Retro Portable Atari Gaming System

Another day, another brilliant Ben Heck hack, this time a very cool, sleek little Atari portable. Unlike many of Ben’s hacks, which are one or two of a kind, he’s thinking about etching a PCB for this one and selling ’em, for around US$300 each, with with trade-in of an Atari 2600 4-switch. Not bad. Also unlike previous projects, which are more conversation pieces than practical gaming systems, this one looks pretty usable. Look, the “giant” game cart forms a nice sun/bright light shade.


How-To: Build a RSS-Reading Telegraph Sounder

The amazing Jake von Slatt has struck again. This time, ye olde Steampunk Workshop has cranked out a lovely brass telegraph sounder that taps out the content from RSS feeds in Morse Code. Jake actually made two, the brass model, built on a traditional design, and a second, more whimsical one, cut from cast aluminum (for “Airship Duty”).

One of the things I like about Jake’s pieces is that he includes video tutorials that can be applied outside of the specific project he’s building. For this project, he covers using a Tap and Die Set and how to wind an induction coil using an electric drill.


Building a LEGO Autopilot

Last week, we blogged about Wired’s Chris Anderson and his efforts to build a robot autopilot out of LEGO Mindstorms NXT and other reasonably-cheap, available parts. HiTechnic, makers of the NXT Compass and other third-party sensors, read Chris’s post and sent him a prototype of their NXT Gyro module. He blogs about installing his prototype autopilot set-up in a model R/C plane.

The post is on a new Wired Blogs site called GeekDad, which already has some really cool content from (besides Chris) Kevin Kelly, Thomas Hawk, Adam Grosser, and others.

Kinda makes me wish my son wasn’t all grown up, but luckily, I raised him to be a proper geek, so he (like his dad) would likely still be enthused about much of what’s found here. Like launching rocket motors sans rocket. Now what geek ever gets too old for that?


Out of This World Deals at Norton’s Used Rocket Lot

Ever since drooling over Todd Lappin’s crazy control panels and industrial tech home decor, I’ve been itchin’ to see what’s for sale in the Cape Canaveral cast-off showrooms of America. Of course, there’s always the legendary Black Hole in Los Alamos, which I’d love to visit one day. But the next time I’m in Hollyweird, I’m going to let my plastic do the talkin’ at Norton Sales, Inc. in North Hollywood. They have rocket parts from all of your favorite makes and models: Atlas, Apollo, Gemini, Titan, Thiokol, Reaction Motors, ABMA-JPL. Oh please, tell me we get to kick the thrust chambers and exhaust bells on the lot! For your more down to earth industrial applications, they have lots of used hydraulics, flow values, hosing, regulators, pumps, etc. It looks like an amazing place in which to get lost.

[Via /.]


Next Dorkbot DC This Wednesday (3/28/07)

The next meeting of Dorkbot DC is this Wednesday at Provisions Library. Speakers include R. Mark Adams who’ll be presenting his work on “Auralizing DNA,” i.e. using data from the human genome to “auralize biologically-meaningful forms in new and interesting ways. Somewhere between a scientific technique and Musique concrète is a new fascinating realm to explore.”

Also Jon Singer of the Joss Research Institute will be talking about inexpensive and easily-constructed DIY ultraviolet lasers. And I will be bringing my latest toy, a WowWee R/C FlyTech DragonFly, to show off. Hope to see DC-area Street Techies there.

For more information and a link to directions, see our DC page on the website.


Meet the Steam Beetle

Our pal I-Wei of Crabfu has created another amazing steam-driven contraption, this one a “beetle” built on a Tamiya High-Lift Chassis and an aluminum sheet metal “shell.” He goes into a decent amount of detail on the construction, with lots of pics, and there’s also a video of the mechano-critter in action. Like all of I-Wei’s work, this vehicle is gorgeous, and includes such wonderful whimsical details as sheet-metal wings that open out to reveal the Cheddar Pegasus steam engine and steamworks underneath.


Handmade Music Night in NYC

MAKE, Create Digital Music, and Etsy Labs sponsored a Homemade Music Night in Brooklyn this past Thursday. MAKE has a round-up of links to those involved and Flickr sets. Peter Kirn, of Create Digital Music, has a report on the evening, with some cool photos and a vid of the Beat Blocks, a tangible music interface where players can constructed drum machine sequences by moving blocks (each a subsequence of the loop) around an electrified grid.


Whoosh Boom Splat: New “Garage Warrrior” Guide

William Gurstelle, one of my fellow MAKE boardmembers, has a new book out called Whoosh Boom Splat: The Garage Warrior’s Guide to Building Projectile Shooters. Highlights include the Jam Jar Jet (from MAKE Vol. 5), the Elastic Zip Cannon (a membrane-powered shooter), and a Da Vinci Architronito, a steam-powered cannon. Bill is also author of Backyard Ballistics and Adventures from the Technology Underground.

Here’s a link to the webpage for the book and Bill’s YouTube commercial for it.


Interesting New Tech Alert: Inkless Printers

Zink (Zero + Ink) is a new start-up built around a new inkless printing technology. “Dye crystals” are contained in special paper, so that the printer doesn’t need to carry ink or a print head. Heating the paper/crystals reveals the colors. This technology could allow for printers to get very small, small enough to fit in cameras, phones, etc. Zink is already showing off a camera with built-in printer (seen here) and a stand-alone pocket printer. Both are reported to be available in late ’07. The website has more (tho not much more) detail.