Hackaday Links: May 11, 2014

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North Korean drones! Yes, your local hobby shop has the same aerial reconnaissance abilities as North Korea. Props to Pyongyang for getting v-tail mixing down.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the look of a well laid out resistor array, and the folks at Boldport have taken this to a new level. It’s an art piece, yes, but these would make fabulous drink coasters.

Here’s something even more artistic. [cpurola] found a bunch of cerdip EPROMs and bent the pins in a weird chainmaille-esque way. The end result is an EPROM bracelet, just in time for mother’s day. It’s a better use for these chips than tearing them apart and plundering them for the few cents worth of gold in each.

[John] still uses his original Xbox for xmbc, but he’d like to use the controllers with his computer. He never uses the third and fourth controller ports, so he stuck those in his computer. It’s as simple as soldering the controller port module to a connector and plugging it into an internal USB port. Ubuntu worked great, but Windows required XBCD.

[Kerry] has modified an FT232 USB/UART thingy as an Arduino programmer before. The CP2102 USB/UART is almost as popular on eBay, a little less expensive, and equally suited for ‘duino programming. It requires desoldering a resistor and soldering a jumper on a leadless package, but with a fine solder tip, it’s not too bad.

Using XBox One And PS4 Controllers With Everything

The controllers from the last generation of consoles served their purpose well. They were there for us when we wanted to experiment with an I2C bus, and they stood by when we wanted to build a quadcopter out of parts just lying around. A new generation of consoles is now upon us, and with them come new controllers. Controllers for which Arduino libraries haven’t been written yet. The horror.

Until those libraries are developed, there’s ChronusMAX, a USB dongle that allows you to use XBox One controllers on a PS4, PS4 controllers on the XBox, mice and keyboards on both systems, and both types of controllers on your PC.

The folks behind ChronusMAX put up a video demoing the XBox One controller working on the 360, PS3, and PC, with another video showing the same for the PS4 controller. As far as what we can see from the PC demos, everything on these controllers can be read, right down to the accelerometer data on the DualShock 4.

Although this is a commercial product, we’re surprised we haven’t seen a more open version by now. From the looks of it, it’s a very small device with two USB ports and a firmware upload utility. Microcontrollers with two native USB ports are usually encased in large packages, so there might be some very clever engineering in this device. Let us know when someone does a teardown of one of these.

Thanks [Josh] for sending this one in.

Update: Semi-automatic Pick and Place Goes Fully-Automatic

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Way back in April we looked at an impressive Pick and Place machine project which wasn’t actually up and running yet. Well it looks like [Brian Dorey] has really put the pedal to the metal with this fall, posting nine project updates since September.

The previous system was working just fine but required quite a bit of user intervention to do the actual placing. So the first modifications toward the new goal centered around motorizing the gantry. There’s a lot of information on this, as well as the vacuum tweezer heads that were designed for the system. But for us it was exciting to read about the vibrating chip feeder. This uses the vibrating motor from an Xbox controller to jiggle the ICs from their tube packaging to a staging jig off the side of the build table. You can see a video of this after the break along with a demo of the entire machine at work.

[Brian] seems to favor the Xbox parts as he also used an Xbox live camera along with OpenCV to detect the parts and ensure they are lined up correctly. For the best results possible the parts need to be illuminated properly which is why he also built a rather interesting light ring using 144 red LEDs.

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Posterior Posture Videogame Controller

Normally we see some crazy mad science projects coming from [Ben Krasnow’s] laboratory. This week [Ben] changes gears a bit and hacks his Xbox controller to interface with his bathroom scale and function as a posture controlled input device. You may want to take a moment for that to tumble around in your noggin before we trying to explain. What this means is you sit catawampus on a bathroom scale and when you lean forward your game character moves forward, lean back your character backs up and lean side to side for strafe left and right.

A modern digital bathroom scale has four pressure point transducers — one in each corner — which are read by the central controller and summed to generate the weight of the object setting on the scale. To use the scale as a controller input [Ben] removed the central scale controller and created two amplified Wheatstone bridge differential circuits, one for each diagonal axis between load cells. After adding an offset potentiometer to fix the resting point at 0.8 volts, the amplified differential voltage signals are fed directly into an Xbox controller’s thumb stick input for game control.

