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retro edition                         /___/ 
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Wiimote finger tracking music controller

posted Dec 2nd 2008 5:14pm by
filed under: digital audio hacks, led hacks, nintendo hacks, peripherals hacks, wii hacks

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]

Mayor is a hacker and wants to use DIY parking meters

posted Apr 8th 2011 6:05am by
filed under: transportation hacks

The Mayor of Silverton, Oregon is a hacker and wants to use roll-your-own hardware in the town’s parking meters. It’s not that he thinks he can do a better job than companies selling modern meters (although there have been notable problems with those), but he wants to retain the sentiment of the 1940′s era parking meters that are being replaced. Those meters are known as penny parking meters, because you can get 12 minutes of time for just one penny.

Many municipalities have gone digital with parking payment systems due to costs associated with servicing mechanical meters and collecting coins from each one of them. This hack aims to keep the look of the vintage meters, but replace the mechanical readout with a digital screen. The meter would still offer a reasonable parking deal; five minutes for free. Cost for replacing the internals is estimated at $150 per meter… which seems just a bit high if they are looking at a 250 unit run. The main problem that we see with the idea is that the original parking meter bodies don’t have a slot which can accept quarters.

[Thanks Rick]

Anonymizing clothing

posted Jun 17th 2008 9:00pm by
filed under: misc hacks

Though much of [citizenFinerran]‘s intent in designing a suit that camouflages the wearer from security camera footage was philosophical, it is designed with a very tangible purpose in mind. The suit does not provide true camouflage (to say nothing of true invisibility), but it does create enough moving visual obstructions to make the wearer completely anonymous on film. More details on this and other invisibility cloaks after the break.

The idea is remarkably simple: [citizenFinerran]‘s suit is made of a jumpsuit fashioned from fiberglass screening with several blank ID cards halved and glued to the suit. The cards are not glued on firmly, but hang in a way that allows them to move as the wearer walks. The motion of the cards creates a visual effect that appears as pixelation on surveillance footage. Though the designer referenced and “imitated” several different methods of creating the pixelated appearance, all of those methods were actually implemented via software on the camera, not by an external hardware solution.

The closest thing to a working invisibility cloak in current development is the work of a team of students and professors at the University of Tokyo. It uses a a coat made of retro-reflective materials, a camera behind the wearer, and a projector. The digital camera captures the scenery behind the wearer and projects it onto the front, creating a form of camouflage on an opaque surface that resembles true invisibility. It’s not without limitations, though, as the projector would have to move with the person wearing the coat to achieve mobile cover. Even then it would only work on one side of the coat, leaving the other side completely exposed. Not really feasible unless a full body display was created.

If evading cameras is the goal, we feel a far more elegant fix is simply to cover your face with a hood or a gas mask. In addition to keeping your identity secret, a hood actually lines up with the philosophical imperatives behind [citizenFinerran]‘s project very well, and it’s less likely to get you beaten up.

Mind control via serial port

posted Oct 21st 2009 11:00am by
filed under: toy hacks


[Zibri] found a very simple method for using brain waves as a controller via a DB9 serial port. He’s using Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer which we saw yesterday in the brain controlled Arduino. In that project the Arduino tapped into the LEDs and interfaced those signals with a computer via USB. This time the connection was made using an RS-232 transceiver to pass data from the programming header inside of the toy’s base unit to a computer over the serial port. Tapping into the programming header has a lot more potential and should be more reliable than sniffing logic out of LED connections. [Zibri] has written an application to display the received data but it doesn’t look like he’s made the code available for download.

Apparently he tipped us off about a week ago. We recall seeing this submission but as you can tell it’s a little bit light on the detail. So if you want your tips to be at the front of the line, make sure you do what you can to fill us in on all the details of your project. At our request [Zibri] provided a picture of the PCB from the Force Trainer’s base unit. See it after the break.force-trainer-base-unit-pcb

Motion activated monitor wakeup

posted Feb 21st 2011 5:04am by
filed under: pcs hacks

This hardware is used to keep a computer monitor awake when there is motion in the room. The monitor displays important information for firefighter in the vehicle bay, but only needs to be on when they are getting ready to go out on a call. The solution is a simple one, a PIR sensor combines with a mouse for motion sensitive input. When the PIR sensor detects motion it causes a mouse button click via a 2N3904 transistor. Now the monitor will not waste power or have burn-in over the long term, but whenever someone is in the room it will be displaying the information that the emergency workers need to know.

[Thanks Andy]

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