Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Resistors and power ratings

Resistors and power ratings:

Kenneth discusses resistors and power ratings:
Resistors are possibly the most basic component of electronics; given an input voltage, they allow a current to flow, and given an input current to flow, they produce a voltage.  The relationship between the voltage and current is linear (a straight line), (mostly) frequency independent (unlike capacitors or inductors), and only dependent on its resistance (expressed in ohms).
Via TweetDeck.

What does the government think about that drone in your home?

What does the government think about that drone in your home?:

The world is buzzing about drones right now. Even we’re joining in the fun with some antics of our own. Right now, it is basically a legal free-for all since no one is enforcing regulation, but is that about to change? Should it?
Lets start off by establishing the definition of a “drone”. For this article, we’ll settle for any “unmanned aerial vehicle”, though we can all agree that that limiting this to airspace is fairly restrictive. This is the specific type that are making the news right now and quite possibly catching the eye of people who make the rules.

During my fun exploring the different ways to cause a little mischief by hacking a fairly limited Parrot AR Drone, I met some resistance on user forums from people concerned that I would usher in a new set of legislation restricting the use of drones by weaponizing them. While we all can agree that irresponsible use of dangerous things is bad, the idea that my little taserDrone would garner government attention was laughable.
However, I felt that a little research was necessary into how the FAA feels about drones, since it seems that everyone is putting them in the air.  I found some interesting things. Most notably, the modifications of adding further flight distance and better cameras seems to be the biggest concern for people, and is likely to be the cause of legislation due to privacy issues.
At present, the FAA already has regulation in place for drones and has for some time. To use one above 400 feet, you must be registered with the FAA and issued a certificate, of which they’ve only issued a few hundred. The law also states that you can not use the drone for commercial purposes. This has actually become an issue as one real estate company found out when they started hiring drones to photograph the properties they were listing.
With the swarm on the horizon, the FAA realizes they have to approach this. They’ve created an entire office dedicated to integrating drones into airspace an are actually attempting to loosen up the restrictions for drone use.  Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t just mean [Joe] next door with his hacked AR Drone, but also the police. This is a big deal to many who already feel like they live in a current state surveillance.  This year the FAA actually had a presence and spoke at the Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade show in Los Vegas, for the first time in its 39 year run.
So it seems that the prime concerns surrounding drones right now are air safety and privacy. We all know they can be weaponized. We’ve all seen the military drones. Apparently, a gun mounted on a drone is no more scary than a gun on a hip or on a car. What people are more concerned about are prying eyes.  So when I attempt to strap a bottle rocket to my drone, maybe people shouldn’t freak out. Maybe they should actually reconsider strapping that high definition camera to their drone and flying it over their neighborhood.
Then again, this is hackaday. All we ask is that you don’t hurt anyone and try to show a little respect to eachother while you do whatever you want to that thing you OWN.

Filed under: news

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Basics of Thermocouples

The Basics of Thermocouples:

Curious about thermocouples and how they work?  The Basics of Thermocouples  from Circuit Cellar does a good job of answering a lot of questions about how they function, and how to use them.

Hubble’s Hidden Treasures

Hubble’s Hidden Treasures:
Hubble’s Hidden Treasures.
Last March, the operators of the Hubble Space Telescope launched a competition, inviting amateur astronomers to dig into hundreds of thousands of images of outer space, helping discover hidden treasures and bring them to light. Yesterday, NASA and the European Space Agency announced the winners in both categories: image processing, where entrants composed their own images based on Hubble data, and image search, where entrants simply uncovered amazing images not previously released. Collected here are 16 of the winning images. Be sure to visit the Hubble site to see them all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer”

“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer”:
Neil Armstrong, First Man on Moon, Dies at 82 @
Although he had been a Navy fighter pilot, a test pilot for NASA’s forerunner and an astronaut, Mr. Armstrong never allowed himself to be caught up in the celebrity and glamour of the space program.
“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000 in one a rare public appearance. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”
Full quote:“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.”

The $100 tri-copter

The $100 tri-copter:

We’ve seen lots of budget tri-copters, but $100 seems like a heck of a deal to us! Watching this video, you can see this home made tri-copter is incredibly agile and seems to handle quite well. Whats amazing is that [hallstudio] claims that it cost roughly $100. That price is really good compared to even the cheapest multi copters out there.
Much of the manufacturing cost associated with this kind of thing has been removed as the body is just cheap wood from the local hardware store. He even did an admittedly sloppy rig for his tail rotor, not that it looks like it has hurt his performance.  One cool feature is the fact that you can fold the front arms backward, allowing for the tri-copter to be shoved into a bag for easy transportation.
You can find a complete parts list on his video, but it looks like maybe his cost doesn’t figure in the cost of the radio controller. There are no build instructions, but a quick google search leads us to the rcexplorer tricopter which seems to be the template he used. There are full build details there.

