[AntonB] has modified a servo into a powerful linear actuator (think: changing rotational motion into linear motion). The process is simple enough, modify a servo for continuous rotation and then add the custom built actuating shaft. You do of course lose the precision of the servo, but a small price to pay to be able to lift ~20 pounds straight up. Inspiration for such a cheap solution came from his Planetary Surface Exploration Rover. Check out a video of both after the break.
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[Dave] Had been working on a cell phone activated remote start for his car for a while when we posted the GSM car starter. While both do carry out the same job, we feel that there is enough good information here to share. He’s gone a pretty simple way, by connecting the vibrator motor leads to a headphone jack. He’s using that signal to then activate the remote start by setting off an extra fob. Though it is amazingly simple, this version does have an advantage. As [Dave] points out, his cell phone has several features which could be utilized to automate some of his car starts. He can set alarms as well as recurring calendar events to get his car started without his interaction. Lets just hope he doesn’t forget and let his car run too long unattended, especially if it is in a garage attached to his house.
[Leesam] tipped us off to this cool tutorial for shaping Polymorph. For those who haven’t, it is pretty cool stuff. It is a plastic that comes in little pellets. You can melt it down at relatively low temperatures and mold it to the shape you need. We’ve seen it used on several projects, most notably CrabFu’s swashbot3. Generally, we see it hand shaped, so it is fairly organic and imperfect. It can be used for more precise shapes though. This tutorial walks us through the easiest way to produce sheets of the stuff to be cut and bent into brackets as well as some helpful tips on getting the best results.