The artisanal homebrew router faces a new challenge

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: router, DIY, homebrew, openwrt

Ars Technica took router modding to a new level this year; why just flash your router with OpenWRT when you can make one from a mini PC?  The original was a dual gigabit NIC mini-PC with a 1037u Ivy Bridge Celeron from Alibaba, Homebrew 2.0 is sourced from Amazon, has four Intel gigabit LAN ports and runs on a J1900 Bay Trail Celeron.  You simply install an inexpensive SSD is installed in the mini-PC, set up OpenWRT and configure your network settings.  In this latest update Ars compares their homebrew routers to several retail routers to see how they fall in terms of performance.  Check it out to see how they fare and possibly to learn a bit about network benchmarks.

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"Famously around the Ars forums, this problem soon evolved into our homebrew router initiative. In January, I showed my math as a DIY-Linux router outpaced popular off-the-shelf options like the Netgear Nighthawk X6 and the Linksys N600 EA-2750. And in August, I shared the steps necessary to build one of your own."

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Source: Ars Technica

DIY HiFi; build yourself electrostatic speakers and show them off

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: audio, electrostatic speaker, DIY

Instead of focusing on the troubling security holes reported on today how about you distract yourself by reading up on electrostatic speakers and how to make them yourself.  Electrostatic loudspeakers differ from conventional magnetic speakers as they use the attraction and repulsion of a thin conductive film in an electric field to create sound waves.  This allows the speakers to produce audio with very little distortion and comparatively flat frequency response but also comes with a drawback; half the audio is sent backwards and there is no easy way to reflect it to the front.  Check out the build process and material required to create your own unique high end speakers over at Hack a Day.

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"Any thin flexible plastic film can make a noise in an electrostatic speaker, but for best performance the thinner your film, the better. 5 micron thick Mylar seems to be the preferred choice."

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Source: Hack a Day
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Various

Part 1 - Picking the Parts

I'm guilty. I am one of those PC enthusiasts that thinks everyone knows how to build a PC. Everyone has done it before, and all you need from the tech community is the recommendation for parts, right? Turns out that isn't the case at all, and as more and more gamers and users come into our community, they are overwhelmed and often under served. It's time to fix that.

This cropped up for me personally when my nephew asked me about getting him a computer. At just 14 years old, he had never built a PC, watched a PC be constructed - nothing of that sort. Even though his uncle had built computers nearly every week for 15 years or more, he had little to no background on what the process was like. I decided that this was perfect opportunity to teach him and create a useful resource for the community at large to help empower another generation to adopt the DIY mindset.

I decided to start with three specific directions:

  • Part 1 - Introduce the array of PC components, what the function of each is and why we picked the specific hardware we did.
     
  • Part 2 - Show him the process of actual construction from CPU install to cable routing
     
  • Part 3 - Walk through the installation of Windows and get him setup with Steam and the idea of modern PC gaming.

Each of the above sections was broken up into a separate video during our day at the office, and will be presented here and on our YouTube channel

I would like to thank Gigabyte for sponsoring this project with us, providing the motherboard, graphics card and helping work with the other vendors to get us a great combination of hardware. Visit them at Gigabyte.com for the full lineup of motherboard, graphics cards and more!!

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Part 1 - Picking the Parts

Selecting the parts to build a PC can be a daunting task for a first timer. What exactly is a motherboard and do you need one? Should you get 2 or 4 or more memory modules? SSD vs HDD? Let's lay it all out there for you.

The specific configuration used in Austin's PC build is pretty impressive!

  Austin's First PC Build
Processor Intel Core i5-6600K - $249
Motherboard Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 - $189
Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3200 - $192
Graphics Card Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming Xtreme - $374
Storage Corsair Neutron XT 480GB - $184
Western Digital 3TB Red - $109
Case Corsair Obsidian 450D - $119
Power Supply Corsair RM550x - $117
Keyboard Logitech G910 Orion Spark - $159
Mouse Logitech G602 - $51
Headset Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum - $192
Monitor Acer XB280HK - $699
OS Windows 10 Home - $119
Total Price $2054 (not including the monitor) - Amazon.com Cart

Continue reading My First PC Build on PC Perspective!!

Make yourself a WiFi camera remote

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2016 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: wifi, camera, DIY, iot

Hack a Day has posted a perfect example of how inexpensive and easy it is to build yourself useful things instead of shopping for expensive electronics.  If you have looked at the prices of cameras or adapters which allow you to wirelessly take a picture you have probably been disappointed, but you don't have to stay that way.  Instead, take an existing manual remote trigger, add in a WiFi enabled SoC module like the ESP8266 suggested in the video, download and compile the code and the next thing you know you will have a camera with wireless focus and shutter trigger.  Not too shabby for a ~$5 investment.

