Build a Google-style panorama rig for $300

PhotoTrail

As part of a “disruptive technologies” course at the United States Military Academy, [Roy D. Ragsdale] produced a working prototype of a Google Street View-like system called PhotoTrail. Like its corporate-backed inspiration, the system captures georeferenced 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed interactively in a web browser…but at a hardware cost of only around $300. [Ragsdale’s] prototype is based entirely on consumer-grade off-the-shelf components and open source software, all tied together by the yin and yang of DIY: foam core board and a few Python scripts.

This article from IEEE Spectrum magazine provides some background on the selection of parts and construction of the system, including a hardware shopping list and a list of links to all of the open source packages used.

The PhotoTrail prototype is surprisingly small and lightweight. A vehicle isn’t even required; the camera array can be carried overhead by a single person, making it possible to capture remote locations. But [Roy] expects future revisions to be even smaller and less obtrusive, perhaps mounted to a headband. Mount Everest awaits!

Jet powered hijinks

This jet powered carousel is brought to you by the Madagascar Institute. They convene, or collide, to create large scale art, sculptures, and rides. This one seems to fit the last definition. The two gentlemen are strapped to a jet powered carousel. It actually looks pretty fun, but we would have been needing some fresh shorts after the jet bursts into flames near the end. He didn’t seem too concerned, he wasn’t screaming and flailing his arms at least.

How to generate font and picture header files

custom_fonts_displayed

Displaying custom fonts or images on an LCD screen using a microcontroller usually requires quite a bit of work. We’ve used some readily available tools to make this a bit easier for your next project. Our python script will convert BMP files into a header file ready for use with AVR microcontrollers. We’ll walk you through it after the break. [Read more...]

Noise box synth lays down some beats

arduino_noise_box_synth

[Tim] sent us his Noise Box Synth. The box is a sixteen step synthesizer that can generate sine, square, triangle, and sawtooth waves as well as a collection of sound effects (video after the break). The hardware is simple; an Arduino, four potentiometers, four buttons, a switch, a speaker, and some LEDs. This was a gift for a three-year-old but we’d be just as happy unwrapping it ourselves. We didn’t find a schematic but all of the connections and hardware can be extrapolated from the source code.

Arduino sometimes gets a bad name around here. This project, [Tim's] first that uses Arduino, proves that the accessibility of the platform makes it possible to jump directly into the deep end. Catch the video after the break. [Read more...]

Connect a PS/2 keyboard to a microcontroller

The guys at Nerdkits have put together this tutorial on connecting a PS/2 keyboard to a microcontroller. Though this tutorial is written for one of the kits they sell, you should be able to apply this to pretty much any microcontroller. It is also a lesson in using interrupts instead of polling. They have several pre built examples ready to download as well as source code for the basic setup.

[via HackedGadgets]

Make an Arduino talk to you

arduino_speech_synthesis

One of the highlights from the Music Hack Day in Berlin was the Arduino singing “Daisy Bell”. If you don’t know, this is an homage to the HAL 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey; an artificial intelligence that was taught the song in its first steps toward self awareness culminating in an attempt to kill its masters.

It’s unlikely an Arduino will every make it to the point of attempted homicide but with the available code you can find out. Sample code and an explanation of human synthesis is now available through the Cantarino project. The project facilitates the use of phonemes from the SAM Apple II synthesizer to build wave forms that make up recognizable speech on the Arduino platform. The code illustrates how to select and link together speech sounds from the library. Check out the video after the break and then get to work on your own speech synthesis. We’re waiting for someone to put together the theme song from the 1980’s Transformers cartoon. Good luck! [Read more...]

Ball catching bot

Who needs a robot that can catch a tennis ball? We do. What would we do with it? Probably just throw tennis balls at it, that’s the only use we can think of. The work of University students in Kunzelsau and Vienna, it is actually a prototype for new transport systems for industrial robots. Though they don’t list any specific instances where this is a practical method of transport, we think maybe a tennis ball factory would be a good place to start. We can also envision a robot baseball league between this bot and the extremely dexterous ones we’ve covered before.

[via BotJunkie]

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