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Powering Your Mining Rig The Right Way

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 22:00

It happens to the best of us. We power up our project and immediately run into issues. Be it spotty communication or microcontroller reset or any number of bugs that have us mystified and picking though our code… only to find that it’s a power supply issue. Anyone who has tried doing Raspberry Pi stuff and depended on the USB power from their PC has certainly been bit by this.

It’s the same with larger, more power hungry projects as well. [Nerd Ralph] has been running a mining rig for a few years now, and has learned just how important proper power supply management can be. His strategy involves using interlocks to ensure everything powers up at the same time to avoid feedback problems, running a separate ground wire between all GPU cards and the PSU and running the supplies at 220 for the NA folks.

Be sure to check out [Nerd Ralph’s] blog for more details and tips to power your own mining rig.

Filed under: Misc Hacks

Final Project for Better Sleep

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 19:00

It’s that time of year again, and students around the world are scrambling (or have already scrambled) to finish their final projects for the semester. And, while studying for finals prevents many from sleeping an adequate amount, [Julia] and [Nick] are seeking to maximize “what little sleep the [Electrical and Computer Engineering] major allows” them by using their final project to measure sleep quality.

To produce a metric for sleep quality, [Julia] and [Nick] set out to measure various sleep-related activities, specifically heart rate, motion and breath frequency. During the night, an Arduino Nano mounted to a glove collects data from the various sensors mounted to the user, all the while beaming the data to a stationary PIC for analysis and storage. When the user awakes, they can view their sleep report on a TFT display at the PIC base station. Ideally, users would use this data to test different habits in order to get the best nights sleep possible.

Interestingly, the group chose to implement their own heart rate sensor. With an IR transmitter, IR phototransistor and an OP amp, the group illuminates user’s fingers and measure reflection to detect heartbeats. This works because the amount of IR reflected from the user’s finger changes with blood pressure and blood oxygen level, which also happen to change when the heart is beating. There were some bumps along the road when it came to the heartbeat sensor (the need to use a finger instead of the wrist forced them to use a glove instead of a wristband), but we think it’s super cool and totally worth it. In addition to heart rate, motion is measured by an accelerometer and breath is measured by a flex sensor wrapped around the user’s chest.

With all of their data beamed back by a pair of nRF24L01s, the PIC computes the sleep “chaos” which is exactly what it sounds like: it describes just how chaotic the user slept by looking for acyclic and sudden movement. Using this metric, combined with information from breathing and heart rate, the PIC computes a percentage for good sleep where 100% is a great night and 0% means you might have been just as well off pulling an all-nighter. And, to top it all off, the PIC saves your data to an SD card for easy after-the-fact review.

The commented code that powers the project can be found here along with a parts list in their project write-up.

This device assumes that sleeping is the issue, but if waking up if your problem, we’ve already got you covered, aggressive alarm clock style. For those already on top of their sleep, you might want some help with lucid dreaming.

Video of the project explained by [Julia] and [Nick] after the break.

Thanks to [Nick] for sending this in!

Filed under: hardware

Google’s AIY Vision Kit Augments Pi With Vision Processor

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 16:00

Google has announced their soon to be available Vision Kit, their next easy to assemble Artificial Intelligence Yourself (AIY) product. You’ll have to provide your own Raspberry Pi Zero W but that’s okay since what makes this special is Google’s VisionBonnet board that they do provide, basically a low power neural network accelerator board running TensorFlow.

AIY VisionBonnet with Myriad 2 (MA2450) chip

The VisionBonnet is built around the Intel® Movidius Myriad 2 (aka MA2450) vision processing unit (VPU) chip. See the video below for an overview of this chip, but what it allows is the rapid processing of compute-intensive neural networks. We don’t think you’d use it for training the neural nets, just for doing the inference, or in human terms, for making use of the trained neural nets. It may be worth getting the kit for this board alone to use in your own hacks. An alternative is to get Modivius’s Neural Compute Stick, which has the same chip on a USB stick for around $80, not quite double the Vision Kit’s $45 price tag.