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"It’s just ridiculous how cheap and easy it is to do some things today that were both costly and difficult just two or three years ago. Case in point: Hackaday.io user [gamaral] built a WiFi remote control for his Canon E3 camera out of just three parts"

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Source: Hack a Day

Thinking of building a server farm?

Subject: Systems | October 13, 2015 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: server farm, linux, DIY

Phoronix recently built a server farm and bar, a perfect use for a basement.  In building the server farm they learned quite a bit about the process of creating your own server farm as well as the costs involved.  For instance their power bill has gone up somewhat, including the air conditioning they are seeing usage of 3,000 kWh a month so you might want to do some calculations before setting up your own.  Take a look at how the mostly finished design worked out and if you are interested you can find a link to the original article covering the build on the last page. 

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"It's been just over six months since I completed construction on the large 60+ system server room where a ton of Linux benchmarking takes place just not for Phoronix.com but also the new LinuxBenchmarking.com daily performance tracking initiative and testing and development around our Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org software. Here's a look back, a few recommendations to reiterate for those aspiring to turn their cellar into a server farm, and a few things I'd do differently next time around."

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Source: Phoronix

Everyone needs an automated elastic band turret

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: DIY, turrent, arduino, 3d nand

With Black Hat in full swing anyone with even half a mind on their systems security is already depressed and likely to be even more so by the wrap up.  That is why you should all stare at this 3D printed, Arduino powered elastic band turret.  At the very least it should cheer you up and at best get you downloading the Thing Files to start printing your own.  The full load of 24 rubbers can be launched in a very short time, either automatically if you program the Arduino appropriately or manually with an optional joystick.  Head on over to MAKE:Blog to see this new step in desk defence.

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"Looking like it would fit in perfectly in the smash hit game Portal, this little turret can launch a barrage of rubber bands on command. Designed by Kevin Thomas, this perky little gatling gun is mostly 3D printed, with an Arduino for a brain."

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Fan Creates Pip-Boy and Released 3D Printing Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 2, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: maker, fallout 4, DIY

Yvo de Haas, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, Netherlands, creates props, robots, and other objects as a hobby. Previous creations include a joystick-controlled turret from Portal, GLaDOS, and a Fallout 3-style Pip-Boy.

The latest project was a Fallout 4-style Pip-Boy that accepts a smartphone, with an LG Nexus 5 shown in the demo video, above. It also contains a (non-functioning) cassette player at the top, which take Fallout-style tapes... so unfortunately you cannot pretend that your Vault Dweller is obsessed with Thriller. This model is currently available on the website for anyone with time and access to a 3D printer. The work is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution ShareAlike, so you can use and modify the model however you like, as long as you share your alterations in a similar fashion (and assuming that you also don't violate Bethesda's trademarks in any way -- even though Haas' license permits commercial usage, Bethesda won't).

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A second model (the “Accurate version”) is still in progress. This one is supposedly intended to be used with an embedded computer like a Raspberry Pi. It sounds like you will need to install a bare display and other components to make it work, but that will probably be more clear when it is published.

Source: Ytec3D

That's not a USB charger, this is a USB charger!

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: usb, DIY

Bask in the glory that is this hacked together 33 port USB charger, created in the Netherlands as a workaround to connet the charges to the three rounded prongs used in Schuko sockets common in Europe.  This would of course work with NEMA plugs, just line the welding rods up appropriately and connect your USB chargers up to it.  Keep in mind that they use 220-240V whereas we use 110-120V so your total workable amount of plugs will vary.  If you are considering building your own version of this massive USB charger, you might want to seriously consider installing some sort of circuit breaker in addition to the non-conductive cowling unless you are a fan of dead devices and house fires.  Check Hack a Day for other projects from this event and others around the world.

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"The Hack42 hackerspace in Arnhem, The Netherlands had collected a large number of TP-Link 5V USB chargers – but all of them had the North American NEMA plug (flat, 2 pin) which wouldn’t fit the Schuko sockets prevalent in The Netherlands. [Simon “MacSimski” Claessen] decided to whip out his giant soldering iron and use it to solder two long pieces of welding filler metal rods to 33 of the chargers, effectively wiring them up in parallel."

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Source: Hack a Day

Corsair Unleashes the Bulldog, an Upgradeable, Liquid Cooled 4K Gaming PC For The Living Room

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 1, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: steam os, living room gaming, liquid cooling, gaming, DIY, corsair, computex 2015, computex, barebones, 4k

Today at Computex, Corsair unveiled a new barebones gaming PC aimed at the living room. The compact Bulldog PC is an upgradeable barebones DIY kit that offers gamers an interesting base from which to build a living room PC capable of 4K gaming. The chassis resembles an overbuilt console in that it is a short but wide design with many angular edges and aesthetic touches including stylized black case feet and red accents surrounding the vents. A hidden panel in the lower right corner reveals two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks. It looks ready to fight in the next season of Robot Wars should you add a flamethrower or hydraulic flipper (heh).

