Making an overhead camera gantry, take 2

Last week we saw [Todd]‘s solution to getting a tripod out-of-the-way when filming a few DIY videos. It’s an overhead camera gantry that allows him to move a camera around his garage workshop without a tripod getting in the way. This weekend, he’s back with a new and improved version. It’s a vast improvement over his Mk 1 gantry system, and it much simpler to build, to boot.

[Todd]‘s new and improved overhead camera gantry builds is a vast improvement on his previous build. In the original build, [Todd] used only one cross piece between the overhead garage door tracks, and the carriage suspending the tripod overhead was extremely clunky.

Version 2 of [Todd]‘s camera gantry again makes use of unused garage door tracks to suspend a tripod above his workshop. This time, though, he’s using two rails between these garage door tracks making pushing the tripod around his workshop much easier – even when not pushing it from the middle.

To move the camera across the workspace, [Todd] did away with the square tube between the garage door tracks and used another set of garage door tracks. It’s a beautiful system that moves very, very smoothly between his workbench and welding station, perfect for making a few high-quality DIY videos.

You can check out [Todd]‘s build video after the break.

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EVE radio breakout board for the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is an excellent tool to build the ‘Internet of things’ we’ve been hearing about, but there’s still the issue of connecting the Raspi to other devices. The EVE Alpha – a breakout board for several wireless radio modules for the Raspberry Pi – hopes to change that with their Kickstarter campaign.

The idea behind the EVE is to provide a link between low-power radio modules found in a few of the microcontroller projects we’ve seen and the Raspberry Pi. It does this by simply serving as a breakout board, taking the GPIO pins on the Raspi and connecting them to solder pads for a few of the many radio modules currently available.

Already the EVE supports the RFM12B wireless tranciever, a Z-Wave module, 868-915Mhz SRF modules, and has a breakout for an XBee module, allowing the EVE to communicate using one of the many different XBee boards. There’s also a battery-backed real-time clock and temperature sensor thrown in for good measure making this board the perfect building block for an outdoor weather station or solar array.

It’s an awesome idea, and if you already have a few radio modules, incredibly cheap; just the PCB is only £6, and a board with all the SMD components is only £20.

Wii U to be released this weekend, Wii U GamePad to be torn apart on workbenches across the land

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, Nintendo will be releasing their next-gen console this weekend. It’s called the Wii U, and one of the most interesting features is the Wii U GamePad – the first controller to feature a full-color video screen right between the analog sticks.

Needless to say, we’re not terribly interested in the Wii U. The GamePad, though, looks perfect for robot controllers, FPV aerial vehicles, and a whole slew of projects that require some remote control.

The hardware for the GamePad is fairly impressive; apart from D pads and analog sticks, the new Wii Controller features a front-facing camera, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, 6.2 inch 854×480 touchscreen display, and an extension port housing an I2C bus for all your old Wii peripherals.

Other than a stock feature list, we have no idea how the Wii U will be able to transmit video to the GamePad. It might be WiFi, allowing you to connect all your projects to a wireless network and control them without a whole lot of hardware.

We’ll keep you posted on the developments of hacking the Wii U GamePad. Hopefully we’ll all have an awesome remote control by next year.

Forever.fm: Infinite Beat-matched Music

Forever.fm is [Peter]‘s combination of SoundCloud and The Echo Nest that plays a continuous stream of beat-matched music. The result is a web radio station that just keeps playing.

[Peter] provided a great write up on how he built the app. The server side is Python, using the Tornado web server and Tornadio2 + Socket.IO for handling live updates in the client. To deal with the challenge of streaming audio, he wrote a LAME interface for Python that handles encoding the raw, beat-matched audio into MP3 blocks. These blocks are queued up and sent out to the client by the web server.

Another challenge was choosing songs. Forever.fm takes the “hottest” songs from SoundCloud and creates a graph. Then it finds the shortest path to traverse the entire graph: a Travelling Salesman Problem. The solution used by Forever.fm finds an iterative approximation, then uses that to make a list of tracks. Of course, the resulting music is going to be whatever’s hot on SoundCloud. This may, or may not, match your personal tastes.

There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and [Peter] has open-sourced the code on his github if you’re interested in checking out the details.

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