Playing Youtube Videos At Incredibly Low Resolution On LEDs

Since the high-definition era, screens with many millions of pixels have become commonplace. Resolutions have soared into the stratosphere, and media has never looked clearer or crisper. However, [gatoninja236] decided to go the other way with this build – an LED matrix capable of playing Youtube videos.

The execution is simple. A Raspberry Pi 3, with the help of a Python script, downloads a Youtube video. It then runs this through OpenCV, which parses the video frames, downconverting them to suit a 64×64 pixel display. Then, it’s a simple matter of clocking out the data to the 64×64 RGB LED matrix attached to the Raspberry Pi’s IO pins, where the video is displayed in all its low-resolution glory.

Is it a particularly useful project? No. That doesn’t mean it’s not without value however; it teaches useful skills in both working with LED displays and video data scraped from the Internet. If you simply must have more pixels, though, this ping pong video wall might be more to your liking. Video after the break.

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Boxes.py Has Your Lasercut Box Needs Covered

I needed something to test out a low-power laser cutter, and thought that some small cardboard boxes would fit the bill nicely, so off I went to scour the Interwebs for a quick-and-dirty finger-joint box generator. And the best of the best was to be found, drumroll please, on Hackaday.io. [Florian Festi]’s boxes.py not only has a sweet web interface, covers an absurd number of box styles, and includes kerf tests to ensure that your joints are tight, but it’s also written in easy-to-extend Python for when you have really particular needs.

But you won’t need to design anything of your own. There are already boxes with living hinges, boxes that fit 19″ racks, Eurorack skiff boxes with laser-cut mounting rails, and even a generic electronics project box with mounting ears for your PCB. Console2 has integrated clips on the rear service hatch.

You need a pentagonal prism with a round opening? What size? I guess a complete arcade-style console is technically a box. Naturally, there are also geartrains and even a robot arm design. Wait, what?

Each of the box designs is fully customizable, so it’s easy to make something like a box with customized dividers, where the different compartments are specified in a sweet text markup. [Florian]’s example box set for the game Agricola is amazing.

Underpinning the code is a LOGO-like finger-joint drawing routine. This makes it relatively easy to draw your own funny shapes, and have the hard work of thinking through the joining fingers taken care of by the computer. [Florian] seems open to taking pull requests for new box shapes, but I haven’t thought of one yet.

I can’t say enough about how cool boxes.py is, and most of the demo applications are worth a look on their own. This was an entry in the Hackaday Prize back in 2017, and it’s been growing and improving ever since. Way to go, [Florian] and Co.

Cyberdeck Running On Apple Silicon, Though An A12 Not An M1

[Alta’s Projects] built a two-in-one cyberdeck that not only contains the requisite Raspberry Pi (a zero in this case) but also eschews a dumb LCD and uses an iPad mini 5 for a display.

We need to address the donor case right away. Some likely see this as heresy, and while we love to see vintage equipment lovingly restored, upcycling warms our hearts and keeps mass-produced plastic out of landfills too. The 1991 AST 386SX/20 notebook in question went for $45 on an online auction and likely was never destined for a computer museum.

Why is Cupertino’s iOS anywhere near a cyberdeck? If a touch screen is better than an LCD panel, a tablet with a full OS behind it must be even better. You might even see this as the natural outgrowth of tablet cases first gaining keyboards and then trackpads. We weren’t aware that either was possible without jailbreaking, but [Alta’s Projects] simply used a lighting-to-USB dongle and a mini USB hub to connect the custom split keyboard to the iPad and splurged on an Apple Magic Trackpad for seamless and wireless multi-touch input.

Alta's Projects Cyberdeck Internal USB Wiring
Internal USB Wiring, Charging Circuit, and Pi Zero

The video build (after the break) is light on details, but a quick fun watch with a parts list in the description. It has a charming casual feel that mirrors the refreshingly improvisational approach that [Altair’s Projects] takes to the build. We appreciate the nod to this cyberdeck from [Tinfoil_Haberdashery] who’s split keyboard and offset display immediately sprang to mind for us too. The references to an imagined “dystopian future” excuse the rough finish of some of the Dremel cuts and epoxy assembly. That said, apocalypse or not, the magnets mounted at both ends of the linear slide certainly are a nice touch.