The Vision Kit isn’t out yet so we can’t be certain of the details, but based on the hardware it looks like you’ll point the camera at something, press a button and it will speak. We’ve seen this before with this talking object recognizer on a Pi 3 (full disclosure, it was made by yours truly) but without the hardware acceleration, a single object recognition took around 10 seconds. In the vision kit we expect the recognition will be in real-time. So the Vision Kit may be much more dynamic than that. And in case it wasn’t clear, a key feature is that nothing is done on the cloud here, all processing is local.

The kit comes with three different applications: an object recognition one that can recognize up to 1000 different classes of objects, another that recognizes faces and their expressions, and a third that detects people, cats, and dogs. While you can get up to a lot of mischief with just that, you can run your own neural networks too. If you need a refresher on TensorFlow then check out our introduction. And be sure to check out the Myriad 2 VPU video below the break.

This is the second AIY kit that Google has released, the first being the Voice Kit, which we also covered. That inspired our own [Inderpreet Singh] to, within just a couple of weeks, come out with his own equivalent voice kit.

Here’s the Myriad 2 VPU video. For the meatier hardware overview, skip to around 2:25.



Filed under: google hacks, Raspberry Pi

Neural Network Learns SDR Ham Radio

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 13:00

Identifying ham radio signals used to be easy. Beeps were Morse code, voice was AM unless it sounded like Donald Duck in which case it was sideband. But there are dozens of modes in common use now including TV, digital data, digital voice, FM, and more coming on line every day. [Randaller] used CUDA to build a neural network that could interface with an RTL-SDR dongle and can classify the signals it hears. Since it is a neural network, it isn’t so much programmed to do it as it is trained. The proof of concept has training to distinguish FM, SECAM, and tetra. However, you can train it to recognize other modulation schemes if you want to invest the time into it.

It isn’t that big of a task to identify signals using your built-in neural network. However, this is a great example of a practical neural net and it does open the door to other possibilities. For example, automated monitoring of multiple channels would need something like this.

One interesting tidbit is that the neural network doesn’t really know what it is learning, so input samples could be IQ samples, audio, or even waterfall graphics. You just have to use the same input to train that you want to use during operation. In fact, the code apparently started out as an image classification network from a course by Stanford.

If this gives you the urge to go out and buy an RTL-SDR dongle, you might want to look at some reviews. What else could you do with an intelligent radio? We’ve already seen a different kind of neural network decode Enigma traffic.

Filed under: Wireless Hacks

If 3D Printer, Then Custom Aluminum Extrusion Brackets

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 10:00

Aluminum extrusions are a boon for mechanical assemblies, but they require a stock of brackets and other hardware to be kept on hand. [mightynozzle] has decided to make things a little easier for prototyping and low-stress assemblies by creating a collection of 3D printable brackets for aluminum extrusions. 3D printing your own bracket hardware means faster prototyping, and if the assemblies don’t need the extra strength and rigidity of metal brackets you can just stick with the 3D printed versions.

The files are on Thingiverse, and include STL files of common brackets as well as an OpenSCAD script for customizing. Not familiar with OpenSCAD? No problem, we have a quick primer with examples.

This project showcases two things well. The first is that while brackets are not particularly expensive or hard to obtain, it can still be worth 3D printing them to reduce the overall amount of hardware one needs to keep on hand to make prototyping faster. The other is that 3D printing can shine when it comes to the creation of things like brackets: a few dimes’ worth of plastic can be turned into precise yet geometrically simple objects that would be a pain to make by other means. It certainly beats sitting on one’s hands waiting for parts to be delivered.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, hardware

Poor Man’s Laser Scanner Probably Won’t Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 07:00

Yes, laser cutters that come off the slow boat from China are more affordable than ever, and with some tweaks and hacks they can turn out some decent results. But if you just want a laser lightshow that’ll draw boxes on your living room ceiling, this simple X-Y laser scanner might be a good platform to build.

