Hackaday Links: Saturday, April 30th

Custom EBike with a 200+ km range

ebike

[Doctorbass] constructed an awesome electrical bike back in 2008 from a Mongoose bicycle. The bike boasts a top speed of 76km/h and a total range of 210 km on a single charge. Some car company needs to hire this guy STAT.

[via Make]

Build to order Xbox 360 laptops

xbox_laptop

[Ed] recently got his hands on a CNC machine and immediately constructed an Xbox 360 laptop. They look pretty sharp, and he’s willing to make a custom laptop if you are interested. We’re thinking someone needs to organize a contest between [Ed] and [Ben Heck].

A portable GameCube to rule them all

gamecube_portable

It’s no secret we enjoy portable console hacks around here, and this portable GameCube is quite the looker. Clearly a lot of thought and work went into this mod, and it shows.

[Thanks, Samjc3]

Ultrasonic backup sensor for the parking impaired

park_ranger

If you decided not to spring for those backup sensors on your new ride, [Eric's] got you covered. He walks us through how he created an ultrasonic backup sensor using an Arduino and an add on programmable logic board.

Mega laser construction begins

mega_laser

Europe’s Extreme Light Infrastructure project is set to start building the world’s most powerful laser measuring in at 200 petawatts. Scientists are betting on the laser to be able to tear apart the vacuum of space and time itself, if only for a fraction of a second. Seems like a solid plan to us – what could possibly go wrong?

[Thanks, KonaStar]

SCART hack automatically selects TV’s AV mode

We’re sure there’s still a lot of folks using their original Xbox either for gaming or as an XBMC device. If you ever owned one yourself you’ll remember that you can’t turn it on with a remote control. If you have to get up and push a button on the front of the black box, as least this hack will take care of tuning the television to the correct channel. That is, if you are using a SCART adapter to connect it to your TV.

[Karl-Henrik] figured out that mapping a voltage to pin 8 of a SCART port tells a TV that the port is active, and allows it to select the proper aspect ratio. Check out the Wikipedia SCART page to see that pushing 5-8V is the signal for a 16:9 aspect ratio, and 9.5-12V translates to 4:3. So he added an audio jack to the back of his Xbox and a matching one on the plastic case of the adapter. Now just tap into the wires on the power connector for the hard drive inside, connecting them to the newly installed jack. There’s a 12V and a 5V line, just choose the one based on the aspect ratio you prefer. He uses a jumper wire with the appropriate plugs on each end to make the connection. Now the TV will automatically tune to the correct AV input when the Xbox powers up.

Xbox 360 briefcase is ready to go wherever you do

portable_xbox

Hackaday forum member [azazelcrey] recently wrote in to share his portable Xbox 360 build. This is not his first attempt at constructing one of these, as he completed his first portable console a few years back. This time, he has taken what he learned from the first go round, making his newest creation a bit cleaner and more compact.

He sourced an LCD monitor with built-in speakers to use as the display, mounting it into a $20 metal-sided suitcase from Home Depot. He disassembled his Xbox and added it to the case, installing a couple extra fans to keep things cool. Some standard Xbox functions were externalized, allowing him to power on the console, load games, and synchronize controllers, all while keeping the briefcase shut.

This obviously isn’t something that you would carry on a train or bus for on-the-go gaming, but it’s a great way to travel with your Xbox as well as a handful of gear.  We imagine this rugged, fully-contained gaming center is quite useful for one-off Xbox LAN parties, and it seems like it would be a good way to get your game on if stuck overnight in a hotel.

Check out his web site if you are interested in seeing his first build or more pictures of this one.

Xbox 360 controller mod for a friend in need

xbox_controller_external_button_mod

[Adrian] has a friend that, due to an accident, can no longer play Xbox games in the standard fashion. His friend is unfortunately unable to hold the game pad properly, and no longer has the manual dexterity to reach the shoulder buttons and triggers on the top side of his Xbox 360 controller. Being the good guy that he is, he set out to see what he could do in order to bring the joy of playing Xbox back into his friend’s life.

Inspired by the many different gaming mods he has seen [Ben Heck] construct, he pulled apart an Xbox 360 wireless controller and began to investigate how the four top buttons were activated. In no time, he had four large buttons wired to the PCB where the triggers and shoulder buttons once connected.

[Adrian] mentions that his modification isn’t quite complete, as he is going to mount the buttons into a board which can easily be laid on his friend’s lap or a table. The only thing we are left wondering is whether or not he was able to replicate the analog functionality of the triggers, or if they are treated as simple on/off switches. Either way, we are sure his friend will be thrilled!

Automating automatic racing

Hackaday forum user [Nikescar] upgraded his XBox360 hard drive. During this upgrade, his Forza 3 game save was lost. He had accumulated millions of in-game dollars and really wanted to get back to where he was. We’re not familiar with the game, but he says that one easy way to make some money is to allow the AI to run races for you while you do other things. Unfortunately, this requries coming back to the system and starting a new race every hour or so. Luckily, [Nikescar] had an arduino lying around doing nothing, so he patched it into the controller and had it carry out a the correct button press sequence on a schedule.  Now his virtual driver makes virtual money while his virtual-person keeps it going. His real person sleeps.

LED wall and Kinect join forces

[Alex] wrote in to let us know about this Kinect controlled LED wall that was whipped up at the Tetalab hackerspace in Toulouse, France. The wall, which was built earlier in the year, uses some MAX7313 LED intensity controlling shift registers. Each gets its own board and controls the intensity of sixteen different red LEDs. They’re embedded in the wall module and covered with ping-pong balls as diffusers.

The recent activity on the project takes advantage of the Xbox Kinect. As you can see in the video after the break, they’ve used the open source Kinect drivers to capture 3D environment data, processing it into color gradients which are displayed on the Pong wall. Shouldn’t be long before they someone comes knocking on their door to install this in a dance club. We love the effect, especially because it works in a dark room and the LEDs don’t cause any interference with the video capture.

[Read more...]

Kilobuck Open Kinect Project Prize

Full of video and audio sensors, the newly released Kinect is Microsoft’s answer to Nintendo’s Wii MotionPlus and Sony’s PlayStation Move. Now there is money up for grabs to hack it. Adafruit is offering up a one thousand dollar prize to open source the driver for the Kinect. What do they want this driver to do? They want RGB and distance values. We’re excited to see the hacks that will come around because of this product, and now that prize money is involved, everything has been turned up a notch.

Update: The bounty has been raised to $2000 after a Microsoft response to CNET:

But Microsoft isn’t taking kindly to the bounty offer. “Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,” a company spokesperson told CNET. “With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”