Hackaday Links: October 18, 2012

Capacitive touch plants

Here’s a proof of concept for using plants as a capacitive touch sensor. The sensor is simply a hunk of double-sided copper clad board attached to a microcontroller. But it seems to be able to sense what part of the plant is being touched. [Thanks Fabien]

Adding wireless charging to a Nokia N900

This hack is quite common, but it’s still fun to see what hardware is being outfitted with an inductive charger. This time it’s a Nokia N900 that’s ditching the charging cables.

Wii carrying suitcase from a plastic tackle box

This Wii carrying case (translated) looks great and cost just a few bucks. It started as a tackle box for carrying around your fishing lures. But a bit of creative cutting and there’s a place for everything.

Browser based schematic and board layout

There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to circuit design. Circuits.io offers in-brower schematic design and board artwork layout. [Thanks ADIDAIllinie (and a few others)]


Halloween rapidly approaches and we hope that [Tim’s] carving of Bender in a pumpkin will inspire you to send in your own Halloween projects.

Grab your iron and add GameCube back to the Wii

One of the really cool things about the Nintendo Wii when it was first introduced was the ability to play GameCube games on it. This made it a no-brainer for a lot of folks to upgrade. But as the heyday of legacy systems fades into history, Nintendo decided this was no longer a selling point and stopped populating those components. The good new is, if you don’t mind a lot of PCB soldering you can add your GameCube bits to a modern Wii motherboard.

[Deadlyfoez] launched a raffle to raise enough money to buy a new version of the hardware (we guess the raffle prize is the modded console). He then proceeded to solder on four GameCube controller ports and a memory card reader. There are also a number of passive surface mount components that need to be added. But as the video after the break shows, once in place the functionality reappears on the software side.

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The WiiKart, a wireless go kart

Whoops… Looks like we covered this already. My mistake.

In case the name didn’t tip you off, this fun little kart was inspired by MarioKart. The goal was to build a functional go kart that could be controlled via the Nintendo Wiimote. They did a pretty good job and kept it fairly simple too. They designed a frame that vaguely mimics the shape of the carts in the game. The steering is handled by a 4″ stroke linear actuator. This was initially hooked directly to the tie-rod, but they found it to be too slow. Their solution was to put a lever in between the two with a 1to 3 ratio. This made everything much snappier.

Though they were capable of implementing PWM on the motors in their hardware, they opted to stick with full on, full off because of the push-button nature of the controller. The connection and communication are handled with an Arduino and they don’t mention what bluetooth module they use.

You can see in the video below it is fairly responsive and has more than enough power to lug a passenger over some varied terrain.

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Converting a manual camera lens to use motorized zoom and focus

[Guy] wrote in to share this motorized camera lens project he recently finished. He really loved the zoom lens, but since both zoom and focus are manually controlled, he sometimes had trouble getting both set to the right place in time to take the shot. With modern DSLR cameras which allow video capture, he also wants to have the option of a smooth zoom that is always in focus. The solution was to add motors to the rings and control them with a Wii classic controller.

This hack really shines when it comes to the add-on hardware. He has some beautifully made rings which wrap around the focus and zoom rings on the lens. They are then held in place by a timing belt. These belts have teeth which key into the gears on a pair of servo motors. From there it’s a snap to drive the motors with an Arduino, connecting to the Wii controller with a breakout connector. You can see [Guy] showing off the build in the clip after the break.

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Knockoff game controller makes a fine remote shutter release


[Duncan Murdock] received a Canon DSLR camera for Christmas and wanted a remote shutter release to go along with it. Since nary a store was open on Christmas, he was pretty much out of luck. Scrounging around in his parts drawer, he found all sorts of goodies waiting to be reused, including a knockoff Wii nunchuck.

He pulled the original cable from the nunchuck and replaced it with an old telephone wire, attaching a 2.5mm plug to the end. The plug goes directly into his camera’s control port, allowing him to trigger the auto focus and shutter mechanisms with the push of a button.

We like the idea of a junk controller being recycled for use in a camera, though we think it has far more potential than being used as a simple wired trigger. If both the nunchuck and camera were fitted with some sort of wireless interface (Bluetooth, IR, etc), we think it would make a great addition to any hobby photographer’s kit.

Using classic game controllers with a wii

[Bruno]’s Wii RetroPad Adapter was sent into the tip line, and we’re loving the possibility of using Playstation 2, Genesis, NES and SNES controllers with our Wii.

While there are commercial solutions that connect an NES or SNES controller to a Wii, everything connects to the GameCube port and there is no adapter for Sega or Playstation controllers. For his build, [Bruno] used an ATmega168 to read data from the classic controllers and translate that to the Wiimote I2C bus. Think of it as a new classic controller with the same form factor your 8-year-old self knew and loved.

The schematic for the build is very simple and [Bruno] has all the software out in the open. Even the PCB is single sided and looks like it would be a great candidate for a homebrew PCB. There’s no indication [Bruno] is trying to monetize his creation, so he’s either doing right, or so very wrong. Check out the Dualshock 2/Mario 3 demo of this board after the break.

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“Extrem Konsolen Modding”

Not to be outdone by their North American counterparts, these German-speaking hackers have come up with a truly unique console mod. Although modding one system may be OK for most, the builders of this console decided to combine three systems into one clear plastic box. A stripped down Xbox360, Playstation3, and Nintendo Wii were all put together to form this “Extrem” system.

The build style should be very appealing to those interested in video game hardware. Combining the look of a tower PC with a clear plastic allows one to see all components in action. Since the box is lit up with electroluminescent lighting, one is able to show off this system in the day or at night. Continue reading ““Extrem Konsolen Modding””