Hackaday Links: August 12, 2012

License plate tablet rack

[Hunter Davis] used an old license plate as a tablet stand. It loops around the leg of his laptop table and has a cutout for the power cord of the tablet.

More power power wheels

It may look stock, but this power wheels is hiding a new frame, motors, and tires. You won’t see it in the Power Wheels Racing Series, but it is a ton of fun for this lucky kid.

Surveillance camera chess

Want to play a game? A yellow briefcase hijacks surveillance camera feeds and lets those monitoring them play chess via text message.

ATX bench supply looks like a bench supply

Here’s another rendition of an ATX bench supply. [Ast] rolled in a voltmeter for the variable voltage plug, and an ammeter to finish off the hack.

Lync auto-responder to fool the bossman

In a move reminiscent of [Ferris Bueller], [Sepehr] coded a Lync auto responder to answer the boss when he sends an IM.

A custom monitor mount built from wood

[LuckyNumbrKevin] wanted an epic monitor array of his own but didn’t really have the desk real estate to pull it off. His solution was to build a three computer monitor mounting rack with a relatively small footprint.

The design started with some virtual test builds using SketchUp. Once he had it dialed in he began transferring measurements for the base onto some plywood. The rest of the parts are built using dimensional lumber. As the project shaped up he wrapped the edges of the plywood with some trim, and gave the piece a good sanding. After a few passes with a dark stain he was ready to mount the monitors he bought from Newegg.

[Kevin] left a comment in the Reddit thread about the parts cost for his design. Including the monitors, this came in under $300. That does not include the Nvidia graphics card which is capable of driving the trio.

Super Angry Birds is a physical controller for the game

This role reversal is quite entertaining. While the game Angry Birds is a virtual realization of knocking over stuff with a sling-shot, Super Angry Birds adds a physical control element back to the virtual game. It’s silly, but well-executed. The main controller takes advantage a part which we don’t see used very often. It’s a motorized linear actuator which would most often be seen on a high-end audio console.

Check out the video after the break to see the controller in action. The linear encoder is used to simulate pulling the rubber sling shot back. It uses the motorized feature to spring back in place, but we’re not sure whether or not the motor also provides resistance during the pull. The laser cut case also includes a companion in the form of a TNT trigger box al-a Wile E Coyote.

If this isn’t real enough for you perhaps this slingshot controller will suffice.

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3D printed exoskeleton helps this little girl develop more normal body function

This 2-year-old girl has a condition called arthrogryposis which causes her not to be able to move her arms. But with a little help, her muscles can be strengthened to achieve more normal use of her limbs. This is not the first time that an exoskeleton has been used, but the advent of 3D printed parts makes the skeleton work much better.

Previous exoskeletons were made of metal and were quite heavy. When you’re talking about a 25 pound child every extra ounce counts. Moving to plastic parts lightened the load. Now the structure can be mounted on her torso, using rubber bands to aid her movement until her muscles are strong enough to do it on their own.

Of course to [Emma] this isn’t an exoskeleton. It’s her set of magic arms.

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Southwest tour: Xerocraft in Tucson Arizona

Traveling further south through Arizona, we ended up in Tucson to meet up with [Connor] at Xerocraft. [Connor] immediately apologized for the slightly disheveled state of the shop, but as I told him, I prefer a shop that has been used. Xerocraft was an interesting stop in our southwest tour. There was a workshop area in the front foyer that was nearly outdoors, something I’m not used to seeing in Missouri. The indoor areas included their electronics, library, 3d printing, and kitchen area. A nice little back yard allowed for some larger work to get done, like an electronic conversion that is currently in process on that car you can see in the video.

If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely swing by and at least attempt to de-throne [Connor] in Super Smash Bros.

Earthworm robot does what earthworms do

This earthworm robot comes to us from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is made up of mostly soft parts and manages to inch its way along the ground.

The robot’s “skin” is made from a tube of polymer mesh that will hold up to an awful lot of bending and stretching. As with its biological namesake, locomotion is facilitated by circular muscles. In this case muscle wire, when stimulated with electricity, contracts around the mesh casing. By coordinating these contractions the robot is able to inch its way along.

But it’s not just the method of travel that makes this research project interesting. The bot is also extremely resistant to damage. The video after the break shows the device withstanding several whacks from a mallet and being stepped on by the team that created it.

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Painting a wall with light using water as ink

This art installation uses a fantastic concept. The wall can be painted using water as ink which lights up a huge grid of white LEDs. This offers a very wide range of interactive possibilities since water can be applied in so many ways. Grab a paint brush, wet your finger, use a squirt gun, or mist with a spray bottle and the lights will tell you where you hit the wall.

We’re hoping a reader who speaks both French and English might help out by posting a translation as a comment on the prototyping video. In it, [Antonin Fourneau] shows off the various prototypes that led to the final product and we’d love to know what he’s saying. But by seeing the prototypes, then watching the English promo video after the break we can make a pretty good guess.  The boards have a hole that fits the flat-lens LEDs perfectly. This creates a mostly water tight seal to keep the liquid on one side while the leads are safe on the other. The water side has squiggly pads which allow droplets of water to complete an electrical connection.

[Read more...]

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