Startup accelerator Y Combinator and Upverter are joining forces to run a hardware hackathon. This event aims to encourage hardware hackers to get together and design new products in a twelve hour sprint. Startups including Pebble, Octopart, and Lockitron will also be participating.
It’s a free event, and the winning teams will get their design manufactured. Participants will retain the rights to their designs, get free professional Upverter accounts, and have the chance to chat with some of the Y Combinator partners. This makes it a great opportunity for people looking to create their own hardware startup.
The event takes place on February 23rd at the Y Combinator offices in Mountain View, CA. Registration is open until February 8th. If you’re in the Bay Area and do hardware, you should check this event out.
Filed under: contests
This snippet of Hello World code lets [Nico Ritschel] turn the Pin 13 LED on his Arduino on and off using Siri, the voice-activated helper built into iPhones. The trick here is using the Ruby programming language to get Siri Proxy talking to Arduino via the USB connection. He calls the project siriproxy-arduino.
On one end of the hack resides SiriProxy, a package not approved by Apple which is capable of intercepting the Siri messages headed for Apple’s own servers. The messages are still relayed, but a copy of each is available for [Nico's] own uses. On the other side of things he’s building on the work of [Austinbv's] dino gem; a Ruby package that facilitates control of the Arduino. It includes a sketch that is uploaded to the Arduino board, opening up a Ruby API. The collection of code seen above defines the pin with the LED connected and then listens for a specific Siri commands to actuate it.
Take a look at [Nico's] explanation of the module in the video after the break.
Filed under: arduino hacks, iphone hacks
So you just pulled a fancy component off of a board from some broken electronics and you want to use it in your own project. What if the data sheet you found for it doesn’t include measurements for the footprint? Sure, you could pull out your digital calipers, but look at the measurements in the image above. How the heck are you supposed to accurately measure that? [Steve] found an easy answer for this problem. He uses microscope software to process an image of the board.
One common task when working with a microscope is measuring the items which are being viewed under magnification. [Steve] harnessed the power of a piece of free software called MiCam. One of its features is the ability to select an area of the photograph so serve as the measuring stick. To get the labels seen in the image above he selected the left and right edges of the board as the legend. He used his digital calipers to get a precise measurement of this area, then let the software automatically calculate the rest of the distances which he selected with his cursor.
MiCam is written for Windows machines. If you know of Linux or OSX alternatives please let us know in the comments.
Filed under: tool hacks
Having been faced with an empty beer fridge one too many times the team at Metalworks came up with an approval system for dispensing malted beverages. The trick was to remove the physical controls on a can dispenser. The only way you can get a cold one is to ask the machine via its twitter account. If there’s beer inside, it waits for one of your approved co-workers to give the go-ahead.
There are two versions of the machine. The first is a hacked refrigerator with a dispenser hole cut in the door. This resides in their Sydney office, apparently doesn’t work all that well, and is only shown in the video after the break.
The image above is version 2.0 which is located at their Singapore branch. It’s a much smaller device, but works very well since it started as a commercially available can dispenser. You can see the Arduino Leonardo and breadboard which make up the driver circuits.
There aren’t a ton of details on this, but it’s not hard to find about a million examples of an Arduino using Twitter. Here’s one that takes Morse code as an input and posts the message as a Tweet.
Filed under: beer hacks
This television is perfect except for its low resolution and the fact that it can’t be seen by the naked eye. [Chris Shen's] art installation, Infra, uses 625 television remotes as pixels for a TV screen. There’s a little bit of insight to be gained from the details which [Chris] shared with EMSL.
The remote controls were all throw-aways. Even if there are problems with the buttons, battery connectors, or cases, chances are the IR led in each was still functional. So [Chris] patched into them using about 500 meters of speaker wire.
