Back in 2018, we covered the work being done by [Andrew Sinden] to create a lightgun that could work on modern televisions. The project was looking for funding via Kickstarter, but due at least in part to skepticism about the technology involved, the campaign fell well short of its goal. It seemed, at the time, like the story would end there.
The final version of the hardware ditches the realistic firearm aesthetic inherited from the Wii gun accessory it was designed to fit into, and now features a brightly-colored pistol enclosure that wouldn’t look out of place tethered to a Virtua Cop machine. It’s also gained an optional recoil solenoid for force feedback, though it tacks on another $60 to the already hefty $100 price tag for the base model.
We’re glad to see that [Andrew] recognized the importance of getting Linux support for the software side of things, as it enabled the development of a pre-configured Retropie image for the Raspberry Pi 4. Though you aren’t forced to emulate on the Pi, for those who would like to blast the occasional zombie on their desktop, Windows and x86 Linux are also supported.
Often times, when we cover a project here on Hackaday it’s a one-shot deal: somebody had a particular need or desire, built a gadget to fulfill it, and moved on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a certain feeling of pride when we see a project from this community develop into something more. While not every hacked together piece of hardware we feature has the potential to be the next Arduboy or Sinden Lightgun, we like to think that we’ve already covered the next big project-turned-product success story and just don’t know it yet.
[Nick Poole] has an interesting idea for a new tool, one that has the simple goal of making accurate part counts of SMT reels as easy as pulling tape through a device. That device is the BeanCounter, an upcoming small handheld unit of his own design that counts parts as quickly as one can pull tape through a slot. The device is powered by a CR2032 cell and and works with 8 mm wide tapes up to 2 mm in height, which [Nick] says covers most 0805 or smaller sized parts, as well as things like SOT-23 transistors.
Why would one want to make such a task easier? Two compelling reasons for such a tool include: taking inventory of parts on partial reels or cut tape, and creating segments that contain a known number of parts.
The first is handy for obvious reasons, and the second is useful for things like creating kits. In fact, the usefulness of this tool for creating tape segments of fixed length is perhaps not obvious to anyone who hasn’t done it by hand. Sure, one can measure SMT tape with a ruler or a reference mark to yield a segment containing a fixed number of parts, but that involves a lot of handling and doesn’t scale up very well. In fact, the hassle of cutting tape segments accurately and repeatedly is a common pain point, so making the job easier has value.
Screwdrivers are simple devices with a simple purpose, and there is generally little fanfare involved with buying yourself a new set. We’ve never seen one marketed as an object of desire, but we have to admit that [Giaco] managed to do precisely that. He created the Kinetic Driver, a fidget spinner precision screwdriver designed to use its rotational momentum to loosen and tighten screws.
The main difference between the Kinetic Driver and other screwdrivers is a big brass mass at the front end for high rotational inertia and a high-quality ceramic bearing at the back end for minimal drag. It uses 4 mm precision bits, so its utility will be limited to small screws, which makes it perfect for working on small electronics.
[Giaco] says the idea came after running a successful Kickstarter campaign for a utility knife, where he found that his favorite screwdriver for the many small screws was one with a fat metal body which allowed it to spin easily. In the video after the break, he gives an excellent insight into the development process. He started by creating a series of 3D printed prototypes to figure out the basic shape, before making the first metal prototype. [Giaco] also shows the importance of figuring out the order of operation for machining, which is often glossed over in other machining videos. Be sure to check out the beautiful launch video at 17:52. Continue reading “The Screwdriver You Don’t Need, But Probably Want”→
There’s nothing new, ever. It’s all been done. But that doesn’t mean you can’t invent something interesting. A case in point is the Motor Synth, a crowdfunding project from Gamechanger Audio. It’s what you get when you combine advanced quadcopter technology with the market for modular and semi-modular synthesizers.
The core feature of the Motor Synth is an octet of brushless motors tucked behind a plexiglass window. These (either through an electromagnetic pickup or something slightly more clever) produce a tone, giving the Motor Synth four-note polyphony with two voices per key. On top of these motors are reflective optical discs sensed with infrared detectors. These are mixed as harmonics to the fundamental frequency. The result? Well, they got an endorsement from [Jean-Michel Jarre] at Superbooth earlier this month (see video below). That’s pretty impressive. Continue reading “The Motor Synth Is What You Get When You Forget Hammond Organs Exist”→
Based on the WiFi / Bluetooth wunderchip, clad in a polycarbonate frame, and looking like something that would be an amazing cell phone for 2005, the WiPhone is now available on Kickstarter.
