A Ping Pong Ball LED Video Wall

Constrained builds are often the most fun. Throw an artificial limit into the mix, like time limiting your effort or restricting yourself to what’s on hand, and there’s no telling what will happen.

[bitluni] actually chose both of those constraints for this ping pong ball LED video display, and the results are pretty cool, even if the journey was a little rough. It seems like using sheet steel for the support of his 15 x 20 Neopixel display was a mistake, at least in hindsight. A CNC router would probably have made the job of drilling 300 holes quite a bit easier, but when all you have is a hand drill and a time limit, you soldier on. Six strings of Neopixels fill the holes, a largish power supply provides the 18 or so amps needed, and an Arduino knock-off controls the display. The ping pong ball diffusers are a nice touch, even if punching holes in them cost [bitluni] a soldering iron tip or two. The display is shown in action in the video below, mostly with scrolling text. If we may make a modest suggestion, a game of Pong on a ping pong ball display might be fun.

[bitluni] says that the display is on its way to Maker Faire Berlin this weekend, so stop by and say hi. Maybe he’ll have some of his other cool builds too, like his Sony Watchman Game Boy mashup, or the electric scooter of questionable legality.

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Wiimote Finger Tracking Music Controller

The Evolution Control Committee has been doing live mashup performances for many years and recently upgraded their hardware. Inspired by [Johnny Lee]’s Wiimote whiteboard, they built a rear projection display they could use during performances. It displays a dense collection of samples in Ableton Live. On each of the performer’s hands is an IR LED mounted to a thimble. By touching the thumb to the forefinger, the LED turns on. Two Wiimotes watch for these IR flashes to trigger mouse clicks. [TradeMark G] found the Ableton display too complex to navigate quickly and accurately with a mouse; this new display make things much easier and enjoyable.

[via Laughing Squid]

Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Curved Typewriter

Aerodox Flies on Wireless Wings

Aerodox, a wireless, split keyboard.[Simon Merrett] didn’t know anything about keyboards when he started this project, but he didn’t let that stop him. [Simon] did what any of us would do — figure out what you like, learn enough to be dangerous, and then start fiddling around, taking all that inspiration and making a mashup of influences that suits your needs.

The Aerodox design became a cross between the ErgoDox‘s key layout and the logic and communication of the Redox Wireless, itself a reduced-size version of the ErgoDox. Interestingly, [Simon] chose the ErgoDox’s dimensions and spacing, and not those of the Redox. Like a lot of people out there, I found the ErgoDox to be too big for my hands, mostly in that the thumb cluster is too far away from the mainland. It’s nice to see that it suits some people, though.

[Simon] worked up a custom hot-swap footprint that makes the board reversible, much like the ErgoDox. Each half has an NRF51822 for a brain, and there’s a third one that acts as a receiver. This external NRF board is connected over UART to an Arduino Pro Micro, which acts as the USB HID and runs QMK. It’s an interesting journey for sure, so go dig into the logs.

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AD409 Microscope Review

It wasn’t that long ago that if you had an optical microscope in your electronics shop, you had a very well-supplied shop indeed. Today, though, a microscope is almost a necessity since parts have shrunk to flyspeck-size. [Maker Mashup] recently picked up an AD409 and posted a video review of the device that you can see below.

The microscope in question has a 10-inch screen so it is a step up from the usual cheap microscope we’ve seen on a lot of benches. Of course, that size comes at a price. The going rate for a new on is about $400.

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Racing Game Crashes Into Its Next Life As A Sound Bender

They say the best things in life are free, but we would loudly argue that a dollar can go a long way, too. It all depends on what you do with it. When [lonesoulsurfer] saw this busted-up handheld racing game at the junk store, he fell in love with the lines of the case and gladly forked over a buck in order to give it a new life as a wicked little sound-bending machine with dancing LEDs.

Here’s how it works: [lonesoulsurfer] records a few seconds of whatever into the mic with the looping function switched off, then turns it back on to start the fun. He can vary the pitch with the speed controller pot, or add in some echo and reverb. Once the sound is dialed in, he works the pause button on the left to make melodies by stopping and restarting the loop, or just pausing it momentarily depending on the switch setting.

The electronics are a mashup of modules mixed with a custom PCB that combines the recording module with an LM386 amplifier and holds the coolest part of this build — those LEDs that dance to the music behind the toy’s original lenticular screen. Like most of [lonesoulsurfer]’s builds, it’s powered by an old cell phone battery that’s buck-boosted to 5 V. Check out the build and bleep-bloop video after the break.

Lenticular lenses are all kinds of fun. Get one that’s big enough, and you can use it to disappear for a while.

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The Modern Retrocomputer: An Arduino Driven 6845 CRT Controller

[MmmmFloorPie] revived an old project to create the retro mashup of a 6845 CRT controller and a modern Arduino Uno. When it comes to chips, the Motorola 6845 is the great granddaddy of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) interfaces. It was used in the IBM Monochrome display adapter, the Hercules graphics controller, CGA, Apple II terminal cards, and a host of other microcomputer and terminal systems.

Way back in 1989, [MmmmFloorPie] was a senior in college. His capstone project was a 68000 based computer which could record and playback audio, as well as display waveforms on a CRT. The CRT in question was ordered from a classified add in Popular Science magazine. It was a bare tube, so the heavy cardboard box it shipped in was repurposed as a case.

Fast forward to today, and  [MmmmFloorPie] wanted to power up his old project. The 68000 board was dead, and he wasn’t up to debugging the hundreds of point to point soldered connections. The CRT interface was a separate board including the 6845 and 32 KByte of RAM. It would only take a bit of hacking to bring that up. But what would replace the microprocessor?

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DEF CON: BSODomizing In High Definition

A few years ago, [Kingpin] a.k.a. [Joe Grand] (A judge for the 2014 Hackaday Prize) designed the most beautiful electronic prank ever. The BSODomizer is a simple device with a pass-through connection for a VGA display and an infrared receiver. Plug the BSODomizer into an unsuspecting coworker’s monitor, press a button on a remote, and watch Microsoft’s blue screen of death appear. It’s brilliant, devious, and actually a pretty simple device if you pick the right microcontroller.

The original BSODomizer is getting a little long in the tooth. VGA is finally dead. The Propeller chip used to generate the video only generates text, and can’t reproduce Microsoft’s fancy new graphical error screens. HDMI is the future, and FPGAs have never been more accessible. For this year’s DEF CON, [Kingpin] and [Zoz] needed something to impress an audience that is just learning how to solder. They’ve revisited the BSODomizer, and have created the greatest hardware project at this year’s DEF CON.

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