Micro Arduino bot skitters its way into our hearts.

Here’s a quick and easy little robot with a not-so-pint-sized brain. [Dikos] over at grobot, slapped together some gutted micro servos, an Arduino pro mini, H bridge chip, and a solar key-chain charger  to make this little three wheeled cutie. The robot boasts some very simple object avoidance thanks to the Sharp GP2Y0A21YK analog IR distance sensor, and that’s about it. This leaves tons of Arduino Pro left for a whole slew of sensors and robot stuff. We can’t spot it but somewhere under the pro mini is the solar key-chain’s 3.7V Lipo battery. The PCB for the emergency charger also makes a convenient little back panel housing a few LEDs, charging electronics, and a handy spot to hang a bead roller.

The micro bot has a pretty mean starboard list due to the lack of wheel position feedback, after all the micro servos were gutted to just function as simple gear boxes. We might have kept the servo mostly untouched, ditched the H bridge and performed a continuous rotation mod. We even have a guide for it! This is a really cool little bot though, and not terribly expensive if you need a little maze roller… or if you have a ton of money and like swarms of things.

Check out a (silent) video of the robot after the jump, the bot doesn’t hit the table until 1:16.

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All Aluminum Longboard Shows Its Mettle

Reddit user [davvik] made an album to show off his custom all aluminum longboard.  The whole setup weighs about 12lbs, which is not exactly light for a board.  In spite of the added weight [davvik] comments that it is actually pretty responsive. The design is not uncommon but seems to have opted out of the speed holes in favor of structural rigidity, and frankly we love it.

We might not risk wearing sandals on the thing, but [davvik] says for the most part the whole setup has the feel of a wooden longboard, and the added weight makes it fun downhill.  Future plans for the board include machining out the ends, we think this would be a great opportunity for some DIY anodizing!

[via Reddit]

Want a two person self destruct button, but tired of pesky microcontrollers?

We all know that our precious cruisers/warships/assets can not fall into the wrong hands, and what better way to assure that information security than incorporating a self destruct button into the design? While the general premise is simple enough the only real way to make sure some crazy space-virus can’t infect your captain and force him to destroy your ship is to add a two button security system! Wait, what if it’s a computer virus?! Well [Andrea] has it covered with this two hand hand control switch. We guess you could also just use the scheme to flip on a dangerous piece of equipment, since it forces the operator to remove both hands from the machine to operate the buttons, but where is the drama in that?

The buttons are timed using a combination of voltage dividers and caps to activate transistors, one to activate the 555 timer and another to disable the button input after a half second or so. Since it’s all resistor capacitor timing your circuit may require just a bit of tuning (or precision components) to get everything right.  There is a bit of an issue with using two people to trigger the output, as the second button actually operates the output relay directly. If the second button is held it will only remain active until the timer’s output is triggered, but if your second in command gets cold feet and releases the button before the core goes thermo, well, you’ll have an embarrassing jog to the escape pods.

Check the video after the jump to see [Andrea] fiddling around with the switch.

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Gamelatron, a fully robotic indonesian Gamelan orchestra.

Last summer we got to have a little chat with [Aaron Taylor] about his automated Gamelan orchestra, Gamelatron. The robotic orchestra features a large collection of Indonesian gongs,  metallophones, xylophones and cymbals actuated using simple pull solenoids attached to mallets.  Gamelatron’s custom controller activates the various 24V solenoids using MIDI,  the whole thing is essentially a gigantic MIDI instrument that can be played by whatever sequencing device you so please.

[Aaron] has a variety of ways to pump MIDI into the controller including the “Padma Bhuwana”, a wooden box with 16 arcade buttons wired to an Arduino. The Arduino can either activate sequences on a computer running Ableton live or the MIDI sequence can be pumped directly out of the Arduino for a computer free interactive installation. [Aaron] also plugs his Akai MPD32 to the computer for live shows or he can just let the laptop do all the work for non-interactive installations.

