Axe Your Camera (again!)

[Maurice] let us know that his latest photography tool for hackers, the Camera Axe 3.0, is now available. The original allowed you to trigger a high-speed flash and camera from a multitude of sensors, including light and sound. The new one does all that, but also: allows multiple cameras or multiple flashes, clean up of software to make it more user adaptable, and the best (arguably the most important) part – cheaper components! All that and more under the Creative Commons that we do love so much. Keep up the amazingly detailed and just pure awesome work [Maurice].

Complete The Maze, Get A Gumball


This neat accelerometer controlled marble maze adds a level of fun to retrieving a gum ball. You have to first navigate the maze using a controller that has a dual axis accelerometer in it to control the angle of the platform. Though that does look like a wii accessory, there is no wiimote in there.  Only after you have completed it will the gum ball machine dispense the candy. [Dan] constructed everything himself, which might explain the lack of “pits” for the marble to fall into in the maze.

More details on the build and source code are available on his page.

[via hacked gadgets]

Another Stationary Bike VR Rig

[Shingo] shared his implementation of a stationary bike as a virtual reality interface. This is similar to the Google Street View setup we covered a week ago but goes a few steps further. They patched into the bike computer to pick up rotation of the bicycle wheel and added an accelerometer for directional control. This setup can navigate through Street View but the video after the break also details an interface with Google Earth and even the ability to navigate through Second Life, following your avatar as it bikes along with you. The use of a wearable display is far superior to something like the SurfShelf and really gives you a goal other than just some cold-weather exercise. So take this idea, patch it into a wearable computer and you’ve got the exercise setup worthy of the future world we’ve been promised.

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AVR8 Virtual Processor On FPGA

[Jack] wrote in to let us know about a project that creates a virtual microprocessor core based on the ATmega103 by using a Field-Programmable Gate Array. Great, we thought. Here’s another rather esoteric project like the NES on a FPGA, but what’s the motivation behind it? We asked [Jack] and he provided several scenarios where this is quite useful.

Implementing the AVR core allows code already written for the chips to be easily ported to an FPGA without a code rewrite. This way, if your needs outpaced the capabilities of the microcontroller long after the project has started, you can keep the code and move forward from that point with the added capabilities of the gate array. Having the core already implemented, you then only need to work with HDL for the parts of the project the AVR was unable to handle. He also makes the point that having an open source AVR core implementation provides a great tool for people already familiar with AVR to study when learning VHDL.

With products like the Butterfly that this project is based around, or the Maple we’ve seen in the past, programmable logic for the recreational hacker is starting to get a little easier.

When An Axe Isn’t Enough

[Chris] wanted a guitar with a keyboard but didn’t want a keytar. Like any good hacker he took a cheap guitar and a small keyboard and introduced them to each other. He moved the control knobs to make room for the keyboard and added the control circuitry from the keyboard to the top of the guitar’s body. A 9v battery is used to power the keys and something called “Chris Collins’ transformer trick” is used to amplify its sound. If you know details on this transformer, leave a comment and we’ll update the post. Take a look at the video after the break to see [Chris] perform the Final Countdown on keys and guitar.

The guitar is a Chinese made Telecaster clone and we think he’s the first one to find a realistic use for keyboards that don’t use full-sized keys. [Chris] apologizes for the lack of build photos but we give him a pass; he lost his phone while crowd-surfing and that’s as good an excuse as any for losing some pictures. We can’t wait to see another performance with this gnarly axe once he’s had enough practice to pull everything together!

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Uzebox In An NES Controller

[David Cranor] has managed to fit a fully working Uzebox system into an old NES controller. Uzebox, an open source gaming platform based on the ATmega 644 and an AD725 NTSC encoder, is one of a couple systems that are becoming more and more widespread and accessible. There are a number of ready-to-go Uzebox kits available, but for the more hands-on types, [David] has been very generous with his schematics and step by step instructions. These schematics can all be readily reshaped, and would easily fit into controllers with less fun applications and sentimental value.

(Mini) Earthquake In Your Living Room

Today we stumbled upon [jimthree’s] Seismic Reflector while looking at projects that employ the Processing language we mentioned a few days ago. Utilizing a Boarduino and some vibration motors from a game controller, the Seismic Reflector does just as its name implies – rattles itself around whenever there is an earthquake. While this does seem a bit silly at first, we were fascinated to learn there have been 165 earthquakes just in the past week and almost no news reports, suddenly this device got a lot more interesting!