4volt

The wrath of blog !
posts - 207, comments - 147, trackbacks - 12

Tech

4volt.com is 10 Years Old

In April 4volt.com turned 10 years old, that’s a whole decade of weird stuff, lots of posts and files. Here’s a picture of me modding a PlayStation in 2001, at the time this site was just getting started and the internet was a relative wild wasteland. I’ve also moved this site to a new server after running it for 2.5 years on a server in my basement. Here are some fun facts about stats over the last couple years: Total hits: 14,286,663 Average hit size: 32.53kb Total Visitors: 907,787 Browsers...

posted @ Saturday, May 28, 2011 11:21 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech ]

How to Burn a Blu-Ray HD Video Onto a Regular DVD Disk

Last weekend I was in a team that entered a short film into the National Film Challenge, under the name a3o Studios. The film we made was filmed on the Canon t2i / 550d in 1080p 24fps. The quality of the film is so good that it seemed a shame to burn it onto a standard def DVD and loose all that detail, especially when it was going to be shown on a TV that was capable of showing all that detail. Of course I could hook my computer to the TV, but that’s no good for distribution. That quandary got me...

posted @ Thursday, November 04, 2010 12:48 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Entertainment Tech ]

A t2i / 550D Magic Lantern firmware Alpha is Now Available!

Trammel Hudson of Magic Lantern fame has started porting the custom Magic Lantern firmware to the cannon t2i / 550D. So for it seems to be an alpha release,  but I suspect that things will start moving more quickly now. In this first release the only new features appear to be audio monitoring and lens info, but that is a great start. In my opinion the poor audio quality of the t2i is in my opinion the biggest flaw the camera has right now. With manual audio control and a little skill, I think the t2i could be used to shoot feature...

posted @ Monday, August 02, 2010 2:01 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech Photos Commentary ]

Using Hobby RC parts in DIY projects

I’m always happy when I find a new kind of part that is cheap and easy to use with DIY electronics projects or robotics, the more standardized the better. There’s a whole world of smart electronics and helper things in the hobby and remote control world that are great for robots and other things. You probably already know that hobby servos are easy to control from any microcontroller like the arduino, but there are a bunch of other things that are just as easy to use. Generic motor controllers, battery systems are also equally as useful, but are sometimes hard to sort...

posted @ Saturday, June 05, 2010 2:29 AM | Feedback (3) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech Robotics ]

Canon T2i/550D Practical Video Review

I got my hands on the Canon T2i and I ran it though it’s paces, the things I was most interested in was the video modes and low-light performance. To see the HD version downsized to 720p, you have to load the video from vimeo directly: Canon T2i, 550D Practical Video Tests. T2i Vs. 7D First a quick word about the T2i vs. the 7D. The T2i does not have that pro-feel that the higher level cameras have. The body is fairly light and it is most defiantly made of plastic, and you can tell when you hold it. For me...

posted @ Friday, February 26, 2010 2:58 AM | Feedback (7) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech Photos Commentary ]

Digital Video: The HD tipping point is now

Over the last few years HD video has been getting constantly cheaper, easier and better. I bought a used HD camera in 2001 (JVC HDGR1) for about $2,000 that was one of the first cameras under $10,000 that could do HD, and that it does at 720P, with some other deficiencies. For a while now cheap HD has been available, for instance last year I bought a $150 camera that could also do 720P, but the sensor was small and noisy, that and the audio quality made the footage unusable. However now the latest versions of digital...

posted @ Monday, February 22, 2010 2:29 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Entertainment Tech Commentary ]

Power required to emulate a human brain

Recently, I posted a article about how much computational power it would take to emulate the human brain, and my calculations were off by a factor of 10. I've corrected my estimates and here are the updated sections: Emulating the Human Brain The Blue Brain Project has successfully simulated 1 cordical column on the Magerit super computer (100 TeraFLOPS), and human brain has an estimated 1,000,000 columns. So with 5.2 ExaFlops, one could emulate 52,000 cordial columns. And that’s 1/20th of enough power to emulate a human brain. To emulate the entire human brain you would need approximately 100 ExaFLOPs That's a lot of...

posted @ Friday, February 05, 2010 11:27 PM | Feedback (2) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech Commentary Robotics Commentary ]

