Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Battlemodo of Highest Res Video Goggles: Zeiss Cinemizer vs. Myvu Crystal

Despite the stigma, I've always wanted a pair of video goggles. I never did mind the nerd factor accompanying any piece of gear, at least not after admiring sci fi heroes like Cyclops of the X-men and Geordi from ST:TNG. But they've never been cheap or high-res enough until now. The Zeiss Cinemizer ($400) and the Myvu Crystal ($300) both do 640x480 resolution, which is best in class. And so today I'll try to figure out which one is better headset. During it all, I will suspend all disbelief when it comes to the practicality of wearing a second screen for your video iPod on your face. I mean, what are you really saving here but neck cramps?

Visual Quality
I watched lots of snowboarding videos on both setups. Both sets have the same resolution, but the screens look bigger and with less ambient light and distracting reflection in the Zeiss. It's supposed to simulate a 45 inch screen at 6 feet away, but all I know is that it's a lot more in your face than the Myvu. The Zeiss and Myvu's brightness, contrast and black levels were on par with each other. I do wish they came in 16:9 versions, but the 4:3 ratio is probably more practical. There's a 3D setting on the Zeiss, which is to be used with clips provided on their website, but as most content isn't 3D, it didn't factor into my testing. Update: Eyestrain isn't bad at all at the 30 minute mark, but I'll do some more testing today to make sure.

The Zeiss has adjustable head pieces, and a large and narrow nose piece. It's a much heavier set up, however, and so the Myvu is much more comfortable, with its adjustable nosepiece. I'd be more likely to use the Myvu out of the house, given their weight.

The Zeiss has mounted earbuds on adjustable plastic sticks that don't actually interface directly with your canals. (They float over them.) The Myvu's buds go into your ears, isolate a lot more sound and produce better audio, although the dangly wires add to the clutter.

Jordie Factor
The Cinemizers are far uglier than the lighter Myvu Crystals, partially from the bulging faux-eye pieces packed with the eyesight correcting diopter glass (+/-3.5D) and knobs, partially from just being too damn far apart. The Myvus are also a lot easier to walk around with, as you can see easily above and below the screen making driving with these a lot safer. (I kid!)

The Zeiss has a really nice rubber remote with contrast/brightness settings, volume, FF/RW, Play/Pause buttons and a nice clip. That leads to the battery dock, which holds the iPod and has a power button. The Myvu's controller has individual brightness and contrast settings, plus volume, but no navigation.

Compatibility and cabling
The Zeiss comes with a number of click in plastic holders for the touch, 3G Nano, Classic 80gb, 5th gen 60/80GB iPod, and Classic 160GB. There's no case for an iPhone the Classic 160 fit fine. There's a 1/8th inch jack for audio/video input, but a cable is not included. The Myvu comes in iPod or universal kits, but the universal kit excludes the iPod dock connection. The universal kit has adapters for regular composite jacks, Zune, Gigabeat, Archos, and 5th gen video iPods. The Myvu's cabling is also a mess, since you've got a separate battery/remote jack which interfaces with the iPod through another cable. The Zeiss's design bundles the battery with the already bulky iPod and so the only spare part is a remote. Very nice.

Battery Life
Both claim 4 hours of life. It's worth noting that other headsets from Myvu with 320 pixel wide images can do 10 hours of battery life. Both charge via USB, with the Zeiss charging a minimum of 2.5 hours and the Myvu finishing in 4 to 12 hours. (Rated.)

The Zeiss has a really nice case, while the Myvu has a mere bag.

If visual quality is your ultimate requirement, and you're married to an iPod, the Zeiss makes better sense. But the Myvu's ability to play with other video sources out of the box and its $100 cheaper price tag make it a little bit better for the general buyer. Both will give you a charisma penalty of 3-4 points, but you know, we don't care about that kind of thing around here.

Suspension of disbelief off: I guess there's a bigger question here of whether or not any of us need such a set up. I can imagine using one on a plane so I don't have to drain my iPhone's battery displaying a 3 hour movie on the 3.5 inch LCD; instead, I can avoid neck cramps and stare wherever my anatomy feels I will be most comfortable. Likewise in bed or on a couch. A few years ago, the quality was worse and these headsets were closer to $500. From here, at $300, I guess those limited scenarios are a decent value. Ultimately, most of you who decide to take such an advanced plunge will be doing it to bleed at the edge. What's nice is that going forward these things can only get better and cheaper, and I hope, less imposing to wear.

Data recovery tools

In your zeal to delete your data, you may have accidentally deleted files that you wanted to keep. Lifehacker has posted this handy list of data recovery tools to help you get those files back.

