Mechanical Bird Actually Flies by Flapping its Wings

Flying Bird RC

Turns out you don’t have to be a multi-million dollar corporation like Festo to create a remote controlled, flapping bird robot. [Kazuhiko Kakuta] is a medical Doctor of Allergy, and in his free time he likes to build flying mechanical birds with his son.

It has just over a meter wingspan, weighs 193 grams, and it flies by flapping its wings. The majority of its components are 3D printed. If that’s not impressive enough for you as is, consider this. It it has no sensors, no gyroscopes or anything — it’s all manually controlled by [Kazuhiko].

And this isn’t even the only ornithopter he’s done. He’s also created something out of an anime film, Castle in the Sky. He even sells the designs for one of them, to be printed via Shapeways.

[Read more...]

College Dorm Transforms into High Tech Office

Automatic Desk

College dorms are notoriously tiny; which either forces most students into a life of minimalism, or for [Thomas Hopmans], innovation to overcome the lack of square-footage.

His first step was getting a Murphy bed, which saves tons of space. But he wanted to add a few extra features to his, so instead he decided to make his own! He designed the entire thing in SolidWorks, which might seem like overkill, but he’s an Industrial Design student, and has become quite proficient in the software from his various work internships.

The bed uses pneumatic struts to make lifting and lowering the bed frame easy — the cool part is the mechanism he designed which causes his dual 28″ monitors to pop up from the desk. They’re directly coupled to the bed with a linkage which ensures they’ll never get accidentally crushed by the bed.

He admits he could have just mounted the monitors to the bottom of the bed, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as this.  He estimates the total cost was around $350 for whole thing, which isn’t half bad for a bed… and a desk!

[Read more...]

PCB Drill Press Gets a Microscopic Upgrade

PCB Drill Microscope

If you get into more complicated PCB design, you’ll find the need to drill tiny and accurate holes much more often. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a precise way of doing that? Maybe even something as simple as strapping a $10 USB digital microscope to it?

That was [mlerman's] thought anyway, and from the looks of it, it seems to work quite well! If you already have a PCB drill press then it’s just a matter of installing the microscope opposite the drill — align it to the center point with some cross hairs and boom you’re in business.

But if you don’t yet have a PCB drill, [mlerman's] got you covered there too, as he explains in great detail how to modify a cheap drill press into an inverted PCB drill press.

Inverted PCB Drill Press

Wait, why is it inverted? Besides making more room for the USB microscope to sit, it also ensures the microscope lens doesn’t get covered in the PCB fairy dust that would fall on it if it were in a normal orientation.

[via Embedded-Lab]

Paper Plane Folding Machine Gun is a Mechanical Marvel

Paper Plane Machine Gun

A German man has just finished a very impressive Paper Airplane Machine Gun, or a Papierflieger-Maschinenpistole, which just sounds so much cooler. It actually takes a stack of paper, folds it into paper air planes and shoots them.

The device takes a stack of what looks like post-card size paper in the “clip”, forms them into paper air planes by a series of rollers and folding edges and then launches them out of the end. A cheap electric screwdriver powers the entire drive train, which allows him to shoot around 20 planes per minute (PPM?).

Sadly there’s really not too much information on how it works, nor the files to reproduce it. [Papierfliegerei], as he goes by on YouTube, decided to build this awesome contraption to show off just what 3D printers are capable of these days. He designed the whole thing in 3D CAD and had many of the parts printed off at a 3D printing company called fabberhouse.de, while the rest of the components are off the shelf.

[Read more...]

Acoustic Impulse Marker Tracks Sounds With a Pencil

Acoustic Impulse Marker (aiming device)

Two students at Cornell University have put together a rather curious sound tracking device called an Acoustic Impulse Marker.

[Adam Wrobel] and [Michael Grisanti] study electrical and computer science, and for their final microcontroller class they decided to build this device using the venerable ATmega 1284p.

The system uses a three-microphone array to accurately position sharp noises within 5 degrees of accuracy. The microcontroller detects the “acoustic delay” between the microphones which allows it to identify the location of the sound’s source vector. It does this using an 8-stage analog system which converts the sounds from each microphone into a binary signal, which identifies when each microphone heard the noise. The resultant 3 binary signals are then compared for their time delay, it selects the two closest microphones, and then does a simple angle calculation based on the magnitudes of each to determine the sounds position. [Read more...]

Bed Leveling with a Solenoid Actuator

Printer bed leveling with a solenoid probe
Ah, the woes of printer bed leveling. Unless you have a fancy 3D printer, bed leveling is a tedious task. [Rupin] got tired of messing around with his printer, so he decided to make his very own bed leveling sensor.

The goal was to create a Z-axis probe that works as both an auto-leveling sensor and as an end stop. He originally was trying to design something using a servo motor probe, but ended up chucking the idea since the motor was noisy and calibration was difficult.

He’s since switched over to use a solenoid actuator with an optoisolator to determine the position. The actuator extends an M3 screw which will touch the bed — as the position is adjusted, it is possible to adjust the bed using software for a perfectly level bed, every time.

[Read more...]

Illumaphone Uses Light To Make Music

Light Controlled Musical Instrument

Move aside Theremin,  we have another crazy instrument that relies on its musicians to frantically wave their arms around to produce a beat. This is the Illumaphone.

[Bonnie Eisenman] recently took a course on Electronic Music, and for her final project she was allowed to basically do whatever she wanted — so she chose to create a custom musical instrument. It’s fairly simple on the hardware side, making use of coffee cups, an Arduino Uno, six photo-resistors, some alligator clips and a whole bunch of cardboard — but don’t let the lackluster parts list fool you, it actually works quite well for what it is!

Each coffee cup is a different note, and the amount of light that gets into the cup determines its volume and vibrato. It even auto-calibrates to the ambient light levels when it is first setup! The light level data is interpreted by the Arduino which then sends it to a laptop standing by, which uses a software called ChucK to synthesize the notes for output.

[Read more...]

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