First Crop of iPod Games Reviewed

iLounge has reviews of the first releases of iPod games. I’ve been curious to see if these games are any good or not. I’m not a big computer gamer. Don’t get me wrong, I love games. Too much, in fact. Once I start, I don’t want to stop. They can (and have in the past) become a huge time suck. So I try to limit my exposure. The one time that I feel okay about gaming is when I’m waiting for trains, planes, and buses, or otherwise, sitting around, away from work, and twiddling my thumbs, so phone and iPod games are a perfect match for me.

From these reviews, it doesn’t look like Apple and company have done half bad in the first batch of releases. The only one they didn’t really like was Pac-Man, which is too bad. I’m curious to see where they’ll take iPod gaming in the future.

Dorkbot DC Event: Wednesday, Sept 27

This Wednesday (09/27/06, 7pm – 9pm), the third gathering of Dorkbot DC will be held at Provisions Library, 1611 Connecticut Ave. NW. Guest presenters will include multimedia artist Roberto Bocci and interactive music composer Jason Freeman. Thomas Edwards will also give a follow-up to his “Sensors You Should Know” from last meeting with “Microcontrollers You Should Know.” There will also be a show and tell. I’ll be showing off my Turbot BEAM robot as part of that. I hope to see some Street Techies there.

For more info, check out the Dorkbot DC homepage here.

Induction Coil Rocket Launcher

Man, this is cool, and something I’d never even heard of. This builder uses a powerful induction coil to launch a model rocket.

In the early ’80s, when I was a member of the L5 Socieity and went to all the conferences of the time on commercial space dev, everybody talked about mass drivers, the electromagnetic catapaults that could be used to hurl moon material into space to be processed for colony building. This desktop induction launcher works on the same principle. When you watch the videos of the launch, you’ll get an idea for just how powerful one of these coils can be.

[Via DIY:happy]

Neuros OSD Unpacking Porn

You may have heard your geek buds talking up the Neuros OSD recently. It’s the Linux-powered open source PVR that’s, so far, being rolled out to a limited market of hackers/developers who might add functionality to it. They’re even offering cash awards to hackers that do.

Here, one of the happy few who got a first-wave unit, gets down and dirty with the contents inside the Think Geek shipping carton.

(The actual release date of the device is late October).

[Via Gizmodo]

Crappy Case Mod

I guess some people’s hatred of the Mac runs to the extreme, or maybe it’s a love, where you always want a Mac by your side. This fella was given an empty old school Mac case and thought up this silly little Mac hack. As he points out on the Instructables page for it, the “screen” is translucent, so you can tell when your “iWipe” needs a refill.

Spend over $1K for a Dizzying Array of Frustratingly Tiny Bot Parts!

The subhead reads: “Manoi AT01 kit contains 200 tiny screws and a 100-page manual.” The level of your hardware hacking/building geekitude could perhaps be measured by your reaction to that line. If 200 screws and a thick manual make you wanna hide your head and call out for your mamma, robot building is probably not for you. If such implied complexity and miniature parts fiddling makes you go all weak in the knee, you’ve come to the right hobby. Unfortunately, short of building junkbots, it’s not a hobby that comes cheap. The Manoi AT01 kit will set you back US$1260 or the Yen equivalent for your nerdy analog in Japan. So far, the maker has not announced plans to sell the 13″ robot overseas.

See our previous item on the Manoi robots.

Review: Suunto T-Series Hits the Street; T3 Reviewed

Suunto has released the new line of heart-rate monitor/fitness watches that include the T1, T3 and T4. The watches are designed to be used as fitness training devices, focused around the heart-rate monitor feature, standard with all three.

The T1 is the most basic, coming in at US$100 street price. The T3 ($150) adds the ability to pair the watch with seperate function ‘pods’ like a pedometer or GPS. The T4 ($200) goes one step further adding more robust training software for serious athletes.

Ours is the T3 (pictured after the link below, right) the slick-looking one with the black face and shiny black band with the clasp buckle (that ends up costing an extra $20 over the regular T3). Out of the box, it looks pretty good but feels a little cheap – the bezel is plastic, the band is plastic, the face is plastic. Not the usual Suunto quality. But in terms of funtionality, the watch (so far) seems to justify its price… (more initial impressions after the jump)

Batteries Charged over USB

With all of the goofy exploitations of the Universal Serial Bus, it’s nice to see a novel use that’s actually… well… useful. A UK firm has released the USBCell, a AA battery that has a charging circuit and a USB plug under the cap. It even has a built-in indicator light that tells you when charging is complete. It takes five hours to charge batts completely, so two AAs will tie up two USB ports for that period.

So far, the batteries are only available in the UK, and at 13 GPD (just under US$25) for two, they don’t come cheap. The company website has an elist sign-up for the rest of the world to “indicate interest.”

Linux-Powered Bot with Optical Encoder Wheel

Linux Journal has an article, written by a high school teacher, on the bots built in his class. The current bot runs on Gentoo Linux and has some clever features, such as wheel encoding using computer mice. Now using parts from mice to build bots is nothing new, even using them to create encoders has been done, but this design bolts a largely-intact optical mouse to a drive wheel — it even uses the freakin’ mousepad as the encoder wheel!

I also like the parking sign seen in the background of one of the pics: Linux User Parking Only.

Thanks, Alberto!

Car Keypad Master Unlock

Check this out. A wiley hacker has figured out a way to gain entry into any car that uses a keypad door lock. The hitch is that the sequence one needs to enter is 3129 keypresses long. He claims it takes about 20 minutes to enter. Not exactly a snatch and grab. How long before someone develops a set of robotic fingers that can enter it at lightning speed?