BBB #1: The Santa-pede challenge

Welcome to the first Buy Break Build at hackaday,  sponsored by Adafruit Industries and Make. This challenge will be focusing on dancing Santas, or what is inside them. We’ve seen them everywhere, and may even have one or two in an attic somewhere. These annoying little guys should have enough bits and pieces inside to build some pretty interesting stuff. This time, we want to see a multi-legged walking device. We don’t care if it has 2 legs, 7 legs, or 32 legs, as long as it “walks” using its legs.

Join us after the break for the rules, the prize breakdown, and to find out who the guest judge will be!

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Exercise along to Google Street View

As part of a Master’s Thesis [Lette Moloney] made this exercise bike control Google Street View. The hardware setup is quite rudimentary, two hall effect sensors mounted next to each other detect a magnet that was hot-glued to the crank. When the magnet passes the sensors an Arduino establishes if it was a forward or backward stroke based on which sensor was tripped first. From there a keystroke is issued to Google Street View to move the virtual location accordingly.

One thing we didn’t expect until we saw the video (embedded after the break) is that traversing street view is not a smooth experience. It’s more of a slide show as you exercise. Not a big deal since the hardware setup can be reused with different virtual stimuli. One thing that comes to mind is attaching a camera to the handlebars of your bike and recording your favorite rides during the warm months so that you can replay them during your indoor winter training. Of course that’s going to require some coding to marry the Arduino data to the speed of the video playback but we want to see it done anyway. Wow, image a database that would allow folks to share point-of-view videos of their rides… it’s the only way we’d ever get to see what it’s like to climb your way up Alpe_d’Huez.

We saw a slew of these stationary bike hacks a while back. If this wets your appetite, check in on one with a wearable display, another that also uses Street View, or pedaling to the top of a miniature mountain.

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Maze-solving robo mouse

Looking for something to build that will be challenging and interesting to laypersons at the same time? Take some inspiration from this maze-solving robot mouse. It take the idea of a line-following robot, and makes it infinitely more cool. The tiny rover uses sensors to map out a physical maze. Once it figure it out, you put it back at the beginning for a speed run to the finish. We’ve embedded the video below showing the whole process. Looks like the speed-run is completed in just under five seconds.

Now that you’ve enjoyed a virtual mouse in a real maze, check out a real mouse in a virtual maze.

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Crutch-mounted light

[Malikaii] is exercising the hacker spirit inside by building light stands out of junk. He’s using them as an alternative to purchasing off-camera flash units. He made this one using a lot of salvaged parts; two crutches make up the frame, a discarded reflector for one of those highway-work floodlights will house the flash, and an old pillow case diffuses the light. The version above can easily be moved around by an assistant, or if you’re shooting solo [Malikaii] also found that the base from an oscillating fan was easy to adapt for use with the crutch frame.

If you’re not able to scavenge these parts perhaps a folding light tripod is what you need.

Tiny USB business card

[Frank Zhao] put together a USB business card. It’s even got the instructions printed right on the silk screen of the PCB explaining how it should be used. He based the design around an AVR ATtiny85 microcontroller. It runs the V-USB package that handles USB identification and communication protocols. The rest of the hardware is pretty standard, the uC draws power from the 5V USB rail, with a couple of 3.6V Zener diodes to drop the two data lines down to the proper level.

Once plugged in it waits until it detects three caps lock keypresses in a row, then spews a string of its own keypresses that type out [Frank's] contact information in a text editor window (video after the break). It’s not as reusable as the mass storage business card because [Frank] didn’t breakout the pins on controller. But we still enjoy seeing business cards that make you stand out.

This is a great project to tackle with your newly acquired AVR programming skills.

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