Performing Magic With A Little High-Tech Help

Doing magic with cards involves a lot of precise dexterity to know which card is where. For plenty of tricks, this is often knowledge and control of a single card or a small number of cards. But knowing the exact position of every single card in the deck could certainly be helpful, so the Nettle Magic Project was created to allow magicians to easily identify the location of cards in the deck.

The system works through the use of computer vision to identify a series of marks on the short edge of a stack of cards. The marks can be printed in IR- or UV-sensitive ink to make them virtually invisible, but for demonstration these use regular black ink. Each card has landmarks printed on either side of a set of bit markers which identify the cards. A computer is able to quickly read the marks and identify each card in order while the deck is still stacked, aiding the magician in whichever trick they need to perform.

The software only runs on various Apple devices right now, including iPhones and iPads, but the software is readily available fore experimentation if you are a magician looking to try something like this out. Honestly, we don’t see too many builds focusing on magic, sleight-of-hand or otherwise, and we had to go back over a decade to find a couple of custom magical builds from a magician named [Mario].

Thanks to [Tim] for the tip!

More Car Audio Input Hacking

[Dave] pulled the head unit out of his dashboard to add an iPod input. He took a much more invasive route than the other hack we saw a few days ago. He actually patched into the audio lines going from the Dolby reader head chip to the amplifier.

The first step was to trick the deck into thinking it had a cassette inserted. He scoped an enable pin on one of the chips to discover the timing and emulated that signal using a PIC microprocessor. From there he popped off the chip that reads the tape data, patching directly into the audio out traces. This presented some noise issues when charging the iPod but [Dave] fixed that with some decoupling capacitors.

Card Shuffling Machine Failure


Breaking from his usually routine of winning at everything, [Glacial Wanderer] has posted one of his projects that didn’t actually work. It’s a Rube Goldberg style card shuffling machine. He wanted something that was visually interesting while still randomizing the cards. A blower would be mounted to the top to mix the cards similar to a lottery ball machine. The cards would then drop into a chute that would make sure all of the cards were oriented correctly before being presented to the user. After building the first prototype, several problems were apparent. The first of which was the fan not being strong enough. His interest was waning and it looked like the time he’d have to invest in fixes was growing quickly, so he decided to cut his loses. He still posted about the prototype in hopes that it could help someone else exploring this sort of machine. A video of the mechanism can be found below.

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