Robotic Player Guitar Rocks Out on Its Own

Back in 1988 [Ben Reardon] walked through the Japanese pavilion at the World Expo held in Brisbane, Australia. He saw a robot playing a classical guitar, and was in awe. Later in his life, he decided to learn guitar, and always thought back to that robot. After going to SIGGRAPH 2014 and being inspired by all the creative makers out there, he realized the technology was here — to build his own Robot Guitar.

He started small though — with a prototype robotic Tambourine. It helped flush out some of the ideas for coding that he would eventually employ on the Robot Guitar. The guitar features both an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, along with six RC servos — one for each string. The biggest challenge with the project was getting the servos mounted just right — stiff, but with adjustment so each pick could be tuned for identical timing. He ended up using aluminum extrusion to mount the servos, three per side in order to leave space for the picks.

Once the mechanical portion was done — onto the coding…

In the end, it ended up being only 460 lines of code. Python and a bit of Bash for the Raspberry Pi — and of course a few sketches for the Arduino. But enough talking about it — let’s hear it!

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Blink Thrice To Let Me In

Now here’s a really cool home hack. [Luis Rodrigues] has automated his garage door to open, simply by flashing his headlights at it.

But wait, doesn’t that mean anyone could break into his house? Nope. At first we thought he had just added some photo-sensors and a bit of computer logic in order to turn a pattern of lights into an output to open the garage, but no, it’s actually specific to his car only. Which is awesome because if anyone ever tried to copy him to break in, all they break into is a very confused state of mind.

You see how it actually works is the headlight output is connected to a control box under the hood of his car. A Moteino (RF Arduino variant) reads the input signal of the headlights flashing three times, and then communicates wirelessly to the garage door in order to open it.

But [Luis] also has a gate outside his property — so if you hold the lights on for a second, both the garage door and the external gate will open as well.

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Hack the Home

Live in Kentucky? Want to invent the next big thing for the kitchen, like the automated ice maker? Well, you’re in luck. GE is hosting a massive hackathon at their microfactory called FirstBuild which is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Unfortunately it looks like pre-registration is already closed.

The concept of FirstBuild is pretty cool. GE has created what they like to call a microfactory for innovating new products in small production runs to flush out good ideas. We’d call it more of a corporate hackerspace with some serious funding. Regardless of their motives, it’s still a cool concept. And they have some awesome toys, er, tools.

The event is being sponsored by lots of big names like Intel, Atmel, TI, Freescale, MakerBot and even Autodesk — and the prizes aren’t too shabby either! Though for the really big prizes you’ll need to stick with us.

We have to wonder — what happens when GE sees an idea they like? Hopefully it results in a sweet job.

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3D Printing Different Colors with a Single Extruder

Let’s be honest, multi-extruder 3D printers don’t work the greatest — even MakerBot decided to get rid of the feature in their latest line of printers. So what are you going to do when you want to print a multi-colored object with your trusty single extruder? Pause the print like a savage and exchange the filament? No, no, it’s much easier than that — well, you’re still going to have to switch the filament.

[Jan Henrik] has put together a simple script in OpenScad to split up 3D files into layers in order to facilitate printing in multiple colors (or even materials). You load in the file, tell it the print height you want to do, export, convert to G-Code, print, rinse, repeat. In between the layers you have time to purge the extruder, remove any excess skirt or support material, and then hit print again. Quite a bit easier than hitting pause and jogging the extruder out of the way (while avoiding plastic dribble coming out of your extruder!).

Meanwhile if your prints get interrupted — or fail a lot — you might be interested in this project by a group of MIT researchers. It’s an add-on for 3D printers that uses a laser scanner to evaluate how much of the part was printed, allowing you to restart a print that failed!

T-1000C: This Time The Chickens Will Be Back

For whatever reason the city [Jenslabs] lives in decided it was a good use of taxpayer money to make some giant twig chickens and put them on the boulevard in front of his house. So he decided to spruce them up a bit with some electronics.

We’re still unsure why they did this, but [Jens] recognized them for what they truly are. T-1000C — the chicken edition. Giant robot chickens sent from the future to keep an eye on [Jens] to make sure he doesn’t stop ChickenNet. Naturally they needed glowing red eyes.

Fully expecting all his hard work to be thrown out eventually, [Jens] built the upgrades out of cheap components. A few LEDs, some transistors, resistors and a LDR (light dependent resistor). That way the eyes only glow at night.  And to waterproof it all, he wrapped it in good ‘ol duct tape.

For more fun Easter hacks, why not add some LEDs to your decorated eggs?

Building Your Own Mini Fridge?

Ever play with a Peltier plate? They’re these really cool components that kind of look like a ceramic sandwich, and when you put power into them, one side gets hot, and one side gets freezing cold! [Joseph Rautenbach] decided he wanted to try making his own mini fridge out of one — which is typically how most modern mini fridges work these days.

The peltier plate he’s using draws 12v at about 3.5 amps — so about 50W — and if you don’t heat sink it properly you could burn it out in a matter of seconds. Peltier plates only care about the temperature differential between the two sides — if you don’t take the heat away from the hot side, it will soon overheat and destroy itself.

[Joe’s] using a styrofoam cooler for the fridge with a pair of computer heat sinks and fans for the peltier plate, and a temperature PID controller he bought off eBay. The external heat sink sucks away the excess heat generated by the peltier plate, and the internal one helps spread cooled air around the inside of the styrofoam cooler. The PID controller allows him to set a preferred temperature to maintain in the box, which will then control the outputs to keep it that way.

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Cutting SMT Stencils with a Laser

Prototyping your own PCBs? At a loss for how to apply your SMT electronics? Well — do you have access to a laser? [Felix] shows us a definitive way to use a laser cutter to engrave SMT stencils with ease.

The real trick here is to engrave — not to cut. Typically if you’re using enough power to cut straight through the plastic, you’re going to get melting and burning of the edges — which won’t work well for a SMT stencil. So what [Felix] found is to engrave at approximately 20-30W @ 400-450mm/s. He’s using Mylar as the material.

The results are pretty awesome — but if you’re without a laser, he also has an excellent tutorial on DIY metal SMT stencils by chemically etching soda can metal!

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