There have been many robots and AIs in science fiction over the years, from Astro Boy to Cortana, or even Virgil for fans of the long-forgotten Crash Zone. However, all these pale into insignificance in front of the cold, uncaring persona of the HAL 9000. Thus, [Jürgen Pabel] thought the imposing AI would make the perfect home assistant.
The build is based on a Raspberry Pi Zero 2, which boasts more grunt than the original Pi Zero while still retaining good battery life and a compact form factor. It’s hooked up with a 1.28″ round TFT display which acts as the creepy glowing eye through which HAL is supposed to perceive the world. There’s naturally a speaker on board to deliver HAL’s haunting monotone, and it’s all wrapped up in an tidy case that really looks the part. It runs on the open-source voice assistant Kalliope to help out with tasks around the home.
[Jürgen]’s page shares all the details you need to make your own, from the enclosure construction to the code that laces everything together. It’s not the first HAL 9000 we’ve seen around these parts, either. Video after the break.
Continue reading “HAL 9000 Becomes A Helpful Voice Assistant” →
Before you jump down to the comments to chastise us for misspelling graphene, note that graphyne is similar to graphene but not the same. Like graphene, it is a two-dimensional structure of carbon. Unlike graphene, it contains double and triple bonds and does not always form hexagons. Scientists have postulated its existence for decades, but researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have finally managed to pull it off. You can also download the paper if you want to wade through the details.
Carbon forms like fullerene and graphene are well-known and have many novel uses. Other allotropes of carbon include graphite and diamonds — certainly two things with wildly varying properties. Graphyne has conductivity similar to graphene but may also have other benefits.
Continue reading “Graphyne Finally Created” →
Conventional textiles made of woven threads are highly useful materials. [Sara Alvarez] has had some success creating fabric-like materials through 3D printing, and though they’re not identical, they have some similar properties that make them unique and useful.
Fabrics are made by the weaving or knitting together many threads into a cohesive whole. [Sara]’s 3D-printed fabrics are different, since the printer can’t readily weave individual fibers together. Instead, a variety of methods are used to create similar materials.
The simplest is perhaps the chainmail method, where many small individual links join together to make a relatively rigid material. Alternatively, G-code or careful modelling can be used to create fabric-like patterns, which are printed directly in flexible material to become a fabric-like sheet. Finally, the infill method takes advantage of code inbuilt to a slicer to create a pattern that can be 3D-printed to create a fabric like material by removing the top and bottom layers of the print.
[Sara] demonstrates creating a simple “fabric” swatch using the slicer method, and demonstrates the qualities of the finished product. She also shows off various applications that can take advantage of this technique.
If you’re a 3D-printing enthusiast who also loves making clothes and apparel, consider printing up some shoes – like these we’ve seen before. Video after the break. Continue reading “3D Printing Fabrics Is Easier Than You Think” →
Soundcards used to be giant long 8-bit ISA things that would take up a huge amount of real estate inside a desktop computer. These days, for most of us, they’re baked into the motherboard and we barely give them a second thought. [Samsonov Dima] decided to whip up a cheap little sound card of their own, however, built around the STM32.
The soundcard is based specifically on the STM32F401. readily available on the “Green Pill” devboards. A digital-to-analog converter is implemented on the board based on two PWM timers providing high-quality output. There’s also a simulated software sigma delta ADC implemented between the audio streaming in via USB and the actual PWM output, with some fancy tricks used to improve the sound output. [Samsonov] even found time to add a display with twin VU meters that shows the audio pumping through the left and right channels.
Without test gear on hand, we can’t readily quantify the performance of the sound card. However, as per the Youtube videos posted, it appears more than capable of recreating music with good fidelity and plenty of fine detail.
If you need a cheap, simple USB sound card that you can hack away on, this might be the one for you. If you need something more suitable for a vintage PC, however, consider this instead. Video after the break.
Continue reading “The STM32 Makes For A Cheap DIY USB Soundcard” →
These days, streaming services are a great way to listen to music or podcasts on your computer or on the go. However, they lack one feature of the MP3 players and streamers of old: visualizations! [mircemk] is a fan of those, and has built a hardware spectrum analyzer that pumps with the music.
The build relies on a 20×2 character VFD display that looks great, with high brightness and excellent contrast. It can be easily driven from a microcontroller, as it has a controller on board compatible with the typical HD44780 command set. On Arduino platforms, this means the display can easily be driven with the popular LiquidCrystal library.
The Arduino Nano inside takes in the audio signal via its analog inputs. It then processes the audio with the fix_fft library, which runs a Fast Fourier Transform in order to figure out the energy level of each frequency bin in the audio spectrum for both the left and right channels. This data is then sent to the screen for display. It’s impressively fast and smooth, with the display dancing along with the beat nicely as [mircemk] tests it out with some tunes.
If it looks familiar, it’s because it’s an updated version of a prior project from [mircemk]. We saw it previously as a VU meter that pulsed with the beat, an altogether simpler visualization but still a cool one. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Character VFD Becomes Spectrum Analyzer” →
We don’t always acknowledge it, but most people have an innate need for music. Think of all the technology that brings us music. For decades, most of the consumer radio spectrum carried music. We went from records, to tape in various forms, to CDs, to pure digital. There are entire satellites that carry — mostly — music. Piracy aside, people are willing to pay for music, too. While it isn’t very common to see “jukeboxes” these days, there was a time when they were staples at any bar or restaurant or even laundrymat you happened to be in. For the cost of a dime, you can hear the music and share it with everyone around you.
Even before we could record music, there was something like a jukebox. Coin-operated machines, as you’ll recall, are actually very old. Prior to the 1890s, you might find coin-op player pianos or music boxes. These machines actually played the music they were set up to play using a paper roll with holes in it or metal disks or cylinders.
That changed in 1890 when a pair of inventors connected a coin acceptor to an Edison phonograph. Patrons of San Francisco’s Palais Royale Saloon could put a hard-earned nickel in the slot and sound came out of four different tubes. Keep in mind there were no electronic amplifiers as we know them in 1890. Reportedly, the box earned $1,000 in six months.
Continue reading “Put Another Dime In The Jukebox” →
Just as the Jedi youngling would have to build their light saber, so is it a rite of passage for a true geek to build their own computer interfaces. And nothing makes a personal computer more personal than a custom keyboard, a bespoke mouse, an omnipotent macropad, a snazzy jog wheel, or a fancy flight yoke.
In this contest, we encourage you to make your strangest, fanciest, flashiest, or most custom computer peripherals, and share that work with all the rest of us. Wired or wireless, weird or wonderful, we want to see it. And Digi-Key is sponsoring this contest to offer three winners an online shopping spree for $150 each at their warehouse! More parts, more projects.
Make It Yours
Anyone can just go out an buy a keyboard, but if you want a custom ergonomic keyboard that’s exactly fit to your own two hands, you probably have to make one with your own two hands. And if you an engraved brass mouse, well, you’ve got some engraving to do — Logitech ain’t gonna make one for you. Maybe you only type in binary, or maybe you need a keyboard for some alien language that has 450 individual letters. Or maybe the tiniest keyboard ever? You’ve got this. Continue reading “Show Us Your Odd Inputs And Peculiar Peripherals!” →