He's dead Jim ... or at least that's what my Tricorder says

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2012 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: tricorder, DIY

The plans for the Tricorder Mk II have been released by The Tricorder Project and just who in their right mind would not want to build one for themselves ... or their kids.  The device uses an Atmel AT91RM9200 processor, 32MB SDRAM and a pair of touchscreen OLEDs powered by an Epson S6E63D6 and runs Debian Linux. 

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The sensor suite onboard can monitor a variety of atmospheric, electromagnetic, temperature and spatial values.  Toss your old IR thermometer away, the Tricorder will give you that measurement and distance as well.  You might as well dump the GPS as well since the Tricorder has you covered.  You will need a bit of skill in assembling electronics and soldering to finish the project, along with roughly $500 but the instructions are very detailed and in the end ... you get a working Tricorder!

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"The Science Tricorder Mark 2 prototype sensor board contains ten different sensing modalities, organized into three main categories: atmospheric sensors, electromagnetic sensors, and spatial sensors. Many of the sensors are similar to those used in the Science Tricorder Mark 1, where the differences are centrally in upgrading sensors to higher-resolution versions where possible. The prototype sensor board also includes an imaging sensor, in the form of a cell phone camera, that is untested. Sensor boards for the Mark 2 are designed to be self-contained, include separate microcontrollers for low-level sensor communication, and as such are more easily upgraded."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

GoFlow To Offer $99 tDCS Brain Augmentation Kit

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: tDCS, overclocking, DIY, brain, augmentation

The new Extreme Tech (RIP ET Classic) recently ran an article that talks about turbo boosting, overclocking goodness, but with a twist. Instead of the typical CPU or GPU hardware, the article talks about overclocking some wetware in the form of the human brain. More specifically, a DIY kit called the GoFlow is in the works to enable affordable tDCS, or transcranial direct-current stimulation, to stimulate the brain into a "state of flow" enabling quicker learning and faster response times.

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The GoFlow β1 will be a $99 do it yourself tDCS kit that will direct you in placing electrodes on the appropriate areas of your scalp and then pumping some direct current from a 9V battery at 2 milliamps through your brain, enticing the neurons into a state of flow. This makes them more malleable to creating new pathways and increasing learning speed as well as allowing them to fire more rapidly, bolstering thought processes. The kit, which is not available for purchase yet, will not require any knowledge of soldering, and will be housed a plastic case along with wires, schematics, and a potentiometer to dial in the right amount of power.

The company behind the GoFlow β1 has further referenced cases of successful tDCS short term testing including tests of UAV Drone pilots and professional gamers all learning their respective trades more quickly than the average. Extremetech also mentions that tDCS can have therapeutic effects for people effected by Parkinson’s or post stoke motor dysfunction.

Right now, the kit is still in the works, but interested users can sign up to be notified when it becomes available on their website. At $99, is this something work a shot, or do you prefer not to void the warranty on your brain? (heh)  Personally, statements such as "our tDCS kit is the shit" and "get one of the first β1's and will help us develop β2" on the webstie are not exactly instilling confidence to me, but if you're big into the early adopter adventure, GoFlow may have something for you to test.

Source: Extreme Tech

You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say ...

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: DIY, model m, input, frank zappa, blue alps sliders

Sometimes hacks and mods are done to save you time and money or possibly both but other times you find yourself stuck in the position of Frak Zappa and cannot find a giraffe filled with whipped cream and have to make it yourself.  Such is the case with this completely made custom keyboard described at Hack a Day, in which every part was either custom ordered or made by the designer themselves.  None of the keys seem to be in their accustomed places and your thumbs will get a workout from all of those keys mounted in the centre of the board but for a programmer this could be the perfect design.  It has taken over a year to build and likely cost more than a mass produced designed keyboard but if you want something done right ...

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"[dmw] posted a pseudo-build log over at the geekhack keyboard forums. Every single part of this keyboard is custom-made. The key caps were made by Signature Plastics, the case was made by Shapeways, and the custom PCB for the key switches came directly from Express PCB. The key switches are blue Alps sliders (one of the best key switches available) with a few white Alps switches taken from an old Apple keyboard."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Hack a Day

Building the ultimate ultraportable ... for $300!

Subject: Mobile | February 16, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: ultraportable, DIY

Check out the latest system build at The Tech Report; a lucky find of a 12" X60 devoid of its hard drive, battery, and power adapter for $87 along with some smart shopping lead to a very powerful ultraportable.  What was left inside was the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 RAM and a lot of empty space.  Another stick of RAM and a power adapter were located in their hoard of equipment so the only peice that had to be purchased was a hard drive and battery.  The battery was easily available for little money and they went all out on the hard drive, picking up a SanDisk Ultra 120GB SSD.  Not a bad build for under $300!

