Quadruped military vehicles from back in the day

walking_truck

While Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog is pretty impressive, check out this video of the US Army’s first attempt at a quadruped vehicle. Created in the early 1960s with the help of GE, this Army experiment was the first successful attempt of replicating a four-legged animal with a mechanical machine.

This “Walking Truck” was driven by a single operator who moved each of the vehicle’s legs using force-feedback hydraulic levers. Choreographing the machine’s movement was quite complicated, and during testing the Army found that the operator needed a mental break after only 15 minutes of use. As you can see in the video, the vehicle flexes some serious muscle. It kicks a Jeep out of its way with little effort, but it is still able to gently step on a light bulb without breaking it, due to the level of tactile feedback received by the operator.

If it weren’t for government budget cuts, we could be living out [George Lucas’] dream of AT-AT based combat right this minute!

[via Gizmodo]

Wireless controller operates your CNC mill

[Darrell Taylor] wanted to add a CNC control pendant to his mill but didn’t want to foot the bill which can often run several hundred dollars. These pendants are basically a physical remote control that operates the CNC software that controls the machine. Since he was already using a Linux box running EMC2, it wasn’t too hard to figure out how to operate the mill with a PlayStation controller.

To get the controller talking to his Linux machine he uses a package called QtsixA. The package identifies and loads the control through Bluetooth pairing. From there it can be used to map the buttons and joysticks as keys on the keyboard or as a mouse. In the video after the break [Darrell] demonstrates how he has his shortcuts set up. He’s able to move the machine head, and even start or step through the programmed routine. As he mentions, this is pretty nice if you’ve got dirty hands; just throw the controller in a zipper bag and you’re set to go.

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Speak your mind and help RadioShack suck less

radio_shack

We can all agree that RadioShack isn’t exactly the DIY mecca it once was.

What used to be a haven for amateur radio operators, tinkerers, and builders alike has devolved into a stripmall mainstay full of cell phones and overpriced junk. RadioShack knows that they have fallen out of your good graces, and since you are the demographic that put them on the map, they are appealing to the DIY community for input.

They want to know what is important to you – what you would like to see at your local RadioShack, and what would bring you back through their doors. Obviously price is a huge concern, especially with online outlets like Digikey and Mouser just a few clicks away. At the end of the day however, if you require a component RIGHT NOW, it would be nice to have the ability to grab some parts locally.

We’re well aware of the fact that this is all part of a marketing scheme, but if it helps stock your local store with a few odds and ends that are actually helpful, it won’t hurt to let your voice be heard.

Stick around to watch the video appeal from RadioShack’s brand manager, [Amy Shineman].

[Thanks komradebob]

[via ARRL.org]

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Music tank puts the boom in boombox

music_tank

When you think of Memorial Day weekend, what comes to mind? Well around here, all we can think about is this tank cum boombox that Instructable user [Elian_gonzalez] put together.

This build is actually the third version of his Music Tank, and it comes with all sorts of improvements over previous models. The tank is primarily constructed out of plywood, with cavernous compartments for holding all of its goodies. In its capacious body, the tank sports a 60 Watt stereo system that powers a pair of external speakers mounted on either side of the turret. The turret itself contains an air-powered cannon built from PVC tubing, which we imagine can be used to shoot a multitude of different projectiles.

While the concept itself is pretty cool, the tank happens to be nearly self-sustaining as well. The tank has a pretty deep battery well and uses a 50w home made solar panel to help keep things topped off while in use. [Elian] does not specify a total running time, but we imagine that it can go for hours on a nice, sunny day.

Keep reading to see a long video walkthrough of the Music Tank MK3 in action. Continue reading “Music tank puts the boom in boombox”

64-bit OS written entirely in assembly

The folks at Return Infinity just released a new version of their BareMetal OS, a 64-bit operating system written entirely in assembly.

The goal of the BareMetal project, which includes a stripped-down bootloader and a cluster computing platform is to get away from the inefficient obfuscated machine code generated by higher level languages like C/C++ and Java. By writing the OS in assembly, runtime speeds are increased, and there’s very little overhead for when every clock cycle counts.

Return Infinity says the ideal application is for high performance and embedded computing. We can see why this would be great for really fast embedded computing – there are system calls for networking, sound, disk access, and everything else a project might need. There’s also ridiculously small system requirements – the entire OS is only 16384 bytes – lend itself to very small, very powerful computers.

With projects that are computationally intensive, we think this could be a great bridge between an insufficient AVR, PIC or Propeller and a full-blown linux distro. There’s just some questions about the implementation – we feel like we’ve just been given a tool we don’t even know when to use. Any hackaday readers have an idea on how to use an OS stripped down to the ‘bare metal?’ What, exactly, would need 64 bits, and what hardware would it run on?

Check out the Return Infinity team calculating prime numbers on their BareMetal Node OS after the jump.

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chipKIT Uno32: first impressions and benchmarks

Following Maker Faire, we’ve had a few days to poke around with Digilent’s 32-bit Arduino-compatible chipKIT boards and compiler. We have some initial performance figures to report, along with impressions of the hardware and software.

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Minimalistic 555 Adding Machine

How many 555 timers does it take to add up two 10 digit numbers? [Alan’s] 555 Adding Machine does it with 102 of them, he designed the machine as an extreme entry to the 555 contest and the original plan was to make it even more complicated. This machine uses the 555’s to implement a nine decade accumulator and multiplexer, all inputs are managed by an old school dial from a rotary phone which apparently provide nicely timed outputs. Addition and subtraction are achieved using 9s compliment arithmetic which he discusses in the video after the break, for anyone who wants to brush up on 9s compliment or 555 theory.

Alan’s website has some nice pictures (We’re particularly impressed by all that minimalistic soldering) including schematics, and a very nice 33 minute video in which he discusses in detail how the machine works and even offers some history on the Pascaline, which is mechanical calculator that works on similar principles.

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