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Motorized Stage Finesses the Microscopic World

No matter how fine your fine motor skills may be, it‘s really hard to manipulate anything on the stage of a microscope with any kind of accuracy. One jitter or caffeine-induced tremor means the feature of interest on the sample you‘re looking at shoots off out of the field of view, and getting back to where you were is a tedious matter of trial and error. Mechanical help on the microscope stage is nice, and electromechanical help is e

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One-key Keyboard is Exercise in Sub-millimeter Design

As [Glen] describes it, the only real goal in hisdecision to design his single-key USB keyboardwas tosee how small he could build a functional keyboard using a Cherry MX key switch, and every fraction of a millimeter counted. Making a one-key USB keyboard is one thing, but making it from scratch complete with form-fitting enclosure that‘s easy to assemble required careful design, and luckily for all of us, [Glen] has documented it wonderful

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Parallel Programming for FPGAs

One of the best features of using FPGAs for a design is the inherentparallelism. Sure, you can write software to take advantage of multiple CPUs. But with an FPGA you can enjoy massive parallelism since all the pieces are just hardware. Every light switch in your house operates in parallel with the others. There‘s a new edition of abook, titledParallel Programming for FPGAs that explores that topic in depth and it is under the Creative Comm

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Nuclear Synchroscope Gets New Life

The Synchroscope is an interesting power plant instrument which doubles up as two devices in one. If the generator frequency is not matched with the grid frequency, the rotation direction of the synchroscope pointer indicates if the frequency (generator speed) needs to be increased or decreased. When it stops rotating, the pointer angle indicates the phase difference between the generator and the grid. When [Chris Muncy] got his hands on an old s

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Hybrid Bench Power Supply Can Also Hit the Road

Everyone needs a bench power supply, and rolling your own has almost become a rite of passage for hackers.For a long time, the platform of choice for such builds seemed to be the ATX power supply from a computer. While we certainly still see those builds, a lot of the action has switched to those cheap eBay programmable DC-DC converters, with their particolored digital displays. This hybrid bench and portable power supply is a good example of wha

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Modular Blocks Help Fight Disease

When engineering a solution to a problem, an often-successful approach is to keep the design as simple as possible. Simple things are easier to produce, maintain, and use. Whether you‘re building a robot, operating system, or automobile, this type of design can help in many different ways. Now, researchers at MIT‘s Little Devices Lab have taken this philosophy to testing for various medical conditions, using a set of modular blocks. E

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Tiny Transmitter Brings Out the Spy Inside You

When it comes to surveillance, why let the government have all the fun? This tiny spy transmitter is just the thing you need to jumpstart your recreational espionage efforts. We kid, of course you‘ll want to stay within the law of the land if you choose to build[TomTechTod]‘s diminutive transmitter. Barely bigger than the 337 button cell that powers it, the scrap of PCB packs a fair number of surface mount components, most in 0201 pa

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Autonomous Agribots For Agriculture

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [TegwynTwmffat] is going all-in on autonomous robotics. No, it‘s not a self-driving car with highly advanced features such as cruise control with lane-keeping. This is an autonomous robot that‘s capable of driving itself. It‘s a robot built for agriculture, and relative to other autonomous robotics projects, this one ishuge. It‘s the size of a small tractor. The goal [Tegwyn]‘s project i

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InSight Brings New Tech to Mars

Unless you‘ve got your ear on the launch pad so to speak, you might not be aware that humanity just launched a newenvoy towards the Red Planet. Estimated to touch down inElysium Planitia on November 26th, the InSight lander is relatively low-key as far as interplanetary missions go. Part of the NASA‘s Discovery Program, it operates on a considerably lower budget than Flagship missions such as the Curiosity rover; meaning niceties like

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LayerOne InfoSec Conference Returns Next Weekend

This year‘s LayerOne conference is May 25-27 in Los Angeles and Hackaday will be there! Hurry and get your ticket now as today is the last day for pre-registration. As the InfoSec community takes over the Pasadena Hilton next weekend you‘ll wish you had a week instead of just three days to take part in all that is offered. There are organized talks and workshops on pen testing, being the bad guy, and DevOps Security. Learn or improve

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Arduino Just Introduced an FPGA Board, Announces Debugging and Better Software

Today ahead of the Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino has announceda bevy of new boards that bring modern features and modern chips to the Arduino ecosystem. Most ambitious of these new offerings isaboard that combines a fast ARM microcontroller, WiFi, Bluetooth, andan FPGA. All this is wrapped in a package that provides Mini HDMI out and pins for aPCIe-Expressslot. They‘re calling it theArduinoMKRVidor 4000. Bringingan FPGAto the Arduino ecosys

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Snowboard and Skateboard So Lit You Can Wipe Out and Still Look Good

[Nate] has made snowboarding cool with his Bluetooth connected board. Using 202 WS2812 LEDs carefully wrapped around the edge of the board and sealed with a conformal coating, it‘s bright and waterproof. It‘s controlled with an Arduino Nano and a Bluetooth classic board, as well as a large swappable USB battery bank; he can get roughly four hours of life at full brightness on his toy. Where it gets even cooler is with a six-axis gyro

