The Rabbit’s Hole: Creative Reuse and Stop Motion Animation

rabbitshole

The folks down at The Rabbit Hole Hackerspace have been busy lately. They’ve created an amazing stop motion animation short titled “The Rabbit’s Hole”. The three-minute film documents the journey of a white rabbit through several strange lands, including the court of a “hormonally imbalanced queen”, the sewers, a PCB wasteland, and a banana jazz concert. The rest of the video is a behind the scenes view, showing the incredible amount of teamwork that went into the film’s creation.

From set building to final photography, the entire film was shot in one day.  The set was split into 8 pieces. Each piece represented a scene the rabbit would journey through in the final movie. Members of The Rabbit Hole were able to work in parallel, each designing their own section of the set. Once the photography was done, [Whisker] took over for the process of editing and sound design. Just like in Hollywood, post production took much longer than the actual shoot.

The amazing part of the video is that most of the characters and set pieces are created from The Rabbit Hole’s junkbox. Even the star of the show, a 3D printed Rabbit wasn’t immune. Many rabbits were printed for the stop motion animation process. As can be expected, there were a few failed prints. Those prints became Rabbit footed Lamps, Tables, and a rather macabre rabbit’s hand in a tray. Even the camera dolly was welded up from some scrap metal and old roller blade wheels.

We like the way the entire hackerspace was able to come together to create something greater than any one of them could have done alone. This sort of project should be a template for other hackerspaces to follow.

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VFD Display Becomes an Amplifier

radio

Born well into the transistor era of the late 80s, [Fernando] missed out on all the fun you can have with high voltage and vacuum tubes. He wanted to experience this very cool tech, but since you won’t find a tube checker down at the five and dime anymore, where exactly do you get a vacuum tube to play around with? [Fernando]‘s solution was to rip apart the vacuum fluorescent display from an old radio (Google Translate) and use that as a triode.

Inside every VFD is a filament, grid, and cathode – three simple elements also found in the triodes of just about every tube amp ever made. By applying a small voltage to the filament, a larger voltage to the cathode, and sending an audio signal to the grid, this triode amplifies the electrical signal coming from a stereo or guitar.

[Fernando] built his circuit on a breadboard, and with a little tweaking managed to get a fairly respectable amount of gain from parts salvaged from a radio. While using VFDs as amplifiers is nothing new – we’ve seen it a few times before, tube builds are always great to see, and bodged up electronics even more so.

Detect Disguises with a Raspberry Pi

maskdetect

Computer vision based face detection systems are getting better every day. Authorities have been using face detection and criminal databases for several years now. But what if a person being detected is wearing a mask? High quality masks have been making their way out of Hollywood and into the mainstream. It isn’t too far-fetched to expect someone to try to avoid detection using such a mask. To combat this, [Neil] has created a system which detects face masks.

The idea is actually rather simple. The human face has a well-defined heat signature. A mask will not have the same signature. Even when worn for hours, a mask still won’t mimic the infrared signature of the human face. The best tool for this sort of job would be a high resolution thermal imaging camera. These cameras are still relatively expensive, so [Neil] used a Melexis MLX90620 64×8 16×4 array sensor. The Melexis sensor is interfaced to an Arduino nano which then connects to a Raspberry Pi via serial.

The Raspberry Pi uses a Pi camera to acquire an image. OpenCV’s face detection is then used to search for faces. If a face is detected, the data from the Melexis sensor is then brought into play. In [Neil's] proof of concept system, a temperature variance over ambient is all that is needed to detect a real face vs a fake one. As can be seen in the video after the break, the system works rather well. Considering the current climate of government surveillance, we’re both excited and a bit apprehensive to see where this technology will see real world use.

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Transmitting data with a Pi and RTL-SDR

radio

Sometimes the best builds aren’t anything new, but rather combining two well-developed hacks. [Marc] was familiar with RTL-SDR, the $30 USB TV tuner come software defined radio, but was surprised no one had yet combined this cheap radio dongle with the ability to transmit radio from a Raspberry Pi. [Marc] combined these two builds and came up with the cheapest portable radio modem for the Raspberry Pi.

