66% or better

Hand of Man Mechanical Claw

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[Christian Ristow], a former Muppet creator, has created a much larger puppet that has caught the attention of Popular Mechanics. His Hand of Man is a 27 foot long remote control mechanical claw. Powered by a 90 hp diesel engine, the hydraulic system can be controlled by a glove worn by the operator. This started as a demonstration for a robotics fair, but has recently made appearances at Burning Man, Maker Faire, and had the Grand Champions seat of Popular Mechanic’s Backyard Geniuses Award. While not as practical as some robotic human augmentations, it can crush a car. [Christian] is even allowing anyone who is interested at these events to pick things up and crush them at their own whim.

Various promo videos after the jump.

[Read more...]

DIY Solar Panels

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Reader [unangst] pointed out to us an article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, where a teenager from Nepal had managed to create a 9v, 18W solar panel using human hair rather than the usual semiconductors (usually crystalline-silicon). The complex silicon in solar panels are what keep the prices out of reach of developing nations, and while there are a number of new technologies that are helping  bring down the cost, [Karki] managed to make his solar panel for only £23 (roughly $38). He also claims that when mass produced the price could drop substantially down to under $10 a panel, which would shatter the $1/watt sweet spot.

The melanin in hair acts as an organic-semiconductor, and while the hair does not have the longevity that silicon panels have (months rather than years), these panels can be made cheaply and serviced with little to no complex knowledge. Using melanin as an organic semiconductor seems to be a newer idea, because information seems hard to come by, but we managed to find a research paper from 2007 that explored the energy absorption attributes of melanin, as well as some good background info for the science types.

Research Paper (Warning: PDF)

So, Hack a Day readers, which one of you is going to make your home-brew solar panels first? Let us know when you do.

Thanks [unangst].

Build your own browser extensions for Google Chrome

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[Ryan] posted a writeup on developing extensions for Google Chrome. The extension system utilizes HTML with a JavaScript API which is still sparsely documented. After taking us through his twitter bar extension project, he concludes that the Chrome extensions are not nearly as versatile as what we’re used to seeing with Firefox. That being said, this is a move in the right direction for the young browser.

[related: Google Chrome roundup]

Monome mainstream: performance on Letterman

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The monome was spotted being used in a performance by Imogen Heap on Late Night with David Letterman. Imogen uses the monome 256 model connected to a laptop sitting on the piano. In her performance she uses a combination of live samples and pre-recorded loops proving how great this product is in the hands of an accomplished artist.

Although not identified by name (or function), Letterman does notice the monome at the end of the performance. To see this kind of exposure for an innovative open source product is wonderful. Check out the Letterman clip as well as a monome bonus after the break. [Read more...]

Time lapse light sculptures

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[Jared] sent us a feature he posted involving time-lapse photography and an LED. Using a custom built aparatus an LED is moved on two axis’ during a long exposure of around thirty seconds. The frame is wood and PVC with two gearhead motors powered by AA batteries to provide the locomotion. The LED is powered by a 3v button cell and automatically transitions through different colors.

Digital Camera LCD replacement

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Turning on your camera to this kind of black blotch will ruin your day. Cracked LCD screens have got to be the biggest digital camera killer out there. Although you can still take pictures with it, a non-functioning screen makes it difficult if not impossible to change settings and take decent photos.

[myles_h] has document the process of replacing a broken screen in his digital camera. As professional repair usually costs more than a brand new camera you’ll want to do this yourself. New screens can be purchased online, but we’ve also considered buying the same model of camera from ebay (screen intact but broken in a different way). This model, a Sony Cybershot DSC-W50, has fairly easy access to the LCD and its connection to the logic board. Before buying parts, you may want to investigate how much disassembly your camera will require.

Poor exhausted littledog

This video of littledog doing some terrain navigaion excersizes is just hilarious. We really don’t have any technological updates since last time we mentioned him, but you should watch the video anyway. [Evan] at botjunkie pointed out how tired littledog must be to absolutely collapse at the end of each run. We started out thinking that his comment was humorous, but the bot is obviously going into a tidy configuration for carrying. As we watched, we saw that [Evan] seemed very correct. Littlebot completely collapses at the end of each run, toward the end of the video, it doesn’t even bother to fold up nicely, sprawling out in a very lifelike pose of utter exhaustion. We don’t know if this is intentional, but we think it should be.