Total Processing Power of the Internet

As a brain exercise I decided to try and estimate the total processing power of all the computers on the entire internet, and see if that is enough processing power to emulate the human brain. Since this is an estimate, I will try my best to figure it out with public data. Here was my process: Total Number of Computers No one knows exactly how many people (computers) are connected to the internet since a single IP address can be shared with any number of pc’s, but the best estimate I was able to find was here: Internet World Stats They use population statistics...

posted @ Monday, January 18, 2010 3:38 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech Commentary Robotics Commentary ]

CES Post-mortem picture extravaganza

This past week I was at CES doing market research, and I'm sure everyone reading any of the tech/gadget blogs have had a overload of CES related coverage. I’m not going to talk about any of the things that got major coverage, but here’s some general thoughts,  and a couple things you probably didn’t see anywhere else. 3D TV is coming at you like a 900lb gorilla Pretty much every TV/Monitor manufacturer has a 3D version of a product coming out, and with Blue-ray updating it’s standards to...

posted @ Wednesday, January 13, 2010 1:19 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Entertainment Tech ]

US Droid + Root = Multitouch?

After having the new Motorola Droid for about a week, I've been very impressed with it’s features, usability, and experience. Previously I was using a windows mobile phone, and as far as usability goes, Android is leaps and bounds better then even the latest (6.5) version of Windows Mobile. Although, when I show my phone to an iPhone users, they generally complain about the lack of multitouch, especially in the web browser, and the on-screen keyboard. I think that feature alone will end up being a major sticking point when people talk about switching from the iPhone to the Droid. As you...

posted @ Monday, November 16, 2009 11:05 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech Code Commentary ]

Photos: Running a exposed hard drive, and then ruining it

Way back in 2002, I ran an experiment with a hard drive to see how durable the inside actually is, mostly curious to see how easy it is to ruin a drive. In the 2nd above photo you can see the drive arm moving, all of these photos were taken while the drive was being used in a live system.    We removed the cover of a old IDE hard drive and proceeded to format and install windows. We didn’t make any attempt to protect the drive, and the office we worked in...

posted @ Sunday, July 05, 2009 10:31 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Entertainment Tech Photos ]

Using the Minimal Arduino

Todbot has posted an excellent tutorial on how to setup and use the minimal Arduino, which is the bare minimum you need to run a ATmega chip and the Arduino bootloader. Todd goes into detail about how to get the bootloader onto the chip as well as how to setup the Arduino environment to use it. Even if your not interested in building an Arduino from scratch, It’s a good read if you are interested in the technical aspects of what makes the Arduino work. http://todbot.com/blog/2009/05/26/minimal-arduino-with-atmega8/

posted @ Wednesday, May 27, 2009 8:47 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech Robotics ]

Stripping a Scanner for Parts (in 10 minutes)

I’m starting on a project that I’ll be using stepping motors and belts, and after looking for cheap parts online, I thought I could do better by stripping down some old scanners. People are excited to get rid of there old computer stuff, the great thing is it doesn't matter if the old scanner works. Even if it doesn't turn on likely the motor and mechanical parts are still good for salvage. I posted a ad on Portland’s craigslist in the wanted section and got several responses, in a week I had a bunch of scanners for free, I only...

posted @ Wednesday, May 20, 2009 9:35 PM | Feedback (10) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Robotics ]

Theo Jansen on "Robots Podcast"

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Theo Jansen’s work, he is the inventor of the Jansen Mechanism that I used as the basis of my recent Jansen Walker project. Jansen was recently interviewed on the generically named "Robots Podcast" where he spoke about his thoughts on if he was a artist or scientist, if the Strandbeest have thoughts, his building materials, the design of the legs, how he would like the Strandbeest to outlive him, also microcontrollers and commercialism. Check out the podcast over at Robots Podcast.

posted @ Monday, April 27, 2009 12:09 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Tech Art Robotics ]

Jansen Walker Beta 1 Official Release

I’m officially releasing my Jansen Walker as a beta with the source files and a video! 4volt Jansen Walker Beta 1 Video Jansen Walker: An openly designed Creative Commons licensed robot. What you see here is the Beta 1 version of the walker, a laser-cut robot, based on the Jansen Mechanism. It has 8 legs and scuttles similar to a crab walking sideways. The brain is a Arduino, and the legs are powered by 2 micro-servos modified for continuous rotation. If you would like to buy a kit of just the plastic in its current state, check out the...

posted @ Sunday, April 19, 2009 2:24 AM | Feedback (2) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Laser Robotics ]

