Hacks, Mods & Circuitry News

Inventables: A Store for Superheroes & Hackers

Founded by Zach Kaplan, a "serial entrepreneur" with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, Inventables is a futuristic online hardware store based out of Chicago. The company sells innovative materials at much smaller quantities than typically available—largely to artists, inventors, developers, and researchers. If you've got a brilliant idea and cash to spare, careful, you just may go hog wild. My premature "Dear Santa" wishlist-in-progress:

News: MyndPlay Gives Mindf*** Movies a New Meaning

Were you horrified when Gwyneth Paltrow's head ended up in a box in Se7en? Do you share Harrison Ford's opinion that Han Solo should have died in Return of the Jedi? Think Kurt Russell could have handled aliens better in The Thing? Well, sorry—you're out of luck. There's nothing you can do to prevent William Wallace's beheading or Carrie's mayhem. But thanks to MyndPlay, controlling the plot to future films is totally possible.

Altruistic Hacking: The Rise of the DIY Radiation Detector

Understandably, the tragedy in Japan has substantially risen the level of worldwide radiation-related hysteria. So much so, as an alternative to stampeding health food stores for iodine tablets, crafty individuals and organizations are hacking together personal radiation detectors. Rather than relying on the government, the creation and modification of handheld Geiger counters provides a self-sufficient solution to today's questions regarding radiation. Profiled below, three admirable organiz...

News: Become Your Own Souvenir

As a kid, my favorite thing to do at the Natural History museum was a midday stop, when my family strolled past an antiquated looking vending machine in the museum's musty basement. The Mold-A-Rama machine was oddly shaped, George Jetson-esque, and spewed out made-to-order, brightly colored plastic dinosaurs. There was such joy in watching the liquid wax pour into the mold, and then eject a warm, custom toy—well worth the dollar or two demanded. A version of this tradition was recently elevat...

News: Truck Driver Reverse Engineers Atom Bomb, Rebuilds Little Boy

You're walking down the street, minding your own business. Then you see it—a large, bright fireball in the near distance. A tremendous heat wave speeds towards you at one thousand miles an hour, and before you can think, before you can even blink, the extremely heated wind pushes right through you. Your skin melts, your eyes liquefy—your face disappears into the wind. Before you know it, your pancreas collide with what’s left of the person next to you, your duodenum is dissolving faster than ...

News: Creepy Theremin Utensils Howl the Pain of Slaughtered Ghost Chickens

One of the creepiest musical instruments ever is undoubtedly the theremin, a device originating from the early 20s that emits eerie sounds with a just a wave of the hand. If you've seen the original movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, you know what I mean—freakishly creepy. Playing the theremin can be off-putting for some, since it's a relatively pricy gizmo, but a new geek gadget called the EaTheremin aims to make all of us professional, dinnertime theremists.

News: 3D LEGO LikeLight Shows You Facebook Likes in Real Time

Matt Reed, a web developer at Nashville interactive ad agency Redpepper, built a massive, real life Facebook Like "button" out of Legos, which lights up whenever someone clicks Like on his Facebook page. The programmer loves LEGOs, and draws an affinity between the legendary building blocks and engineering: "[Legos] are great for prototyping physical objects. I don’t manufacture things, but I do click blocks together. Plus, most things I deal with on a daily basis are pixelized. Legos are som...

News: Hacked Wristwatch Connects to Facebook

Too lazy to take your phone out of your pocket? If so, then here's a must-have: a customizable inPulse wristwatch that can check into Facebook Places. Created by inPulse designer Eric Migicovsky, the hacked watch uses Bluetooth to pull Facebook Places from a connected Android smartphone. The app sends real time latitude and longitude stats from the smartphone's GPS to Facebook, which then transmits nearby places to the watch, navigable by a one button interface.

News: Control a Video Game by Swapping Spit

Once there was Spin the Bottle. Then there was the embarrassing adult version of Spin the Bottle—on Wii. And then there was artist Hye Yeon Nam, who decided to skip all pretenses and go straight for the spit-swapping, no foreplay necessary. Hye Yeon Nam devised a method for controlling a bowling video game by French kissing. It works like this: "One person has a magnet on his/her tongue and the other person wears the headset. While they kiss, the person who has the magnet on his/her tongue, c...

