Sand Flea literally leaps tall buildings in a single bound

The hidden abilities of this robot that is no larger than a dinner plate are quite impressive. It doesn’t let an obstacle like a building get in its way. The Sand Flea, like its namesake, posses a remarkable jumping ability. When it encounters a tall obstruction two levers incline the front of the robot and it launches itself up to thirty feet in the air. In the case of a one-story build this means it will end up on the roof, and it’ll do so much quicker and more reliably than any wall climber we’ve seen.

It’s being developed for the US Army by Boston Dynamics, and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the concept. But the video after the break gives a much better look than the grainy twenty-second clip from last year. Of course they’re not giving up too many details so we have to guess a bit. We’d wager the launching mechanism is a solenoid, but at about eleven pounds you need a lot of juice to get that much of a jump. We suppose it’s also possible that there’s an explosive system like the butane combustion used in a framing nailer. The video summary mentions that there’s a stabilization system to keep the body oriented during flight. That’s got to be a gyroscope. Let us know what you think in the comments. [Read more...]

Wireless camera mount offers pan and tilt functions

[Chris] put together a bunch of common components to create this wireless pan and tilt system for a security camera or a robot.

The motorized base is simple enough, using two servos to make up a mount for the digital camera. In this case he used a parts package which is designed to mount the servos perpendicular to each other. You could also 3D print, our build your own brackets quite easily. The control circuitry consists of a pair of PIC 18LF4520 microcontrollers and a set of Xbee modules. This is where the wireless connectivity comes in.

On the transmitter side, a pair of potentiometers are read by the microcontroller’s ADC and translated into position values. The receiver takes those values and drives the servo motors accordingly. In the clip after the break [Chris] is using micro trimpots which require a screw driver to adjust. You might want to hit the parts bin and see if you can get some that have a more user-friendly shaft or knob.

Unfortunately this system doesn’t transmit video. But WiFi webcams are getting quite affordable so that might be a good option in this case. [Read more...]

Floppy autoloader takes the pain out of archiving 5000 Amiga disks

floppy-autoloader

Archiving data from old floppy disks can be a tedious process at best. Poorly labeled disks combined with slow transfer speeds put it high on the list of things we would rather not do, and it turns out that [Dweller] was of the same opinion. With an estimated 5,000 floppies in his collection, he finally decided it was time to clean house.

With no idea of what was stored where, he decided the best way to go about the process was to read all of the disks, archiving everything, saving the sorting process for later. He originally started by building a floppy autoloader out of Lego Mindstorm parts, which looked good on paper, but performed pretty poorly.

He came across an old floppy duplicator on eBay and figured that since the machine was built for handling gobs of disks, that it was the perfect base for his autoloader. He pulled the mechanical bits from the machine, incorporating them into the rig you see above. He swapped out the duplicator’s brains for an Arduino, which allows him to batch copy his disks and save a picture of each label with little effort.

He says that the system works great, making his life a lot easier (and less cluttered!)

Check out the video below to see his floppy autoloader in action.

[Read more...]

Loudest telepresence robot ever

This telepresence robot will never let your Skype callers sneak up on you. [Priit] built the project, which he calls Skype Got Legs, so that his distant friends could follow him around the house during chats. But as you can hear after the break, the electric drills used to motorize the base are extremely loud.

Noise pollution aside, we like the roughness of the hack. It’s utilitarian but seems to work quite well. Commands are sent via the web using a combination of Ajax and PHP function calls. The two drills are controlled by an Arduino via a couple of automotive relays. The drills are powered by their original rechargeable battery packs. So as not to alter those batteries, [Priit] figured out a way to use synthetic wine bottle corks as a connector. They’ve been cut to size, and had tinned wires pushed through holes in them. Now, when he inserts the altered corks they press the wires against the battery contacts. [Read more...]

New dirigibles are power plants in the sky

We wonder if a floating wind turbine generator (translated) like this one would alleviate some of the complaints we hear about ground-based turbines. This huge helium-filled structure is designed to generate electricity at high altitude, where winds are stronger and blow much more consistently than near ground level. We’ve read complaints at the unsightliness of wind farms, and the noise that they make as the turbines spin. A test run took place at only 350 feet, but this generator is meant to fly at an altitude of 2000 feet. We’d bet it’s much less obtrusive and much quieter at that distance.

There isn’t a whole lot to the lighter-than-air assembly. It’s got an aerodynamic balloon with stabilizing fins, and a propeller attached to a generator at the center. The tether that holds it in place also carries the conductors which translate the power down to the ground. There is mention of a fail-safe system that allows for a slow descent if it get gets away from its tether, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the sky falling on you.

It’s certainly an interesting idea. For some reason this makes us think of the space-based solar generator panels found on Larry Niven’s Ringworld.

[via Reddit]

10,000 posts

According to our CMS calculations (we use WordPress), this is Hackaday’s ten-thousandth published posts. We meant to build a confetti cannon, but we were too busy looking for interesting projects to feature multiple times per day.

We’d like to thank everyone who documents their projects to share what they’ve been up to in basements, garages, or hackerspaces with the ecosystem of hackers around the world. We hope that every time you publish a build log or project summary you think about sending us a link. We’re also grateful for those who find intriguing blog or forum posts and send in a tip even though it’s not their project (we wholeheartedly encourage it).

Our contributors and editors deserve kudos. Over the years a growing band of Hackaday alumni have helped keep the front page of Hackday a place you can count on for interesting uses for otherwise everyday things. You’ve heard many of their names, like [Philip Torrone], [Eliot Phillips], and [Caleb Kraft]. But most of what you see on the front page is the result of the writers sifting through tips and scanning a laundry list of RSS feeds to find new and interesting projects and project ideas. Their contribution is what keeps the front page fresh and new, but we continue to use the royal ‘we’ in our posts because it’s the project being featured that is paramount.

And finally we thank the regular readers, whose participation keeps the lights on, and whose comments build a community. Many started out as lurkers, inspired by the projects featured here until the point that they take the plunge and blink their first LED. The threads in the comments section of each post are the evolutionary ooze that often leads to the next amazing build. Keep reading, keep commenting constructively, and we’ll see you all back here for our 16,383rd post when we fill up these digits with ones.

Thank you.

The RC transmitter that does everything

[Demetris] sent in a project he’s been working on over the last year. It’s called the Open Source Radio Control, and promises to be a modular platform for every imaginable remote control transmitter need. If you’d like to control a bipedal android or a 3D aerobatic model plane, the OSRC can do it while transmitting video from the cockpit down to your hands.

Last summer, we caught wind of the OSRC project to build an extensible and open source remote control radio that would do anything; from displaying video from the cockpit to serving as the brain of a UAV rig, the OSRC promised to do everything.

A fully decked out OSRC can be had for about $1400, putting it in the upper echelon of remote control radios. For that price, though, you get a fully customizable radio with your choice of shoulder buttons and a 4.8 inch LCD that receives a video feed from the cockpit of your favorite model. The base unit starts out around $700; still very expensive for a remote control radio, but reasonable when you consider all the possible upgrades.

[Demetris] and the rest of the team put together an outrageously long yet surprisingly beautiful video showing off a few features of the OSRC. You can check that out after the break.

[Read more...]

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