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The Bulldog kit consists of the chassis, motherboard, small form factor power supply, and a customized Hydro H55F series closed loop liquid CPU cooler. From there, users need to bring their own processor, RAM, and storage devices. There is no operating system included with the kit, but it, being a full PC, supports Windows, Linux, and SteamOS et al.

As far as graphics cards, Corsair is offering several liquid cooled NVIDIA graphics cards (initially only from MSI with other AIB partner cards to follow) that are ready to be installed in the Bulldog PC. Currently, users can choose from the GTX TITAN X, GTX 980, and GTX 970.

Alternatively, Corsair is offering a $99 (MSRP) upgrade kit for existing graphics cards with its Hydro H55 cooler and HG110 bracket.

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The Bulldog case supports Mini ITX form factor motherboards and it appears that Corsair is including the Asus Z97I-Plus which is a socket 1150 board supporting Haswell-based Core processors, DDR3 memory, M.2 (though you have to take the board out of the case to install the drive since the slot is on the underside of the board), a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, and the usual fare of I/O options including USB 3.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and optical and analog audio outputs (among others).

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room H55F CPU Cooler.jpg

A mini ITX motherboard paired with the small from factor Corsair H55F CPU cooler (left) and the internal layout of the Bulldog case with all components installed (right).

User purchased processors are cooled by the included liquid cooler which is a customized Hydro series cooler that mounts over the processor and exhausts air blower style out of the back of the case. The system is powered by the pre-installed 600W Corsair FS600 power supply. The PSU is mounted in the front of the system and the graphics card radiator and fan are mounted horizontally beside it. Along the left side of the case are mounts for a single 2.5" drive and a single 3.5" drive.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room Liquid Cooled Graphics Cards.jpg

GPU manufacturers will be selling card with liquid coolers pre-installed. Users can also upgrade existing air cooled graphics cards with an optional upgrade kit.

The liquid cooling aspect of the Bulldog is neat and, according to Corsair, is what is enabling them to cram so much hardware together into a relatively small case while enabling thermal headroom for overclocking and quieter operation versus air coolers.

I am curious how well the CPU cooler performs especially as far as noise levels go with the compacted and shrouded design. Also, while there is certainly plenty of ventilation along the sides of the case to draw in cool air, I'm interested in how well the GPU HSF will be able to exhaust the heat since there are no top grilles.

Corsair is marketing the Bulldog as the next step up from your typical Steam Machine and game console and the first 4K capable gaming PC designed for the living room. Further, it would be a nice stepping stone for console gamers to jump into PC gaming.

From the press release:

“Bulldog is designed to take the 4K gaming experience delivered by desktop gaming PCs, and bring it to the big 4K screens in the home,” said Andy Paul, CEO of Corsair Components. “We knew we needed to deliver a solution that was elegant, powerful, and compact. By leveraging our leading expertise in PC case design and liquid cooling, we met that goal with Bulldog. We can’t wait to unleash it on gamers this fall.”

The Bulldog DIY PC kit is slated for an early Q4 2015 launch with a MSRP of $399. After adding in a processor, memory, storage, and graphics, Corsair estimates a completed build to start around $940 with liquid cooled graphics ($600 without a dedicated GPU) and tops out at $2,250.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room.jpg

Keep in mind that the lowest tier liquid cooled GPU at launch will be the MSI GTX 970 (~$340). Users could get these prices down a bit with some smart shopping and component selection along with the optional $99 upgrade kit for other GPU options. It is also worth considering that the Bulldog is being positioned as a 4K gaming machine. If you were willing to start off with a 1080p setup, you could get buy with a cheaper graphics card and upgrade later along with your TV when 4K televisions are cheaper and more widespread.

At its core, $400 for the Bulldog kit (case, quality power supply, high end motherboard, and closed loop CPU cooler) is a decent value that just might entice some console gamers to explore the world of PC gaming (and to never leave following their first Steam sale heh)! It is a big commitment for sure at that price, but it looks like Corsair is using quality components and while there is surely the usual the small form factor part price premium (especially cases), it is far from obnoxious.

What do you think about the bulldog? Is it more bark than bite or is it a console killer?

Source: Corsair

Now that is small form factor, a PC in a mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: DIY, mod, mouse-box

Inside the red and black striped body of this mouse is a quad-core ARM Cortex processor of unknown pedigree running at 1.4GHz and 128GB of flash storage; no information on how much RAM might be available.  It has inbuilt WiFi, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a single micro-HDMI port for output and it will charge wirelessly when placed on a pad via Qi or a similar solution.  As well the regular mouse input the Mouse-Box will also have an accelerometer and gyroscope, perhaps a revival of the 3D interface mice which appeared and quickly disappeared a few years back.  Check out the video at The Register to see the team's pitch and a way to get in contact with them.

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"The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse."

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Source: The Register