Linux Fu: Keep In Sync

Once upon a time, computers were very expensive and you were lucky to have shared access to one computer. While that might seem to be a problem, it did have one big advantage: all of your files were on that computer.

Today, we all probably have at least a desktop and one laptop. Your phone is probably a pretty good computer by most standards. You might have multiple computers and a smattering of tablets. So what do you do to keep your files accessible everywhere? Why not run your own peer-to-peer synchronization service? Your files are always under your control and encrypted in motion. There’s no central point of failure. You can do it with one very slick piece of Open Source software called syncthing. It runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, and Solaris. There are also Android clients. We haven’t tested it, but one caveat is that the unofficial iOS support sounds a little spotty.

The joke about the cloud — that it’s just other people’s servers — is on point here. Some people don’t like their files sitting on a third-party server. Even if your files are encrypted or you don’t care, you still have the problem of what happens if you can’t reach the server — may be on an airplane with no WiFi — or the server goes down. Sure, Google and Microsoft don’t go dark very often, but they can and do. Even if you build your own cloud, it runs on your servers. Syncthing is serverless: it simply makes sure that all files are up-to-date on all your end devices. Continue reading “Linux Fu: Keep In Sync”

Tiny Ethernet Switch Gets Even Smaller

As a project gets more complicated, some kind of internal communication network is often used to that all of the various modules and sensors can talk with each other. For hardware hackers like us, that usually means SPI, I2C, or maybe even good old fashioned UART. But if you’re pushing a lot of data around, like live video feeds from multiple cameras, you’ll need something a bit faster than that.

Which is why [Josh Elijah] has created the SwitchBlox Nano, a three port 10/100 Ethernet switch that fits on a one inch square PCB. All you need to do is provide it with power, with a generous input range of 5 to 50 volts, connect your devices to the Molex Picoblade connectors on the board, and away you go. There’s even a 5 V 1 A regulated output you can use to run your downstream devices.

If you’ve got a feeling that you’ve seen something very similar on these pages earlier in the year, you’re not imagining things. Back in April we covered the original five port SwitchBlox in a post that garnered quite a bit of attention. In fact, [Josh] tells us that the design of this new switch was driven largely by the feedback he got from Hackaday readers. The Nano is not only smaller and cheaper than the original, but now maintains full electrical isolation between each port.

The average Hackaday reader is as knowledgeable as they are opinionated, and we’re glad [Josh] was able to put the feedback he received to practical use. We’re proud that our community has had a hand in refining successful commercial products like the Arduboy handheld game system and the Mooltipass hardware password keeper. Now it looks like we can add a tiny Ethernet switch to the list of gadgets we’ve helped push up the hill. Maybe we should get a stamp or something…

Appeasing Chicken Tastes With 3D Printing

Like most of us, [Hunter] and his partner [Katyrose] have been in quarantine for the past few months. Unlike most of us, they spun a 3D printed chicken playground design hackathon out of their self-isolation. The idea is simple: to build a playground full of toys custom-tailored to appease each chicken’s distinctive taste. The execution, however, can be proven a little tricky given that chickens are very unpredictable.

For each of the four select chickens in their coop, the couple designed separate toys based on their perceived interests. One, showing a fondness for worms, inspired the construction of a tree adorned with rice noodles in place of the living article, and moss to top it off. For late-night entertainment, the tree is printed in glow-in-the-dark filament. The others were presented with a print-in-place rotating mirror disguised as a flower, and a pecking post covered in peanut butter and corn. As a finishing piece, the fourth toy is designed as a jungle gym post with a reward of bread at the top for the chicken who dares climb it. Since none of the chickens seemed interested in it, they were eventually hand-fed the bread.

With no other entries to their hackathon, [Hunter] declared themselves as the winners. The 3D files for their designs are available for their patrons to print, should they have their own chicken coops they want to adorn. While the hackathon might’ve been a success for them, their chickens in particular seemed unimpressed with their new toys, only going to show that the only difference between science and messing around is writing it down, or in this case, filming the process. If you’re looking for other ways to integrate your chickens into the maker world, check out this Twitch-enabled chicken feeder, or this home automation IoT chicken coop door. Meanwhile, check out the video about their findings after the break.

Continue reading “Appeasing Chicken Tastes With 3D Printing”