and you can install unsigned drivers without your computer throwing a hissy fit.

Tweet for welts and bruises

IMG_3293

[Zach]’s boss told him to come up with a Twitter-controlled paintball gun. Why he was asked to build this is beyond us, but the build is still cool. It’s powered by an Arduino and was built in just 12 hours. If only there was a video stream…

Hey guys, need some help here.

Alright, I’ve got a little problem with component sourcing. I’m making a ‘shield’ for the Raspberry Pi. Does anyone know where I can get really long female headers for the GPIO pins so the board will fit over the USB and Ethernet jacks? Here’s the project if you’re curious. I think the female part of the header needs to be 14mm high at least to fit over the USB port.

EDIT: Samtec ESQ-113-33-L-D. Here’s their site. This site is amazing. You can actually… find things. Completely unique experience here. Thank you, [Richard].

Tweeting beer dispenser requires co-worker approval

tweeting-beer-dispenser

Having been faced with an empty beer fridge one too many times the team at Metalworks came up with an approval system for dispensing malted beverages. The trick was to remove the physical controls on a can dispenser. The only way you can get a cold one is to ask the machine via its twitter account. If there’s beer inside, it waits for one of your approved co-workers to give the go-ahead.

There are two versions of the machine. The first is a hacked refrigerator with a dispenser hole cut in the door. This resides in their Sydney office, apparently doesn’t work all that well, and is only shown in the video after the break.

The image above is version 2.0 which is located at their Singapore branch. It’s a much smaller device, but works very well since it started as a commercially available can dispenser. You can see the Arduino Leonardo and breadboard which make up the driver circuits.

There aren’t a ton of details on this, but it’s not hard to find about a million examples of an Arduino using Twitter. Here’s one that takes Morse code as an input and posts the message as a Tweet.

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Animated holiday wreath from a string of LED lights

animated-holiday-wreath

[Dennis Adams’] wreath lights project looks pretty good. But he did some amazing coding to produce a whole set of interesting animated patterns that really seal the deal for the project. Don’t miss the video after the break where he shows off all of his hard work.

He started with a string individually addressable LEDs. These are the 12mm variety like what Adafruit sells (we’ve seen them popping up in a number of projects). To mount each pixel he tried a several different prototypes before settling on a ring that was 14″ in diameter. The design was laser cut from acrylic, with sets of staggered holes to host each ring of LEDs. The final touch was to add ping-pong balls to diffuse the light.

As we mentioned earlier, the light patterns really add the finishing touch to the project, but there is more functionality there too. [Dennis] rolled in the ability to monitor a Twitter feed with the wreath. When he gets a new tweet, a different animation will let him know about it.

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Manuel the Scottish moose speaks your tweets

tod1

The folks over at Torchbox needed a Christmas card this year. Previously, the most poplar holiday card was a web page that gave their visitors a chance to activate a ‘snow machine’ and spray confetti on a random employee, all while being streamed online. They wanted to replicate this bridge between virtual and real life interactions this year, and Manuel the talking moose was born.

Manuel needed a personality and interaction from random people on the Internet so the Torchbox team decided to make the fake moose head speak tweets in real-time with the help of a Raspberry Pi. The code running on the Raspi gets tweets with a #tbxmoose hashtag, sends that through a node.js script, and finally sent to the Festival speech synthesis system.

A few modifications needed to be done to Manuel before he was presented to the Internet. His jaw was chopped in half and a servo and animatronic controller were added for a proper presentation on Torchbox’s stream of Manuel’s random musings.

Twitter radio

twitter-radio

This anthropomorphized wood bowl will read Tweets out loud. It was built by [William Lindmeier] as part of his graduate work in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. View the clip after the break to see and hear a list from his Twitter feed read in rather pleasant text-to-speech voices.

The electronics involved are rather convoluted. Inside the upturned bowl you’ll find both an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. But that’s not the only thing that goes into this. The best sounding text-to-speech program [William] could find was for OSX, so there is a remote computer involved as well. But we think what makes this special is the concept and execution, not the level of hardware inefficiency.

The knob to the left sets the volume and is also responsible for powering down the device. The knob of the right lets you select from various Twitter lists. Each turn of the knob is responded to with a different LED color in the nose and a spoken menu label. You can get a quick overview of the project from this summary post.

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Tuitwall uses PHP-fed Arduino to display tweets

[Santiago] recently completed this project which he calls Tuitwall. It will display your Twitter feed on an LED matrix. The method he used to put it together will come in handy for any project where you need to scrape information from the Internet.

The project does require a server in addition to the Arduino hardware seen above. On the Arduino side [Santiago] uses an Ethernet shield and an LED matrix which is addressed via SPI. The server is running a PHP script which takes advantage of the twitteroauth library to handle authentication.

There’s a little bit of configuration to be done, most of it having to do with how Twitter handles 3rd party applications. But once everything is set up you can take the hardware with you and plug it into any network (as long as it offers DHCP). With this framework as a guide it’s a snap to bend it to your will. It could be used as an RSS reader, time and temperature, server farm status, a prank ticket displaying fake headlines, etc.

Scrolling tweets with a WiFi LED matrix

For his most ambitious build to date, [Param] thought it would be a cool idea to have a LED matrix display spitting tweets out via a WiFi connection. The build is now done, and we’ve got to hand it to him for a very nice build.

The build is based on an Arduino with a Sparkfun WiFi shield providing the network connection. The Arduino pings a Javascript app that pulls down tweets from The Verge and displays them on an 8×8 LED matrix display.

What makes [Param]’s build so cool is its portable nature; the entire device is completely wireless, getting its power from a Sparkfun LiPower shield  and an apparently extremely capacious LiPoly battery.

With a rat’s nest of wires hanging out the back of the LED display, [Param]’s build is crying out for a proper enclosure, but even given that it remains a quality project. You can see a video of the WiFi’d Twitter display after the break.

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