Once you’ve conquered your fear of static electricity and successfully built a kick ass custom PC from the ground up, making the jump to custom electronics isn’t all that intimidating. The open-source Arduino microcontroller breaks down the entry barrier even further. Flexible, powerful, easy-to-use and licensed-to-alter (under Creative Commons Share-Alike), the Arduino is the linchpin behind scads and scads of nifty DIY electronics projects. And hey! It just so happens that we’ve gathered 25 of the coolest, craziest, and most useful Arduino-powered projects in this gallery for your viewing – and building – pleasure. Mind-controlled Nerf guns, anybody? No, it’s not black magic. It’s the magic of Arduino!
If you're a firm believer that big things come in small packages, then you're exactly the person VIA has in mind with its new ARTiGO A1150 sub-liter dual-core DIY PC kit for enthusiasts. VIA calls it the next generation of ultra-compact desktop computing; we call it a tiny PC with potential, at least on paper. At the heart of the system is VIA's Eden X2 dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz.
While we’re gearing up for the dragon-slaying awesome that is said to permeate The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, it never hurts to take a peek back at the past. Part of Oblivion’s allure lies in its massive game world, a world made even larger by the utterly insane number of well-written books scattered around the land. Even more insane, one enterprising DIYer gathered all of those documents and created a real-life tome comprised of every book Oblivion offers.
There are few services on the internet today more ubiquitous than Google Maps. Originally designed to be downloaded by users as a desktop application, it quickly became a web-based service once the company that gave birth to it was acquired by Google in 2004. By 2005, the user-friendly mapping solution was a household name. Six years later, developers are still discovering new ways to leverage the venerable mapping service to produce more information and expand its functionality, making an already awesome free service even better. To show you what we’re talking about, we’ve put together a list of our ten favorite tips and uses for Google Maps. Some come from Google, others from third-party developers. All of them are awesome.
We are in a warehouse near downtown Brooklyn dubbed the Botcave. We’re talking with MakerBot Industry founders Bre Pettis, Zach “Hoeken” Smith, and Adam Mayer, and we’re contemplating a future where we can all instantly download, distribute, and manufacturer anything, anytime, anywhere. The implications are mind-boggling.
The road to utopia begins with a much cruder and smaller realization of this vision, however. The MakerBot guys hook up our laptop to the Cupcake, a $900 build-it-yourself 3D printer made of etched wood that is painted and lined with blue LEDs. It glows like something from a steampunk novel. We load up a design and start a print job. The gears and motors on this homegrown 3D fabricator sing. The extruder lays down string after string of hot, red plastic. Ten minutes later, Bre Pettis snaps a small toy violin off the building platform. “There,” he says, “the world’s smallest open-source violin.”
Seagate’s FreeAgent Dockstar network storage adapter is a useful peripheral that makes data housed on a FreeAgent Go drive and up to three generic USB storage devices accessible from any computer on your home network or the internet. But there is more to this Ethernet-enabled device than its built-in Pogoplus functionality. We are talking about its 1.2GHz Marvell processor, 128MB of RAM, 256MB of ROM, USB ports and Ethernet connectivity. It’s this hitherto overlooked potential that drove hacker Hunter Davis to this nifty peripheral, available online for as low as $25.
Spurred by his penchant for running games on “unusual systems” and the irresistible lure of the DockStar’s immense untapped potential, Davis decided to turn it into a game console, or, more precisely, an emulation console. While it is true that Davis’ game console is pretty much built around the network storage adapter, it quite obviously requires a few other things to function; namely, Debian Linux, DisplayLink USB-to-VGA adapter and a USB sound adapter.
The video of the console in action is rather lengthy as it features a long list of games, including Contra, Mario World, Monkey Island 3, Quake 3 and Warcraft. His personal website features a detailed walkthrough of the entire process.
Last week we posted our review of the Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, an awesome piece of remote controlled machinery with a not-so-awesome price tag -- the thing streets for around $300. Don't have that kind of Skrilla to plunk down on a toy? Maybe you'd be more interested in building your own.
Greg "Grease" Lehman of St. Paul, Minnesota did exactly that and took 2nd place at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair with his wooden DIY quadricopter. Even better, he posted a fairly exhaustive worklog on Instructables.com.
Lehman used a blueprint that came with a Roswell Quadricopter he purchased back in 1999 as his general guide. The end result is a rad home-brewed quadricopter constructed from ash, oak, walnut, and padauk.
Depending on the size of your home, a professional security system may not come cheap. And once you're finished paying for the hardware, there's the monthly fee to contend with. Swann Security has another, less expensive option.
If you can do without the "high-priced hassle of professionally monitored systems" and are willing to bank on loud sirens fending off would-be crooks, then you might be interested in Swann Security's new Home Series Alarm range. The Home Series Alarm Range is an entire line of window, door, and general motion detection alarms that can be used by themselves or in conjunction with a Swann home surveillance solution.
Each alarm emits a 110db+ siren when activated and run as low as $10. The basic Window Alarm, for example, costs a single Hamilton and comes with a self-adhesive pad for tool-less installation. If the built-in sensor detects the vibration of a window during a forced entry, the alarm goes off.
There are several options available, including a $30 wireless ceiling alarm with 360-degree monitoring up to 9 feet. For the full rundown, see here.
Oil immersion cooling isn't anything new, and long-time Maximum PC readers will recall our experience with Hardcore PC's oil-cooled Reactor back in December, 2008. Puget Systems, one of the few remaining boutique PC vendors to avoid being bought out by a bulk OEM, also sells a DIY oil-cooled kit, and it's just been updated.
The new Aquarium PC Version 3 is larger than any previous version and can now accommodate full E-ATX motherboards. But that isn't the only change.
"The biggest improvement is that it allows the power supply to be mounted on the motherboard tray, making it much easier to maintain the PC, as you don't have to worry about the power supply sitting on the bottom of the tank as you pull the motherboard tray out of the aquarium," Puget explains. "It also has more than twice the cooler power!"
To prove it, Puget dunked "the most extreme hardware available" into the revamped Aquarium, which consisted of an Intel S5520SC workstation board, two Intel Xeon X5677 processors clocked at 3.46GHz, 12GB of Kingston DDR3-1600 memory, a 30GB Kingston SSDNow V Series SSD, two ATI Radeon HD 5870 videocards, and a Corsair HX1000W PSU. You can catch the YouTube video right here.
The Aquarium and Cooling Module V3 is available now for around $670 and includes all the parts you need to send your PC swimming in mineral oil.
How should we classify VIA’s ARTiGO A1100? It’s technically not a portable, since it lacks a display and input devices (e.g. a keyboard and trackpad); but the desktop label doesn’t really fit, either: You could stash 50 of these things inside the Lian Li mid-tower case of the PC we used to write this piece. We’ve seen the term “nettop” floating around, so we’ll use that.
The ARTiGO A1100 is a do-it-yourself PC kit not much larger than a couple decks of cards. It comes with almost everything it needs to handle common computer tasks, except memory and storage, which the user/builder is expected to provide. The Pico-ITX motherboard hosts VIA’s media-friendly 1.2GHz Nano 64-bit CPU and VX855 chipset, which provide gigabit Ethernet; internal SATA; four USB 2.0 host ports; an integrated VIA Chrome9 AGP graphics chip that accelerates MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, and other popular codecs; HDMI and VGA ports; and more.