Treaded robot modified for stair climbing

[Mike Li] is showing of his stair climbing robot. It’s a bot that cruises around on a pair of tank treads, but some interesting modifications gave him the traction needed to ascend a flight of stairs without slipping backward.

The image above shows this process in great detail. You can see the unaltered treads leaving the top of the image. In the foreground, strips of rubber-backed rug add some sticking power to the otherwise smooth surface. To really stop the bot from slipping, segments of CAT5 cable have been screwed to the tread at regular intervals, holding the carpeting tightly in the process.

You can see in the video after the break the little robot has no problem with rough terrain. The design was inspired by the iRobot Packbot which has a set of treaded appendages sticking off the front end. These ensure that the vertical face of an obstacle, such as the beginnings of a staircase, can still be reached by the main set of treads.

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737 cockpit will satisfy even the most discriminating simulator afficiandos

This isn’t an airplane, it’s a simulator. But you won’t find it at a flight school as this labor of love is a home build of a 737 cockpit (translated) that has been going on for more than two years.

It started off as a couple of automotive bucket seats in a room with two computer monitors to display the view out the windscreen. From there each piece has been meticulously added for a wonderful overall reproduction. The range of skills needed to pull this off is impressive. The seats have been rebuilt with padding and upholstery true to the Boeing factory options. The support structure that forms the domed front of the aircraft was built from wood with a metal bracket system to hold the overhead control panels in the right position. The only thing missing here is the rest of the plane. Take a look at the simulated landing run in the video after the break to see what this thing can do.

Looking for something that will take you for a bit more of a ride? Here’s a collection of motion simulators that might satisfy your craving.

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Running the numbers on a cheap PSU

[Mike] picked up a cheap USB hub for four pounds (about $6) including delivery. He wanted to know how it’s possible to get quality electronics for that price, and as you may have guessed it’s not possible. He cracked open the power supply that shipped with the hub and hooked it up for some testing.

The wall wart has a sticker on it that claims a rating of 1 Amp at 5 volts. It’s pretty easy to see that this hardware cannot meet that spec just by looking at the circuit board. It’s a low-end single sided board that has some really disappointing isolation between the mains and regulated side of the circuit. As far as we can tell there’s really no reliable regulation circuit on the low side of the transformer, and the tests that [Mike] runs in the clip after the break show this. From left to right in the picture above you can see voltage at the hub-side of the power cord, current on the load, and voltage leaving the circuit board. At just 560 mA the voltage the USB hub is receiving has fallen below 3 volts!

The link to this project was sent in by [Paul] after reading about that fake Canon camera PSU. We love this kind of stuff so keep the tips coming as you find them!

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Need a Hand Drying Those Gloves?

While being caught out in the rain skiing, [Andrew] was left with a pair of soaking wet gloves. Leaving them to air dry did little good, as after 3 days they were still wet, and blowing a fan at them did little to nothing to help the situation. Luckily [Andrew] had been thinking about ways to make a forced air glove drier for some time now using standard plumbing fittings.

A prototype was made similar to consumer models where the glove is fit over the end of a pipe, and while this worked great to dry the palms, it did not help the wet finger situation at all. In order to solve this issue a new design was whipped up featuring 4 fixed fingers and a movable thumb made out of copper pipe. A little drilling, and soldering was performed then the metal hand was then duct taped to the end of a hair drier, turning soaked gloves into perfectly dry ones in about three hours.

3D printing Minecraft worlds

If you’ve ever wanted to build an awesome tabletop game or model train layout scenery, you probably couldn’t do better than printing Minecraft worlds on a RepRap. This guide comes courtesy of [Nudel] who figured out how to use Mineways with his RepRap. While [Nudel]‘s landscape print doesn’t have the full color of something from Shapeways, he only spent $3 in materials. Not bad if you’d like to print out your server’s world.

We have to give a shout out to [erich666] for his amazing work on Mineways. He bills his work as a bridge between Minecraft and a 3D printer or Blender. You can check out [erich]‘s demo of Mineways after the break.

Of course the state of printing voxels wouldn’t be where it is today without the work of two guys at the MIT Media Lab and their work on Minecraft.Print(). If you manage to print out your base/castle/village, add it to the Mineways Flickr group.

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GSM remote control with the TiDiGino

tidigino-gsm-remote

If you’re looking to remotely control things around the house, but can’t do it over the Internet or via WiFi, the TiDiGino just might have what you’re looking for. [Boris Landoni] from Open Electronics sent some information on the TiDiGino our way, and it certainly looks like a useful device if you’re in need of a solid GSM remote control module.

At the heart of the TiDiGino lies an ATmega2560, which is normally used in the Arduino Mega, so there’s plenty of processing power to go around. While the form factor differs just a wee bit from what you would expect from an Arduino, the TiDiGino sports all the proper connectivity to support any standard Arduino shield along with the requisite libraries required for use.

Through a contest/community effort, the TiDiGino supports remote alarm, gate control, remote thermostat control, and DTMF remote control functionality right out of the box. We imagine that our readers can dream up a litany of other uses as well, since GSM remote control tends to be pretty popular around here.

Be sure to check out the Open Electronics site if you’re interested in learning more about the TiDiGino – you’ll find a complete BoM along with code and schematics, making it easy to build your own.

A Little Simon Clone Named [Nomis]

[Chris] has been hard at work building his own version of Simon called [Nomis]. Although [HAD] has featured an ATiny Simon clone before, the article does an excellent job explaining how the system works.

The ATTiny85 is used to control this game, which, for now is laid out on a simple breadboard. A PCB version of this game has been ordered from [Seeed], so be sure to check back to see the results of this forthcoming upgrade. It’s really cool that this kind of small scale manufacturing is available to the masses.

A parts list is provided as well as a code overview and schematic. To see it in action, check out the video after the break. There’s an explanation at the beginning, but skip to 1:55 if you’d rather just see the machine in action. The game can reportedly run until a 100 “move” limit is reached. This was arbitrary, but it should be enough for most people! [Read more...]

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