Micro-Robots Are Scary Awesome

microrobots

A team of scientists at SRI international are creating real-life replicators from Star Gate SG1 — micro-robots capable of smart (and scary!) manufacturing. Thousands working in parallel will be able to achieve tasks previously unheard of, in a completely compact and integrated system.

These tiny ant-like robot systems are magnetically controlled and can use tools, move at incredible speeds, and swarm over surfaces. SRI’s vision was “to have an army of ants under your control”. It’s actually been an ongoing project since the 1990′s — but a recent undisclosed chunk of funding from DARPA has helped accelerate the project — giving it a new title of the MicroFactory for Macro Products project.

You have to see the video to believe it. Potential applications for these tiny swarm-bots include precise pick & place manufacturing, micro bio-technology, electronics manufacturing, and even rapid prototyping of high quality parts.

We get shivers just watching them slide around effortlessly on almost any surface.

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Electromagnetic Spiderman Webshooter Railgun / Grappling Hook

spiderman grapple hook rail gun

As technology continues to advance, make-believe props and technology from movies are coming closer and closer to reality. [Patrick Priebe] has managed to put together a working Spiderman Webshooter with the help of electromagnets!

He’s built a tiny coil gun that puts out 100 Joules of energy using a 350V capacitor bank, which straps cleanly to his wrist over top of a Spiderman costume glove. It makes the classic high-pitched hum as it charges, and launches a small barbed brass arrow capable of skewering Styrofoam.

He didn’t stop there though! He’s created a handy little winch using a small high-powered brushless motor with an ESC. A weighted disk acts as a flywheel to increase the pulling power of the fishing line, and he’s built it on a pivot so when you launch it, the fishing line just slips off the end without resistance. To engage, you flip it back perpendicular to the line and turn on the motor.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Doctor Who

doctor-who-logo

What’s a Sci-Fi contest without entries from the longest running sci-fi TV show, Doctor Who?

Sonic Screwdriver Door Lock

Sonic Screwdriver Lock

Ah yes, the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, able to get the Doctor out of almost any jam — with style.

Started this project over a year ago, [Daniel] figured a Sci-Fi contest was a good enough excuse to get around to finishing it.

Using a Raspberry Pi and a microphone, the lock unlocks when the python script detects a sound signature that matches previously recorded Sonic Screwdriver’s hums — meaning friends with novelty Sonic Screwdrivers can join in the fun too — if he lets them.

When the correct sound sample FFT is detected, the door is unlocked using a transistor that is connected to an electronic door strike. When completed you’ll be able to show off your true Whovian nature, and impress your friends!

Head Tracking Augmented Reality Police Box

Head Tracking TardisInspired by the augmented reality TARDIS that is actually bigger on the inside, [Mike] and his wife are working on creating one that doesn’t need a smart phone to enjoy.

Instead it uses head tracking and an LCD inside the door to create the illusion of a cavernous inside! A head tracking Tardis!

A webcam tracks your head’s position, which then changes the perspective of the interior of the TARDIS on the LCD — we’re getting giddy just thinking about it!

EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE!!!

Dalek

While there isn’t too much information on this project, [th3c4rd] is planning on creating a Doctor Who Voice Modulator which will allow you to sound like your favorite villains with the press of a button!

Using a ring modulator for the effect, [th3c4rd] plans on making his own, since commercial ones will run you upwards of $200!

He’s still looking for a team-mate for the project so if you’re interested in helping out, get in touch!

Still haven’t entered the contest? Don’t worry — there’s still time for you to put an awesome Sci-Fi project together to win some crazy cool prizes!

 

 

 

Aluminum LED Matrix Looks Professionally Made

IMG_1073

[David Donley] has wanted to make a LED matrix for a while now, and has decided to finally pull the trigger — after all, that many LEDs certainly aren’t cheap!

He’s using a set of 16 Adafruit 8×8 NeoPixel LED Matrices (almost $600 worth of LEDs) and a BeagleBone Black to control them. To mount the LED matrices he bought a sheet of 6061-T6 aluminum for two purposes — one to act as a giant heatsink, and two, to look cool. All he had to do was drill some holes in the sheet for the connectors, and then use 3M 300LSE double-sided adhesive to stick the NeoPixels to the surface. The result is a border-less display that looks clean and professional.

To power the array he’s using a 5V 90A power supply — at full brightness these LEDs can consume around 325W, or 65A at 5V!  Taking notes from the opensource LEDscape code on GitHub he’s made his own software to control the display — stick around after the break to see it in action.

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Using Public Data to Make Laser Cut Maps

laser cut maps

If you have access to a laser cutter you’re going to want to take a look at this brilliant tutorial. [Steven Smethurst] has figured out how to extract public map data and turn it into a file ready to be laser cut onto your choice of material.

In his example he’s using Vancouver’s Open Data Catalog to build his map using the coastal and public street data. To do this he’s using a program called TileMill which you can get for free from MapBox — it’s a great piece of software for designing your own interactive maps — and the best part is, you can import data from a wide variety of sources, such as Vancouver’s Open Data!

You can import the shape (.SHP) files from the Open Data Catalog and add them as layers into TileMill. From there you can manipulate your map, adjust the detail, and then import as a .SVG or .DXF file ready for laser cutting.

In addition to the Instructable on how to do this, he’s also recorded an in-depth video tutorial which you can check out after the break.

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VoLumen — The Most Advanced Persistence of Vision Display Yet

volumetric

Whoa. We’re just blown away by this new project by [Maximilian Mali] and [Sebastian Haushofer]. It’s a stacked Persistance of Vision display, with 9 layers — effectively creating a Volumetric 3D POV Display.

We recently shared one of [Maximilian's] other projects, The Ripper CNC Machine. As it turns out, the reason he built The Ripper was to aid in the manufacture of his VoLumen project. He’s been designing these Volumetric 3D displays for about 3 years now, with the first iteration called the viSio, capable of 40 fps 3D video without the need for any 3D glasses.

The new and improved VoLumen features 34 micro-controllers, each with 512MB flash memory for storing animation data. In total there are 1024 high power RGB LEDs, which draw a whopping 200W at full load, making it bright, crisp and visible even in direct sunlight. It’s an incredible project that [Maximilian] started when he was only 16 years old.

You have to see the video of this thing in action.

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The Raspberry Eye Sees All

rasp pi eyes

[Roman Rolinsky] wanted to try to do something interesting with his Raspberry Pi and a 2.8″ LCD he had laying about… So he made a rather bulky version of Google Glass.

We’ve seen a few examples of home brew Google Glass before, or even real-life subtitle glasses used for translation on the fly, but what we really like about [Roman's] project (besides the fact he hosted it on our very own awesome project hosting site) is that he’s put together the projection system himself out of basic components.

To create the HUD, he’s using a semi-transparent mirror which he took out of an Eye of Horus Beamsplitter game – which is a really cool real-life puzzle board game like those games where you have to reflect the laser to solve a puzzle. He’s then using a 3x Fresnel magnification lens which is placed over top of his 2.8″ LCD in a 3D printed enclosure. This magnifies and reflects the image onto the mirror which is placed directly over his eye, allowing for a see through display.

We’ve asked for a demonstration video, so if you follow his project you’ll get all the future updates of his Raspberry Eye.