HaD links – Quakepocalypse Edition: August 23, 2011

Well, if you hadn’t noticed the news there has been a little bit of a shakeup on the east coast. I just arrived home after being evacuated due to a 30 second rumble the likes of which has not been felt on the east coast in something like 114 years. In lieu of the not so devastating but earth shaking event we thought we’d put together a few earthquake related links for you.

Earthquake-proof Wine Rack

First off instructables user [jofish] has a quick remedy if earthquakes are constantly destroying all the wine on your wine rack. He researched some existing commercial products and simply copied them by stapling cheap O rings to the front of the rack. We assume the back of the wine rack is secured to the wall as well.

Vertical Seismometer

Next up is a vertical seismometer from [Mike] over at mikesense.com. This was in response to a slightly more threatening 7.2 earthquake he experienced in Baja California last year. A vertical seismometer measures the movement of a weight either electronically or mechanically, and then damps the motion of the oscillation by a magnet or some other means. This particular design is known as the AS-1 developed by [Jeff Batten]. Matt’s page has links to everything you’d need to know including build videos.

Predict Seismic Activity with Hard Drives

If you are looking for some non-conventional ways of tracking seismic activity we have a pair of articles that detail earthquake tracking using your disk drive’s accelerometer. [Michael Stadler] realized the potential for all these sensors and released a program that creates a peer-to-peer network compiling data from the sensors. We are not too comfortable with the prospect of somebody tracking every time we drop or kick (or drop-kick) our laptops but 2500 users in Asia downloaded the software in ’06. The second article details an effort lead by IBM to monitor the fixed hard drives in server racks which generally remain far more stationary.

Simple DIY Earthquake Simulator

Finally for those of you who want to cause (miniature) earthquakes, we dug up this MTU project using plywood, an electric drill, rubber bands and some bearings to fabricate a DIY shake table (PDF warning). We are sure there are tons of improvements that can be made but this is a pretty fun project if you have a bunch of CNC parts lying around (we wish we did).

Kinect-controlled delta robot has a magnetic personality

kinect_controlled_delta_robot

[Malte] is a loyal Hackaday reader and neurobiology PhD candidate with a keen interest in hobby robotics – definitely our kind of guy! He wrote in to share a project he has been working on in his spare time, a Kinect-controlled delta robot (Google translation).

Deltares, as it is called, is pretty straightforward as far as delta robots are concerned. It uses three servos to actuate the arms, which are controlled by an AVR micro running BASCOM. The AVR gets its coordinate data from his computer via a serial connection after it has been captured by the Kinect. [Malte] opted to use Microsoft’s official SDK for the project, processing the Kinect skeletal data using a small C# application he wrote.

The end result is pretty neat as you can see in the pair of videos below. In the first video, [Malte] uses Deltares as a plotter, drawing a crude face on a piece of paper with a marker. In the second, he commands Deltares with his right hand, using his left to activate the magnetic solenoid to pick up the steel spheres.

It looks pretty cool to us, and we’d love to see what sorts of things he puts together if he ever ends up making robotics his career rather than a hobby.

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Home tanning lamps become organ donors for a PCB exposure bed

Some projects benefit greatly from the parts a builder is able to find. Take this UV exposure bed for photo-resist copper clad boards (translated). It looks like a commercial product, but was actually built by [TabascoEye] and his fellow hackers.

The main sources for parts were a flatbed scanner (which acts as the case) and two self-tanning lamps that use UVA flourescent bulbs. By sheer luck the bulbs and their reflectors are exactly the right size to fit into the top and bottom cavities of the scanner. The control hardware centers around an ATtiny2313 micorocontroller, which takes input from a clickable rotary encoder, and displays exposure information on a character LCD. The finished product deserves a place right next to other professional-looking exposure boxes that we’ve looked at.

Tree Climbing Bot Climbs Tree

To test his new skills with his Arduino, [Ben] decided that he would build a robot. With no particular need to fill other than the need to build something cool he chose to build himself a tree climbing robot. He designed the body of the robot in Google Sketchup before beginning the build. The body is made mainly from aluminium, with four motors for the gripping legs and one for the spine. [Ben] controlled the motors with the familiar L298 motor driver chip and measured their position and speed using some cleverly mounted potentiometers.  The robot can climb trees of varying diameter by using the speed of the motors driving the legs to determine when the tree has been gripped.

[Ben] was then kind enough to write up a full instructable describing the build, this project includes a bit of everything, from motor control and liner drives to tips on creating a robot frame; a good read for someone wanting to get into robotics. Also check out the video after the break to see the robot in action.

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We don’t need to brainstorm projects; xkcd does that for us

[Randall Munroe], the guy behind our favorite web comic xkcd, gave us yet another great project idea that falls on the heels of securing our valuables and silencing loud car stereos. The xkcd forum has been talking about how to implement this, and we’d like to hear what Hack A Day readers think about this idea.

The project isn’t much different from 3D photography. [Carl Pisaturo] has done a lot of art and experimentation based on this idea that basically amounted to largish binoculars. A poster on the xkcd forum has already built this using mirrors, but we’re wondering how much the parallax can be increased with this method. Two cameras and a smart phone would also allow automatic pan and tilt that corresponds to head movement.

We’re not quite sure if this idea can be applied to astronomy. The angular resolution of the human eye is around one arc minute, every star except for the Sun has an annual parallax less than one arc second. If anyone wants to try this out with a longer baseline (From Earth to Pluto for example), we would suggest simulating this in Stellarium. Seeing the moon as a sphere would be possible with a few hundred miles between cameras, though.

Tell us how you would build this in the comments, and be sure to send in your write-up if you manage to build it. We’ll put it up right away.

Thanks to [Theon144] for sending this in.

EDIT: Because the comments are actually bearing fruit, check out the thread on the Hack A Day forums for this post: link.

Winterizing: keeping the drafts out of double-hung windows

[Rumplestiltskin] has had work done on his double-hung windows to help prevent drafts and keep them in good working order. But there are still a few that rattle, and let in the cold of winter. Not this year; he’s added a small feature to the jamb that will keep out the cold weather.

A pair of jointing blocks were added to each window. The small block seen above is attached to the window jam with a couple of all-purpose screws, and hosts a machine screw which points toward the window frame. Since there is weather stripping between the two window frames, and between the frame and the outer jamb, tightening this screw will snug the frames up to close any small gaps. This has the unintended consequence of prohibiting the window from being opened (unless you don’t mind scraping the paint as the machine screw slides across the wood). But if only used in the winter months this is a viable solution.

Bluetooth wristwatch based on an Arduino

We hate to admit it, but we missed out on the TI Chronos watch deal last week. While we’re still a little bit burned over the fact that these watches sold out so fast, [Ahmet] sent in his Open Source Bluetooth Watch and we’re thinking this could eventually be a decent replacement.

The watch is built around an Arduino Pro Mini, a scavenged Nokia LCD, and a BlueSMiRF Gold. The Bluetooth connects to a Nokia N900 with a little Bluetooth client app [Ahmet] wrote. He also wrote a small GUI for the watch’s LCD display. Afterwards, he was able to display missed calls, new email, and is now working on support for changing songs on his N900’s media player.

Admittedly, a little work needs to be done on the enclosure. Still, the potential for this watch is much greater than the iPod as a watch project we saw last year. Right now, we’re thinking about what could be added to [Ahmet]‘s watch. An accelerometer would probably be on the top of our list, but if you have any ideas feel free to leave them in the comments.

Check out the walk through of the watch’s functions after the break.

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