Additionally, to add rotation to his new game controller he hacked a an old ball type mouse and added a bit of rubber tubing that contacted and tracked the base of a  Lazy Susan platter. The scale sits on the Lazy Susan and allows for the partial rotation of your torso to controlled game rotation. However, [Ben] still needed a regular mouse interfaced with the game for full 360° rotation control.

There is more after the break, plus the build and demonstration video.

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The thinnest Xbox laptop yet

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With every generation of consoles, there comes a time when the price of a new box is cheap enough, and used machines are plentiful enough, that console hackers pull out all the stops before the next generation arrives. For the Xbox 360, that time is now, and with no PS1-like hardware revision on the horizon, it looks like [jhax01]’s custom Xbox 360 laptop might be the smallest Xbox casemod we’ll see for a very long time.

[jhax01] was inspired by the work of [Yung Jeezus] and [AllYourXboxNeeds]’ YouTube channels and decided to craft his own custom enclosure for an Xbox 360 slim. The case was made out of aluminum plate cut with a simple angle grinder and bent on a cheap 18″ Harbor Freight brake. Despite these extremely simple tools, [jhax01] managed to fabricate a case that’s right up there with the masters of Xbox laptop craftsmanship.

The CD drive was ditched along with plans for a second hard drive. The display’s enclosure and hinge comes from an ASUS Zenbook, hence this project’s eponym, the ZenBox. The panel from the display was discarded and replaced with one that would work with the LVDS converter [jhax] found, giving the laptop a resolution of 1366×768.

It’s an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and an impressively thin gaming console to boot. Throw in a battery, and we’d be more than happy to carry this one around with us.

Ask Hackaday: What are we going to do with the new Kinect?

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Yesterday Microsoft announced their new cable box, the Xbox One. Included in the announcement is a vastly improved Kinect sensor. It won’t be available until next Christmas, but now the question is what are we going to do with it?

From what initial specs that can be found, the new version of the Kinect will output RGB 1080p video over a USB 3.0 connection to the new Xbox. The IR depth camera of the original Kinect has been replaced with a time of flight camera – a camera that is able to send out a pulse of light and time how long it takes for photons to be reflected back to the camera. While there have been some inroads into making low-cost ToF cameras – namely Intel and Creative’s Interactive Gesture Camera Development Kit and the $250 DepthSense 325 from SoftKinetic – the Kinect 2.0 will be the first time of flight camera you’ll be able to buy for a few hundred bucks at any Walmart.

We’ve seen a ton of awesome Kinect hacks over the years. Everything from a ‘holographic display’ that turns any TV into a 3D display, computer vision for robots, and a 3D scanner among others. A new Kinect sensor with better 3D resolution can only improve existing projects and the time of flight sensor – like the one found in Google’s driverless car – opens up the door for a whole bunch of new projects.

So, readers of Hackaday, assuming someone can write a driver in a few days like the Kinect 1.0, what are we going to do with it?

While we’re at it, keep in mind we made a call for Wii U controller hacks. If somebody can crack that nut, it’ll be an awesome remote for robots and FPV airplanes and drones.

Microsoft IllumiRoom breaks your video game out of its television prison

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We see a lot of video game tech coming out of the three console giants (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo). With one look we can usually predict what is going to be a flop. Case and point is the Wii U whose sales have been less than extraordinary and Sony Move which is motion control directed as hardcore games who we believe are perfectly happy with the current evolution of their dual shock controllers. But this time around we think Microsoft has it nailed. They’re showing off technology they call IllumiRoom which uses a projector to bring your entire gaming room into the experience.

The image above is not doctored. This is a picture of IllumiRoom in action. A projector on the coffee table automatically calibrates to the room (using Kinect 3D data for mapping) in order to show realistic graphic rendering on the non-flat projection surfaces. In our mind, this comes straight out of Kinect hacking projects like the Hadouken projector. With this in place, the game designers are given free rein to come up with all kinds of different ways to use the feature. Stick with us after the break to see what they’ve developed.

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