Hackaday Links: April 25, 2011

iPad2 combination case

[Jasn] wasn’t happy with Apple’s version of the iPad2 case, but an InCase Magazine Jacket didn’t meet his needs either. He broke the two apart and combined pieces of each to achieve his perfect tablet enclosure.

MIDI power tools

Enjoy the sounds of working in the shop thanks to [ArcAttack’s] MIDI controlled power tool performance. Our favorite part’s the outlet box stuffed with cords. [Thanks Ross]

Labeling cables

When we saw [László’s] tip about labeling cables we though “duh, we’ve been doing that for years”. But then we realized to this technique might be new to some folks. So haters gonna hate, but get out some tape and a marker to make your cord mess a bit more tidy.

The folks that run Facebook set out to build their own server farms in order to save money on both materials and electricity. They’ve open sourced the hardware and there’s a bunch of information about the project that we found interesting. [Thanks Wouter]

Manual mute ‘key’ for your netbook

[Randi] wanted a way to ensure he wouldn’t have startup sounds played in class when he booted up his netbook. He came up with this ‘mute key’ that is made from a ground-down headphone plug. He glued a piece of ribbon to it so that it can be removed again. The computer thinks there’s headphone plugged in so no sound plays through the speakers. Since it’s been ground down it’s extra-low-profile, and it’s as cheap as your last broken set of headphones. No link here, [Randi] just emailed us some pictures.

Single-chip Digital Audio Player

[Dmitry Gr.] built a simple circuit to playback digital audio. At the center you can see an 8-pin PIC 12F1840 microcontroller. It’s pulling audio data from a microSD card which is read through a full-sized SD card adapter to which he soldered jumper wires for all of the necessary connections. There is one additional semiconductor, a FET which is used to drive the speaker seen to the left. Unregulated power is provided by a pair of AA batteries (four are seen in the picture above but only two are actually connected to the circuit). He’s planning to post his code package soon, but for now you’ll have to be satisfied with a couple of demo videos and a schematic. Both videos are embedded after the break, and we’ve also included a screenshot of the schematic which is shown in the second video.

This is very similar to the 1-Bit Symphony CD we saw almost a year ago in a links post. That one used a jewel case instead of the protoboard seen here, and had a headphone jack instead of the speaker.

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Motorcycle Turned Chicken Launcher

Those who frequently work with them will tell you that rubber chickens are actually pretty heavy. You’re not going to do much damage chucking them by hand and that’s why you need your own rubber chicken launcher. This most-excellent magazine-fed foul-flinger was built by artist [Sean Pace] as a senior project while working toward his fine arts degree at UNC Asheville. He reused the rear end of a motorcycle, purposing the spinning wheel to grab the birds out of an in-feed channel and fling them much like a mechanical football launcher would. It kind of makes us wonder if you could do the same thing with a pneumatic football launcher?

[Sean’s] contraption is built on a stationary base, but in the video after the break you can see it firing from a flatbed truck. Seems somewhat like a whimsical warthog if you’re a Halo fan.

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Can Crusher Keeps Track Of Your Recycling Efforts


Instructables user [MRHint] was inspired by his friends’ recycling efforts, and decided to start recycling as well. The one thing he noticed was that they typically had no idea how many cans they had stored up, nor how much their bags of cans weigh. He figured that he could somewhat automate the crushing process while keeping an accurate can count using a handful of electronics and some elbow grease.

He started by designing a can crushing rig that would use an old windshield wiper motor he had sitting around the house. The motor is connected to a pulley, which drives a set of threaded rods connected to his movable crushing panel. When the motor is started, the panel is drawn against a stationary board, crushing the can.[MRHint] also had an unused Arduino hanging around, so he used it to control the crusher as well as keep track of how many times the crusher had been run.

From what we hear the whole setup works pretty well, but as with any project he sees plenty of room for improvement. Future changes may include a more powerful motor and a chain/sprocket setup in place of the belt and pulley he currently uses. Do you have any other suggestions for [MRHint]? Let us know in the comments.

DIY Resin Cast Project Box


[Rhys] wrote in to share a custom project box he built from scratch using polyester resin. He states that in New Zealand, he tends to have problems finding the perfect project box. They are typically too big or small to get the job done, so he figured he might as well just build his own to spec.

Using Google SketchUp, he designed his ideal project box, then got busy building wooden molds. He scored some free melamine scraps from a local company, which he used to build the base of his molding rig. Once the inner and outer molds were built, he secured them to his base and mixed up some polyester resin.

A few hours later, he pulled apart his molds and smoothed out his project box with some sandpaper. He drilled and tapped screw holes, then prepared to make a lid and base for the box.

He admits that the process is quite involved, but there is something to be said for building yourself an enclosure made specifically for the project it is going to house. If you are looking to do something similar be sure to check out his blog – he offers up some sound resin casting tips, as well as some pitfalls to avoid.

Location Tracking? ‘Droid Does


Last week, the Internet was alight with stories of iPhone location tracking. While this wasn’t exactly breaking news in security circles, it was new information to many people out there. Lots of blogs were full of commentary on the situation, including ours, with many Android users chiming in saying, “Android doesn’t do that”.

Well, that’s not entirely true – the playing field is far more level than most people would like to admit.

Android does have the same tracking capability, as do Windows Mobile phones for that matter. Both companies also monitor the cell towers you have connected to, as well as which Wi-Fi hotspots you have passed by. All three companies anonymize the data, though they do assign a unique ID to your location details in order to tell you apart from other users.

Where things really differ is in regards to how much information is stored. Microsoft claims that they only store the most recent location entry, while Andriod systems store the 200 most recent Wi-Fi hotspot locations as well as the most recent 50 cell towers.

At the end of the day each vendor does allow you to opt out of the tracking services, and if you are seriously concerned about the data they are tracking, you can always periodically wipe the information from your handset, should you desire.

[Image via TheTelecomBlog]

Portal Turret Plushie Is Cute And Harmless


As many of you are probably aware, Portal 2 was released last week, and gamers have been going crazy over it. Over the years, people have constructed replicas of their favorite in-game items and “characters”, including portal guns, companion cubes, and turrets.

After playing Portal 2 for a bit, [Jonathan] wanted a turret of his own quite badly. Rather than construct it from hard plastics and resins however, he decided he wanted to construct a cuddly turret that talked.

With the assistance of his friend [Leigh Nunan], he is now the proud owner of a plushie turret. It’s a bit smaller than you might expect, but it is packed full of turret personality. The plushie plays audio from the game, can sense motion near its face, detect if it has been tipped over, and also knows when it has been picked up. [Jonathan] added all of these features by stuffing an Arduino inside the turret, along with a wave shield for playing sounds. Proximity and motion sensing are provided via a trio of different sensors, enabling the turret to behave in the same way its in-game brethren do (minus the machine guns).

It really is a neat little toy, one we would no doubt be glad to have around. Keep reading to see a short video of his plushie turret in action.

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