Hackaday Links: March 25, 2013

Illegal, yet impressive


Want a soda? Just grab a robot, shove it in a vending machine, and grab yourself one. This video is incredibly French, but it looks like we’ve got a custom-built robot made out of old printers and other miscellaneous motors and gears here. It’s actually pretty impressive when you consider 16 ounce cans weigh a pound.



Okay, we got a lot of emails on our tip line for this one. It’s a group buy for a programmable oscillator over on Tindie. Why is this cool? Well, this chip (an SI570) is used in a lot of software defined radio designs. Also, it’s incredibly hard to come by if you’re not ordering thousands of these at a time. Here’s a datasheet, now show us some builds with this oscillator.

Chiptune/keygen music anywhere


[Huan] has a co-loco’d Raspi and wanted a media server that is available anywhere, on any device. What he came up with is a service that streams chiptune music from your favorite keygens. You can access it with Chrome (no, we’re not linking directly to a Raspberry Pi), and it’s extremely efficient – his RAM usage didn’t increase a bit.

Take it on an airplane. Or mail it.


[Alex]’s hackerspace just had a series of lightning talks, where people with 45-minute long presentations try to condense their talk into 10 minutes. Of course the hackerspace needed some way to keep everything on schedule. A simple countdown timer was too boring, so they went with a fake, Hollywood-style bomb. No, it doesn’t explode, but it still looks really, really fake. That’s a good thing.

Printers have speakers now?


[ddrboxman] thought his reprap needed a nice ‘print finished’ notification. After adding a piezo to his electronics board, he whipped up a firmware hack that plays those old Nokia ringtones. The ringtones play over Gcode, so it’s possible to have audible warnings and notifications. Now if it could only play Snake.

38 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: March 25, 2013

  1. I have the Si570 kit from sdr-kits.net – works exactly as advertised. According to the review here – http://www.cliftonlaboratories.com/si570_kit_from_k5bcq.htm – the Si570 can, with proper calibration, produce accurate frequencies to well under 1 ppm.

    In practice though, the Si570 is overkill for a lot of hobbyist stuff. The Si5351a can be had for $1.34 at Digikey and, combined with a stable crystal and a few passives, can satisfy your any-frequency-you-like oscillator needs for under 5 bucks in parts.

    1. Not sure if was a typo or if you mis-read but I read the accuracy on datasheet as 1part per *billion* making it a thousand times more accurate than it’s being given credit for.

      Am I correct in thinking this (maybe 2) could be used to make the homebrew frequency counter (featured here yesterday) insanely more hi-res and accurate? I know it would probably defeat the point of it but that’s not what this site is about after all

      1. @ColdTurkey – The tuning word in the Si570 allows for theoretical resolution of greater than 1 part per billion, but the tolerances of the internal oscillator it derives the new frequencies from is not nearly that good. Getting 1 ppb stability out of an oscillator requires ovens or atomic clocks or other fancy stuff that the Si570 just doesn’t have.

        Still, if you calibrate it against a real frequency reference the Si570 can be impressively accurate – see the above linked review for graphs and such.

  2. I can’t speak a word of French but as a dad, I hope that video included, “I paid them for the Cokes.”

    That kid could go a long ways – anyone who puts that much work into it is after the thrill of beating the problem, not stealing pop.

    Remember, Woz and Jobs started out phone phreaking.

    1. It’s in the best tradition of comic book villains like Spider-man foes the Vulture or the Beetle.

      Invent technology like powered armor or anti-grav flight. Use it for robbery.

  3. Three things are impressive about this.
    The device,
    YouTube auto caption (speech recognition to make captions)
    YouTube auto caption translate (translate those generated captions).

    All three are awe inspiriing.

  4. HI! I m french, and sadly nop , it doesn t include that.
    checked his website and well, electrolyse of tap water with a simple power cord would also not be advised for teenagers.

    1. I’d prefer to do it while the people were there. Just slowly walking behind the robot crawling to the door, opening the door, taking a soda, then following it back outside, all in a bomb-squad robot speed … the operation should take no less then 15 minutes. If the clerk says anything tell him you are trying to turn it off and back on again …

    2. The difference is obviously the impressive ingenuity of this little robot! I love it! It is super funny and obviously well built. If someone spends so much work in building such a think, then he also deserves a free drink, I’d say.

  5. LOL! Coke Zero?! This is full of so much win and fail at the same time. The quality of the build actually looks quite good for what it is, it’s a shame it takes so long but i doubt it’d be capable of holding that weight if it were quicker. I love the controller he made, want one of those! No idea what I’d use it for though.

  6. Props to the kid for his inventiveness, you can tell he only did it for the thrill of making something cool that likely hasn’t been done before, if he were a real criminal he’d build a robot that steals the whole machine, and not post a video of it on youtube :)

          1. Depends on the definition of the stone. Stone is a weight unit, anyways.
            If you’re referring to the brittish stone of post-1835, that’d be 14 Avoirdupois-Pound, which are, 435something g.
            But since you’r referring to hogsheads, which goes back to somewhere in the 15th century, I guess we’re talking about
            older Stones. A Stone of cheese was 16 Pounds, while a stone of glass was 5 pounds pre-1835, so there’s no correct answer
            to your question.

            When it comes to hogshead, the answer is rather simple: For wine, as which we count pre-1835 coke, a hogshead are 63 gallons.
            duh. By assuming, a french coke is a third litre, which is correct for Germany at least, it is 0.0013977412501397742 hogshead.

        1. Americans are really low on the weirdness scale – you should all travel the world a bit more.
          Anyway the cans being lifted are marked 33cl (33 centiliters) and the (French) Coke can I just weighed was 369 gm (about 13 oz).

    1. It’s not entirely obvious (or true) since ounce, in this case, means fluid ounce: a measure of volume and not weight. The density of the liquid will determine the exact weight. Also, a regular soda can has 12 ounces.

  7. Next step: a machine to cheat in those “skill” games. The one in the local mall uses small candy bars, and a space at the bottom of a ramp. Even if you pick up a bar, unless the space at the bootom of the ramp overflows you won’t get anything.
    A robot arm that popped up the chute and “swept” across the landing area would do wonders.

  8. I like the robot arm idea, but they need to simplify the construction to bear more weight and increase the scale of the loot. I mean for starters, If they’re going to drop the can anyway, why lift it like that in the first place?

    Make a machine that extends wheels front and back and climbs up the chute, then potentially locks in place on a shelf, and has multiple claws that can just pull out and drop an entire row of drinks at once. If there is no way to make the machine climb up by wheels alone, simply add strong magnets and an outside component, which would make it extremely quick to drop in, pull up, push the button and it drops a handful of drinks or more.

    Of course the cost of such a project can likely keep the guy in soft drinks for quite a while, but like others have said… when someone puts this much thought and effort into beating a problem it’s not about breaking the law, it’s about a drive to make things.

  9. I know that piezo buzzers are cheap, but wouldn’t it be a way more hackish (Is that how you say it?) to rather let the tones play through the stepper motors of the rep rap? Doing it in software is free.

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