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan pieces together a 12" ultraportable notebook with ThinkPad build quality, a 120GB SSD, and much better performance than budget netbooks for less than $300. Here's how he did it ..."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Bring that laptop back to life

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2011 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: DIY, hack

Laptops have a harder life than desktops, not just because they get knocked around while you are on the move, but the plugs see a lot more action as you unplug your peripherals and power to put it in its case and plug them back in when you get to where you are going.  As a result broken USB ports can be common but can be worked around, as can bent network pins but what about the power plug?   Quite a few people have taken their laptop apart to clean the insides or to upgrade the RAM or other hardware but have you done any soldering inside the case or replaced plastic mounting points?  Hack a Day will take you through a simple fix for a broken power plug on a Satellite which will bring your laptop back from the dead.  This particular model is fixable because the power plug is not directly attached to the circuit board, a design which might be more brittle than direct attachment but does mean you can make these types of repairs.

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This might take a little more ingenuity.

"It seems that there’s a whole range of Toshiba Satellite laptop computers that suffer from a power jack design that is prone to breaking. We see some good and some bad in this. The jack is not mounted to the circuit board, so if it gets jammed into the body like the one above it doesn’t hose the electronics. But what has happened here is the plastic brackets inside the case responsible for keeping the jack in place have failed. You won’t be able to plug in the power adapter unless you figure out a way to fix it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Hack a Day

VIA Launches ARTiGO A1150 PC Kit

Subject: Systems | November 22, 2011 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: DIY, VIA, ARTiGO

Packs VIA Eden X2 processor, HD video, HDMI connectivity and 64-bit computing in a palm sized chassis
Taipei, Taiwan, 22 November 2011 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the launch of the VIA ARTiGO A1150 a sub-liter dual core DIY PC kit for enthusiasts who want to taste the next generation of ultra-compact desktop computing.

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The new way to measure PC size

The VIA ARTiGO A1150 is one of the smallest full featured DIY PC kits available today, squeezing an impressive range of features that include a 1.0GHz dual core VIA Eden X2 processor, HD video support, HDMI and VGA display connectivity, Gigabit networking, Wi-Fi Support and five USB ports, all into a palm-sized PC chassis. The VIA ARTiGO A1150 is ideal for a variety of applications in the home or office, including home server, media streaming and surveillance applications or great as a regular desktop PC, using only a fraction of the physical real estate.

"VIA redefines dual core low power compact computing, bringing all the features of a regular desktop PC into a form factor that needs to be seen to be believed," said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "VIA has a long history in creating leading edge form factor systems, and the VIA ARTiGO A1150 pushes the bounds for ultra-compact desktop computing."

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VIA ARTiGO A1150: Compact Computing Redefined
The mere 5.7" x 3.9" x 2" (14.6 cm x 9.9 cm x 5.2 cm) VIA ARTiGO A1150 is powered by a dual core 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 processor, offering a high performance native 64-bit computing experience while remaining within a low power thermal envelope. The VIA Eden X2 processor is joined by the VIA VX900H media system processor, a fully integrated all-in-one chipset that brings exceptional multimedia experience to small form factor devices including hardware acceleration for the latest HD video codecs including H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2/4 at screen resolutions of up to 1080p.

Front and back panel I/O includes HDMI and VGA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, five USB ports including one USB device port, three audio jacks with optional wireless IEEE 802.11 b/g/n and SD card reader modules.

To watch a short introductory video about the VIA ARTiGO A1150, please go to: http://youtu.be/qkQtymQdbgg

The mineral oil in this Aquarium will be hard on the fish but not your components

Subject: Systems | November 10, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: puget systems, mineral oil, DIY, Aquarium

If you have an urge for switching your PC 's' cooling to full immersion in mineral oil you could do worse than looking to Puget Systems and their DIY Aquarium kit.  For four years they have been perfecting one of the most unique PC designs on the market, mimicking the look of an aquarium right down to the overhead light and gravel at the bottom.  By ordering a complete system, or picking up the parts from their parts store to build your own, you will end up with a well cooled conversation peice that you should proudly display in a prominent place.  Plus it is still a working PC, even if you will be distracted from the screen by your case.

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In House Manufacturing
We have seen so much demand for our aquarium kits that we have purchased our own laser cutting machine! This allows us to manufacture these kits entirely on our own, which carries a number of advantages.