Why 625 pixel? Because that’s how many LEDs the Peggy board can handle. We’ve seen this open source LED board driving video in other projects. Here it’s been connected to each remote using Molex connectors. Each of the headers has the same pitch as a through-hole 5mm LED. The entire board was filled with them, and a mating crimp connector terminates the end of the wire coming out of each remote. This makes setup quite easy as the remotes don’t have to be installed in any particular order as long as the physical location matches Peggy’s grid.
You can get a glimpse of the piece playing video in the clip after the break.
Filed under: led hacks
[Mal'oo] has one of those laptop computers whose screen swivels to turn it into a tablet. But the thing is a few years old and didn’t come with an orientation sensor that changes the screen between landscape and desktop, but also knows which side is up. His solution was to add a 12-axis sensor via the mini PCI express header.
The hardware comes in two pieces. The first is a mini-PCIe card to USB interface. This is handy if you want to add a Bluetooth dongle permanently to your computer. But he’s got other things in mind for it. After hacking the BIOS (which for some reason limits what you can plug into this slot) he moved onto the second part which is a USB 12-axis sensor. This picture shows the wires before they were soldered to the USB card. [Mal'oo] couldn’t just plug it in because the sensor wouldn’t have been oriented correctly in relation to the computer. The final product is quite response, as shown in the clip after the jump.
Filed under: laptops hacks
If you’re old enough to have used a dial-up modem we’d bet you can do an imitation of the sounds it made while connecting. Those not-so-beautiful sounds heralded the dawning of a technological era. But few actually know what each of those distinct sounds were doing. Now’s your chance to learn. This post explains each step in the dail-up handshake process.
This may be the most useful infographic we’ve ever seen. Normally we just seem them as gimmicks, but [Oona Räisänen] really put together something special with this one. Her blog post includes an audio clip so that you can play back the full handshake sounds. The main box on the graphic shows the audio spectrum from that clip, with an explanation below it. But you’ll also want to read through her full write-up for a more narrative description.
The part we found the most interesting is that these modems needed to disable the echo suppression used by the telephone system in order to operate at full-duplex. Apparently land lines disabled the speaker while you were talking so that you didn’t hear your own voice. This was a problem if the modem was trying to send and receive at the same time.
Filed under: classic hacks
[Reza's] methodical investigation of this remote controlled outlet let him patch in with an Arduino using a 433 MHz transmitter. This is a single-device unit, but the techniques used here should allow you to take control of wireless rigs that have multiple modules to control many devices.
We’ve seen some folks at our local hackerspace try to patch into the remote control itself. That used some type of weird button scanning (not just connecting a pin to ground or voltage) and didn’t pan out. [Reza] doesn’t even crack open the case of either of the units seen above. Instead, he goes straight for a wireless receiver he had on hand, using a logic analyzer to capture the signals coming from the remote.
Once he had a good snapshot of the signals sent when pressing the on or off button of the remote he set out to replicate it in his Arduino code. His function called setStateWithDelay takes three parameters: the transmit pin, the level (high or low), and a number of milliseconds to delay. Each signal calls this function many times, but working the bugs out is pretty easy; just capture the signal with the logic sniffer and compare to the stock remote.
Filed under: arduino hacks
The Belkin WeMo is a small, WiFi connected outlet controlled by a mobile device that adds Internet control to a desk lamp, coffee maker, or, if you’re feeling daring, your home server. It’s an interesting device, but of course there are a few security implications of having your electric kettle connected to the Internet. [Daniel] was able to get root on his Belkin WeMo and with full control of his Internet-connected outlet was able to turn it into a deathtrap.
[Daniel] says his exploit could be developed into a virus that will scan for WeMo devices. Once these Internet-connected devices are found, it’s easy to turn these devices on and off really fast; something not too dangerous for a desk lamp, but potentially lethal if it’s plugged into a space heater.
In the video after the break, you can see [Daniel] exploiting the WeMo with a flaw in its UPnP implementation. There’s footage of his terminal hacking and of his desk lamp being turned on and off really fast, something that could be very dangerous for higher current devices.
