[Ron Alsing] wanted to try out some genetic programming, so he created a simple test problem: Could you render the Mona Lisa using just 50 semitransparent polygons? The program starts with a random DNA sequence. It then mutates and compares itself to the original image. If the mutation is closer, it becomes the new sequence. The final image he shows looks pretty good after 904,314 iterations.
[prunesquallor] pointed out a genetic algorithm project of his own. It’s a flash program to evolve a car. The car tries to get as far as possible on a set terrain without the passenger circles hitting the ground. The wheel size and positions can change along with the spring length, constant, and damping. A graph tracks the best performance along with the mean. He’s planning on building a version that lets you change the parameters.
[kap4001] built what has to be the simplest laser scanner possible. It’s two servos strapped together with zip ties plus a 5V laser module. They’re connected to a Pololu serial servo controller. The laser is pulsed by switching the DTR line. You could use it to draw images like the one above… except that’s an 85 second exposure.
Google has new program to sell Android phones directly to developers. The Android Dev Phone 1 is both SIM-unlocked and hardware-unlocked. SIM-unlocked means you can use it on any GSM carrier you want. Hardware-unlocked means you can run any system you want on the phone, not just officially signed ones. No more need to worry about security patches taking away your root access.
The device is $399. You will need to purchase it through the Android Market as a registered developer (a $25 fee). We wonder how long before the unsigned bootloader starts getting flashed to T-Mobile phones.
Two new Android phones have surfaced recently which may prove just as friendly: the Kogan Agora Pro and the QiGi i6.
UPDATE: While shipping is free in US, it is incredibly expensive everywhere else. Yes, we bought one.
Controlling a robot simply by looking at your desired location is pretty freaking awesome. A web camera pointed at your face, analyzes your movements and pupil direction to send the bot signals. Look at a location and the bot goes, change your expression to send other commands to the bot. This easily surpasses the laser guided assistance droid for ease of use.
The Nintendo keyless entry system will vigilantly guard your door from intruders. Enter the right code and you get access, enter the wrong code and it will deny you and take your picture. [action_owl] did a fantastic job on this lock, using mainly recycled parts like an old CDRom and an Arduino. It works both with or without the computer. If you choose not to use the computer, you don’t get pictures of the people who entered the code wrong.
We like this project, but we feel it needs to be pointed out that this lock is pretty useless. Everyone already knows the code to get in is UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A.
If you can get through the cell phone text speak, you’ll probably enjoy this cool tutorial on how to build a cell phone controlled robot. This bot decodes the key tones, similar to the automated phone systems we’ve all experienced. It uses a chip called a MT8870 DTMF decoder to translate the signal for the Atmega 16 controller. The circuit diagram is pretty hard to read, maybe we missed a downloadable one somewhere. The source code is available.
It would be nice to get some feedback from the robot, so you aren’t driving it completely blind. This is similar to the Lego cell phone rover that we showed you before. Next, he should make it recognize voice commands.