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Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock

Dodgey99 built an Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock, in which a pair of stepper motors painstakingly draw out the current time. It's got a very low refresh rate, though: the limits of the motors and the Etch-a-Sketch means that it takes more than a minute to display the time, and it needs a couple of minutes' rest between each number. There's a plan to accelerate things with some beefier motors.

I use an Arduino driving two very cheap darlington stepper drivers with 64:1 internally reduced steppers for the drawing. For the rotation I'm using an Easy-Driver driving a Nema 17 stepper.

I also have a DS1307RTC real time clock installed so it always knows the time. Setting the time is a one-off via USB connected to a PC. Once done, you un-tether, and then the RTC keeps the time, for up to a year on the rechargeable battery, or so I'm told...

The code is actually very simple, it's just a pain drawing the numbers!

The G clamp on the back is for a counter balance until I find something more elegant!

The steppers are far too slow to write the time in under a minute so I delay it for a couple of mins between each draw. Mostly to give the very hot motors a while to cool off and to give the etch a sketch a break!

Etch a Sketch clock powered by Arduino (via JWZ)

Why selfies look wrong

Selfies make us look strange, lopsided, comical. Why? Because a cellphone camera sits inches from our faces, whereas our brains are used to a mirror-image seen from several feet away. [The Atlantic] Stop worrying about how pretty you are and embrace imperfection and character. Rob 17

The coming "cyberpunk" entertainment war

William Gibson's books often feature big, sinister corporations co-opting near-future technological wonders to uncertain ends. Facebook buying Oculus fits right in there! John Brownlee heralds the coming "cyberpunk war" to be fought by giant multinational corporations, in the future entertainment dystopia you were always promised. [Fast Co] Rob 17

Holy crap Facebook is paying $2 billion for virtual reality headset firm Oculus Rift


$2 billion? Are you fucking kidding me?

Update: Don't miss Dean Putney's opinion piece, "Oculus was the future of gaming. Now it’s the future of Facebook."

Facebook today announced that it has "reached a definitive agreement to acquire Oculus VR, Inc., the leader in immersive virtual reality technology, for a total of approximately $2 billion." The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, and provides for an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock based on "the achievement of certain milestones."

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Unusual cat toy

Furreal Kitty is available on Amazon. [via]

Sonar tools head out in missing jet hunt


US NAVY

Debris sightings have drawn attention to a particular region, but choppy seas and rough waters deny a conclusive discovery. The TPL-25 is a military underwater microphone that could improve our chances of finding the flight data recorder, the "black box" that holds Flight 370's secrets. [Wired]

HOWTO make a chattering-teeth tooth-brushing timer

Here's a Make HOWTO for converting a set of wind-up novelty chattering teeth to an electronic tooth-brushing timer and toothbrush holder -- take your toothbrush out, start it running, and the teeth will chatter for two minutes (the recommended brushing time).

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Open source soft robotic quadruped with many applications

Pt and Limor write, "The Glaucus, named after the Blue Sea Slug (Glaucus Atlanticus), is an open source soft robotic quadruped from Super-Releaser. It is a proof of concept for a method developed at Super-Releaser that can reproduce nearly any geometry modeled on the computer as a seamless silicone skin. The company hopes to apply these same techniques to practical problems in medicine and engineering as the technology develops. The quadruped has hollow interior chambers that interdigitate with one another. When either of these chambers is pressurized it deforms and bends the structure of the robot. This bending produces the walking motion. It is similar to how a salamander walks, by balancing itself on one pair of legs diagonal from one another while moving the opposite pair forward."

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Ifixit's MacGyver toolkit


Ifixit is celebrating MacGyver's birthday with an Action Hero Toolkit in a Altos-tin-sized-tin. It includes a bobby pin, a match, a rubber band, bubble gum, a birthday candle, a paper clip (natch), a shoelace, a 1 cent stamp and duct-tape. $6.

Action Hero Toolkit (Thanks, Jeff!)

Pebble sold 400,000 smartwatches last year

A good start for the smartwatch pioneer. [CNN] Rob 9

Shelfie, a wall bike mount

Shelfie is a crowdfunded one-piece shelf designed to hold a bicycle. It seems rather steep at $125, but certainly looks more attractive and useful than a big old hook on the wall. [via Uncrate]

What happens when Louis Armstrong's batteries are low

Wherein the Mind of God is shown through His words. [Youtube via Arbroath] Previously.

Carved crayons -- now with color!


Both Mark and I have sung the praises of Hoang Tran's hand-carved pop-culture crayons (I have one in my office!).

But Tran has really gone to a new level, adding detail and sparing color not seen in the earlier works. These new pieces are on display in a Tumblr called Wax Nostalgic, and they're magnificent.

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Bookshelf masking-tape


Etsy seller Light Life makes this book-spine masking tape for sealing up your boxes and making them look like they're libraries for tiny flatlanders. The Taiwanese seller has lots of other notable designs, too. It's all $6.78/roll, plus shipping from Taiwan. (via Tor Books Tumblr)

Pop culture pencils

Glasgow's Popculturepencils makes custom pencils that come in threesomes which spell out fannish messages, For example: "He's dead Jim," "Beam me up Scotty" and "Live long and prosper." Or: "Sedagive?" "What hump?" and "Put the candle back." Very nice: now, put 'em on rebooted Blackwings. (via Geekymerch)