Filed under: peripherals hacks, security hacks
Like Cyrano giving advice to Christian from underneath Roxanne’s balcony, now you too can can advise young suitors trying to win the heart of the object of their affection.
[Lauren] had the idea of using objective, third-party observers checking in on her dating activities and giving advice as to what she should do next. Yes, she’s streaming her dates over the Internet and asking for advice from Mechanical Turk workers.
The idea behind this project isn’t that [Lauren] isn’t looking for advice from her own Cyrano, but rather to open up new, previously unexpected possibilities. Turk workers will watch the stream while [Lauren] presents them with options telling her to smile more, laugh, change the subject, or ask a question. [Lauren] receives these results as a text message, where she’ll comply with the Internet’s wishes and hope her date doesn’t go horribly awry.
It’s an interesting project to say the least, but we’ve got to wonder about the quality of the advice given from her online advisers. Turk workers do take their jobs more seriously than random people on the Internet, so barring an invasion from /b/, [Lauren]‘s night might just go alright.
Filed under: lifehacks
[Blake] just finished a gas sensor suite built from Gadgeteer parts. The three sensors are the cylindrical towers along the left hand side of the assembly. The one at the top (with the orange ring) is an alcohol sensor. The middle one senses ammonia and the lower sensor measures air quality. Also rolled into the mix are temperature and humidity sensors.
You can collect a lot of data with this type of setup. To keep it organized [Blake] used the ThingSpeak interface. Using the NIC in the upper right he uploads the measurements for real-time graphing. The setup is explained in detail in the video after the break, including a test with some cleaning ammonia.
We haven’t tried out the Gadgeteer system for ourselves yet. But you’ve got to admit that the ribbon cable connector system the family of parts uses really helps to keep a rather complicated setup like this one nice and tidy.
Filed under: Microcontrollers
Sure, the physical build itself looks great, but it’s what [Michael] did with the firmware that impresses us the most. He’s using an Arduino Mega to drive the 7x7x7 cube and manages to squeeze out what he calls 142 frames per second with the setup. We’re not sure FPS is the right measurement, as we believe it’s the multiplexing rate that he’s trying to describle. It takes 144 uS to scan the entire matrix once. He performs the scan seven times per frame and the result is a flicker-free appearance, even to cameras.
You can see a video demonstration after the break. Since [Michael] emailed us directly with more details about the build we’ve pasted those below the fold as well.
If you’re looking for a more entry-level Arduino LED cube this 4x4x4 project is just the thing.
The cube is able to process 142 frames per second, that is, 1 frame every 7 milliseconds. Within this time period, it loops through a still frame 7 times (Each cycle of POV lasts 144 microseconds). This is able to compensate for flickering during video recording, allowing all camera’s to record fluid video without distortion.
The cube itself is controlled with an Arduino Mega 2560. For each frame in memory, the Arduino reads and bit shifts 49 bytes of data for an encoded duration. This allows for the cube to be applied to a variety of purposes, from text display to effects to music visualisation.
The frames were generated through complex Processing scripts, allowing for a multitude of operations such as shifting in any direction (seen in the rain effect), and an edge shift (seen in the scrolling text around the outside of the cube). These scripts were used to perform the basis of calculations for fireworks, as well as sine waves in 1, 2 & 3 dimensions (seen in the video).
In this cube the supporting structure was made 0.9 mm galvanised steel wire, straightened by stretching the wire. The 5mm Blue LED’s are positioned 30mm apart, with the anodes being attached to the verticals (white wires in the image below) & the cathodes are attached to the horizontal layers (green wires in the image below – bottom right – shown passing through NPN transistors). The Arduino Mega 2560 R3 is positioned on a suspended platform, with the anodes controlled on the Digital Pins as opposed to the cathodes on remapped AnalogInputs.
Filed under: arduino hacks, led hacks