The really interesting thing about having 170 or so simply actuated instruments is the ability to spread them out and fill every facet of a space. A great example of this was the Temple of Transition at Burning man 2011 where the gongs and what not else would span multiple floors. Here is a recent Wired magazine video published where [Aaron] gives a quick overview of the setup, or if you are too impatient for the ads check out a few videos of Gamelatron in at burning man and PEX summer festival after the jump. We also included [Aaron]‘s kickstarter video which has a few more details on the setup (as well as irrelevant stuff about the kickstarter project that has since expired). With all the crazy midi instrument hacks we get around here it is not stretch of the imagination to see this has lots of interactive potential.

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Sound reactive Kanye glasses!

[Ch00f] has decided to ring in the new year with some el wire Kanye glasses. Technically the term for the glasses is either “shutter shades” or “slatted sunglasses”, invented around the 80s by [Alain Mikli] and originally given the nickname “Venetian Sunglasses”. Kanye West evidently got his own retro redesign by the original creator and the rest is history. That is enough Wikipedia for now. [Ch00f] has augmented the original design with six multicolor tracks of EL wire mounted to the shutters of the glasses. The EL wire is fed back through several discrete wires around the wearers ear and to two control boxes. As the video shows, the glasses function as a crude V/U meter based on the audio received by the driver circuit.

Instead of the typical microcontroller [Ch00f] (who has some kind of deep seated issues agaist the Arduino) decided to go full blown analog with the entire design. The audio signal is fed through various Op Amp circuits first amplifying the weak microphone signal then filtering with a low pass filter to focus on the bass frequencies. The filtered bass is then sent to an envelope detector to turn the audio wave into a DC voltage signal. Keeping with the Op Amp design [Ch00f] then uses a resistor ladder and six comparator circuits (with TRIACs on their outputs) to tune the trigger voltage levels of the EL bars. The TRIACs get to deal with the 100 or so volts for the EL strips so that [Ch00f] doesn’t have to party with six EL power supplies in his pocket. For those of you counting at home, that is a total of 13 Op Amps.

The results are fantastic, check the video below to see the glasses in action. Reportedly the circuit does freak out and lock all of the TRIACs in an on state, but a covert flip of the power switch fixes the issue for now. [Ch00f] admits that the project was rather rushed due to the impending new year’s eve party, but now that that is all over with we just need to get [Ch00f] to roll out a stereo version. If you need more [ch00f] we have covered a few of his projects before such as his Icebreaker POV toy hack and a ghetto accelerometer using a reflection sensor.

Thanks for the tips [Daniel] and [Sanchoooo], also via [reddit]. Happy new year!

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Hackin’ the junkyard: Electric scrap bike projects

[Brad Graham] wrote in to let us know about his electric bike data dump over at atomiczombie.com, written just for us! Last we heard from [Brad] he was building some serious robots and freakishly tall tallbikes but since the weather has turned for the chilly its time to focus on indoor projects. Using a combination of robot parts, electrical conduit, and OEM bikes for the frames [Brad] takes us through several of his builds and all the various complications trying to drive the (often very powerful) electric motors. The builds range from scrapping motors and controllers to full blown drop in hub motor systems that can combine human and electric power. There is even an electric pusher cargo cart designed for a cooler, because beers are not going to haul themselves around.

Don’t forget to check out the AtomicZombie website for a ton of useful tips to chopping up bikes for your own mutant transpiration projects, we know we will. Thanks [Brad]!

Beginner concepts: We’re gonna let you finish, but first this tutorial on Arduino interrupts

OK, year-old pop culture references aside [Kyle] dropped us a line to show us his tutorial on using interrupts with your Arduino. Given the single core nature of your average Arduino’s AVR you pretty much have two choices for monitoring occasional un-timed inputs: Either check an input at an interval (which risks missing the signal entirely) or set up an interrupt to pause the chip’s normal operation. Obviously working with interrupts saves you tons of clock cycles since you are not polling a pin over and over. [Kyle] plans on a follow up tutorial to cover timer based interrupts, which can come in handy when generating frequencies and stuff.

Looking for more Arduino Basics? How about Basic on an Arduino. Check out our other beginner concepts posts as well if you need to work on your fundamentals.