A Large Hexapod Made of Wood and PVC Pipe

pvc hexapod rc tests with Evie the dog

Although not the biggest hexapod walker we’ve seen by any means, this one is nonetheless worth a mention. Made with windshield wiper motors, PVC pipe, and lots of wood, it’s still a good size ‘bot. It’s a work in progress, but check out the video of it’s legs being tested as well as one of it’s preliminary assembly after the break.

Control is similar to this little hexapod that we’ve featured before in the the front and back legs are driven by a motor and linked together using threaded rod.  In this case though, the rod is 1/4 – 20, much larger than the 4-40 rod used by it’s little predecessor. Also unlike little PegLeg, the middle legs are independently actuated, not linked together. This should allow for some different modes of locomotion.

Different modes of locomotion, that is, if it’s able to walk. Although able to pick itself up, the middle legs are barely strong enough to support the large battery and powerful, but heavy, automotive motors. This is an introductory post to this project, and everything will hopefully be worked out and explained in time. Be sure to check back and see how this robot progresses, and the details of the different elements of this ‘bot. [Read more...]

Automated turret gives you the upper hand in office warfare


When your co-workers get on your nerves, the mature recourse is to be the bigger person and simply ignore the obnoxious individual. A team of engineers from TI show us a slightly alternative means of dealing with office mates which is not quite as mature, though far more entertaining.

The office toy cum mechanized weapons system relies on a TI MSP430 LaunchPad, coupled with a custom Turret430 breakout board. The former is the brains of the operation, while the latter houses motor drivers for the motorized turret. The system can be steered throughout its 300 degree range of rotation using an attached joystick, but in the interest of catching their target by surprise, they added an automated mode as well. The automated targeting system uses an attached webcam to pick out victims by the color of their clothing, which seems to work pretty well.

To see the system in action, check out the video embedded below.

[Read more...]

Ping pong ball barrage

What should you do with your down time between sophomore and junior year at MIT? You better build something awesome. [Christian Reed] didn’t disappoint with his newest creation. He calls it the Ping Pong Mauler and we think that’s an appropriate name. It doesn’t just lunch a ball, it belches forth a relentless barrage.

He certainly has no shortage of ammo. A few garbage bags full of the white orbs number at least 3000 strong, and the plastic drum he’s using as a hopper has room for them all. Jamming is an issue and in the image above you can see him working the agitator with his right hand to prevent a clog. The system is mobile, but the shop vacuum used to propel the balls needs AC power. This means there is a tether that keeps it from roaming too far from home. [Christian] included an air tank in the design but apparently the pressurized air doesn’t do much to help with launch speed. That’s good because pressurized ball guns can be scary.

Check out the video after the break to see the ping pongs fly. We bet they’ll be mowing over some strays out in the yard for at least the rest of this summer.

[Read more...]

Magic clock locates your friends

Just like the clock from Harry Potter, a team of media informatics students at the University of Munich built a grandfather clock that doesn’t keep track of time; instead, it keeps track of where everyone is, whether it be their university, work, or in prison.

The build uses Android and iOS apps on each team member’s cell phone to send their current location to a web server. A circuit built inside an old grandfather clock the team picked up from eBay communicates with the web server through a WiFly Shield to control a quartet of servos and drive the clock hands.

Because the grandfather clock only came with two clock hands, the team used a series of four concentric shafts to move each hand around the dial. With a bit of clever gear fabrication on their laser cutter, they were able to use unmodified servos move the hands all the way around the clock.

The avatars on the tip of each clock hand are the remains of decapitated LEGO minifigs, a choice that makes sense after viewing the build video available after the break.

[Read more...]

Getting connected with your home security system

This simple device, paired with some creating code will let you become your own home security monitoring service. It’s called the PhantomLink and [Adam] started the project as a commercial venture. He recently decided to go open source with the hardware and will soon be posting a guide on how to program your own web interface too.

We just looked in on a project which takes control of a security panel using an Arduino. The PhantomLink is focused on not just reusing the input hardware, but monitoring the whole system. It sounds like several different protocols are supported.

The DB9 jack is intended for use with an adapter you can wire yourself. Basically just tap into the terminal block on the alarm controller for your house, then route those connections to the proper pins. A PIC 12F683 monitors the alarm system, pushing data via the WiFi module mounted on the board. With that web connection you can do anything you want by catching and formatting the data.

Hackathon results in the Facebook book

[Jeremy Blum] and [Jason Wright] pose with their project at the end of a 24 hour hackathon. The Facebook headquarters in New York City held the event as part of their Summer of Hack program. As an homage to the hosts, the hacking duo decided to create a physical book and populate it with the virtual Facebook. And what do you call such a creation? The Face(book)^2.

The video after the break gives the best overview of the hardware, but here’s the gist of it: They started with the largest hardcover book they could find, hollowing out its pages to house their own hardware. When you open the book it calls back to a computer over an Xbee link with a request for data. The python script on the computer pulls the newest from a Facebook feed, sending it back to the book to be displayed. There is a graphic LCD and four character LCDs built in for this purpose. There’s also an accelerometer which is used for detecting page turns when the cover is jostled. The rest of the interactivity is provided by a few tactile switches mounted next to the smaller LCD screens for navigation and the ‘like’ feature.

[Read more...]

Mechanical relay logic that was snubbed for a microcontroller

[Alex] was tasked with a control design problem for a set of motors. The application called for the back of a truck to open up, some 3D scanning equipment to rise from its enclosure, and finally the equipment needed to rotate into place. All of this needed to happen with one flip of a switch, then proceed in reverse when the switch was turned off. We can understand why the final design used a microcontroller, but we also think that [Alex's] relay logic circuit is an eloquent way of doing things.

He uses limiting switches as the feedback loop for the logic. In the video after the break he walks us through the schematic. Each of the three motors has an up and down limiting switch. These control the three relays which switch power to the motors. We like the design because interrupting the movement mid-operation provides no problem for the system. The only real issue we see is that relays wear out, and the automotive application of the hardware may cause this to happen more quickly than normal.

You may recognize the clear gears used in the demo. [Alex] previously showed us how he makes those.

[Read more...]