The Zigroller Balance Bot

The Zigroller is a Zigbee remote-controlled balance bot.  Although balance bots have been featured on [HAD] before, the Zigroller appears to be well-built and the project is well documented.  Besides a section on hardware, the software for this build is documented here.  The theory behind a balancing bot like this is given in this [MIT] paper if you’d like some more background.

The roller itself was conceived as a project for a UW class this summer.  The class was about control theory, so the electronics and mechanical setup was copied off of the [ArduRoller] project.  In order to keep this project from influencing the control code of this ‘bot, it’s claimed that the code was not looked at while writing the new software. The process for building the remote control assembly is nicely documented and is an original creation for this project. Check out a video of it in action after the break! [Read more...]

An Interview With Bre Pettis, Founder of MakerBot Industries

For those of you that don’t know, the Makerbot is a 3D printer created by Bre Pettis. It is probably the best-known 3D printer that you can buy at a price point meant for the hobbyist. Although this article doesn’t go into how the MakerBot is made, it focuses instead about the business itself and the man behind it. Bre was a hobbyist maker just like many of our readers, but decided to turn his passion into a successful business.

Although not all businesses are a success, Bre has made quite a start at becoming one. His company now employs 50 people and is currently hiring (like this posting for a “Web Warrior”) and has just secured $10 million in venture capital funding! Check out the full interview for all the details. It may inspire others to go from “hobby maker” to “professional.”

For other 3D printing-related posts, check out this one about the RepRap printer which is capable of replicating itself. For other ways to make your own parts, this rotomold machine may be of interest or this semi-DIY CNC router.

DIY amplifier minder turns off your stereo when you forget


[zmashiah] has a nice Nova tube amplifier in his living room, and he often forgets to turn it off once he’s done listening to music. He feels guilty when this happens, as it not only shortens the lifespan of his stereo, but it’s not exactly the greenest behavior either. Rather than let his receiver idle any longer, he built a simple device that automatically turns it off when he forgets.

He wired an Arduino to the line level output of the receiver, sampling the audio every two seconds. When five minutes pass without an audio signal, the Arduino sends an IR command to the receiver, turning it off.

He says he’s aware that it might be overkill to use an Arduino for this application, but that he would rather fork out an extra dollar or two instead of spending hours poring over AVR assembly code. While we’re all for efficiency, we can’t exactly argue with that logic – time is money!

[zmashiah] is kind enough to include his schematics as well as the code for his project, so be sure to check it out if you occasionally forget to turn off your IR-enabled appliances.

Structured light 3d scanner

After futzing around with a cheap pico projector, a webcam and a little bit of software, [Jas Strong] built herself a 3d scanner.

In spite of the dozens of Kinect-based scanner projects, we’ve seen structured light 3d scanners before. This method of volumetric scanning projects a series of gradient images onto a subject. A camera captures images of the patterns of light and dark on the model, math happens, and 3d data is spit out of a computer.

[Jas] found a Microvision SHOWWX laser pico projector on Woot. The laser in the projector plays a large part in the quality of her 3d models – without a focus, [Jas] can get very accurate depth information up close. A Logitech webcam modified for a tighter focus handles the video capture responsibilities. The software side of things are a few of these structured light utilities that [Jas] melded into a single Processing sketch.

The results are pretty remarkable for a rig that uses woodworking clamps to hold everything together. [Jas]‘ 3d model of her cat’s house looks very good. She’s got a few bugs to work out in her setup, but [Jas] plans on releasing her work out into the wild very soon. We’ll update this post whenever that happens. made her code available here. The code requires the ControlP5 and PeasyCam libraries.

RF sniffing on-the-go

It’s been a while since we checked in on [Travis Goodspeed]. His latest post makes RF sniffing with the Next HOPE badge more portable by ditching the need to display data on a computer. He’s built on the work he did at the beginning of the year, replacing the FTDI chip on the badge with a Bluetooth module. Now he can use his Nokia N900 as a GoodFET terminal to not only display the packets pulled from the air, but the control the badge as well.

Previously, the client running on the computer was communicating with the badge via a serial connection. To get it working on the N900 [Travis] transitioned from using py-serial over to using py-bluez. All of the code changes are available from the GoodFET repository.

He’s got a few other tricks planned for this concept. He put in a parts order to add Bluetooth to the Girltech IM-ME. The pretty pink pager has the same radio chip on board, so adding Bluetooth connectivity will allow it to be used in the same way. There are also plans in the works to add a couple other packet sniffing protocols to the bag of tricks, including ZigBee.

Burning Man 2011: Christopher Schardt’s Garden of Rockets

This is one piece I regret to have missed this year at Burning Man, however I certainly heard tales from any one who stumbled across it. [Christopher Shardt]‘s Garden of Rockets consists of three kinetic fire art pieces with spinning propane rockets that you can control!

[Christopher] decided to incorporate his Burning Man 2010 project, 4pyre², which is a 12 foot pipe with opposing propane fueled rockets on each end. Onlookers can control the amount of propane fed to the rockets and twist the pipe they are attached to causing the whole thing to spin around like an out of control fire hose. Accompanying 4pyre² is  PyreGoRound, and  Pyroticulation which are two variants on 4pyre²’s concept of spinning rocket bars. [Christopher] was lucky enough to have his project materials funded by Burning Man, but added three thousand dollars (!) in propane to the mix out of pocket.

Check out a video of the project after the jump, and [Christopher]‘s site for details and schematics.

[Read more...]

Weekly Roundup 10/8/11

In case you missed them the first time, here are our most popular posts from the past week.

Our most popular post this week is about a clock modeled after Lord Vetinari’s clock in Discworld that ticks at random intervals but keeps accurate time.

Our next most popular post is of a project that takes two 3.5″ floppy drives and uses them to play the Imperial March from Star Wars.

Next we have a post about a way to jam WiFi by sending out deauthentication packets.

Fourth in our list is a post about some really interesting turn signals and other lights that [StarfireMX] created for his car that are chock full of RGB LEDs. This allows them to do all sorts of interesting things other than just blinking.

Finally, we had a post about a robot that has some really interesting ‘wheels’ that aren’t like anything that we have seen before. They are something between an omniwheel and a tank tread and look like they would be fun to play with.