Hackaday Links: October 20, 2013


Winter is coming. We’ve see those gloves in stores made specifically to work with your smartphone. [hardsoftlucid] isn’t buying it. He made his own version using… well, you just have to see it.

Here’s an eBookmark for a real book. What? Well, you know how an eReader does a great job of keeping your place between reading sessions? This is an electronic bookmark for paper books which uses LEDs to show you where you last left off reading. [via Adafruit]

[Thomas Brittain] wrote in to share his BLE Module and Pulse sensor updates. Both were featured in a recent Fail of the Week column and the latest iteration takes them from fail to functioning!

You may be able to get a free XMOS xCORE starter kit. The company is giving away 2500 of them. [Thanks Tony]

After learning about custom labels for microcontroller pinouts from [John Meachum] we’re happy to get one more helpful tip: a breadboard trench is a great place to hide axial decoupling capacitors.

A bit of cutting, solder, and configuring lets you turn a simple gamepad into a 4-controller interface for MAME.

Many of the Hackaday Staff are into Minecraft (between Let’s Play videos, running servers, and building computers in-game it’s a wonder we get anything done around here). We restrained ourselves by not making this video of a Restone circuit Blender animation on your desktop into a full front page feature. [via Reddit]


10 Meter long moving light show is mesmerizing


[Marcus] was recently commissioned to put together the electronics for a slick 10 meter long LED installation at the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park Exhibition Center in Taiwan. While you might assume that he was asked to construct a large LED matrix, this project is a little bit different from what you probably expected.

The display is actually a long light tunnel made up of 30 moving triangles suspended from the ceiling. The triangle movement is governed by 60 separate stepper motors, while the lighting is provided by 30 HL1606 RGB LED strips he picked up from Adafruit. The display’s logic is handled completely by an XMOS controller, which is beefy enough to handle controlling all of the stepper motors and the LEDs simultaneously.

After he hand assembled all of the motor driver boards and tested things in his workshop, the whole lot was shipped over to Taiwan for assembly by the on-site crew. After a bit of troubleshooting, they were able to get things working properly, and the display looks great as you can see from the image above.

[Marcus] says that he doesn’t have video of the display in action just yet, though he will update his post whenever he does.

[Thanks, Paul]

Swarm Light at Art Basel

What has 9000 LEDs, 3000 MSP430 processors, six XMOS XC-2 Ethernet modules, and goes blinkity-blink-blink? It’s Swarm Light, an art installation shown at this year’s Art Basel exhibition. [Fredrik Petrini] worked on the hardware that went into building the group of three 3D cubes of LED light modules. Unlike so many art pieces we see he shared the design details of the piece. In the image above you can tell that each cube encompasses several rods of LED modules. Each rod as three rails that provide power, ground, and serial data in addition to serving as the physical structure. Each module has three LEDs on it controlled by one MSP430 processor. The XMOS units each control half of the rods in a cube, getting their instructions over an Ethernet connection from a PC running a program on a .NET framework. It would be an understatement to say this is just a upscaled LED cube. Check out the exhibit in action after the break. It uses an algorithm to analyze the music, taking input from the ambient sound in the room, to control the light fluctuation.

[Read more...]

Building a bigger, better laser engraver

[Bart] built a giant laser etcher from scratch. One of his first test engravings included the Hackaday skull-and-wrenches on a polished granite floor tile (we love it when people do that). He used an XMOS controller and Mach3 CNC software to handle the device. With just two axes to worry about this seem like an easy project. The difficult bit is controlling, cooling, and focusing the laser.  Oh, and if you screw up, you could be blinded, burned or horribly maimed. But if you start from the beginning you’ll see that [Bart] knows what he’s doing.