Modifying Micro Servos for Continuous Rotation

There are many ways to power your next project but I’m quite partial to the continuous rotation servo because it’s very easy to hook up to your micro controller, you don’t need to build or buy a separate controller or h-bridge to power the motor. In a servo all that is built in. All you need to do is connect the power directly to your battery and send a low-voltage control signal to tell it what you want it to do. Servos out of the box are meant to rotate in a fixed range of 180 degrees, but modifying them for...

posted @ Saturday, April 18, 2009 9:29 PM | Feedback (2) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Photos Robotics ]

Jansen Walker: The story so far

Update Note: While I'm keeping this post for historical value, this post is not kept up to date with my Jansen Walker, look at the Jansen Walker project page for the latest details and plans. Original Post: If you’ve been following my posts lately I’ve been putting a bunch of my time into a robotics project that uses the Jansen mechanism for movement, if your not familiar look below for an animation. I've spent quite a bit of time on the mechanical design on this robot, maybe more then was strictly necessary since I used this opportunity to learn SolidWorks, and since...

posted @ Saturday, April 18, 2009 12:33 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Laser Photos Robotics ]

Papercraft Folded Box Generator

Zignig from Thingiverse posted a python script called "Parametric Papercraft" that will draw boxes of any size based on my folded box design. It’s a cool idea that I highly recommend checking out.  

posted @ Wednesday, April 15, 2009 10:59 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech Code ]

Flashing the PSP with alternative firmware

The sony PSP (pay station portable) is a great piece of hardware, a nice big screen with a decent processing power along with a some good controls and a fair amount of software features right out of the box. In my opinion the biggest competitor to the PSP is the iPhone and the iPod touch, though there are not directly equivalent. The problem with the stock firmware is that it’s locked to sony signed apps, running an alternative firmware will let you run homebrew code. There’s a plethora of conflicting info on how to flash the psp, There...

posted @ Tuesday, March 24, 2009 6:39 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech ]

Howto: Hotwire a PC power supply

In my current PC I have two power supplies, one for my motherboard and accessories, and one for my raid array. The problem is, you cant just use a regular ATX PC power supply for dumb power without hooking it up to a motherboard. Fortunately there’s a (fairly) easy way around that. There is a wire in the main 20-24 pin ATX header that tells your power supply to turn on, and is usually the only green one. Before we get into the details, here are two warnings: There are dangerous voltages in your power supply, if your not...

posted @ Thursday, March 12, 2009 9:51 AM | Feedback (1) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech ]

Unicode domains, short URL’s and Twitter

Today a news story hit about tinyarro.ws, a url shortening domain that can appear as as a single Unicode character like: www.➡.ws/誮 I was not very familiar with unicode domains, so I did a bit of research. Unicode domains are meant to allow non-English domains to be registered with by escaping them into Punycode. For instance www.➡.ws/誮 is shown as “www.xn--hgi.ws/xn--y42a” in the source of this page. ‘XN—‘ is the Punycode notation to start the escape sequence, here is a converter I’ve found for your pleasure: http://idnaconv.phlymail.de/index.php This brought out two interesting lines of thought:...

posted @ Wednesday, March 11, 2009 3:28 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech ]

Scavenging for parts from a PC case (in 5 minutes)

  I always scavenge any electronics I'm throwing out, even if I only have a limited amount of time. For a long time I’ve considered empty computer cases to be worthless, but there are a few things that are worth keeping. Excluding the power supply, most of the parts are on the front cover. The LED’s and buttons aren’t worth a whole lot, but they come with pre-soldered with a short jumper cable that's ready to be plugged into a header somewhere, there time savers.    There’s also the fan and maybe a...

posted @ Monday, March 09, 2009 12:56 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech ]

Jansen Walker: Post 2

Update Note: While I'm keeping this post for historical value, this post is not kept up to date with my Jansen Walker, look at the Jansen Walker project page for the latest details and plans. Original Post: I posted a few weeks ago about the Jansen walking mechanism, and since then I've been working on a Solidworks model to test the proportions of the 12 numbers with success. Solidworks allowed me to adjust the length of any proportion in the model without redrawing anything. I ended up using a variation of the numbers found by Rik at Lets Make Robots. Below is an...

posted @ Sunday, March 08, 2009 4:02 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Robotics ]

