Online Skill Crane

[Ethan] sent in the online skill crane. It made it to shmoocon, but now it’s online for anyone to play. The machine is interfaced to the parallel port and controlled with a C program. It lacks a bit on the tech details, but you know you want one. Playing nets you a video of the results linked via email.


  1. TJ says:

    This is cute and all, but it has to be one of the worst Internet controlled devices that I have ever seen.

    You don’t even have direct control over the claw, you have to type in percentages of movement (which you just arbitrarily guess, as there is no measurement grid on the glass or anything), and then they email you a video of what happened.

    It might as well be controlled by snail mail, I write them a letter with some numbers on it, and they can send me back a description of what happened.

  2. chupa says:

    why dont they have a live cam?

    at least the Christmas lights hoax looked like real time.

  3. #1 – The reason we went with a percentage system over live control is to handle higher loads at lower bandwidth. The email system was done as it originally tracked users/passcodes and built a social network map. This was turned off, and the email was relied upon to handle a queue of requests. It was easier than doing a http queue system.

    #2 – Bandwidth :-( We currently have a DS1 (T1) line, so we are limited in our ability to offer streaming video. It does not come cheap. To get 10 megabits extended to our place would cost over $2800/month. DSL doesn’t offer great upstream, and cable modem service suffers heavy price increases at commercial locations (It’s located in a “hacker space”).

    The good news is, it processed over 4700 grabs yesterday, and was down part of the day. This weekend I plan to fix a mechanical issue and it should be good to go again.

  4. Alan says:

    Nice idea. I could see a business model around this. Put some cool stuff in the box. Charge fee to play and send them what they win.

  5. Joe says:

    how long does it usually take to get your video? It’s been about 20 minutes now and i’m starting to wonder if this even works.

  6. TerrorByte says:

    Still no video!!

    But then again, it’s only been 30 secs :)

  7. terie says:

    It works! And the best part is you don’t need quarters to play. :P

  8. trevor says:

    This thing is awesome, and I actually managed to get one. Not bad considering I’ve never been able to do that in person.

  9. Fred says:

    We have actually perfected this game, online with live video streaming out a fiber optic network. Check out SuperClaw

  10. rachel says:

    fred is right… is a hot site. You should log in and watch me play. Love to all, Rachel

  11. Chang Knutt says:

    Another insightful and important post , thanks :P

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