We’ve seen the WiPhone before, and it’s an interesting set of features for what is effectively an ESP32 board with some buttons and a screen. It’s become something of a platform, with expansion daughterboards for LTE, LoRa, a camera, a Bus Pirate, and a programmable NFC/RFID doohickey. If you’ve longed for the day of big ‘ol Nokia brick phones, want to hack your phone, but don’t really care about actually having cellular connectivity, this is something that’s right up your alley.
Although the WiPhone looks like a usable product that was designed by someone with a sense of design, it still is Open Source. You can build your own, and there are dozens of expansion boards that will plug into the back of the WiPhone for prototyping, experimentation, and RGB Gaming LEDs. There’s no cellular modem on the WiPhone, though; for calls you’ll have to turn to SIP or VoIP apps.
Considering how difficult it is to source a cellular modem in small quantities and the desire for a cell phone that respects your Right to Repair, we’ve got to hand it to the WiPhone for creating something people want. It gets even better when you consider this looks more like a product than the 3D printed pieces of electronic cruft we usually see, and we’re happy to see this crowdfunding campaign just passed its goal and is completely funded.
Phones are getting increasingly more complex, more difficult to repair, and phone manufacturers don’t like you tinkering with their stuff. It’s a portable version of a John Deere tractor in your pocket, and Apple doesn’t want you replacing a battery by yourself. What if there was a phone that respected your freedom? That’s the idea behind the WiPhone, and soon it’s going to be be a crowdfunding campaign. Yes, you will soon be able to buy a phone that respects your freedom.
We took a look at the WiPhone a few months ago, and the idea was solid: make a simple, cheap, handheld device based on the ESP32 WiFi/Bluetooth wonder microcontroller. There are a few other various bits of electronic ephemera for scanning the buttons, an audio codec, and a speaker driver, but the basics of the build are just an LCD and ESP32. The entire idea of this phone is to make calls through WiFi, and given the state of VoIP, it’s a marketable product.
Astute readers may notice that the WiPhone doesn’t have a cellular modem. Yes, this is true, but putting a baseband in a small, low-volume project is incredibly hard. You’re limited to 2G if you don’t want to deal with Broadcom or Qualcomm, and they’re not going to be interested in you if you’re not moving a hundred thousand units, anyway. Also, you’ve got service plans to deal with, multi-country radios, and you’re probably next to a trusted WiFi network right now, anyway.
The WiPhone is designed to be hackable, with daughter boards that turn it into a rainbow or RC car, and easy to assemble. It’s also going to be a crowdfunding campaign at the end of the month. If you want a phone that respects your right to repair, this is the project to look at, even if you don’t need a cellular modem all the time.
Vantablack is the darkest pigment ever created, capable of absorbing 99.96% of visible light. If you cover something in Vantablack, it turns into a black hole. No detail is presented, and physical objects become silhouettes. Objects covered in Vantablack are outside the human experience. The mammalian mind cannot comprehend a Vantablack object.
Vantablack is cool, but it’s also expensive. It’s also exclusively licensed by [Anish Kapoor]’s studio for artistic use. Understandably, artists have rebelled, and they’re making their own Vantablack-like pigments. Now, the World’s Blackest Black is on Kickstarter. You can get a 150 ml bottle of Black 3.0, something that’s almost black as Vantablack, for £10.
The pigment for Black 3.0 is called Black Magick, and yes, there was a version 2.0 The problem with the earlier version is that although the pigment was blacker than almost anything else, paint isn’t just pigment. You need binders. The new formulation uses a new acrylic polymer to hold the pigment, and ‘nano-mattifiers’ to make the paint none more matte.
What can you do with the blackest black paint you’ve ever seen? Well, taking pictures of an object covered in the blackest black is a tiny bit dumb. This is something that must be experienced in person. You could paint a car with it, which is something I really want to see. You could follow [Anish Kapoor] around in the shadows. Use it as a calibration target. Who knows what we’ll do with the almost-Vantablack when everyone has it.