The Jazari robotic jazz enesmble

As anyone who’s been to Chuck E Cheese’s knows, robotic bands have been under development for years. Patrick Flanagan’s cyborg percussion ensemble, Jazari seems to take things to a new level.

As Patrick describes it, Jazari “fuses African rhythms,
algorithmic composition, computer music, and electro-mechanics into
beat-driven steamfunk.”  The controls are quite unique as well.  Originally, the controller was simply a Wiimote. This was limited, since one needs three fingers to hold on to it, so a new “springbok” device was born allowing all five fingers to be used to play music.  The vocal part of the music is created using an Android program called “voloco”.

The video after the break should explain everything a little better, and the music itself is pretty cool.  Patrick will be doing more programming and hardware work over the summer rather than touring much, but “they” should give an awesome concert once all the bugs are worked out. [Read more...]

A prosthetic arm that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

After a motorcycle accident that cost him is arm [Martin] and his son [Luke] chose not to give up. They used their considerable mechanical skills to create a replacement robotic arm which allowed Martin to start doing some of the simple things he had been unable to do with the prosthetic he was originally fitted with. There are not a lot of details but it seems the arm has 2 degrees of freedom with a claw manipulator, controlled via chin controls to free up his other arm. For anyone interested in similar projects you should check out the Open Prosthetics Project. There is a short video after the break which tells Martin’s story. If you don’t have an arm, build one, seems perfectly reasonable to us. Nice work guys! We look forward to seeing the next version.

[Read more...]

The Breech Loaded Paintall “Shotgun”

Although this isn’t the first pneumatic air cannon to be featured on HAD, this “paintball shotgun” is certainly one of the coolest.  While most air cannons have little practical use besides looking awesome and being cool to play with, this cannon, according to it’s maker, has actually been used successfully in actual paintball competition.

The system works by preloading a sabot full of paintballs into a section of barrel that can be removed.  The barrel is then slid forward and the sabot/barrel section is then inserted and the gun is loaded.  This configuration is known as a “floating barrel” and seems to work quite well.

The author is quick to point out that this device is not designed to be used against human competitors, but against tanks and such in scenario games. Used properly or not, we can’t vouch for the safety of this device.  One should take extra caution when working with CO2 tanks as they can reach a maximum pressure in the thousands of PSI.

For other pneumatic cannon ideas, check out this other bolt-action miniature potato gun or this “water blob launcher”.

Satellite tracking by shining a laser into space

[Shingo Hisakawa] sent in a tip for a for a neat little box called the Levistone that tracks the Internation Space Station with a laser. His video log goes though all the steps for this great little project.

[Shingo] originally planned to pull orbital data down from NORAD and send that to an ArduinoBT board with ethernet, GPS and compass modules. In the original plan, the Arduino would do the orbit calculations and point the laser using a few servos. There wasn’t much success with making an Arduino do all the work, so the an Android phone stood in for the GPS, compass and connection to the web. The duty of calculating the location of the ISS using GPS and orbital elements was moved onto the Amazon EC2 cloud. The final product looks great, even if it’s impossible to record the beam for the video.

With the ability to calculate the azimuth and elevation of the ISS from any point in the world, [Shingo] came up with SightSpaceStation, a neat mashup of his data and Google Maps. There are also iOS and Android apps for a nice piece of work in augmented reality. It’s a great project that would really compliment the ISS desk lamp we covered a few days ago.

3D printer looks factory made

[Richard Sum] came up with a great looking 3D printer and put his project up as a campaign on IndieGoGo.

[Richard]‘s ‘SUMPOD’ is based off the reprap like a lot of other 3D printers, but the SUMPOD has a look of professionalism to it; the printer looks like something that would come from a factory. We think a lot of thought went into the design and fabrication of this printer.

The specs of the machine aren’t too bad either. It’s build area is 150x150x100 mm, or nearly 2 inches than the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. We asked [Richard] about the drive system of the machine, and he told us there is a linear bearing/belt setup for the x and y axes with a screw drive for the z axis. The electronics are standard NEMA 17 motors and reprap RAMPS fare, so everything electrical is tried and true.

[Richard] plans on adding a Dremel attachment for pcb and lithophane milling. We hope that some design files of the SUMPOD released, but in the mean time we’re really looking forward to seeing the progress of this project.