Hackaday Links: October 31st, 2012

LED Marquee Pumpkin

Here’s an LED marquee as the mouth of a Jack-o’-lantern which [Mike Skoczen] made. This comes hot on the heels of that playable Tetris Pumpkin. [Thanks Jacob]

Arduino-powered robot costume

This is a sideways view of the Arduino-powered costume [Dan] and his wife made for their son. It has lights, buttons, a character display, and makes noise.

Cylon Centurion from a pumpkin

Stuck inside because of the hurricane, [Shawn] and his girlfriend carved this Cylon Centurion pumpkin complete with lights and sound.

8×8 LED costume ‘face’

[Matthew] built this helmet which features an 8×8 RGB LED matrix as the face. He calls it the digital reaper. You can see him testing the electronics in this clip.

Makerspace costume roundup

[Jeff] wrote in to tell us about the Halloween preparations at the Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Here we have a Ghost Busters Proton Pack, weeping angel wings from Dr. Who, and an Arc Reactor from Ironman.

OLPC tablet distribution proves concepts laid out in ‘The Diamond Age’

We don’t remember hearing about the One Laptop Per Child initiative distributing tablet computers but apparently a couple of shipments were distributed to rural communities in Ethiopia. The problem one might think of in this scenario is that the literacy rate in the two test villages was basically zero. But that’s exactly the population targeted with thr technology. The tablets were loaded with a software package called Nell. It was designed to guide a child in self learning by telling them engaging stories that include teachable moments. If you check out the white paper (PDF) you’ll find it’s pretty much the exact same teaching technique that [Neal Stephenson] wrote about in his book The Diamond Age. But keep reading that paper and you’ll see that this is because the researchers took their inspiration from that very novel.

Well the results are in and apparently [Neal] knows exactly what he is talking about. Not only did the children learn from the software, but within five months they were hacking the device (which runs Android) to get the disabled camera working.

[Thanks Alexander via Dvice]

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot costumes make party conversation awkward

Don’t get us wrong, we love these Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot costumes. But as with that Samus Helmet it must make party conversation a bit weird. And how do you hold on to your beer? But you’ve got to commend [EyeHeartInk] and his friend for their commitment. Not only did they wear them to the party, but they spent two months building the things.

Pretty much everything was made from cardboard. All of it was hand cut with a box cutter and a hobby knife. Duct tape and glue were the adhesives of choice, and according to this thread a total of fifteen rolls of tape were used. The half spheres on the side of either helmet were molded from expanding spray foam inside a ping-pong ball which had been lopped in half. And of course there are a pair of LEDs for the eyes of each bot.

We usually try to link to other articles that are related, but it doesn’t look like we’ve seen this concept before So you’ll have to settle for this non-Halloween wristwatch controlled robot boxing game.

 

Cheap electronic dartboard hacked to use Android for scoring

[Dan] took a $13 electronic dartboard and made it work with an Android device. The idea behind it is that these cheap electronic models feature a very sparse display. At this price that doesn’t surprise us. He wanted to add the features you’d find on a coin-op model like the ones found in bars. So he added some hardware that lets him use Android as the scoreboard.

To do this all he needs is the ability to detect when a dart has hit the board and what value was registered. The board is really nothing more than a 62-button input device organized as an 8×8 matrix. He soldered jumpers between the pins and a DIP socket. After the work was done he programmed his Cordium BASIC microcontroller, a 28-pin chip, and dropped it right in. It communicates with a serial Bluetooth module which provides the connectivity with an Android phone. You can see a very quick clip of the app embedded after the break.

This would be just perfect if you’re using an Android set-top-box on a TV near the dart board.

[Read more...]

Can you believe this Portal gun was built from scratch?

This Portal gun will really make [aNoodleJMC's] costume pop this year. He actually built the video game weapon replica from scratch. It even includes some electronics to light it up blue or orange depending on which portal he’s planning to fire at an available flat surface.

There’s a lot of parts that went into the project, but by far our favorite one on the list is an acrylic toilet plunger. Its handle serves as a light pipe for the colored LEDs and can be seen above as a cloudy rod at the center of the clear barrel. A 4″ and 3″ PVC pipe helped to form the rest of the barrel, along with a 3″ clear acrylic pipe for the transparent areas. The bulbous parts of the body were sculpted from florist’s foam. Once he had all of the parts roughed out it’s obvious that [aNoodleJMC] spent a ton of time filling problem areas with Bondo, sanding everything smooth, and giving it a paint job he can be proud of. We hope he didn’t forget to include GLaDOS in the fun.

We actually just bought our Portal gun. But that’s because we had the big plans of adding the ability to levitate objects.

[vai Reddit]

Fembot costume includes smoking nipples

The greatest of Halloween costumes start with an idea, but they’ve also got to have strong execution to pull the whole thing off. This year  [Johanna Jenkins] decided to put together a Fembot Halloween costume which is a wonderful example of this concept. Going as a Fembot from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery sounds like a lot of fun right off the bat, but a bit of work at the sewing machine and access to a wig shop in Hollywood really brought it to the next level. But [Johanna] didn’t stop at that. The Fembots have machine guns in their bras. After they’ve torn through all of their ammo they’re left with smoking barrels as nipples, and that final touch even made it into the costume. In the video after the break you can see [Johanna] showing off the small battery operated fog system she piped into the costume bra.

[Read more...]

Computer tracking of billiard balls

The folks at the London-based startup GoCardless have a pool table at their office. Being the techies they are, they decided to build a system that automatically scores games. The results, while not fully complete, are still pretty impressive for something whipped up during a 48 hour hackathon.

The automated score keeper uses a webcam duct taped to the ceiling right above the center of the pool table, The balls – red and yellow balls replace the rainbow of solids and stripes to make things easier – are found using OpenCV.

This build isn’t quite finished yet. The people at GoCardless are looking to improve the accuracy of their setup by using a camera with a higher frame rate and possibly moving on to physics simulation to predict where the balls should be. If these guys get the time, they could add something like augmented reality pool table to improve shot accuracy.

Vidia after the break.

[Read more...]

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