As you may know, whenever you delete a file, the only thing that changes is the file system. The data of the deleted file is still on the hard drive, but the file system sees the space containing the file as "blank" writable space. Data recovery software typically looks into the directory where the file was stored and scans it, finding any files not listed in the file system.

The program you choose for this task will not only be determined by your OS, but also by the specifics of your recovery needs. Do you need to recover a single file? Many files? A whole hard drive? An unbootable drive? A really scratched optical disk? Specialized tools for all of these needs are available, and this article will help you find the right program for yours.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

DIY Playstation Portable Usb Charger

Materials Needed

Wire stripper, electrical tape, madcatz psp car charger, and usb cable...optional items...solder gun/solder, and a pair of sharp scissors.

Important Update: The data wires need to be grounded in order for the PSP to charge! Instructions follow.

mad catz car charger for the PSP usb printer cable wire cutters, electrical tape, box cutters

1) Grab all your materials. If using a solder iron/gun plug it in now.

2) Remove the outer shielding of the usb cable. Pull out the tin foil shielding, and reveal the wires.
A naked usb cable! 3) The wires are: red = +5 volts, black = earth (ground), and the two remaining are data cables. The white wire has disappeared because of the paper towel background...=)
Time to strip...! 4) Strip the black (earth/ground), green and white wires (data). Twist them together to form a easy to handle wire.

5) Strip the red (power +5V) wire. Twist it together.
Snip, snip... 6) Grab the car charger. Open it up to reveal two sets of wires, one in white shielding and the other surrounding the white sheilding. Usually when wiring is in this configuration...the inner wire is power while the one surrounding it is a earth wire. Using my voltmeter, I verify this.
Twisty? 7) Strip both wires, and then twist the stranded wire together.
Twisted... 8) Take both usb and charger cables. Join the power to power cable, and the earth to earth cable. Twist them around each other, if you are using solder, join both cables now instead of twisting them together.
Bound in tape! 9) Wrap both wires individually in electrical tape.
Mummy, I'm done! 10) Wrap the whole joint together in electrical tape.

11) Success! I don't have a PSP, but I have tested this with a five volt works! I'd get photos up of my buddy's PSP in motion with this charger soon...!

msn on the psp

finally someone worked out a nifty little system for the MSN for use on PSP.
And it looks good too. MSN isn't as popular as AIM or anything else, but it's great for talking with people who arent in america or just dont use aim. so this is obviously another step in psp advancing technology. there is literally maybe a little more than 2 or 3 graphics and the rest is nice and text based�.very cleanly I might add. so if you have wipeout pure, give it a try and let us know how it works out.

just point your browser to: and you're all set thanks to [kramer11]

PSP downgrader for v3.03 released

While I was on vacation, [Fanjita] and [Ditlew] released a downgrader for PSPs running v3.03 firmware. To get it to work, you'll need an unpatched copy of the GTA:Liberty City Stories UMD. The hack should get you down to v1.5. It's supposed to work on all current PSP hardware. Thanks to [wraggster], [Steve DiRaddo]. [Sean] submitted the same info [via noobz], but they don't appear to have credited the authors. (Unless of course, the authors are part of noobz.)

PSP PS2 controller

[F00 f00] over at acidmods put together this PS2 -> PSP controller. Using some similar techniques to [Ben Heck], he tapped all the control lines on his PSP and broke them out to what appear to be mini-usb connectors. Looking like a matrix subject, his PSP attaches to a dash board suction cup mount. Via pspnews thanks to [wraggster]

Pandora's battery (unbrick your PSP)

[krazywhiteguy310] let me know about the announcement of Pandora's battery. It'll cost you a Sony PSP battery to pull off the hack, but once you're done, you can use it to jump start your bricked PSP to load up a memory imaged designed to unbrick the PSP. (I haven't tested it, so I'm taking this on faith) Excellent news if you've bricked your PSP.

Virtualcogs open portable gaming platform

[David] thought you guys might like this - and I agree. It's an open gaming platform built around a PSP LCD. It's got all the basics, and it's expandable. They'd like to put together an order for a run of boards, so let em know if you want one. If you're lazy, here's the specs:
  • MX21 ARM9 266MHz processor with 64MB SDRAM and 16 MB of FLASH
  • TFT LCD from the PSP (our thanks to Nathan at Sparkfun for helping us out with that)
  • stereo audio CODEC
  • stereo speakers
  • headphone jack
  • microphone
  • couple of joysticks
  • loads of buttons
  • battery pack
  • SD/MMC slot
  • expandable (can add GPS, bluetooth, accelerometers and gyros, etc...)
Most of the hardware is pretty decent, but the battery pack could use some help. Maybe a good surplus li-ion cell phone battery.

high power TVBGone

[Ladyada]'s been busy lately. [bladdo] wrote in to tell me that she put together an extra powerful kit version of the TVBgone. This one's supposed to be good for over 100 feet. If you really, really want to get your ass kicked during the super bowl, this baby in a sports bar should do the trick. There's an optional programming header, so you could program it to turn every TV onto the SciFi channel.

