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...]

Display made out of hundreds of seven segment LEDs

While huge LED panels are a relatively common project du jour for people wanting to flex their engineering muscle, we’re taken aback by the sheer beauty of [Skot9000]‘s huge LED display made of seven-segment displays. He calls the build DigitGrid, and it’s a wondrous display the likes of which we’ve never seen.

To build a display based on seven-segment LEDs, [Skot] went with a modular approach in designing the DigitGrid. To power and control all these seven-segment displays, [Skot] used a Texas Instruments TLC5920 to run four 4-digit displays as a single module. Four of these modules connect together to form a row of 32×2 digits, and eight rows of digits come together to make a 512-digit display. With seven LEDs for each digit, that works out to 3,584 4,096 individual LEDs for the entire panel.

To power and control this gigantic array of LED displays, each row uses a PIC16F microcontroller which, in turn, is controlled by an FPGA. After several hours of writing Verilog, [Skot] had a reasonably good hunk of software that allowed him to send frames from his computer to the display. The results, quite simply, are amazing. [Skot] managed to put up a short film showing off the animation capabilities of his new display, and it’s a wonder to behold. You can check that video out after the break.

[Read more...]

Building a combination lock with logic chips

The component gods must have smiled on [Darrell], because he recently ran into a cabinet full of 7400-series logic chips for sale at his local college surplus. All the regulars were there – flip-flops, logic gates, and SRAMs – in DIP packages. the 7400-series of logic chips gets very esoteric as the numbers increased, so when [Darrell] found a 74ALS679 address comparator, he didn’t quite realize what he had. After a quick review of the relevant datasheet he had a fairly good idea of the actual function of this chip and decided to make a combination lock.

From the datasheet, [Darrell] figured out how this small logic chip can compare two 12-bit addresses with only 20 pins: each of the 12 address pins are hardwired to match a single four-bit value. If the four-bit ‘key’ is set to 0110, the first six address pins are tied low, and pins 7-12 are tied high. After wiring up his address comparator to a trio of Hex dip switches, [Darrell] had a combination lock that used the word ‘FAB’ as a key.

In the 7400-series of logic chips, there are some oddballs; the 7447 seven-segment display driver is useful, but the 74881 ALU and 74361 bubble memory timing generator aren’t exactly something you would find in a random component stash. If you’ve got a weird logic chip build (there’s a 300-baud modem, you know), send it on in. You can check out an animated gif of [Darrell]‘s lock after the break.

[Read more...]

Grabbing data from a Rigol ‘scope with Python

While a fancy Rigol 1052E oscilloscope is a great tool and a wonderful portable oscilloscope we heartily recommend, sometimes you just need to use the more ‘advanced’ functions of an oscilloscope. Luckily, [cibomahto] figured out how to use a Rigol scope with Python, allowing for easy remote viewing and control of a Rigol 1052E ‘scope on any desktop computer.

[cibomahto]‘s Python script grabs the screen and can send commands to the oscilloscope, effectively obviating the need for the slightly-terrible Rigol Ultrascope software. Not only that, controlling the 1052E is possible under OS X and Linux because of the portable Python nature of [cibomahto]‘s work.

The Rigol DS1052E has become the de facto standard oscilloscope to grace the workbenches of makers and hackers around the globe. With a small price tag, the ability to double the bandwidth, and an active homebrew development scene, we doubt [cibomahto]‘s work of grabbing data over USB will be the last hack we’ll see for this fine machine.

Thanks to [Markus] for sending this one in.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,449 other followers