Let’s say right up front that there are more than a few safety issues with [ThingEngineer]’s 3D-printed two-axis scanner. He’s well aware of these potential retina-cooking issues and duly notes that a good pair of laser safety goggles is a must and that the cheap anti-lawsuit glasses that laser module manufacturers often include with their products don’t count.

[Editor’s Note: Glasses are really only intended for alignment operations. Pros enclose lasers beyond a certain power to prevent anyone going blind. Know where your beam terminates, kids.]

With that in mind, there’s a lot to be said for this poor man’s scanner build. Yes, it would be faster with real galvos and low-mass mirrors, but time is money, and the steppers and craft store mirror discs do the job, albeit slowly. We like that everything is so simple, even the method for turning a regular mirror into a front-surface mirror.

[ThingEngineer] proves you don’t need galvanometers to have some simple laser fun. And if steppers don’t do it for you, you can try little brushed DC hobby motors or even 3D-printed cams.

Filed under: Laser Hacks

Hangprinter Build Videos

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 04:00

We figure with the rise in 3D printing, it is time for a new Finagle’s law: Any part you want to print won’t fit on your print bed. There was a time when a 100 mm x 100 mm bed was common for entry-level printers. These days, more printers have beds around (200 mm)2. A hangprinter’s work area can be larger. Much larger. [Thomas Sanladerer] is building one, and has a series of videos about the build. You can see the first one below, but there are several posted, including about 11 hours of recordings of live sessions of the build.

If you haven’t heard of a hangprinter, it is essentially a 3D print head that — well — hangs from cables and can turn an entire room into a 3D printer. When we looked at the original, it was printing a five-foot tall model of the tower of Babel.

The hangprinter is true to its RepRap roots, with a lot of self-printed parts, and an open source design. Even if you don’t want to build one, watching the videos can show you a lot about how one works.

If you want something more conventional, several of us have been hacking on Anet A8s. Sometimes you don’t care about  having a lot of build volume for one part, but you do care about having a lot of volume to make multiple parts, but that’s a different problem.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

Better 3D Printing Through Holography

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 12/17/2017 - 01:00

When most of us think about 3D printing, we usually think about a machine that melts plastic filament and extrudes it through a nozzle. But we all know that there are other technologies out there that range from cutting and laminating paper, to printing with molten metal or glass. Many of those are out of range for the common hacker. Probably the second most common method uses photo resin and some light source to build the layers in the resin. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and several universities are experimenting with a new technique that exposes photo resin using three lasers, printing an entire object at one time. You can see a cube formed using the technique in the video below.

In all fairness, the process really isn’t holography but LLNL refers to it as “hologram-like.” In fact, it appears the lasers project more like an oblique projection (you know, like in drafting) which is considerably simpler. Simple enough, that we can’t help but wonder if the hacker community couldn’t develop machines based on this principle. The key would be arranging for the resin to only cure where laser light overlaps.

In addition to being fast, the researchers note that because the object forms all at once, it doesn’t have problems associated with layering or being formed in a particular direction. The technique has printed beams, planes, struts at arbitrary angles, lattices and complex curved objects.

There’s clearly work to be done to improve the process. Complex objects would require lots of lasers. There is also a fine balance between underexposing the resin and overexposing it. Better laser controls and better photo resins would help, but there are doubtlessly new techniques to develop, as well.

The hacker community contributed a lot to the growth of fused deposition 3D printing. It would be great to see hacker innovation on this technology as well.

LLNL does a lot of interesting things with 3D printing. If you want to look at what conventional laser resin printers can do, check out the Midwest RepRap Festival.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, News

More GPD Win 2 details emerge (including pre-release benchmarks)

Liliputing - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 22:37

The GPD Win 2 handheld gaming PC is on the way, with an Indiegogo campaign expected to launch in January and devices set to ship in April. We already know that the new model has an updated design, a bigger screen, and a more powerful processor than the version I tested last year. But a […]

More GPD Win 2 details emerge (including pre-release benchmarks) is a post from: Liliputing

Don’t Get Caught Up In Blockchain Hype

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 22:00

It’s the story of the moment, isn’t it. As the price of Bitcoin continues on its wild and crazy rollercoaster ride, everyone’s talking about cryptocurrencies, and in almost mystical terms, about blockchains. Perhaps to be a little more accurate, we should report that they are talking about The Blockchain, a single entity which it seems is now the answer to all ills.

