Thirty Year old Pachinko Machine meets an Arduino

When [Jim’s] thirty year old Pachinko machine started to freeze up and shorted out his computer’s graphics card he decided it was time to replace the old electronics with an Arduino. Originally the Pachinko machine ran off a 48 volt supply and control was achieved using about 20 relays, the random numbers were generated using some complex mechanical reels which we hope will find their way into a new project in the future.

All of this and the daunting amount of wire inside the machine have been replaced with an Arduino and an MP3 Shield for the sound effects, powered from a much safer 12 volts. The new machine runs just as you would expect a thirty year old machine to run, with all the grinding sounds and flickering lights. Check out the video after the break to see an overview of the project.

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Blox That Play Back

I’m sure most of us remember playing with blocks when we were kids, well now this age old children’s toy has been crammed full of electrical goodness by a team of Electrical Engineers from the University of Texas. The Blox, which are about the size of a standard Rubiks Cube each contain 16 IR sensors, 4 touch panels, a 3-axis accelerometer, a ZigBee Wireless Module, a 2″ OLED display and a battery, all controlled using an ARM Cortex processor.

The Blox show their full potential when used together as an interactive distributed computing system. Blox is an open source project so all of the build details, schematics and code can be found on the website. For an overview and demonstration of the Blox check out the video after the break.

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Bikinis of the future!


It’s always interesting to see what happens when hacking meets clothing – check out this pair of bikinis, for instance.

This first item, called the N12 bikini (mildly NSFW), comes from Continuum Fashion and is composed entirely from Nylon 12, hence the name. Shapeways uses 3D Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) to create the tiny circles that make up this piece of swimwear. The suit is held together by tiny stretchy strings made of the same nylon, and the bikini can be printed to order. It seems like an interesting idea, but we wonder how it would hold up against some big waves or a game of beach volleyball.

The second item is a bit more functional. Designer [Andrew Schneider] has put together a bikini that can solve all of your energy needs while sitting by the pool. His solar bikini is covered with hand-sewn flexible solar cells that work together to produce up to 5v, available via a USB connection. He claims that you are free to go swimming in the suit, so long as you dry out the USB port before using it again. For all the guys out there crying foul, don’t worry – he’s got a suit for you too. He’ll be putting together a men’s suit in the near future that powers a 1.5 amp Peltier cooler to keep your beer cold – we just don’t want to know where the hot side of the Peltier goes…

Puppy POV: Four-legged persistence of vision display


We see lots of persistence of vision projects around here, but we can’t recall any that involve a POV display facilitated by a living, breathing animal (humans aside, if you want to picky). [Michael] has a Miniature Pinscher that just loves to run and run…and run…in circles. Since she generally runs very fast and in large curves, he thought she would make a great POV device.

He has a small fleece “jacket” for his dog, and on it, he mounted a Lilypad Arduino, the associated power supply, and five bright white LEDs. Naturally, conductive thread was used to wire up the circuit, and after a bit of trial and error, things came together nicely.

With the vest complete, [Michael] unleashed his dog at the park, letting her run to her heart’s content. All the while, her vest was writing out [Cory Doctorow’s] “Makers” while he snapped some pictures.

We can’t think of a more appropriate text to write with LEDs in the night, but in the spirit of the book, we were hoping to see a circuit diagram or the project’s code posted. If he shares it, perhaps we could convince [Cory Doctorow] to run about the park in a vest, writing out [Michael’s] code in bright white LEDs!

GPS without GPS

Open Electronics just released a neat little board that can place you on a map without using GPS.

The board works on the basic principles of a cellphone network – the ‘cell’ network is a series of towers that are placed more or less equidistant to each other. Save for the most desolate parts of the country, a cell tower usually communicates with a phone one or two miles away. Usually, several cell towers can be seen, so the position of a cellphone can be pinpointed to within 200-350 feet. Translating cell towers to latitude and longitude is easily done by querying a Google database that was created for the mobile version of Google Maps.

The board itself is a PIC18 microcontroller and a SIM900 GSM module. The firmware available at Open Electronics is pretty impressive – all communication to the board is handled through SMS and the phone can report it’s location to 8 other phones.

It’s pretty impressive to think the same technology that caught [Kevin Mitnick] is now available to the masses. We’re wondering what Hack a Day readers would use this for, so if you have an idea leave a comment.