Robot vacuum makes cleaning into a game

This is not a Roomba hack, but a ground-up vacuum cleaner robot build. It’s the result of a class project from six students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. There’s a slew of information available in their paper, but fair warning that it’s an 8.6 MB PDF file that we couldn’t get Google to translate. We were able to skim the PDF and cut and paste to translate the interesting bits we found.

Unlike a Roomba, which just uses a little sweeper to pick up debris, this robot actually includes a vacuum. The image above shows that the cylindrical body is wrapped in an LED matrix, with an ultrasonic sensor on the front for obstacle avoidance. The robot uses a CAN bus to control the various modules inside. We don’t think there’s any autonomous function, but that’s made up for by the remote control. It communicates via a ZigBee module, and includes a d-pad, touch screen, and accelerometer.We’re a little bit hazy on how the games are played, but there are at least two interactive version: one called ball, and another modeled after the classic game of missile command.

You can check out the source code for the project in their repository, or join us after the break for two demo videos.

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Clocks built from old aircraft surplus parts

aircraft_indicator_clocks

A few years ago, Tube Clock forum member[Sine1040] bought a set of four brand new aircraft indicator units that were built some time in the early 70’s. He had no idea what the units were actually used for, but he did know that he could repurpose them into some pretty slick looking clocks.

He disassembled all four boxes and between them, scrounged enough parts to build three clocks. After gutting the clocks and rearranging the digits, he built a timekeeping circuit using an ATMega8 which is clocked by a DS32 oscillator.

While the time is displayed using the large projection-style digit displays, the seconds are ticked off in the left-most analog meter. Minutes are also represented in the clock’s right-most analog window, swinging the needle from top to bottom as each one passes.

[Sine1040] paid special attention to keeping the boxes looking as stock as possible, with the only external modification being a power plug installed in place of an old grounding screw. The clock is definitely a different take on keeping time, and we think it looks great.

Continue reading to see a quick demo video of the clock in action.

[Thanks Brian]

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Arduino Powered 2.4 GHz Spectrum Analyzer

[Fred] dropped a note in our tip line to let us know about arduino forum user [bilbo]‘s latest project: A 3-in-one spectrum analyzer, oscilloscope, volt-meter combo. The build consists of an Arduino, radio board and Nokia 5110 LCD breakout board.  The (thin) video after the jump shows the rig in action. Though soldered to a full sized perf-board we can see later, smaller, battery powered versions prove useful in rooting out wayward bluetooth signals, or just finding that lost microwave oven. Although [bilbo] uses the same radio board as similar builds  his creation boasts several different display modes, as well as doubling as a volt meter and miniature-oscilloscope. There is no shortage of previous spectrum analyzer builds, but this one is the first one we have seen running on an Arduino.

Thanks for the tip [Fred]! If you feel like wedging some frequency scanning capabilities into your next project don’t forget to check out [bilbo]‘s forum posts for source code!

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