Of course, there is no single blockchain, instead blockchain technologies form the underpinnings of the cryptocurrency boom. Since little dollar signs seem to be buzzing around in front of everyone talking about that subject, it has attracted the attention of hordes of people with little understanding of it. APNIC have a good article aimed at those people: Don’t Get Caught Up In Blockchain Hype, which is worth a read even if you do understand blockchain technologies.

It makes the point that many large enterprises are considering investments in blockchain technologies, and lists some of the potential pitfalls that they may encounter. There may be a slight element of schadenfreude for some of the technically literate in seeing this in action, but given that such things can have consequences for those among us it’s too important to ignore.

As an analogy of a relatively clueless executive jumping on a tech-driven bandwagon, a software company of our acquaintance had a boss who decided in the heady days before the dotcom crash that the organisation would fully embrace open-source. Something to be welcomed, you might think, but given that the software in question was a commercially sensitive asset upon which all company salaries depended, it was fortunate that he listened to his developers when they explained to him exactly what open source entails.

Whether you are a blockchain savant or an uninterested bystander, it’s worth a read as you may sometime need its arguments to save someone from their own folly. If you fancy a simple example to help understand something of how blockchains work, we’ve got that covered for you.

Bitcoin coins image: Mike Cauldwell [Public domain].

Filed under: Tech Hacks

Digital Kiln

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 19:00

A kiln or foundry is too often seen as a piece of equipment which is only available if a hackspace is lucky enough to have one or individuals are dedicated enough to drop the cash for one of their own. [The Thought Emporium] thought that way until he sourced materials to make his own kiln which can also be seen after the break. It costs half the price of a commercial model not including a failed—and exploded—paint can version.

As described in the video, these furnaces are tools capable of more than just pottery and soft metal baubles. Sure, a clay chess set would be cool but what about carbon fiber, graphene, aerogel, and glass? Some pretty hot science happens at high temperatures.

We get a nice walk-through of each part of the furnace starting with the container, an eleven-gallon metal tub which should set the bar for the level of kiln being built. Some of the hardware arrangements could be tweaked for safety and we insist that any current-carrying screw is safely mounted inside an enclosure which can’t be opened without tools. There’s good advice about grounding the container if metal is used. The explanation of PID loops can be ignored.

What else can you do with a kiln? How about jewelry, heat treating metal, or recycle your beer cans into an engine.

Filed under: Tool Hacks

The Smartest Air Freshener In The Room

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 16:00

Many automatic air fresheners are wasteful in that they either ceaselessly spritz the room, and manual ones need to be — well — manually operated. This will not do in an era of smart products, so Instructables user [IgorF2] has put together an air freshener that does more than check if you’re around before freshening things up.

The air freshener uses a NodeMCU LoLin and an MG 995 servomotor, with a NeoPixel ring acting as a status light. Be aware — when the servo is triggered there is a significant spike in current, so be sure you aren’t powering the air freshener from a PC USB port or another device. After modeling the air freshener’s case in Fusion 360 — files available here — [IgorF2] wired the components together and mounted them inside the 3D printed case.

Hardware work completed, [IgorF2] has detailed how to set up the Arduino IDE and ESP8266 support for a first-time-user, as well as adding a few libraries to his sketch. A combination of an Adafruit.IO feed and ITTT — once again, showing the setup steps — handles how the air freshener operates: location detection, time specific spritzing, and after tapping a software button on your phone for those particularly lazy moments.