Turning the Raspi into a transmitter isn’t really that hard; it only requires a 20cm wire inserted into a GPIO pin, then toggling this pin at about 100 MHz. This resulting signal can be picked up fifty meters away, and through walls, even.

[Marc] combined this radio transmitter with minimodem, a program that generates audio modem tones at the required baud rate. Data is encoded in this audio stream, sent over the air, and decoded again with an RTL-SDR dongle.

It’s nothing new, per se, but if you’re looking for a short-range, low-bandwidth wireless connection between a computer and a Raspberry Pi, this is most certainly the easiest and cheapest method.

HHH: Delta CNC Mill

hhh-delta-mill

[Dan] wrote in to show off the delta-bot CNC mill which he and some buddies got up and running over the course of about two weeks. The team from Mad Fellows — a hackerspace in Prescott, Arizona — put their heads together and managed to build the thing from mostly parts-on-hand. Would you believe they’re only out-of-pocket about $100 in new materials?

After a bit of modeling work they started scavenging for parts, recovering most of the acrylic stock from dead LCD monitors. But there are many parts like the stepper motors, precision rods, bearings, belts, and pulleys that can’t or shouldn’t be salvaged in order to end up with a reasonably solid machine tool. We like [Dan's] tip that the parts should be screwed together as gluing them would be problematic when it comes time to replace broken components.

You may be wondering about the strength of a delta-bot for milling. The purpose of the build is to make molds for investment casting. The lost-material (we don’t know if it’s wax or something else) is quite easy to machine and you can see in the clip after the jump that the mill does a great job. But they also did some tests on aluminum and apparently it’s not a problem.

The CNC version of HHH is over, so why are we posting this now? We messed up. [Dan] sent in a qualifying entry before the deadline and somehow we let it slip through the cracks. Sorry [Dan]! Better late than never — we’ll get a T-shirt in the mail right away.

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Robots of BarBot 2013

barbot

Here’s an amazing conference we really wish we could have been at — Barbot 2013: a celebration of booze serving robotic masterpieces.

Lucky for us though, the folks over at Evil Mad Scientist did have the opportunity to attend — and they took lots of pictures. There is just so much awesome it is hard to pick our favorite barbot, but the one shown above is definitely a contender. It’s the Schrödinger’s Martini. While the box is closed, the amount of vermouth poured is indeterminate until observed. Classic.

Another one that popped out at us was the 500SW, which became more affectionately known as Dance Dance Intoxication, which apparently judged you based on your dancing skills and then poured you a drink — appropriate to your moves.

Click through and see for yourself, but here’s a couple other related posts from our past, remember the Cooler Master Advanced Beer Delivery System? How about the amazing conveyor belt driven, alcohol dispensing Inebriator? There are just so many ways to have fun with the concept it’s hard not to try your hand at building one at home.

Constructable: Interactive Laser Cutting

constructable-interactive-lasercutting

Do you miss the old days of making things by hand, without the aid of a computer? Do you remember actually drafting drawings by hand? Well, the folks over at the Human-Computer Interaction group from the Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a rather novel idea, combining manual input via laser pointers, to cut designs with a laser cutter. Sound familiar? A few days ago we shared another cool project on Laser Origami from the same people.

So what exactly is it? It’s an interactive drafting table which can produce very precise physical outputs from a rather imprecise input method. By using specific laser pointers, the user can instruct the laser cutter to cut, trace, or etch designs into the workpiece. A camera picks up the laser pointer and then the software cleans it up, by straightening lines, connecting the dots, etc. While only so much can be determined by the included video, it’s pretty impressive to see what the software comes up with while cutting the design… We can’t really imagine the programming behind it!

Between this and PACCAM: Interactive 2D Part Packing, it looks like laser cutting is going to get a whole lot more user friendly! Stick around after the break to see it in action, the results are quite impressive!

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