Encase Yourself In Carbonite With Kinect


There never seems to be a lull in the stream of new and novel hacks that people create around Microsoft’s Kinect. One of the more recent uses for the device comes from [Interactive Fabrication] and allows you to fabricate yourself, in a manner of speaking.

The process uses the Kinect to create a 3D model of a person, which is then displayed on a computer monitor. Once you have selected your preferred pose, a model of the image is rendered by a 3D plastic printer. Each scan results in a 3cm x 3cm plastic model complete with snap together dovetail joints allowing the models to be combined together. A full body scan can be constructed with three of these tiles, resulting in a neat “Han Solo trapped in Carbonite” effect.

Currently only about 1/3 of Kinect’s full resolution is being used to create these models, which is pretty promising news to those who would try this at home. Theoretically, you should be able to create larger, more detailed images of yourself provided you have a 3D printer at your disposal.

Keep reading for a quick video presentation of the fabrication process.

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Portable Gaming For Retro Console Lovers


There have been a fair share of portable video game console conversions over the years, but few tug at our retro-loving heart strings more than this one. Modretro forum member [Mario] constructed a fantastic looking portable Atari 2600 using a Flashback 2 Atari console clone.

He hacked apart the Flashback board to fit inside a small plastic case, then added a 3.5″ LCD screen, as well as some donated controller bits from other portable game systems. A pair of rechargeable batteries were added along with a small amplifier and speaker for sound.

While the Flashback comes with 40 games built in, he really wanted to add a cartridge port, so with the little bit of space he had left in the case, he did just that. When everything was finished, he sprayed on a few coats of retro orange paint and called it a day. Really the only thing that’s missing is some nice fake wood veneer and maybe some shag carpet.

Continue reading to see his portable creation in action.

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Direct To PCB Etch Resist Printing

Here’s a step-by-step guide for printing etch resist directly to copper clad boards. Two methods of making printed circuit boards at home have long dominated as the favorites; using photo-resist, and the toner-transfer method. The latter involves printing board artwork on a laser printer and then ironing it onto the copper clad. We’ve seen some efforts to print toner directly to the copper, or to use ink to adhere toner and then heat fuse it, but this hack is the first one we remember seeing that uses an inkjet printer directly.

The best reason inkjet printing isn’t often used is do to the ink’s iability to protect copper from the etchant. This method uses MISPRO ink that is pigment based and will resist the acid. An Epson Stylus Photo R260 printer was chosen because you can get refillable printer cartridges which work with the ink, and they’re fairly easy to modify. In order to feed substrate through the device it needs some physical alteration to make room for the thickness of the material, and an ATtiny13 has been added to trick one of the sensors.

Unfortunately we didn’t find photos of the printed resist. But there is source code available for the tiny13 if you do give this a try.

[Thanks Pavlejo]

Bluetooth-enabled Talking Chicken


[Jeri Ellsworth] sent us a video walkthrough of a hack she did a few years ago using a toy chicken with a motor operated mouth. She wired up a Bluetooth headset’s audio output to a LM386 audio amplifier, which drives the speaker she added to the chicken. The output of the audio amplifier was also connected to a 555 timer in bistable mode to activate the motorized mouth. The motor simply opens the mouth when activated, allowing the built-in spring to snap it shut when the 555 is reset.

Obviously Jeri didn’t send us an old project just for kicks, she wanted to remind all of our readers that the 555 Design Contest comes to a close tomorrow night, March 1st at 11:59 EST. If you haven’t submitted an entry yet, get something started while there is still time!

Keep reading to see Jeri give a quick video overview of her talking Bluetooth chicken.

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Fun Slide Whistle Synth Toy


[Dino] recently sent us some info on his latest project, a 555 timer-based slider synthesizer. The synth was built to emulate the sound made by playing a slide whistle, and also as an entry into the 555 Design Contest, which is quickly coming to a close. If you’re not familiar with a slide whistle, just spend a few minutes on YouTube looking for clips of Sideshow Bob – it’s ok, we’ll wait.

The circuit is pretty simple, though the implementation is quite clever. While traditional slide whistles require the user to blow in one end, this electronic version operates using a LED and photo cell. When the main switch is closed, the 555 timer is activated, and a tone is produced. The pitch of the tone is controlled by the LED as it slides in and out of the tube. The more light that hits the photo cell, the higher the pitch, and vice versa.

Continue reading to see a quick demonstration of [Dino’s] slide synth, and be sure to check out his other 555 contest entry we featured a short while back.

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Web-enabling Your Smoke Breaks

If you’re going to freeze your butt off smoking in the middle of winter you might was well have company while you’re out there. [Zach’s] company wanted to crunch some data about smoking breaks and worker productivity. Instead of just meeting the bland data collection needs he decided to add functionality.

He took time to explain the different parts of the system. Above you can see the web interface that lets you know which of your coworkers are smoking right now. It also lets you click to check in and out from your breaks. After this was up and running he found that often the smokers forgot to ‘clock out’ before a break. As a backup system he build a physical interface on the way out of the office. Each smoker has their own button with a corresponding LED. If the light’s on you’re having a break and when it’s off you’re working. This controller is Arduino based and uses a Perl script to monitor the input and sync both that physical display and the web interface. [Zach] posted a few pictures if you want to take a look at the rest of the system.

Giant Oscilloscope Music Display


[Andrew] sent us a video of his home made oscilloscope wall, which he uses to visualize different audio tracks he has created. The wall is made up of nine old broadcast monitors he wired together in his studio. At first it appears that the monitors are split into two sets of four, with the center monitor running separately, but upon further inspection it looks as if he can control the display of each monitor independently.

We’re pretty sure he is not using an actual oscilloscope to generate the visuals, but rather visualization software that can approximate the output of an O-scope set in X-Y display mode. Though the screens run independently, it would be great to see all nine screens working in concert to display one large visualization. [Andrew] mentions that an high-def version is in the works, so perhaps we’ll see more features added in that iteration.

Stick around to watch a video of his oscilloscope wall in motion.

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