[IgorF2] has conveniently supplied and broken down the code he used for those newcomers in the audience to wrap up his thorough Instructable. Ah, the sweet smell of a completed project.

If you didn’t already know, consumer air fresheners are also a trove of parts that can be put to use for many other uses!

Filed under: home hacks, how-to, Wireless Hacks

Give Workshop Pencils a Flush-Mounted Home

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 13:00

Pencils and pens are apt to go wandering in a busy workshop if they don’t have a handy storage spot. For most of us a soup can or an old coffee mug does the trick, but for a prettier and more useful holder [Stuff I Made] has a short video demonstrating a storage unit made from an elbow fitting and a scrap piece of plywood. He cuts a plywood disk that is friction-fit into one end of the elbow, then it gets screwed into a wall making an attractively flush-mounted holder in a convenient spot.

With the right joint the bottom of the holder remains accessible, as a 90 degree bend would be no good. With a shallower joint angle, a regular screwdriver can still reach the mounting screw and it’s possible to access the bottom of the holder just in case it needs cleaning or something small falls inside. You can see the process and results in the video embedded below. Not bad for one screw, a spare joint, and a scrap piece of plywood.

Storage and clutter is always on a busy worker’s mind in one way or another, even if we all enjoy different levels of success in dealing with it. Gadgets and organizers, whether simple like the one above or more complex like storage drawers from empty 3D printer filament spools, are one tool to use in the fight against clutter. But when gadgets aren’t enough, it might be time to try a whole different way of thinking and acting.

Filed under: how-to, Misc Hacks

Turning Saw Blades Into Throwing Stars

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 10:00

The holidays are nearly upon us, and if you haven’t found the perfect gift for the Mall Ninja in your life yet, this latest hack might be just what you’re looking for. On his YouTube channel, [The Nocturnal Alchemist] demonstrates how to make ninja throwing stars (shuriken) out of an old circular saw blade. One could probably argue that a circular saw itself is close enough to throwing star if your only goal is to wreck some stuff in your backyard, but with this method they’ll have that official samurai look.

To start the process, he hits both sides of the circular saw blade with a grinder to smooth out the surface. He then traces the desired star shapes onto the blade, and cuts the blade into pieces so it’s easier to manage. The rough shape of the stars is cut out with an angle grinder, and a belt sander lets him sharpen the edges.

At this point the stars are effectively finished, but if you want something that’s going to look good on the shelf next to the katana you bought online, you need to do some more finish work. He sands both sides of the stars by hand, starting at 80 grit and working all the way up to 1200 grit wet paper. Once sanded, paste wax is rubbed in with a cloth to give it a protective coating.

With the finish work done, all that’s left to do is throw your new shuriken at cans of soda and watermelons as a demonstration of their power. To this end, he has come prepared with a 1,000 FPS camera; so if you’ve ever wanted to see cans of off-brand soda getting exploded with a throwing star, your Mall Ninja friend isn’t the only one about to get a gift.

With circular saw blade shuriken completed, all you’ll need to do to complete your urban samurai transformation is forge yourself a sword, and perfect your run in virtual reality.

Filed under: Weapons Hacks

Coin cell powered sea turtle research

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 07:00

Hacking and tinkering are always fun and games, but one just has to appreciate when all efforts are additionally aimed towards doing something good. [Nikos] sets an example by combining his interest in technology with his passion for wildlife conservation by creating a low cost and ultra-low power temperature logger — and he is using a coin cell for it.

As the founder of a sea turtle conservation project in Greece, [Nikos] enjoys building scientific instruments that help him and his team on their mission. With a goal to log the temperature every 10 minutes over a period of at least 180 days, he designed a PCB just big enough to hold a CR2032 coin cell. Fifty of them will eventually be sealed in waterproof enclosures, and buried in the sand for the whole research duration.

Limiting the design to its bare necessities, the rest of the PCB is housing a digital temperature sensor, an SPI EEPROM to hold all the recorded sensor values over those 180 days, and an ATmega328PB clocked by a 32.768kHz crystal. Wondering what to do with all the extra, unused pins of the ATmega, [Nikos] simply routed them to be accessible through pin headers, thus turning the data logger alternatively into a coin cell powered development board.

