Clicking And Counting With Push Wheel Switches


Push-wheel switches are somewhat older technology, but [John Boxall] from the Little Bird Electronics blog shows us that they are still quite useful today.

In a quick but thorough demonstration, he discusses how this input technology works, showing off both single digit and multi digit inputs. The former is pretty straightforward, with each of the counter’s outputs tied to an I/O pin on his Arduino. Using multiple counter units is ever so slightly more complicated, but the job is made easier through the use of an NXP 74HC4066 bilateral switch. He shares a snippet of Arduino code that toggles through each of the switches, reading in their values one by one.

His walkthrough is a must-see for those who are just getting their feet wet with Arduinos and various input methods. These counters are great for 1-4 digit input needs, but if you require more digits [John] says that a 12-digit keypad would probably be a better way to go.

Stick around to see a short video demo of the switches doing their thing.

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Amazing 60 Year Old Robot Dog Is A Mystery

The robot dog you see above is a mystery. [Daneil Dennet], a professor of philosophy at Tufts University found this in an antique shop in Paris.  Apparently it has no identification and no one has been able to tell him anything about it. It was made in the 50s, and that seems to be all he knows. He’s offering a reward to whomever can reveal its secrets. There’s a full gallery of pictures to browse through that reveal some of the construction, but not a whole lot of the function.

We are just blown away by the construction here. Look at all those switches! Can you imagine how easy to reverse engineer things would have been back then? Surely in the right hands, someone could get this thing working again. Then again [Daniel] might like it kept completely original. If you know something about this robot, you can find [Daniel]’s contact information here.

Oh, and yes, we realize it looks just like k-9.

I Have Seen The Future, And It Has Swarmanoids


Imagine that you want a book that is located on a shelf several rooms over, but you do not want to get out of your chair. Short of developing telekenesis on the spot, there’s little you can do other than get up and fetch the book yourself – that is, unless you have an army of Swarmanoids to do your bidding.

This robotic swarm is the pet project of [Dr. Marco Dorigo] from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and is impressive to say the least . As the Mission: Impossible-esque video plays out, you see several different robots working in concert, flying, climbing, and driving around to fetch a book from a shelf. The robots have no information regarding their surroundings, forcing them to learn and “speak” to one another in order to reach their goal once the target has been located.

It really is amazing to watch these robots work together, but don’t take our word for it. Check out the Swarmanoids in action below.


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PS2 To USB Keyboard Converter Also Logs Your Keystrokes

[Shawn McCombs] is up to no good with his first Teensy project. The board you see above takes the input from a PS2 keyboard and converts it to a USB connection. Oh, and did we mention that it also keeps track of everything you type as well?

From the beginning the project was intended to be a keylogger. It’s a man-in-the-middle device that could be hidden inside the case of a keyboard, making it appear to be a stock USB keyboard. Data is stored to an SD card so an attacker would need to gain access to the hardware after the data he’s targeting has been typed.

It works mostly as [Shawn] expected. He is, however, having trouble handling the CTRL, ALT, Windows, and Caps Lock keys. If this were actually being used maliciously it would be a dead giveaway. Many secure Windows machine require a CRTL-ALT-DELETE keystroke to access the login screen.

Automatically Weed The Celebrity Gossip Out Of Your TV Time

[Matt Richardson] came up with a doozy of an idea: using an Arduino to monitor the closed caption on TV and mute it when news about ridiculous celebrities is on-screen.

He’s using the video experimenter shield to monitor the captions. This shield connects via composite video, and can be used to decode the binary code that carries the captions in the overscan at the top of the screen. When a keyword comes through, an IR LED sends the mute command to the television, then waits until 30 seconds have gone by since the last keyword before un-muting. It’s like a troll-sniffing rat for your television! Now we just need to figure out how to use it to mute during commercials too.

[Matt] suggests we should imagine all of the cool stuff we could do with access to the closed caption data; we were already deep in thought by the time he got around to the suggestion. This would be a fantastic prank in a location were the television sound is not being used. You could put the Arduino inline with the video feed, then program it to wait for keywords in the news report and alter them in funny ways… like a live mad lib.

You can see [Matt’s] video explanation of the project after the break.

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Easy To Build Z80 Single Board Computer

[Alexis] sent in a single board computer he’s been working on. The project goal of his build was making it easily reproducible. From looking at the schematics, it’s one of the simplest fully-functional computers we’ve seen. The build runs CP/M 2.2 off of two 3.5 inch floppies. This opens up a lot of options as to what software is already available. Although it operates over a serial terminal, [Alexis] pretty much duplicated an Osborne I, only at double the speed.

[Alexis] got a little e-fame from his earlier 8088 homebrew computer built from very early 8088’s rescued from an electronics junk shop. These 8088 computers made the blog rounds by playing Still Alive with a SID chip from a Commodore 64 and a YM2151 FM synth chip.

For now, I guess we’ll have to settle for a video of [Alexis]’ Z80 computer running CP/M. Check out a video after the break of his computer running the greatest Infocom adventure, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Autonomous Tank Will Track You Down, Cover You In Welts


[Dan] wrote in to share a project he recently finished up, an autonomous Airsoft tank. The toy tank makes use of a wide array of technologies to get the job done, and will stop at nothing to hunt you down (provided you are wearing an IR beacon).

An Arduino board is used to control the tank’s motors, while a Lego NXT module handles most of the other operations. The tank makes its way around using an ultrasonic sensor, which ensures it doesn’t get stuck on any errant furniture or hung up in a corner. While driving around autonomously is well and good, [Dan] upped the ante a bit by making the Airsoft turret completely autonomous as well.

He fitted a Wiimote IR sensor to the tank, successfully interfacing it with the NXT module after a bit of trial and error. Now that things are up and running, he can place his IR beacon anywhere in the room, and the tank will drive around scanning its surroundings until the target is found. Once the tank locks on, a flurry of Airsoft pellets take down whatever stands in its way.

We think that [Dan] did a fantastic job here, but see for yourself in the videos embedded after the break.

[via HackedGadgets]

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