[via Hackedgadgets]

Filed under: toy hacks

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Procyon – 80 MHz ARM Cortex M3 with SDRAM, Ethernet, SD, USB

Procyon – 80 MHz ARM Cortex M3 with SDRAM, Ethernet, SD, USB:

Procyon is a general purpose development board with special features for Ethernet, USB, and audio applications. It is based on Luminary Micro/Texas Instruments LM3S9x9x series of parts. The initial MCU is LM3S9B90.
The board contains the following features:
  • 80 MHz, 100 Pin Cortex M3 Processor
  • 16 MB SDRAM accessed on a 50 MHz EPI bus
  • USB Host/Device/OTG port
  • microSD card slot (Attached to SSI1/SPI1)
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • I2S header for DAC output interface
  • Up to 24 GPIOs available
  • 3 UART, 2 I2C, 1 CAN, 2 SPI/SSI (one shared with microSD card)
  • 10-bit ADCs
  • General purpose timers: four 32-bit or eight 16-bit
  • FTDI/Basic UART debug/program interface, on 16 pin GPIO/configuration header
  • Three 10 pin headers for daughter boards
  • 20 Pin JTAG Header
  • User LED and User switch
Procyon – 80 MHz ARM Cortex M3 with SDRAM, Ethernet, SD, USB - [Link]

EEVblog #335 – Carbon Printed Resistors

EEVblog #335 – Carbon Printed Resistors:

Forum Topic HERE

SMD Assembly Line:

Dave looks at some carbon printed PCB resistors in the 1980′s vintage Psion II PDA Organiser.

App note: Theory behind the CMOS analog switches

App note: Theory behind the CMOS analog switches:

Maxim has a tutorial describing the theory behind CMOS analog switches, and tips for selecting the right ones for your projects.
This tutorial presents the theoretical basis for analog switches and describes some common applications for them. The special features of calibration multiplexers (cal-muxes), fault-protected switches, and force-sense switches are discussed as well.

DEFCON 20: Hacking smart meters

DEFCON 20: Hacking smart meters:

At the recent DEFCON 20 conference in Las Vegas, Don C. Weber presented this talk on smart meter technology and security. The presentation deals with the optical port found on smart meters, and covers attacks from quick memory acquisition techniques to more complex hardware bus sniffing, as well as how authentication credentials are acquired. Finally, a method for interacting with a meter’s IR port will be introduced to show that vendor specific software is not necessary to probe these meters.
The white paper and related PDF from the presentation are available.
Part 1 of the video appears above, with links to the remaining parts below:

Part 2

Part 3 (Hmmm, could that be a Bus Pirate v.3 ?)

Part 4

Part 5

New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industry

New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industry:
Adafruit 294
New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industry @
Inside a spartan garage in an industrial neighborhood in Palo Alto, Calif., a robot armed with electronic “eyes” and a small scoop and suction cups repeatedly picks up boxes and drops them onto a conveyor belt.
It is doing what low-wage workers do every day around the world.
Older robots cannot do such work because computer vision systems were costly and limited to carefully controlled environments where the lighting was just right. But thanks to an inexpensive stereo camera and software that lets the system see shapes with the same ease as humans, this robot can quickly discern the irregular dimensions of randomly placed objects.
The robot uses a technology pioneered in Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensing system for its Xbox video game system.
The Kinect hacking continues.

Testing a variety of heat sinks :)

Testing a variety of heat sinks :):
Img 0959

Testing a variety of heat sinks, they look like trinkets from krypton :)

Doodling in Math Class: Connecting Dots

Doodling in Math Class: Connecting Dots:

Anti-parabola propoganda, plus musing on math class, cardioids, connect the dots, envelopes of lines, even a bit of origami. Extra points to a certain Andrea whose line-enveloped Hilbert curve inspired me to finish this video.
Vi Hart’s videos are fantastic.

David Mach’s Matcheads

David Mach’s Matcheads:
David Mach’s Matcheads. Sculptures made out of thousands of match heads.

Scale of the Universe

Scale of the Universe:

Something I really miss living in a big city (Paris) is that I almost never get to see the stars anymore.  Some of my best memories in university were going out for walks at 3AM and just laying around in a field, looking up at the stars and being humbled by a sense of awe at the scale of ‘everything out there’.  Chris Gammell posted a link to on twitter, and when I had a look it reminded me exactly what’s so amazing about the world we live in, and everything around, in, and above us.  Great to be reminded to look up … and down … from time to time.

