This started in December 2006 while Christmas shopping. I saw a Mathmos aduki, a pebble-like device that slowly changed colour. The aesthetics of this thing were astounding, although I couldn’t help but wonder if it was hackable to make some form of ambient device to indicate something meaningful though its colour.
Unfortunately the aduki seemed somewhat too expensive to buy for the purpose of dismantling and possibly breaking. It also appeared to use a simple light and colour wheel to provide its tranquil colour transitions, and so wouldn’t be easy to commandeer for my purposes. Still, this had got me thinking, and so I started researching ambient devices to see what was out there.
Mike’s Ambient Device – [Link]
This circuit is a digital sound level meter with a LCD screen, capable of displaying 80 characters (4 rows with 20 characters on each). You can build this LCD display. It also provides more debugging information, such as the minimum and maximum analog-to-digital samples that were measured during each period. [via]
Digital Sound Level Meter – [Link]
Parallax’s Basic Stamp is the mainstay for hobbyists wanting to add intelligence to everyday devices. A new system called Arduino provides the benefits of the Basic Stamp at a greatly reduced cost, increased speed, and is entirely open-source.
Tiny computers surround your life. In your coffee maker, remote control, vacuum cleaner, telephone, and clock radio, these little computers (aka microcontrollers) are getting smarter and cheaper and becoming more pervasive every day. They can be had for less than a dollar. And you can program them as easy as you can write a web page.
Arduino, the Basic Stamp killer – [Link]
The PDP-10/X is a reimplementation of the PDP-10, with 512KW of memory, a line-frequency clock, an interface to an RS-232 terminal, and an interface to an ATA-2 disk, that I designed and built just for fun.
The FPGA PCB is a general-purpose FPGA board that I designed some time ago (but I tweaked it a little for use in the PDP-10/X). It is little more than a carrier for a XILINX SPARTAN-3E FPGA (XC3S500E-4) in a PQFP-208 package, along with the bypass capacitors, and the LDOs that generate the 2.5V (VDDAUX) and 1.2V (VDDINT) supplies. All of the I/O pins are powered by 3.3V.
FPGA board: PDP-10/X is a reimplementation of the PDP-10 – [Link]
This morning I decided its about time I learn how to use the UART hardware in most PIC microcontrollers. I started off with a USB-RS-232 converter that I got for US$3 from DealExtreme. There are a few reasons why I used a converter, firstly being because my main PC no longer has an RS-232 port since its old tech, but also because I thought it’d be alot neater for my projects to have a USB connection and it means I can interface with TTL signal levels (0-5v) instead of the RS-232 standards -12v – +12v which would have added complications, but we’ll get back to that just now…
Learning Serial Communication – [Link]
Touch screen or touch activated technology has been around for a few decades now, but only recently have prices dropped and the technology been (somewhat) perfected. As an input device touch screens offer a more natural interaction that humans are used to, which offers a great advantage for businesses selling to the general public over traditional keyboards and mouses.
This article will look at how to interface to a 4-wire resistive touch screen and find out the X and Y coordinates of the current point being touched. A minimal number of parts will be used to simplify the system hardware, and to focus more on the theory of how it works.
Simple Touch Screen Interface – [Link]
A new bike tail light developed by Apex Bright LED was designed not just as a techno-gizmo but also to improve the security of bicycle riders riding in the dark or in poorly lit conditions. An IPX2 rated laser writes two bright red lines on the road surface, warning traffic coming from the rear to keep a safe distance.
The waterproof unit also has three very bright red LEDs that can operate in various flash modes. It works from two AAA batteries and can be secured to seat posts with a diameter between 20 and 36 mm. The battery capacity enables the laser work to work for approximately 9 hours, while the LED on its own can flash for up to 36 hours. [via]
LED & Laser tail light creates safer perimeter for bikes – [Link]
Much as humans and other animals see via waves of visible light that bounce off objects and then strike our eyes’ retinas, radar “sees” by sending out radio waves that bounce off targets and return to the radar’s receivers. But just as light can’t pass through solid objects in quantities large enough for the eye to detect, it’s hard to build radar that can penetrate walls well enough to show what’s happening behind. Now, MIT Lincoln Lab researchers have built a system that can see through walls from some distance away, giving an instantaneous picture of the activity on the other side.
The researchers’ device is an unassuming array of antennas arranged into two rows — eight receiving elements on top, 13 transmitting ones below — and some computing equipment, all mounted onto a movable cart. But it has powerful implications for military operations, especially “urban combat situations,” says Gregory Charvat, technical staff at Lincoln Lab and the leader of the project. [via]
Radar can see through walls – [Link]
The TS1001 from Touchstone Semiconductor is a single-supply, rail-to-rail operational amplifier with the unique ability to operate from a 0.8 V supply voltage with a supply current of 600 nA, reducing overall power consumption by at least 50% compared to other low-voltage operational amplifiers.
Optimised for ultra long life battery-powered applications, the TS1001 is Touchstone’s first operational amplifier in the NanoWatt Analog™ high-performance analogue integrated circuits family. The TS1001 has a typical offset voltage of 0.5 mV, a typical input bias current of 25 pA, and rail-to-rail input and output stages. The TS1001 can operate from single-supply voltages from 0.65 V to 2.5 V. [via]
Low-voltage opamp runs on 0.8 V supply voltage – [Link]
KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) researchers have developed a new concept for rechargeable batteries. Based on a fluoride shuttle — the transfer of fluoride anions between the electrodes – it promises to enhance the storage capacity reached by lithium-ion batteries by several factors. Operational safety is also increased, as it can be done without lithium. The fluoride-ion battery is presented for the first time in the “Journal of Materials Chemistry” by Dr. Maximilian Fichtner and Dr. Munnangi Anji Reddy.
Lithium-ion batteries are applied widely, but their storage capacity is limited. In the future, battery systems of enhanced energy density will be needed for mobile applications in particular. Such batteries can store more energy at reduced weight. For this reason, KIT researchers are also conducting research into alternative systems. A completely new concept for secondary batteries based on metal fluorides was developed at the KIT Institute of Nanotechnology (INT). [via]
Fluoride increases storage capacity of rechargeable batteries – [Link]