Tag Archives: wireless

Vagina Hacking by Scanlime, Open Hardware (Emphasis on Hard)

Beth over at scanlime is no stranger to building electronics. But this time she wanted to, well…in her own words, “create something new and exciting that I can immediately use in my everyday life. It also happens to be a sex toy.” Specifically, one of those little remote-controlled vibrating egg things.

She ended up producing a hack that is remarkably polished. She even designed and 3D printed a custom enclosure for the whole thing. If she had used neon pink plastic it would have been hard to tell that it wasn’t part of the original product.

She’s got an incredibly detailed description of the project on her blog. Personally, I think the most interesting part of the hack was her solution to the power problem.

This was getting complicated fast. Lithium polymer battery, a boost converter to raise the voltage to 5V for the sonar module, charging circuit, “fuel gauge” indicator. All of this work goes into every commercial product that runs on batteries, and we often take it for granted. As far as I’m aware, though, there isn’t a great equivalent for quick DIY prototyping. The Arduino Fio board is close to what I want: an Arduino with a built-in LiPo battery charger. But it doesn’t have the 5V boost converter or any way of monitoring the battery’s charge. Without designing my own PCB, I’d need several separate components: batteryfuel gaugecharge/boost. All total, over $45 and a lot more bulk and complexity than I wanted. I was really hoping there was a better option.

It so happens that this sort of amalgamation of parts is already pretty commonplace in the form of portable cell-phone chargers. These devices are very little more than a boost converter, charger, lithium battery, and a very basic fuel gauge. Best of all, thanks to economy of scale, they’re really inexpensive. The 3200 mAH battery I used in this project was only $22, and it’s something I can reuse for multiple projects… or even to charge my phone.

This is an elegant solution that can apply to an array of different projects. Once something becomes commoditized it can drop below the price point at which it makes sense to reproduce the functionality yourself. All wireless projects need power, and with cell phone chargers becoming cheap and easy to find it makes sense to just plug one into the project’s USB slot and call it a day. Not only is it cheaper and easier, but it’s modular because you can still use it for its original purpose.

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All The Uses For An Old Android Phone

Modern smart phones are incredibly capable devices. The guidance computer that got Apollo 11 to the moon and back could be simultaneously emulated 10,000 times on the smart phones that we are replacing every couple of years.

There’s got to be something better than just chucking them in a drawer.

After an exhaustive survey of the interwebs, I’ve turned up roughly 15 things that it makes sense to do with your old phone. The most obvious, and least satisfying, is to just keep it charged so you can use it as an emergency phone. Meh. An improvement would be to install a VOIP service and use it to make free calls over your home Wi-Fi network. If you don’t want to use your old phone as a phone, you can take advantage of all that memory; load it up with content and it can be an MP3 player, an e-reader, a game system, or even a full-fledged media server (yes a server). Whatever you do…please don’t just use it as an alarm clock.

All that and more after the jump. Continue reading

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Flexibity Open Source Wireless Internet-Connected Sensors

Flexibity is the brain-child of Maxim Osipov. It’s a standard for open source sensors, each of which connects to a standard wireless router and has its own IPv6 address. With the combined hardware and software standards anyone can create an application or a sensor. Since the system connects to the internet you can use the information anywhere.

The idea was good enough to win the Oxford Entrepreneurs - TATA Idea Idol 2011 competition.

If you want to check out the source files, here ya go.

Additional Links

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Crowd Funding Dump

Kickstarter has subdivided their “technology” category into “open software” and “open hardware” which makes my job a little faster. There aren’t very many things in it…but I suppose that also makes my job a little faster.

Summary:

Details after the jump.

Continue reading

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3G GPS Shield for Arduino Microcontroller

You know how the Arduino has those expansion ports on it? Well, now Cooking Hacks (the same group that created the XBee shield) has created a 3G + GPS shield for attaching to those expansion ports. That’s right, you can make the Arduino accessible anywhere. As much as I hate talking about the cloud, this little beauty allows you to add your Arduino (and/or entire project) to it.

Details after the jump.

Continue reading

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Openmoko – Free The Phone

It’s an open source phone.

Openmoko started out as a company, but is now a group of people working on providing a complete mobile phone solution. The project has been expanded by Golden Delicious Computers via a new motherboard.

openmoko new freerunner phone

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