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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mini MAME Galaga Cabinet

Mini MAME Cabinet (Images courtesy Mushmoth26's Flickr pool)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’ve occasionally drooled over a friend’s full-size MAME cabinet but to accomodate one in my current living quarters would require me to give up my fridge or leave the thing on my balcony and share it with the neighborhood pigeons. Seeing this shrunken Galaga cabinet gives me hope that squeezing one in here is no longer just a dream.

Built by Mushmouth26 (his Flickr handle) the mini Galaga cabinet uses a vertically oriented 17-inch CRT powered by a 400Mhz Celeron PC inside. It even has a trackball to accomodate games like Centipede. You’ll need a stool in order to comfortably play the thing but standing is for suckers anyways.

There’s a few ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots of the cabinet in his Flickr pool so if you think you’re ready to tackle building your own you might want to look there first.

[Mushmoth26's Mini Galaga Arcade on Flickr] VIA [Make: Blog]

Broadcasting VIA The Atmosphere

Satellite Dish (Image courtesy Lamit Company)By Andrew Liszewski

The ionosphere is a layer of the earth’s atmosphere sitting about 50 kilometres above our heads and is already used to bounce low frequency radio signals around the planet. Researchers at Samsung are taking that idea even further by developing a way to use the ionosphere as an actual broadcast antenna.

To achieve their goal Samsung plans to use a UHF radio signal of a few hundred megahertz coupled with a carrier signal of around 1 gigahertz. The two signals would be amplified and focused by a dish into a beam that hits the underside of the ionosphere. The plan is for the 1 GHz carrier signal to be absorbed by the atmosphere while the UHF signal is used to alter the temperature of electrons flowing through the ionosphere. This would create an alternating current in the ionosphere that could be modulated at a particular frequency. The spot where the beam hits the ionosphere would then effectively work as an antenna radiating the UHF signal back down to the planet.

Samsung hopes this will pan out as a cheap way to broadcast signals or communicate over long distances without the need for launching and maintaining expensive satellites.

[Atmospheric Broadcasting Patent Application] VIA [New Scientist Invention Blog]

New Kind Of Egg Tells You When It’s Done

smart egg

By David Ponce

You know that mankind has reached either a new height of sophistication, or a new low of stupidity when it feels the need to manufacture food that tells it when it’s cooked. In this particular case, experts at the British Egg Information Service have developed an egg stamped with a special thermochromic logo that becomes visible when the egg is ready. All you need to decide is whether you want your eggs soft, medium or hard-boiled.

The eggs are slated to hit the supermarket shelves this fall, though likely only in Britain.

Of course, it remains to be seen how well this works, and how much agreement can be reached within the egg aficionado community.

[Smart Egg Article] VIA [Digg]

$10 Hand-Held Braille Writer

Hand-Held Braille Writer (Images courtesy Johns Hopkins University)

By Andrew Liszewski

A group of four mechanical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University have come up with a cheap hand-held braille writer as a result of a class project that challenged them to create such an instrument for under $50. Computer-based and even typewriter-style braille writers are typically far more expensive and far less portable than what these students were able to create.

The hand-held braille writer is completely mechanical and the students estimate the device will cost about $10 each if mass-produced. It uses 6 buttons that can be pressed to produce any of the embossed patterns that make up a braille letter, number or punctuation mark. The device is used with a traditional braille slate that has a series of rectangular cells that blind persons typically use a stylus with to punch up to 6 indentations one at a time. The student’s hand-held device can punch up to 6 marks at once which remarkably speeds up the braille writing process.

[$10 Hand-Held Braille Writer] VIA [medGadget]

Princeton UHF Video Transmitter

Princeton UHF Transmitter (Image courtesy Akihabara News)By Andrew Liszewski

Tiny FM transmitters used to deliver music from a portable audio device to your car’s stereo system have existed for many years now and a quick walk through the iPod accessory section of any Apple store will show they’re more popular then ever.

However this is the first transmitter I’ve seen capable of broadcasting both audio and video to a television set. From Princeton Japan comes the PCK-UAV video transmitter that has a basic set of RCA hook-ups and will broadcast the video and audio signal on the UHF band. I don’t think the device allows you to set a specific channel so it seems you’ll need to be able to tune the TV set to the one the PCK-UAV uses. And while I can’t imagine you’ll be enjoying amazing picture quality, this could work out as a handy solution in certain situations.

The Princeton PCK-UAV will be available in Japan in the next month or so for about $70. Does anyone know if these devices can be legally used in North America?

VIA [New Launches]

Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth

Microsoft Live Labs - Photosynth (Image courtesy Microsoft)

By Andrew Liszewski

Large companies having secret research labs is by no means a new thing but these days they seem more open to showing the public what they’ve been working on even if the technology is far from ready for the average consumer. No doubt we can thank Google Labs for this trend.

Microsoft’s own Live Labs has just released a look inside a new piece of software they’ve been cooking up called Photosynth. The idea of the program is pretty simple. Looking at regular 2D photos is boring so why not assemble a collection of photos of a particular place, person or object into a kind of 3D interactive version? This won’t really work for photographers who just grab a single far away photo of something but if you’re the type who loves to take plenty of detail shots this could prove interesting.

The software basically analyzes a group of images and looks for similar distinctive features across photos. When a particular feature is found in multiple images the 3D positional data can be calculated and the photos can be arranged in an interactive manner like in the above screenshots allowing you to pan around and zoom in or out on certain areas. A more practical use of this technology as suggested by Microsoft would be to grab a photo of a landmark with your cameraphone and then via image analysis similar to what Photosynth uses the name of the place as well as more info could be instantly found online.

Photosynth is not currently available for download but a public beta version is apparently in the works.

[Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth] VIA [Ars Technica]

Watur – The Waterfall Door

Watur Door (Image courtesy ElseWare)By Andrew Liszewski

So I’m not really sure what’s more unusual here, the design of this door or the fact that it’s actually available for sale.

Designed by Daniel Harper the Watur is an actual functioning door but instead of being built of glass or wood it’s made of constantly falling water. There is an actual frame to the whole thing which supports the catch basin at the bottom, the sprinklers at the top and of course the door handle. From what I can see the best part of the Watur will come at the end of a hard day when you get home from work, slam the door and then need to spend 10 minutes mopping up the floor.

If you think the Watur door is the perfect accessory for your pad you can order one for $2000. Custom sizing is also available but comes with an additional cost.

[ElseWare Watur Door]

Slice-o-rama – Vegetable Table Saw

Slice-o-rama (Image courtesy Elseware)By Andrew Liszewski

So right now it’s unfortunately more of a functioning concept than anything but designer Oliver Beckert’s Slice-o-rama is a standard wooden cutting board that also includes a built-in circular saw with adjustable metal guides.

The saw blade is the same kind used for removing casts so it won’t cut fingers but it will cut harder materials which I guess includes vegetables. While it’s not available for sale anywhere the Slice-o-rama concept does seem like a pretty simple do-it-yourself project for those who find using a knife too time consuming.

[Elseware - Slice-o-rama]

A Laptop Stool

laptop desk

By David Ponce

This is a special beechwood stool that was apparently designed by Konstantin Grcic explicitly for laptop users. We’re not too sure how appealing it might be to anyone, as it doesn’t have any backrest, and requires you to, well, saddle up. We can’t imagine it scores too many brownie points in the comfort department.

Nevertheless, there you have it. A stool for laptop users.

[Laptop Stool] VIA [Gizmologia]