Double-pendulum spray gives this graffiti bot some style

Here’s an art exhibit that does its own painting. The Senseless Drawing Bot (translated) uses the back and forth motion of the wheeled based to get a double-pendulum arm swinging. At the end of the out-of-control appendage, a can of spray paint is let loose. We’re kind of surprised by the results as they don’t look like a machine made them.

The video after the break gives a pretty good synopsis of how the robot performs its duties. The site linked above is a bit difficult to navigate, but if you start digging you’ll find a lot of build information. For instance, it looks like this was prototyped with a small RC car along with sticks of wood as the pendulums.

We can’t help but be reminded of this robot that balances an inverted double pendulum. We wonder if it could be hacked to purposefully draw graffiti that makes a bit more sense than what we see here?

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Adding keypad security to your automobile’s ignition system

[BadWolf] managed to make some free time to get back to his own electronic projects. This time around he’s created a security system for his car. It’s patched into the ignition, preventing the engine from starting when the key is turned. A driver must first insert the key, then type the combination on a keypad in the center console before the car will fire up.

While he was working on the project he also decided to add a start button to the dash-board (we think it does make it look like a later model vehicle). The keypad is driven by an Arduino Nano which has the start code stored in it. Power for the system is provided by a USB hub hidden behind the dash which he thinks will also come in handy with future hacks.

When the proper code is entered, you’ll hear a rendition of the Super Mario Bros. theme. The speaker also lends a pleasant beep with each keypress. See the demo clip after the break to hear it for yourself.

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Whole house battery backup used for lower power bills

[Photonicinduction] has an impressive battery backup installation that powers his whole house. Unlike a standalone emergency generator which would require you to hook up all of the device you want to run, this setup sits in between the power meter and the breaker box, ready to step in when needed.

But get this, he’s not just using it as a backup system. It kicks in during the day to run everything including two freezers, a refrigerator, his lights, television, and computers. That’s because the price per kilowatt-hour is quite a bit higher during the day than at night. So after 10:30pm the system patches his house back into the grid and charges the batteries for use the next day.

What you see here is just a portion of his system. The control board is not pictured but is very impressive, including a network of relays which are used as a fail-safe system so that there are no conflicts between mains and the battery system. Check out his 15-minute walk through of the system after the break. [Read more...]

Polar pen plotter draws huge images very slowly

[Euphy] just posted and Instructable of his Polargraph drawing machine that’s able to draw huge images slower than molasses in November. The plotter only uses two stepper motors to control the position of the pen and can be made nearly entirely from salvaged parts – [Euphy] built his for just about £150.

The Polargraph uses two stepper motor on the top corners of a large, flat surface. A weighted pen carriage is attached to both motors with beaded cord that’s often seen in window blinds. By controlling the distance from the carriage to each motor, the position of the pen can be precisely controlled. It’s not a very fast way of drawing an image (check out the real-time video), but it sure is interesting to watch.

There have been a few other rope-and-chain plotters, like Der Kritzler and Hektor. [Euphy]‘s work is the is one of the best documented builds we’ve seen, and he’s also put up the code and a website.

We really could have used [Euphy]‘s plotter when we wanted to draw some whiteboard art. While we’re out dumpster diving for some small stepper motors, check out the time-lapse video of the Polargraph after the break.

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Building a heat sealer for anti-static bags

[Raphaël Assénat] needed anti-static bags for some boards he is selling. He had a lot of leftovers on hand (presumably from the components he ordered to assemble these boards) and wanted to reuse them. Instead of buying a heat sealer he built his own to cut them down to size.

His build starts with a transformer to drop mains voltage down to 9 Volts. From there, you can see the two power resistors used in series to limit the current. Without these, the wire would get way too hot. Just in front of those resistors is a momentary push switch which cuts the power by default. Here we can see that [Raphaël] is using a wood block to press the bag against the wire as it heats up.

The wire itself is a piece of straightened tension spring. Apparently this spring material is a poor conductor, which is why it gets hot enough to melt the plastic bag when you run current through it.

Simple telepresence hack lets remote user rotate this laptop

[Kris] wanted to make the telecommuting employees at his office feel a little more in control of their virtual presence in the office. He gave them a way to look around without needing to go into full-blown robotics. This laptop stand has a Lazy Susan connected to a servo motor to give the user control of where the computer is pointed.

We’ve certainly seen our share of really complicated surrogate builds like this balancing robot. There have been simpler options too, such as this smartphone-carrying motorized base. But when you get right down to it, the ability to pan the camera is probably good enough for most situations. [Kris'] solution can be built in an afternoon, using simple materials. The box is made out of MDF with a base for the laptop connected by the ball-bearing hardware that supports the weight and makes sure the servo is able spin it freely. It is driven by an Arduino which connects to the computer via USB; making it easy to control remotely. Check out a quick clip of the laptop going round and round after the break.

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Video: Interrupts on the ATmega328p

This week, we are bringing you the final video in our series where [Jack] uses the 3pi robot as a fancy development board for the ATmega328p processor. Today’s video deals with interrupts. If you have been wanting to have your programs do more than one thing simultaneously, interrupts are the solution. [Jack] discusses various ways that you can use interrupts in your programs and then shows how he created a interrupt routine that drives the 3pi’s beeper. He also shows the routines that enable, disable, and control the interrupt.

Since this is the last post for this series of videos, we are posting the code used for all of the previous videos. Click here to grab a copy.

For our next series of videos, we are going to attempt something more challenging so most likely we will be taking a couple of weeks off to do some development before presenting it here. Stay tuned folks, we’ll be back.

Video is after the break…

In case you missed any of the previous videos, check out these links:

Part 1: Setting up the development environment
Part 2: Basic I/O
Part 3: Pulse Width Modulation
Part 4: Analog to Digital conversion
Part 5: Working with the 3pi’s line sensors

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