Assuming your logging interval requirements are significantly lower, you might be thrilled to hear that [Nikos] estimates a theoretical 7+ years an average coin cell could power the data logger in sleep mode, which makes him confident to reach the 180 days goal.

Coin Cell Challenge   Build something cool powered
by a coin cell, win prizes!
Filed under: green hacks

BML HDMI video for FPGAs over PMOD

dangerous prototype - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 06:39

Here are two open-source-hardware HDMI  video boards for adding digital video to FPGA platforms with standard PMOD connectors from Black Mesa Labs:

The BML 3bit HDMI over single-PMOD uses 7 of 8 available LVCMOS 3.3 pins on a single PMOD to provide 3bit color ( R,G,B 100% On or Off ). Example Verilog design drives 800×600 using a 40 MHz dot clock. The TI TFP410 is very versatile in the resolutions it can generate and is really just limited by the clock that the FPGA can provide and the data rates the PMOD connectors are capable of.

More details at Black Mesa Labs homepage.

Google is pulling the plug on Project Tango in March, 2018

Liliputing - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 04:17

Before Apple start shipping a $1000 smartphone with a 3D, depth-sensing camera system on the front, there was Google’s Project Tango technology… which put 3D, depth-sensing camera technology on the back of a phone or tablet. Only two commercial smartphones ever shipped with Project Tango, the Asus Zenfone AR and Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. And […]

Google is pulling the plug on Project Tango in March, 2018 is a post from: Liliputing

A Robot Arm for Virtual Beer Pong

Hackaday - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 04:00

Leave it to engineering students to redefine partying. [Hyun], [Justin], and [Daniel] have done exactly that for their final project by building a virtually-controlled robotic arm that plays beer pong.

There are two main parts to this build: a sleeve worn by the user, and the robotic arm itself. The sleeve has IMUs at the elbow and wrist and a PIC32 that calculates their respective angles. The sleeve sends angle data to a second PIC32 where it is translated it into PWM signals and sent to the arm.

There’s a pressure sensor wired sleeve-side that’s worn between forefinger and thumb and functions as a release mechanism. You don’t actually have to fling your forearm forward to get the robot to throw, but you can if you want to. The arm itself is built from three micro servos and mounted for stability. The spoon was a compromise. They tried for a while to mimic fingers, but didn’t have enough time to implement grasping and releasing on top of everything else.

Initially, the team wanted wireless communication between the sleeve and the arm. They got it to work with a pair of XBees, but found that RF was only good for short periods of use. Communication is much smoother over UART, which you can see in the video below.

You don’t have to have a machine shop or even a 3-D printer to build a robot arm. Here’s another bot made from scrap wood whose sole purpose is to dunk tea bags.

Filed under: Beer Hacks, Microcontrollers, Robots Hacks

Free PCB coupon via Facebook to 2 random commenters

dangerous prototype - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 03:57

Every Friday we give away some extra PCBs via Facebook. This post was announced on Facebook, and on Monday we’ll send coupon codes to two random commenters. The coupon code usually go to Facebook ‘Other’ Messages Folder . More PCBs via Twitter on Tuesday and the blog every Sunday. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • We’ll contact you via Facebook with a coupon code for the PCB drawer.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month, please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see it first is to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

BlackBerry to phase out support for BB10 and BBOS by end of 2019

Liliputing - เสาร์, 12/16/2017 - 03:07

There hasn’t been a new smartphone running BlackBerry OS since 2015, but BlackBerry hasn’t gone all-in on Android software just yet. The company continues to support devices running BB10 and Blackberry OS… for now. But the clock is ticking. BlackBerry has announced it’ll pull the plug on the BlackBerry World app store on December 31st, […]

BlackBerry to phase out support for BB10 and BBOS by end of 2019 is a post from: Liliputing

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