  • Our costs are lower, which helps lower the price to you.
  • We are in full control of quality.
  • We know what is needed much better that an outsourced machine shop.
  • We can make MUCH more frequent design tweaks and improvements.

Embracing Simplicity
Up to this point, our aquarium kits have been getting bigger and more complicated with each release. The V4 kits take a step back. The size and capacity is the same as our V3 kits, but with the advantage of rapid prototyping though on-site manufacturing, we are able to create a much more finely tuned product. Instead of large bulky bracing, we cut it down to only what is necessary. Instead of dual pumps with complicated interconnects, we run a single more powerful pump. This leads to a dramatic decrease in complication, assembly, and number of parts needed. This results in less points of possible failure, and much lower overall unit price.

Project History
For those interested in the full history of this project, Puget Systems has chronicled our timeline over the last 4 years, sharing our thoughts, testing, benchmarks, and results.

Our full V4 aquarium kits, including tank, motherboard tray, pump, radiator, and all necessary wiring and tubing, are available for immediate purchase on our website. Alternately, for those looking for parts for their own DIY projects, each component of our V4 kit can be purchased separately on our parts store.

Two PSUs are better than one

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2011 - 10:57 AM |
Tagged: PSU, enthusiast, dual PSU, DIY

[H]ard|OCP visits the weird world of dual PSU products, which allow the usage of two PSUs in a single system and which are transparent to the end user as they are both controlled as if there was only one.  There are four methods covered; Add2Psu, the Lian Li Secondary Power Supply Starter Kit and both auxiliary and redundant PSUs.  They range in style from the impressive abilities of Add2Psu to string together unlimited amounts of PSU using Molex connectors and Lian Li's PSU crossover cable to FSP's 5.25" Booster X5 450W auxiliary PSU and the Athena Atlas 800 redundant PSU which seems more at home in the server room. If you want more power but don't have a PSU big enough this will show you how to give your existing PSU a helping hand.

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"Putting two powers supplies in your computer has been a recurring subject in our forums for years. While the physical process of making that happen is not exactly rocket science, it still can be daunting for some users. Today we show you a few products that make it easy for anyone to double up on the power should your wattage needs increase."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Mod a dial that goes to 11 onto your AMD graphics card

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2011 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: DIY, overclocking

One of the favourite features on the high powered graphics cards that Ryan has been reviewing this week is the ability to manually overclock the card while running it.  Instead of having to use the built in software tools of the driver to first modify the speed and then running a test cycle it is possible to raise the frequency manually using controls on the card.  The changes occur on the fly, without the software first testing to ensure stability which necessitates the presence of a reset button to take you back to stock frequencies.  Thanks to Hack a Day you can now see how it is now possible to build your own paddle switch to do the same thing as the high end cards without having to spend the money or reach inside your case.  Check out this project which will give you a paddle that not only upclocks your cards memory and GPU separately, it can also reset you back to default speeds if you go too far.

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"[Fred] likes to squeeze every cycle possible out of his graphics card. But sometimes pushing the clock speed too high causes corruption. He figured out a way to turn a knob to adjust the clock speed while your applications are still running.

The actuator seen above is a Griffin Powermate 3.0. It’s a USB peripheral which is meant to be used for anything you can imagine. [Fred] uses an AutoHotKey script that he wrote to capture the input from the spinner, process that information, then adjust GPU clock speed in the background. Since the clock on his ATi Radeon 5800 can be adjusted using the AMD GPU clock tool, it’s an easy choice for this application. Now better graphics are at the tips of his fingers. See for yourself in the video after the break."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Who needs software control when you can roll your own fan controller?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2011 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: fan controller, pwm, DIY

Even with the fancy drivers now that allow you to set a minimum fan speed you will find that it is almost impossible to completely turn the fan off.  If you desire to do so, it is almost impossible to turn the fan completely off, which is something that is almost impossible with either a software solution or with a PWM controller.  Over at Hack a Day you can find instructions on how to create a breadboard project which translates PWM signal to DC and will allow you much greater control over your fan speed.

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"[hedgehoginventions] wrote in to share a little modification he made to his video card in order to keep it from overheating during strenuous 3D tasks. Having swapped out the stock cooler on his Nvidia 9600GT graphics card, he found that it did not need to utilize the fan while doing mundane things like checking email, but that it still required extra air flow while playing games.

He figured he get the fan to shut off by tweaking the PWM signal, but he found that he could not get the duty cycle under 20% using software, which still caused the fan to run at all times. The circuit he built takes the PWM signal output by the card, cleaning it up before converting it to a corresponding DC voltage. The fan then runs at the same speed it would if driven directly by the PWM signal, though it can now turn off completely when not required."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Hack a Day