Inventor of the 555 timer passes away

Inventor of the 555 timer passes away:

August 15th 2012, the news was reported that [Hanz Camenzind], the creator of the 555 timer, has passed away.  We are all familiar with 555 timer, but many of you may not be aware that [Hanz] also created the first class D amplifier. Actually, he had over 20 patents under his belt as well as a few books.
He is survived by His Wife, Daughter, and three Sons.

Filed under: news

We’re getting an Oculus Rift Dev Kit

We’re getting an Oculus Rift Dev Kit:

Before you get jealous of the massive amount of sway that hackaday must’ve tossed at these guys to get a dev kit, don’t be. We just funded the kickstarter like everyone else. This is exciting news though since, as you probably know, I’m very fond of immersive gaming and have always craved a strong VR rig.
We are expecting our dev kit some time in December. I have no idea exactly what we’ll do with it. Right now [John Carmak] has made the iD engine work with it and it ships with Doom3. They’ve stated that it will work with the Unreal engine as well. Even though I saw [Gabe Newell] from valve in the video, I don’t see any source engine compatibility in the list. I really would love to see that one added, especially since Valve released the source film maker for free.
So, who has ideas about what to do with this? I’d like to build a telepresence rig with stereo vision, possibly mounted on a radio controlled car chassis.

Filed under: news

Femto-photography: Taking pictures of bullets made of light

Femto-photography: Taking pictures of bullets made of light:

Femto-photography is a term that derives its name from the metric scale’s prefix for one-quadrillionth. When combined with photography this division of time is small enough to see groups of light photons moving. The effect is jaw-dropping. The image seen above shows a ‘light bullet’ travelling through a water-filled soda bottle. It’s part of [Ramesh Raskar's] TED talk on imaging at 1 trillion frames per second.
The video is something of a lie. We’re not seeing one singular event, but rather a myriad of photographs of discrete events that have been stitched together into a video. But that doesn’t diminish the spectacular ability of the camera to achieve such a minuscule exposure time. In fact, that ability combined with fancy code can do another really amazing thing. It can take a photograph around a corner. A laser pulses light bullets just like the image above, but the beam is bounced off of a surface and the camera captures what light ‘echos’ back. A computer can assemble this and build a representation of what is beyond the camera’s line of sight.
You’ll find the entire talk embedded after the break.

[Thanks Pim]

Filed under: digital cameras hacks, laser hacks

Reliving the BBS days with a Propeller

Reliving the BBS days with a Propeller:

Back before the world wide web, self-proclaimed geeks would get our compute on by dialing in to bulletin board systems. In their heyday, these BBSes were filled with interesting people and warez to fill the most capacious 10 Megabyte hard drive. In an attempt to relive the days of the Internet before the Eternal September, [Jeff Ledger] whipped up a tutorial for dialing up BBSes with an updated classic computer.
Instead of doing this tutorial with a C64 or an Apple II, [Jeff] used the Propeller powered Pocket Mini Computer he designed. This computer features 32Kb of RAM inside an eight-core Parallax Propeller along with a BASIC interpreter to run your own programs.
This Mini Computer can connect to BBS systems, but seeing as how acoustically coupled modems are rare as hen’s teeth these days, [Jeff] thought it would be a good idea to log in to the many Internet connected BBS servers using his desktop as a bridge between the Propeller and the Internet.
After [Jeff] got his Propeller computer up and running on a BBS, he was free to play Trade Wars or slay grues in one of the many MUDs still running. Not bad for a demonstration of the Internet of old, and made even better by the use of a Propeller.

Filed under: classic hacks

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers

Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers:
Kevin Warwick
Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers @ The Verge.
Cannon led me down into the basement, which he and Sarver have converted into a laboratory. A long work space was covered with Arduino motherboards, soldering irons, and electrodes. Cannon had recently captured a garter snake, which eyed us from inside a plastic jar. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been telling people that I want to be a robot,” said Cannon. “These days, that doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.” The pair call themselves grinders — homebrew biohackers obsessed with the idea of human enhancement — who are looking for new ways to put machines into their bodies. They are joined by hundreds of aspiring biohackers who populate the movement’s online forums and a growing number, now several dozen, who have gotten the magnetic implants in real life.