News: Magic 8-Ball Booby Trapped with Camera Flash

Take $1.35 of thrift store bric-à-brac, toss in a few spare parts from your electronics drawer and mix it all up with an earnest desire to alienate your loved ones forevermore and what do you get? A booby-trapped Magic 8-Ball, that's what! Hacker arfink explains, "My idea was to make a Magic 8-Ball which would blind an unsuspecting victim with the camera flash. I had an old Honeywell thermostat at home which had a mercury tilt switch inside, and after cutting open the 8 ball and removing the ...

News: DIY Clap-Off Bra

If the whale tail cookies and edible undies weren't naughty enough, you've still got about 24 hours left before Valentine's Day to whip up one of F.A.T. artist Randy Sarafan's step-by-step clap-off bras. Inspired by the electronic singing panties and remote-controlled bras of the secret underworld of Syrian lingerie, Sarafan made a mission to "fast-forward lingerie technology in the West".

News: Self-Electroshocking as Art, Live

Daito Manabe is awesome. Last we heard of him, he was setting up Japanese school girls with glow-in-the-dark grills. Before that, he was playing himself like a human drum kit. And before that, he was just plain old electroshocking himself. In his most recent appearance, he takes his electro-pulsed facial twitches to the stage, with fellow artist Ei Wada, before an audience at Berlin’s Transmediale Festival.

News: Trade in Your Grill for Japanese LED Teeth

In the far away land of Japan, gold is out, glow-in-the-dark is in. LED "grills" were recently conceived of by two Japanese designers/hackers for a winter advertising event at clothing store Laforet Harajuku. The LED teeth attachments quickly became a hot item. Foreseeably, one of the two designers demonstrating the teeth in the video above is the familiar Daito Manabe (our favorite "self-electrocuting" mad hacker). Manabe's partner, Motoi Ishibashi, came up with the idea when "he saw a video...

News: Seeing 3D with the Aid of Epileptic Eye Movement

Do 3D glasses give you a headache? This might hurt more. As in, I think I'm going to hurl just watching. Below, Francois Vogel demonstrates his rapid eye blinking method for 3D viewing. ...as if the electrodes on his temples could stimulate his eyelids to open and close in alternating synchronization with the refresh rate of the monitor! View more vomit-inducing 3D viewing, sans the glasses.

News: Door Locked? Send a Text Message & Open Sesame

When choosing a security system for the office, Billy Chasen decided to ditch the traditional lock & key barricade for something a little more 21st century. He hacked together a device that uses a web server, servo motor and some parts from Home Depot to enable locking & unlocking via text message. Chasen maintains a list which gives access to green lit office workers, who enter by simply texting "lock" or "unlock"... and voilà, open sesame.

News: Touchscreen Made With Blocks of Ice

Far away in Finland, where the ice is plentiful and the temperature is bitter cold, the Finnish Nokia team have created the world's first touchscreen display made entirely of ice. Constructed with massive slabs of river ice, the display was first shaped into neat square slabs with a chainsaw, and then smoothed into a watchable surface with a powerful heat gun.

News: Touchpad Made with Paper and Pencil Scribbles

Who says nothing productive ever came out of doodling? Certainly not the hacker responsible for this fun (and at least somewhat functional) paper-and-pencil touchpad, which takes advantage of the natural conductivity of graphite: There isn’t much to explain here. It just uses pencil graphite on paper as a kind of two dimensional potentiometer. Four voltage dividers between 5v, 2M ohm resistors, the paper, and my grounded finger feeds signals from each corner into an Arduino. The Arduino does ...

News: Hacked Kinect Captures 3D Video in Real Time

That Kinect you bought for your Xbox 360? More than just a game controller, it's a bonafide hologram generator! In the clip below, UC Davis researcher Dr. Oliver Kreylos demos the process. The fun stuff begins at the :44 mark. Kreylos explains, "By combining the color and the depth image captured by the Microsoft Kinect, one can project the color image back out into space and create a 'holographic' representation of the persons or objects that were captured."