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40 tips, tricks and hacks to Join the Geek Elite
There was a time when owning a Smartphone was all it took to set you apart as a geek. But the world has changed. Gadgets have changed.
With an Android or iPhone in almost every pocket you need to work harder to elevate yourself to a more advanced level of supreme geekiness that part-timers just can’t reach. Here are over 40 tips, tricks and hacks to ensure you’re never outdone when it comes to things to make, do or know about gadgets, tech and geek culture. Get ready to join the Geek Elite…
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The Elite Geek doesn’t just own an arsenal of gadgets, they should be able to hack, modify and utilize their tech to level-up their life…
This 18intall, open-sourcehumanoid comes packed with sensors and party tricks such as ‘soccer mode’. But to learn how to build your own, try the robo-projects overleaf…
For the Geek who loves to build things, there are few bigger thrills than making your own robo-buddy. Nick Veitch explains why???
The act of pulling disperate parts together to create something that is both unique and, ideally, able to fetch a beer holds a real allure. While the occasional Lego Architecture project is diverting, the ultimate aim is nearly always to build a robot. Sci-fi visions of bleepy humanoids leave many dreaming of building a personal Johnny Five, but projects like that represent a small proportion of the homebrew robot scene.
The first robot I ever saw up close was just an arm. All it did was play chess, using a system of sensors to work out where the pieces were. Even though I’d played computer chess before, there was something captivating about this thinking machine and its ability to interact mechanics.
And so, an obsession began. In the early days it was tough to find sensors, controller’s and motors, but we’re now on the cusp of a golden age for robot hobbyists. According to the international Federation of Robotics, there are about 200 companies registered as robot manufacturers, but tens of thousands of companies that manufacture robot parts and components. This year even saw the arrival of the InMoov, a robot hand you can download from thingiverse.com and 3D print.
Of course, robo-projects often demand soldering, tinkering with servos and a spot of coding, but there are easier options for the beginner. you can take a crash course in micro-controllers and electronics by using kits such as the Boe-Bot ( €90, milinst.co.uk)- but the novice- friendly projects we’ve included below will offer a grounding without getting you knee-deep in electronics.
With the robot scene today feeling a little like the homebrew computing revolution of the 1970s, this is the perfect time to build your ticket to early- adopter cred and – whoknows? Steve Wozniak notoriety.
This entry-level kit isn’t what we’d call a classic robot (it has no brains at all). But it does provide a valuable insight into the basics of how a moving machine works. The kit provides a power source (a solar cell that generates a tiny amperage of about 3V, depending on the light) and a motor for bestowing physical movements on your creation. Although these parts are connected in the same way each time, the motor can be hooked up to a variety of things to make ‘robots’ that behave differently. Give it some wheels to make a car, or attach some legs and the motor will vibrate and shake your robot ‘dog’ along. Not exactly a personal K-9, but it’s a decent start all the same.
‘Proper’ robots require a brain to function, but such machines can be a little pricey. A good halfway house, then, is a robot you can attach to your laptop or computer to provide the thinking. This kit is well designed and you’ll end up with a very useable robot arm. It isn’t for those who are afraid of using a screwdriver and takes two or three hours to build, but once completed it’s the matter of all it can reach. A handy USB interface attaches it to your computer (Windows only_, and some basics but serviceable software will see you through getting it to do things. if you want a challenge, try programming it to complete a ‘towers of Hanoi’ puzzle.
Aided by the presence of more musicians than the annual Guns N’Roses reunion barbecue, Sezion’s iPhone app turns songwritting into a crowdsourced online collaboration. Record your vocals/guitor/sax’kazoo (delete as appropriate) into your phone, edit it, upload it and then choose from parts submitted by others to compose a multi- layered rock opera to be shared directly via Facebook or Twitter. You’ll be the subject of a major- label bidding war before the final chord has finished ringing, perhaps.
Sezion supports adaptors such as iRig’s new PRE, which allows you to use any microphone with an XLR connection- handy if you don’t want you recordings to sound like a symphony of bees trapped in a watering can.
The brains of our binary-busting monster are a 3.2GHz, quad-core Intel i7 3770K processor and DZ77GA-70K motherboard ( €250 and €195, intel.co.uk). That processor sits near the top of the Ivy Bridge hierarchy, so throw in a CPU cooler too. Noctua’s mighty dual-fan NH-D14 (€65, noctua.at) should do it.
Pairing two separate types of storage gets you the best of both worlds, Windows7, games and anything that needs to run quickly are loaded on to a 128 GB Crucial M4 SSD(€80,cruicial.com/uk). A more capacious, slower 1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD (65, dabs.com) handles movies, music and photos.
Want your PC to multitask like a workaholic octopus with a lengthy to-do list? You’ll want to pack it with a shedload of RAM. We’ve gone for 16GB of Crucial’s Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3 RAM (complete with blue LEDs, €155, crucial.com/uk), which should keep things running smoother than a butter-slathered otter.
Of course, without a power supply you might as well fill the case with hair. Corsair’s T*750M power supply (€90, scan.co.uk) delivers 750W of juice and has a modular system that allows you to remove any cables you don’t need. After all, with that big window on the side of the case, you will want it all looking neat and tidy.