Remote-controlled tank tread robot will walk the dog for you

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Instructables user [IAMTHEBOT] recently finished building his robot which can be controlled by a human using an R/C transmitter, via a PC, or through its built-in object avoidance system. The robot doesn’t seem to have a name, though Johnny Five might be appropriate.

The robot was built using plenty of erector set parts, as well as a Lynx motion tank tread kit. The robot is crammed full of controllers, including a Propeller USB servo controller which operates the arms, and a pair of Parallax motor controllers to manage the tread movement. A pair of Parallax Stamp controllers are used to drive these controllers as well as to manage the remainder of the robot’s functions.

The robot’s head consists of a custom pan and tilt wireless camera system, which allows him to drive it around from the comfort of his home, while watching the video stream on his PC. The robot also has the ability to roam around autonomously, avoiding objects using a ping sensor that can be mounted where the camera is currently located. It seems all that’s missing is Steve Guttenberg.

As you can see in the videos below, the robot manages pretty well on all sorts of surfaces, and even walks this guy’s dogs.

[Read more...]

High Voltage: How to cook your goose in 62 easy steps

Prepare to learn. [Grenadier] has put together a collection of information about AC electricity that can safely be called a super-post. In 62 parts he covers a myriad of topics, some of them safe, many of them not so much. You may want to spend time reading through everything that he has to offer, but just in case you don’t, step one is a table of contents. In it you’ll find a listing of major points including transformers of every kind imaginable; from microwave ovens, neon signs, bug zappers, x-rays, and televisions. [Grenadier] covers the type of transformers that these items use, where to find them, and how to set up your own experiments. There’s plenty of pictures and several videos where the high-powered sparks fly. We feel like there’s enough here that we can be satisfied with vicarious AC interactions while safely in front of our monitor and far away from the heart-stopping action.

[Thanks Marcus]

Roll away clock becomes a programmable rover

The parts laid bare in the picture above all make up a roll away alarm clock that flees when you don’t get out of bed. It’s an interesting idea, but considering most folks don’t sleep on hardwood floors we can understand why [TheRafMan] was able to pick this gem up for under $5. That’s quite a deal because there’s a very usable LCD module at the top. But for this hack, he focused on using the gearhead motors to make a programmable rover.

In order to make this programmable [TheRafMan] had to add a microcontroller. He chose an Arduino variant, called the Ardweeny. It’s a board that piggy-backs the ATmega328. But he didn’t use a stock Ardweeny; he’s altered it to play nicely with jumper wire. The uC is able to interface with the gearhead motors thanks to an L293D h-bridge motor driver chip. As you can see in the clip after the jump, the rover can now be driven around using a Wii Nunchuck or via a USB connection. If you’ve got a Bluetooth module lying around it wouldn’t be hard to make this a wireless solution that can be controlled with the accelerometers in a Wii remote.

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RC override for autonomous hardware

[Simon Inns] developed this board to act as a radio controlled override for autonomous hardware. It sits between some servo motors and two different sets of controllers for those motors. One set of hardware that can control the motors is a microcontroller programmed for autonomous tasks. In [Simon's] case this enables a sailboat to navigate open water with out human intervention. But if that board fails, or if you just need to call the boat back to port, this module allows for a traditional RF vehicle controller to take command.

The board seen above, dubbed the Servo Switcher, uses a PIC 12F683 to monitor the incoming signal from the RF receiver. If that signal is not present it switches control of the motors over to a separate microcontroller board. This means that the override control is established simply by turning the handheld controller on. This will save you a swim to retrieve your boat, which is a nice convenience. But if you modify this for a plane or helicopter, it can save your aircraft from certain destruction. Check out the video walk through after the break.

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Terapixel images and see-through cameras: Real or Fake?

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Once again it’s time for you, the sharp-eyed readers of Hack a Day, to decide whether the following video demonstrates technology at its finest, or if it is complete hogwash. This edition of Real or Fake? is brought to us by Hack a Day reader [Wizzard] who sent us a link to “The Invisible Camera

Watch the video embedded below to see the unveiling of this camera as well as a discussion of its new, revolutionary technology by its creator – photographer Chris Marquardt. The camera is composed of a simple, non-moving lens mounted in a completely transparent box made of specially polarized glass. This glass is supposed to align the ambient lighting, which amplifies the energy coming through the lens, in order to expose the special film they created for the camera.

The film was developed using standard film “combined with innovations in chemistry” to produce ultra-low sensitivity image media, which the creators are calling “Directionally Desensitized” film. This film can be handled in full light, as it is only sensitive to the high-energy light directed on its surface by the aforementioned lens. It is claimed that due to this special film, the camera goes beyond the Megapixel, past the Gigapixel, and captures images in Terapixels.

Now, call us skeptical, but isn’t it a bit early for April Fools jokes? We just can’t imagine any scenario where holding a piece of film in the sun as shown in the video would not cause it to be exposed in at least some areas due to the massive amounts of reflected light in the environment.

What’s your take?

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PC case using CNC router and home building products

[Reinventing Science] needed a project that he could use to test out his skills on a new CNC routing machine he recently acquire. He settled on building a PC case using easily obtained materials. What he ended up with is the clean-looking case seen above that was machined from materials you can pick up at the home store.

The bulk of the case is made from extruded PVC which is designed to perform like solid wood trim. He picked up one piece of the ‘lumber’ and cut out the front, back, top, bottom, and drive bay bezel. We expected the joints between the horizontal and vertical pieces to either be butt joints, or rabbits. But [Reinventing Science] wanted a cleaner look and managed to mill mortise and tenon joints. These are strong joints that leave a very nice finished look. Since the material is designed as a lumber replacement it shouldn’t be too surprising to see drywall screws used as the fasteners.

In addition to joinery, some other CNC tricks were used. The sides of the case were cut from clear acrylic, with a decorative bead milled in the surface. There’s also fan ports cut in the top and vents on the bottom, as well as some engraving with the name of the project just above the optical drive. The wood-grain embossing makes for an interesting final look; we’d like to see how this takes a few careful coats of paint.

If you’re interested in the CNC hardware used, take a look at the unboxing post that shares a few details.

Autonomous Paintball Sentry Gun

What is the best thing about making a computer program that targets and kills anything that enters its sight? Why giving it a weapon, of course! No, we are not talking for real, but the next best thing, an Autonomous Paintball Sentry Gun.

The autonomous part of the device comes from a pc on the sideline and is fed input though a standard webcam. The feed is ran though a processing script where, once accustomed to the background has the option to fire at anything it sees moving, or a nice point n click manual mode.

The Arduino part is in a the role of driving the servo motors for X/Y movement and a trigger and is powered by a fist full of D cell batteries to give plenty of time for fun. Also, be sure to check out our other sentry guns, one using Microchip PIC, and another sporting a super compact computer running Ubuntu

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