Hackaday Links: July 20, 2014


Etch-a-Sketch spray-painted silver with electronics bolted onto the side? Sign us up! This art installation adds one thing that we don’t often see in these types of hacks, eerie audio.

If you’re still mining bitcoin you need to do it faster than anyone else… that’s pretty much how the whole thing works. [Lewin] has been using the Antminer USB ASIC and toyed around with overclocking to 2.2 GH/s (gighashes per second) but to make sure his hardware holds up to the overwork he hacked his own water cooling system for the dongle.

Smart phones are the best bang for your buck on portability and power. Better yet you can get slightly broken ones for a song. If you manage to find an Android device with a broken touch screen but functioning LCD try this trick to add a mouse to it. There must be another life for this in a future hack!

We have a love-hate relationship with this particular crowd-funding campaign. First this hate: It’s basically a 100% clip-art video presentation with an $800,000 ask. Yeah… good luck buddy. On the other hand, this is the type of stuff we actually want to see as crowd funding. The idea is to use modern materials and techniques to build [Nikola Tesla’s] Wardenclyffe Tower, which was designed and built to research wireless energy (both as a means of communication and actual energy transfer). It was never fully functional and ended up being demolished. Wouldn’t it be great if teams of highly skilled and motivated people took grand ideas like this, crossing every theoretical “t” and dotting every theoretical “i”, and then proposed a crowd funding campaign to build a test platform? Oh wait, that sounds very much like a government research grant. Anywhoo… check out the Global Energy Transmission’s campaign.

Transmitting power and data through thick metal enclosures

So let’s say you have a submarine, or a nuclear containment chamber which has walls made of thick metal. Now let’s say you want to transmit power or data through this wall. Obviously you’re not going to want to drill a hole since this wall is either keeping seawater out, or potential contamination in, but wireless signals aren’t going to travel well through dense metal. [Tristan Lawry’s] entry in the Lamelson-MIT Rensselaer Student Prize seeks to address this issue by using ultrasound waves to transmit data and power.

In the video after the break [Tristan] speaks briefly about his project, then demonstrates the transmission of power and digital audio simultaneously through a two-inch thick steel plate. This is accomplished with a set of piezo transducers attached to both the inside and outside of the plate. Communications originate by feeding electricity to one transducer, which sends ultrasonic vibrations through the material to be received by its counterpart on the other side. It’s easy for us to understand data transmission conducted in this manner, after all that’s how the knock block receives information. What we don’t understand is how it can “transfer large amounts of electrical power”. If you can explain it in layman’s terms please do so in the comments.

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Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

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Theory behind evanescent wave coupling, aka wireless power

[Alan Yates] is building a persistence of vision display and needs a way to transfer power from the stationary base to the spinning circuitry. He’s decided to go with wireless energy transfer and he’s sharing all of his research and experiment data from the development process. It comes in two forms, the written version we just linked to, and a 37 minute video which is embedded after the break. If you liked some of the inductive energy transmission devices we’ve featured in the past, [Alan’s] video will fill you in on the why’s and how’s by using a combination of illustrative schematic examples and measurements on test coils that he built.

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Look ma, no wires

[Robotkid249] details how to build a wireless power transmission system. This is similar to the commercial applications we have seen in a TED talk as well is in a Sony prototype. Power is fed to a ring made of magnet wire. A smaller loop is attached to the system that you want to power and picked up from the base unit. In this case, he is powering some LEDs but the concept can be tailored for your purposes such as an inductive charging pad. We’d like to see a hack that incorporates the base into a mouse pad (or the desk itself) and the receiver into the body of a wireless mouse. We’ve seen a commercial solution along these lines but we want one that doesn’t require a physical connection for power transfer.

[Thanks Juan]

Sony’s wireless electricity offering

In August we covered a wireless electricity presentation from the TED conference. Now Sony has put out a press release on their wireless flat panel television prototype. The device is capable of operating without audio, video, or power cables connected to it. This is possible at distances up to 50cm at efficiencies as high as 80%.

As was talked about in the comments of the other article, the efficiency compared to that of a cable doesn’t blow our socks off. But this does show mainstream development of this technology. We hope to see advances in both efficiency and distance. We also look forward to that small black box (which we presume facilitates the energy transfer) being integrated into the TV’s body.

[via Gizmodo]