Jansen Walker Research

Update Note: While I'm keeping this post for historical value, this post is not kept up to date with my Jansen Walker, look at the Jansen Walker project page for the latest details and plans. Original Post: I’ve taken a  strong interest in Theo Jansen’s walking mechanism, it’s a very efficient mechanical leg design for converting rotary motion into leg movements, and is very elegant in my opinion. The basis is the relative distance of the 12 joins, he calls them “The 12 Holy Numbers”. I’ve also seen “11 Holy Numbers” in a few references. Another parallel interest I have with...

posted @ Monday, February 23, 2009 7:31 PM | Feedback (1) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Robotics ]

Roboduino

Amidst my internet travels today I came across the Roboduino from Curious Inventor, it's a Arduino compatible kit that makes working with servos and sensors directly plugable into the board without having to have a separate prototype board or shield. If I weren't on a strict budget I'd be buying one today with a fist full of servos. I'm always happy to see robotics related projects converging with the Arduino world, it makes experimenting with robotics easy and fun. http://www.curiousinventor.com/kits/roboduino

posted @ Monday, February 23, 2009 4:15 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Tech ]

Flex LS, Spark Competition, and .Net Micro

I recently created a entry for the Spark Competition, go check it out and rate it highly. There’s 188 entries and the top 50 win a VIA Artigo Pico-ITX system which I’ve been excited to see since it’s release. I wrote a blog entry about it back in December. The Spark Competition is for Microsoft's new embedded development environment focused on the new .Net Micro framework. Microsoft's new framework is for lower-end microprocessors. While it is a Microsoft product it has some very interesting features like higher-level access to networking, interface, and data libraries. There...

posted @ Friday, January 09, 2009 11:26 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts Tech Code ]

Arduino UAV from SparkFun

SparkFun just released an Arduino-compatible autopilot board designed by Chris Anderson and Jordi Muñoz of DIY Drones. I checked out Chris' board a while back and was under the impression that it was still under construction, though if SparkFun is manufacturing the board now it must be ready for the average hobbist. For $85 you can have the brains and GPS for your own UAV. Personally I've always wanted to create a boat UAV that autonomously roves the coast traveling to far away places with a cellular modem reporting back with pictures and charging with solar panels. http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8785

posted @ Tuesday, January 06, 2009 11:25 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ DIY Tech ]

Making Laser Cut Gears with InkScape

  If you ever decide to design something mechanical, eventually you’ll need some gears. I’ve been experimenting with laser-cutting gears. The first thing I found out is that drawing gears is hard, they are complex in ways you might not realize at first. Gear teeth aren’t simple squares, or triangles, or a easy combination of the two. The teeth are angled based on the diameter of the gear and the pressure angle. See the two following images to compare a small diameter gear and a large diameter gear with the same size teeth (20px) and pressure angle (20). Luckily there is a easy...

posted @ Monday, January 05, 2009 10:28 PM | Feedback (5) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Laser Robotics ]

PSCombine 1.5.0

I’ve just released version 1.5 of the PSCombine program. I’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into it the last few days trying to make it more flexible, and easier to use. Head over to 4volt.com/projects/PSCombine/ to download the new version. If you enjoy PSCombine, you can always donate, or just drop me a note. Here’s a quick rundown on the new features: Live View When you are actively generating images you can use the “Live View” tab to view the images that Photoshop writes immediately after they are...

posted @ Tuesday, December 30, 2008 9:33 PM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Original Posts DIY Tech Art Code ]

Via's ARTiGO and Pico-ITX

I am a big fan of VIA's line of ever smaller ITX motherboards, although it is sometimes hard to get your hands on the smaller models as until now they were marketed primarily to manufactures. The Pico-ITX form factor is 3.9" x 2.8" (10cm x 7.2cm), and VIA has released a kit that includes the board and case for 299$ called the ARTiGO. This makes the Pico board easier to find and VIA has a list of resellers.

posted @ Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:14 AM | Feedback (1) | Filed Under [ Tech ]

The Crisis - Zune vs. iPod

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/12/8/crisis/ A Penny Arcade comic with the joke that Barack Obama's office is terrified that he uses a Zune instead of an iPod. (1 part Microsoft is evil) + (Everyone you know has a iPod) = the Zune is still not cool. I would love to see Apple's choke hold on the portable entertainment market broken, but the iTouch is leagues ahead of the competition, and I don't think Microsoft can do it.

posted @ Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:10 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Entertainment Tech ]