Rainmeter Skin

I finally decided to start using Rainmeter to monitor my system resources. I had previously used some
(admittedly very good) windows 7 widgets you can find here, but I’ve always liked the way Rainmeter looked better. When I tried to use it in the past I was turned off by the initial learning curve, specifically in customizing the ‘skins’. For example, I have a 6 core CPU but the Enigma theme only supported monitoring of 2. Today I finally decided to bite the bullet and learn some of the odd meta language used to customize Rainmeter skins and managed to create a 6 CPU system monitor solution:


This uses 2 skins…the original system skin supporting 2 CPUs and an additional ‘System2’ skin I created which adds CPUs 3-6. For those who might want to use it, I’ve uploaded the 2 files needed here. They’ll both need to be renamed as ‘.ini’ as I can’t upload ini files. The first will need to go in “…/Rainmeter/Skins/Enigma/Sidebar/System2” (a new folder) as System.ini

System.ini in Enigma/Sidebar/System2

The second will need to go in “…/Rainmeter/Skins/Enigma/Resources/Styles/Enigma Dark” (or you can make a similar new file in light) as in Enigma/Resources/Styles/Enigma Dark

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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Customizing, DIY, Programs, Software


Boxie is Awesome

You need to check out this cool robot from MIT.  It uses social behavior and ‘cuteness’ to avoid the need for complex systems.

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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Keyboard Breakout Board on the Cheap

Here’s a great How-To on turning an old keyboard into a breakout board to use for projects.  I can see this being really useful in a MAME build or as a control interface for a uC project if you wanted to avoid buying an I-PAC or something similar.

Note: After doing some reading, this wouldn’t actually be ideal for a MAME build.  Keyboards have issues with ‘Blocking’, meaning that you can’t always press multiple keys simultaneously.  A device like the aforementioned I-PAC solves this by scanning each key input pin individually, allowing you to press as many keys at once as necessary.

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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in DIY, Repurposing


Pinball Machine Emulator

I’ve seen (and heavily considered stealing) many Arcade/MAME cabinet builds over the years…but this is a first.  A custom build Pinball Machine Cabinet for emulated pinball games.  It uses 3 LCD screens (marque, dot matrix, and play field) and a ton of little hardware bits to reproduce the sounds, vibrations, and knocks one would feel on a real machine.  Really amazing!

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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Gaming, PC, Physical Hacks


Reflow Oven

A reflow oven is an absolute must if you plan on doing projects with many surface mount parts.  Hack-A-Day has featured many examples of home made reflow ovens, usually using a toaster oven and a microcontroller to do the work for you.  This post uses that approach and has a very detailed guide on getting started building your own.


Arcade Controller Build

Here‘s a really nice and simple how-to on creating an Arcade Controller using an Xbox 360 controller.  I think it would be interesting to try the same build using a wireless version and the Xbox 360 wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows for greater flexibility.

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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in DIY, Gaming, Physical Hacks


Interfacing uC with Windows apps over USB

Many microcontrollers have integrated USB meaning you have the ability to hook them up to a PC and interface with them. This is something I’ve had to do before which took me more effort than I would have liked. Here is a great little example page on how to go about doing it a better way.


PCB -> SketchUp

Here‘s a cool tool that automatically pulls your Eagle PCB designs into Google SketchUp to allow you to perfect case/enclosure designs.  This really could have been useful in some past projects I’ve done.

Image from

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


Cheap Mic/Camera Stand

I thought this was a really neat idea to build yourself an adjustable webcam or microphone stand on the cheap.

Image from

I also found the same idea used for computer speakers.  This may be an even better idea as finding space on a crowded desk for speakers can be a real pain.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in DIY, Physical Hacks


RGB Color Detection

Here is a fun idea that could be leveraged into several interesting projects.  It uses an RGB LED and a CdS photocell to detect the color of any object.  Here‘s another really cool version of the same project, where a ball changes color to match the surface you put it on.

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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Arduino, LED, Microcontrollers