33C3 Starts Tomorrow: We Won’t Be Sleeping For Four Days

Possibly the greatest hacker show on Earth, the 33rd annual Chaos Communication Congress (33C3) begins Tuesday morning in Hamburg, Germany. And Hackaday will be there! Contributing Editor [Elliot Williams] is taking the night train up and will be trying to take it all in for you. The schedule looks tremendous.

If you can’t make it, don’t fret. There will be live streaming, and the talks are usually available in preliminary edit for viewing or download just a few minutes after they finish. It’s even cooler to watch the talks with friends, though. Every hackerspace with a video projector could be playing along, live or after the fact. Pick some cool talks and have a “movie night”.

elliot_williams_head_2_square_fuzzIf you’re going to be in Hamburg, and you want to show us something cool, tell us that something is NOTAHACK!1!! in person, or even just say “Hi”, we’ll be wandering around from talk to talk and session to session just like you, only with a backpack full of Hackaday stickers.

If there’s anything you think we should see, post up in the comments. If there’s enough call for it, we’ll have a Hackaday meetup once we can figure out a good time and location. Bring us a cool hack, and we’ll document it on the spot! Our DECT phone number is 2475.

Modified Servo Adds Focus Control To Telescope

Scanning the heavens with a telescope is a great way to spend long, clear winter nights, but using a manual telescope can get to be a drag. A motorized mount with altitude and azimuth control is basic equipment for the serious observer, but adding a servo to control the focus of your telescope is one step beyond your average off-the-shelf instrument.

Having already motorized the two axes of the equatorial mount of his modest telescope as a senior project, [Eric Seifert] decided to motorize the focus rack as well. His first inclination was to use a stepper motor like he did on the other two axes, but with a spare high-torque servo at hand, he hacked a quick proof-of-concept. The servo was modified for continuous rotation in the usual way, but with the added twist of replacing the internal potentiometer with an external linear pot. Attached to the focus tube, the linear pot allows [Eric] to control the position and speed of the modified servo. Sounds like controlling the focus will be important to [Eric]’s planned web interface for his scope; we’ll be looking for details on that project soon.

We like the simplicity of this solution, and it’s a trick worth keeping in mind for other projects.  But if fancy steppers and servos aren’t your thing, fear not — astrophotography is as easy as slapping a couple of boards together with a hinge.

Continue reading “Modified Servo Adds Focus Control To Telescope”

Gecho Pocket Synth Looper

[Mario] wrote us with his synthesizer project that’s currently up on Kickstarter. It looks like a good amount of fun to play with, as you can see in the video on the Kickstarter page. But it’s also built to be easily hackable.

On the hardware front, it’s a tiny four-layer board that’s crammed with parts. At the core is an STM32F4 microcontroller and a DAC. Indeed, the build was inspired by other folks’ work on the STM32F4 Discovery dev kit that has been used to make some pretty interesting synthesizer devices. [Mario]’s version adds two stereo headphone outputs, two microphone inputs, two IR reflective distance sensors used as control inputs, some buttons, and a ton of LEDs. And then it makes good use of all of them.

The firmware isn’t open source yet (poke! poke!) but it looks like it’s going to be. On his blog, [Mario] works through an example of adding a drum machine into the existing firmware, so it looks like it’ll be hackable.

Squeezing a lot of DSP functionality out of a single microcontroller is a feat. On a similar chip from a different manufacturer, [Paul Stoffregen]’s Teensy Audio Library could also be made to do a lot of the same things. But the real beauty of the Gecho project is that it has some interesting hardware features already built in and ready to go. It wouldn’t be a bad launching pad for your own musical or audio explorations.