Building a Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC)

Building a Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC):
Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC). Shane writes – [via]
It’s been a long time since I built something that isn’t a robot, a motor controller, anelectric vehicle, or a multirotor. Also, the Edgerton Center Summer Engineering Workshop (responsible for the DIY Segway, BWD Scooter, Cap Kart, and tinyKart) isn’t running this year, so I feel the need to take on a summer project of my own. Inspired by the work of MITERS regulars Tyler, Daniel, Bayley, and Ggy, I’m attempting to build..
Specifically, I’m building a Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC). Tesla coils generate high voltage and pretty sparks using electromagnetic induction. They’re loosely-coupled air-core transformers where the world is your output load. (Or just the toroidal “top load” and the air around the Tesla coil.) “Dual-resonant” implies that both the primary and the secondary form RLC series resonant circuits, tuned to about the same natural frequency. “Solid state” implies that the primary circuit is driven (near resonant frequency) by transistors, usually IGBTs although I will be starting with MOSFETs.
Building a Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC) - [Link] – Experience virtual labs for electronics on browser – Experience virtual labs for electronics on browser: – Build, simulate, and share your circuits, entirely in your browser — no install required. Experience Online Electronics Lab. Work with real looking equipments and components. Learn About Circuits. Build circuits, Run, Analyse and Save them in easy steps. Learning circuits have never been this easy with powerful SPICE-like, mixed-mode circuit simulation helps EE students, electronics hobbyists, and electrical engineers learn faster. – Experience virtual labs for electronics on browser - [Link]

Understanding and interpreting logic IC datasheets

Understanding and interpreting logic IC datasheets:

This app note from Texas Instruments focuses on understanding and interpreting datasheets for logic ICs. [via]
To assist component and system-design engineers in selecting Texas Instruments (TI) standard-logic products, this application report is a synopsis of the information available from a typical TI data sheet. Information includes a brief description of terms, definitions, and testing procedures currently used for commercial and military specifications. Symbols, terms, and definitions generally are in accordance with those currently agreed upon by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association for use in the USA and by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for international use.
Understanding and interpreting logic IC datasheets - [Link]

Tutorial: Nut/OS on Altera FPGA

Tutorial: Nut/OS on Altera FPGA:

Michael Fischer of emb4fun has a new tutorial on using Nut/OS on Altera FPGAs. His design uses the Altera DE0-Nano board and a self-made adapter equipped with a DM9000E-H board, and includes a short example for an Internet Radio.
Michael’s tutorial is divided into three parts linked below:

Part 1,

Part 2, and

Part 3.
Via the contact form.

Dithered images on the PCB’s silk layer

Dithered images on the PCB’s silk layer:

Matseng sent out some PCBs for manufacture with an interesting silk layer. He added the dithered image to the back of the PCB using a Floyd-Steinberg filter on the original to give him an image on the silk layer with a 6 mil pixel size.
The PCB in the image above is a rendering made from the gerber files, so the end result is still unknown. We’ll follow up with pics of the actual manufactured PCBs once they Matseng posts them.
Via the forum.

Arduino voltage measurement tricks

Arduino voltage measurement tricks:

We think it’s a great learning experience to tear back the veil of abstraction and learn a bit more about the hardware found on an Arduino board. This project is a great example. [Scott Daniels] takes a look at the other voltage measurement options available to AVR chips used by Arduino.
If you’ve used the analogRead() function then you’ve already measured a voltage using the Arduino. But do you know what is going on behind the scenes to make this happen? The Analog to Digital converter on the AVR chip is being used to measure an incoming voltage by comparing it to a known voltage reference. That reference is by default the supply voltage line for the chip. This should be 5V but will only be as accurate as the regulator supplying it. [Scott] looks at the other voltage references that may be used. An external reference can be used by adding hardware, but that’s not the focus of his article. Instead he looks at using the 1.1V internal reference. He’s written some short example code that let’s you measure the incoming line voltage based on that internal reference. This is a very handy trick that can let you detect when the chips is running from a battery and how much juice is left in the cell.

Filed under: arduino hacks

Laser diode controller for a CNC mill

Laser diode controller for a CNC mill:

[Smells of Bikes] wanted to add laser etching to the list of tricks his home CNC setup is capable of. He has a diode which will work for the task, but he needed a driver that could be interfaced with the CNC system. He ended up designing a driver board based around the LM3402 chip.
Now driving one of these laser diodes isn’t all that different from driving a Light Emitting Diode. He chose to use the LM3402 chip because he’s the TI engineer who designed the official evaluation board for the part. It’s meant for high-power LED applications, and the 700 mA he needs for the laser is within spec. Since he’s soldering by hand, and this part has a ground pad on the bottom, he shares his soldering technique in detail. Once the driver board is ready, he uses a ‘sed’ command to replace the g-code Z axis commands with digital on/off commands to switch the diode.
Check out the demo video after the break. He uses a diffuse beam since the cutting beam is bright enough to damage his camera.

Filed under: cnc hacks, laser hacks