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Supersized Weather Station Uses Antique Analog Meters

For most of us, getting weather information is as trivial as unlocking a smartphone or turning on a computer and pointing an app or browser at one’s weather site of choice. This is all well and good, but it lacks a certain panache that old weather stations had with their analog dials and stained wood cases. The weather station that [BuildComics] created marries both this antique aesthetic with modern weather data availability, and then dials it up a notch for this enormous analog weather station build.

The weather station uses 16 discrete dials, each modified with a different label for the specific type of data displayed. Some of them needed new glass, and others also needed coils to be modified to be driven with a lower current than they were designed as well, since each would be driven by one of two Arduinos in this project. Each are tied to a microcontroller output via a potentiometer which controls the needle’s position for the wildly different designs of meter. The microcontrollers themselves get weather information from a combination of real-world sensors outside the home of [BuildComics] and from the internet, which allows for about as up-to-date information about the weather as one could gather first-hand.

The amount of customization of these old meters is impressive, and what’s even more impressive is the project’s final weight. [BuildComics] reports that it took two people just to lift it onto the wall mount, which is not surprising given the amount of iron in some of these old analog meters. And, although not as common in the real world anymore, these old antique meters have plenty of repurposed uses beyond weather stations as well.

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3D Printed Lenticular Lens Makes 3D Display

[Bitluni] has been experimenting with resin printing lenses — in particular, lenticular lenses. You’ve probably seen lenticular lenses before in 3D greeting cards or children’s books. By presenting a slightly different image at different angles, your eyes perceive stereo vision giving the illusion of depth. You can see his results in the video below.

Honestly, even if you don’t want to make a display like this yourself, the demonstration of how a lenticular lens works using a laser is worth watching. Sure, you know in theory what’s going on, but seeing it visually exposed is great.

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Allan McDonald’s Legacy And The Ethics Of Decision-Making

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986 was a life-altering event for many, ranging from people who had tuned in to watch the launch of a Space Shuttle with America’s first teacher onboard, to the countless people involved in the manufacturing, maintenance and launching of these complex spacecraft. Yet as traumatizing as this experience was, there was one group of people for whom their dire predictions and warnings to NASA became suddenly reality in the worst way possible.

This group consisted of engineers at Morton-Thiokol, responsible for components in the Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters (SRBs). They had warned against launching the Shuttle due to the very cold weather, fearing that the O-ring seals in the SRBs at these low temperatures would not be able to keep the SRB’s hot gases from destroying the SRB and the Shuttle along with it.

Allan McDonald was one of these engineers who did everything they could to stop the launch. Until his death on March 6th of 2021, the experiences surrounding the Challenger disaster led him to become an outspoken voice on the topic of ethical decision-making, as well as a famous example of making the right decision, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

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Perlin Noise Helps Make Trippy Typographic Art

Perlin noise is best explained in visual terms: if a 2D slice of truly random noise looks like even and harsh static, then a random 2D slice of Perlin noise will have a natural-looking blotchy structure, with smooth gradients. [Jacob Stanton] used Perlin noise as the starting point for creating some interesting generative vector art that shows off all kinds of different visuals. [Jacob] found that his results often exhibited a natural quality, with the visuals evoking a sense of things like moss, scales, hills, fur, and “other things too strange to describe.”

The art project [Jacob] created from it all is a series of posters showcasing some of the more striking examples, each of which displays an “A” modified in a different way. A few are shown here, and a collection of other results is also available.

Perlin noise was created by Ken Perlin while working on the original Tron movie in the early 80s, and came from a frustration with the look of computer generated imagery of the time. His work had a tremendous and lasting impact, and was instrumental to artists creating more natural-looking textures. Processing has a Perlin noise function, which was in fact [Jacob]’s starting point for this whole project.

Noise, after all, is a wide and varied term. From making generative art to a cone of silence for smart speakers, it has many practical and artistic applications.