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Open Source Calculator Teaches us about Quality Documentation

Graphing calculators are one of those funny markets that never seem to change. Standardized testing has created a primordial stew of regulatory capture in which ancient technology thrives at modern retail prices while changing little. The NumWorks calculator certainly isn‘t the first competitor to challenge the Texas Instruments dynasty with a more modern interface (and a design from this decade), but behind it‘s subtle color pops and

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Five Steps to TensorFlow on the Raspberry Pi

If you have about 10 hours to kill, you can use [Edje Electronics‘s] instructions to install TensorFlow on a Raspberry Pi 3. In all fairness, the amount of time you‘ll have to babysit is about an hour. The rest of the time is spent building things and you don‘t need to watch it going. You can see a video on the steps required below. You need the Pi with at least a 16 GB SD card and a USB drive with at least 1 GB of free space. T

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Automatic MtG Card Sorter Separates Rags from Riches

Like many of us, [Michael Portera] was an avid trading card collector as a kid. Also like many of us, life got in the way, and the collections sat ignored in boxes until our mothers threatened to get rid of them (or skipped the threat altogether and sold them at a garage sale for next to nothing). [Michael] was recently reunited with his collection of Magic cards, which vary in value as much as baseball or any other kind of collectible card. Now

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DIY SSR For Mains Switching

Typical power strips have their sockets tightly spaced. This makes it cumbersome to connect devices whose wall warts or power bricks are bulky you end up losing an adjoining socket or two. And if the strip has a single power switch, you cannot turn off individual devices without unplugging them. Planning to tackle both problems together, [Travis Hein] built himself some customDual SSR Controlled Socket Outletsfor his workbench. He also decided t

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Suitcase Computer Reborn with Raspberry Pi Inside

Fun fact, the Osborne 1 debuted with a price tag equivalent to about 5,000 in today‘s value. With a gigantic 9 screen and twin floppy drives (for making mix tapes, right?) the real miracle of the machine was its portability, something unheard of at the time. The retrocomputing trend is to lovingly and carefully restore these old machines to their former glory, regardless of how clunky or underpowered they are by modern standards. But someti

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No-Battery HD Video Streaming Does It with Backscatter

What if Google Glass didn‘t have a battery? That‘s not too far fetched. This battery-free HD video streaming cameracould be built into a pair of eyeglass frames to stream HD video to a nearby phone or other receiver using no bulky batteries or external power source. Researchers at the University of Washington are using backscatter to pull this off. The problem is that a camera which streams HD video wirelessly to a receiver consumes o

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The Solid State Weather Station

Building personal weather stations has become easier now than ever before, thanks to all the improvements in sensors, electronics, and prototyping techniques. The availability of cheap networking modules allows us to make sure these IoT devices can transmit their information to public databases, thereby providing local communitieswith relevant weather data about their immediate surroundings. [Manolis Nikiforakis] is attempting to build the Weathe

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Circuit VR: Current Mirrors

Last time we looked at Spice models of a current sink. We didn‘t look at some of the problems involved with a simple sink, and for many practical applications, they are perfectly adequate. However, you‘ll often see more devices used to improve the characteristics of the current sink or source. In particular, a common design is a current mirror which copies a current from one device to another. Usually, the device that sets the current

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The Pros and Cons of Microcontrollers for Boost Converters

It never fails we post a somewhat simple project using a microcontroller and someone points out that it could have been accomplished better with a 555 timer or discrete transistors or even a couple of vacuum tubes. We welcome the critiques, of course; after all, thoughtful feedback is the point of the comment section.Sometimes the anti-Arduino crowd has a point, but as[Great Scott!] demonstrates with this microcontroller-less boost converter, ot

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Review: FG-100 DDS Function Generator

I don‘t have a signal generator, or more specifically I don‘t have a low frequency signal generator or a function generator. Recently this fact collided with my innocent pleasure in buying cheap stuff of sometimes questionable quality. A quick search of your favourite e-commerce site and vendor of voice-controlled internet appliances turned up an FG-100 low frequency 1Hz to 500kHz DDS function generator for only 15 (21), what was not

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Open Gaming To Everyone With A Controller Meant To Be Hacked

Gaming controllers have come a long way from an Atari 2600‘s single button and digital joystick. As games grew more sophisticated, so did the controllers. This development had a dark side - controllers‘ growing complexity have made it increasingly difficult for different-abled bodies to join in the fun. Microsoft has extended an invitation to this audience with their upcomingXbox Adaptive Controller. Creative minds have been working o

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Long PCB Shows Effects of Ludicrous Speed

Transmission lines can seem like magic. When you make use of them it seems strange that a piece of wire can block or pass certain frequencies. It is less common to use transmission lines with pulses and typically your circuit‘s transmission line behavior isn‘t all that significant. That is, until you have to move a signal a relatively long distance. [Robert Baruch] has been using a long PCB to test pulse behavior on a bus he‘s w

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