Remember, I want to hear about your hacks! Use the tips line to send 'em in.

SDI mod your DVD player

I'm not usually into products, but I like this one. Remember this diy SDI DVD video out mod which lets you send high quality digital video over coax? Thanks to Pixel Magic, you can mod a variety of DVD players to add SDI thanks to the kit they're offering. At a glance, bt.656 and bt.601 appear pretty similar, but the eval kit from the original only claims to be compatible with bt.601 while the Pixel Magic version is for bt.656.

ipod photo stereoscope

this hack instantly reminded me of looking at stereo images at grandma's house when i was a kid, and though it's been all over the net today, i know how absolutely everyone here loves ipod hacks so much� several of you sent this in to me today, so i just couldn't help posting.

regardless of your portable music player preferences, you have to admit this is a fun and nifty hack. take a peek at the article and check out how the author uses the svideo output to make a 3d projector display. if you don't have two ipod photos, go grab a friend and do something similar with your camera phones. make sure to show your grandfolks -- they'll get a kick out of it.

Simple iPhone headphone mod

Apparently the iPhone jack isn't quite standard - it's a bit recessed to the point that third parties are offering adapters for it. [John] offers this simple method for modding Etymotic's fine ER6i headphones. (If only I could find mine. I haven't seen them for 8 months.) I suggest using a utility knife over a pocket knife. It's simple, easy, and will probably work on most headphones.

Upgrade your in-ear headphones

I'm a fan of my Etymotic er6i (which have mysteriously vanished...) headphones, so this simple hack caught my eye. [James C] sent in this simple method of upgrading the more affordable apple in ear headphones. The idea is simple, use a small hole punch to cut out the center of some cheap foam earplugs. Then replace the soft surrounds on the headphones with them. I'm guessing that this trick would work for quite a few in ear headphones that I've seen lately.

Cellular data controlled robot

[Jatinderjit] sent along the latest in LEGO robotics. The cell phone controlled robot. It's based on a LEGO Excavator kit with a few spare parts via ebay. The controller is a Nokia phone running a small webserver. A PIC 24F microcontroller runs the show as it receives commands via the phones IR interface. The phone uploads images from the on-board camera as fast as it can update it. Think of it as a poor mans mars earth rover.

FYI, This puppy made engadget while I was working it over, so the site might get a bit overloaded in the near future.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Forced air laptop cooling

We've seen some exotic laptop cooling solutions before. This one caught my eye for one reason - I've got an e1705 myself. (Complete with chipping media button paint). It's not the most stylish, but [WhiskeySix] combined some PVC pipe and an adjustable high flow fan to give his dell a major airflow upgrade. I'd like to see one built that mates to the exhaust ports on the rear. Sure, it's not pretty, but he was able to increase his frame rate by 50%. Thanks to [Wimpinator] for the tip.

Dual nic laptop mod

[Robert] opened up his old alienware laptop and installed an Intel Pro 100 mini-pci ethernet card. Then He replaced the modem port with the second ethernet jack. The hardware side is pretty simple, but getting the port soldered to a new custom cable and fitted to the case was the hard part.

Wiimote on your XBox 360

[UberNoober147] and [Carey] both sent in this round about hack. The Wiimote is interfaced with a PC. The PC outputs to a micro-controller circuit that outputs PlayStation 2 control signals. That's connected to a XFPS - a PS2 to XBox 360 controller converter. It's definitely round about, but it works.

Wiimote IR finger tracking

Just in case you needed another way to pretend that you're in Minority Report, [Johnny Lee] sent in this video showing how to track your hands using the Wiimote's IR camera,an infrared LED array and a bit of reflective tape to improve the gain.

Read every bit on a DVD

If you are curious about reading all the bits on a DVD, [tmbinc] has devised a hardware hack that uses a Pioneer DVD drive with leads soldered onto it and a Cypress FX2 microcontroller board to grab the flow of bits and push them over USB2.0. My favorite part of this tutorial is when you slow the spinning DVD down very slightly with your finger with a scope hooked up over what you believe to be the raw data stream from the disk. If the data rate slows when you physically slow down the disk, you probably are grabbing data from the correct pin. [tmbinc] even put together a software tool to process the resulting raw DVD data.