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.
Starting today, every one of the Maximum PC editors is going to post a monthly column related to our own interests or areas of expertise. We're excited about this idea, because we think that it's going to let us connect more with you--the readers--and to share more about ourselves and our interests.
Now, I'm going to drop the editorial "we" for once, and tell you about my column, which I'm calling The Workshop. Why The Workshop? Because here at Maximum PC, we’ve always been all about The Lab, the place where we do all of our in-depth product testing—the place where we run benchmarks and crunch numbers and come up with the final word on what’s great and what sucks. But I think that focusing too much on the lab, and on numbers generally, misses out a great big facet of geek culture: The fact that geeks (and PC nerds especially) are tinkerers and hackers and builders by nature. That the earliest home computers came in kits and had to be assembled by hand is no coincidence—PC enthusiasts have been part of “maker culture” for as long as either have existed.
But what, exactly, IS “maker culture?” Read on, then hit the comments and share what you think.
VIA says its new ARTiGO A1100 DIY PC kit is "for enthusiasts who want to taste the most extreme, ultra-compact desktop computing experience," and they might be right. The ARTiGO isn't too much bigger than a smartphone, yet there's a full fledged PC inside, albeit nothing to replace your high-end desktop.
Tear the thing open and you'll find a 1.2GHz VIA Nano processor. You'll also find five USB ports, HD video support, HDMI and VGA display connectivity, Gigabit networking, Wi-Fi support, and three audio jacks, all stuffed in and around a chassis small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. More specifically, the entire thing measures just 5.7 inches x 3.9 inches x 2 inches.
"The VIA ARTiGO A1100 redefines compact computing, bringing all the features of a regular desktop PC in a form factor that needs to be seen to be believed," said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "By harnessing our expertise in creating leading edge form factor systems, we're offering consumers something that absolutely breaks the mold."
All that's left is to add your own memory, hard drive, wireless module, SD card reader, and OS. If you can get VIA's store to load (we had a bit of trouble earlier today), you can pick one up today for $243, or $199 if you're one of the first 10 customers.
The failed marriage between Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey is proof that pairing 'popular' with 'wish I was popular' isn't always a recipe for success. Nevertheless, Digitimes' "industry sources" say Foxconn is gearing up to release a pair of white-box netbooks in the very near future.
For whatever reason, the mobile DIY concept has never gained much ground and there exists only a small handful of white-box laptops. Foxconn's obviously hoping for a much better reception in the incredibly popular netbook sector where the biggest complaint is the lack of a performance punch.
Details are sparse, but sources say Foxconn will release the NS20 and NS24 DIY netbooks under a series codenamed SZ901P. These will be built around Intel's Pine Trail platform and include features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a webcam, and a card reader. On the software side, Foxconn will offer WIndows XP or a custom Linux-based OS called FoxOS.
If even the concept for a product exists, a modder out there will try and build it. That’s what’s happened with the vaporware Microsoft Courier. A wily user has managed to ditch the keyboard and attach a USB touchscreen display to his Dell Mini 9. The USB powered display is used for typing and writing on, and the original Dell Mini display is used for reading.
Windows 7 makes the whole affair moderately useful with its integrated handwriting and voice recognition. The mod is still unpolished and incomplete though. There’s not really a hinge attaching the two halves at this time. But still, you don’t see Microsoft showing an actual Courier around.
The 21st century has seen a resurgence in the popularity of stereography, or 3D imagery, and thanks to the availability of inexpensive digital cameras and photo-processing software, do-it-yourself 3D imagery is now possible.
The simplest method for taking a 3D photo requires just a single camera, and a stationary subject. Place your feet firmly on the ground, with your weight on your left foot, and take a picture. Shift your weight to your right foot and take a second picture. You now have a stereo pair of images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye, which can be viewed in 3D. Obviously, this technique, called “sidestep” or “cha-cha” 3D, only works for subjects that are not in motion.
To take stereographs of dynamic subjects, we will need to take two photos at exactly the same time. Japanese camera manufacturer Fuji recently released the first digital camera equipped with two lenses for 3D. Of course, for the technologically savvy, you can make your own 3D camera rig using common building materials and two digital cameras.
In a blog post on Monday, Kyril Faenov, a general manager at Microsoft, announced that the software maker has acquired the technology assets of Interactive Supercomputing (ISC), a company whose bread and butter has been porting the power of parallel computing over to the desktop.
"This move represents our ongoing commitment to parallel computing and high performance computing (HPC) and will bring together complimentary technologies that will help simplify the complexity and difficulty of expressing problems that can be parallelized," Faenov wrote.
Faenov added that Bill Blake, the current CEO of ISC, will make the transition to Microsoft and work at the New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, MA. Blake and others will put into motion Microsoft's plan of integrating ISC technologies into future versions of Microsoft products, although exactly what products have yet to be announced.