Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.
18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.
[jayesh] wasn’t actually trying to solve any clever problems when we built his homebrew GPS tracker. He just had the hacker mentality and wanted to build something fun and useful while geeking out with electronics and software.
On the hardware side, he started with an Arduino, then added a GPS module for location detection and a GMS/GPRS module for the data uplink to his server over AT&T’s network. The Arduino uses several libraries and plenty of custom code. On the server, he worked up some wizardry with open-source packages and the Google Maps API. All of the source code and hardware details are well-documented. Put together, it’s a GPS tracker that can update a map in real-time. Sure, there are commercial products that do roughly the same thing, but where’s the fun in that? The principles here can also be put to good use in other microcontroller-based projects.
Hackaday’s own [Devlin Thyne] has been working with Adafruit to come up with a way to use the Tweet-a-Watt along with Google Power Meter. Back in March we put out the word that Google had unveiled the API for Power Meter and [Devlin] is the first we’ve heard of to come up with a way to use your own equipment with the service. You can build your own or use Adafruit’s kit and the data pulled from your energy use will be nicely displayed using the big G’s tools. Right now there’s only support for one Tweet-a-Watt but we’d image this will evolve fairly quickly into a much larger house solution. Head over to the Tweet-a-Watt code page to get the source files for this project.
Android, on the iPhone? We’ve covered iPhone Linux before… and if you look back, we mentioned the possibility of porting Android to the iPhone (even way back in 2008!). Well we are proud to announce that The Future is Now! The details are a little slim so far, but the iPhone is seen running a stock Android 1.6 install (Donut), and has support for Wifi, GSM networks, and even uses openiBoot to dual boot to the regular iPhone OS if you aren’t particularly committed. Right now the developers are considering it an Alpha version, and have provided all you need to perform this particular brand of Cult of Apple heresy. One catch though, the developers say that they only have it working on the 2G models, so sorry all you 3G(S) folks (for now). Dont get too down, and keep an eye open, something like this is bound to attract new talent to push the movement.
Anyone out there with a 2G and some free time? We would love to see some users showing off Hackaday on their hacked up iPhone!
Many of the projects we post are so well thought out and engineered, they could hardly be called “hacks”. This one, however, falls neatly into the hack category. [Dave] wanted his very own exercise bike hooked to Google maps. Instead of setting up a control system and writing software to control Google maps, he simply hacked a USB game controller. He wired a magnetic switch directly into the board, where the “up” button is. Then he mounted the switch so that it would be triggered each time he rotated the pedal. Though he only has the forward movement done right now, it would be pretty easy to set up a couple more switches at the base of the handle bar for left and right.
While the experience may not be quite as nice as the more complicated one, aside from head tracking, it isn’t that far off.
[Aki] wanted to do some stationary cycling to get in shape. Unfortunately, his stationary cycle is located in his garage which doesn’t supply much inspiration or amusement. His solution was to build a VR rig so that he could ride around inside google street view. He has rigged a simple sensor to his wheel to determine his speed and he’s using a vuzix VR 920 as a display and orientation sensor. While he notes that it isn’t perfect, or even reliable, we think it is pretty cool. He can go sight-seeing, while getting in shape from his own garage. We have to wonder if he gets a headache after a while though.
Google’s Gmail is a highly viable option for email. With numerous features and options like widgets, a task list, labels, and chat, Gmail has a slight tendency to get overwhelming and might force us to loose focus on what it is really all about: email.
What can make Gmail better? For starters, how about no ads; they are cluttering and distracting. What about getting rid of the widgets and unnecessary features like labels and chat that we think are supposed to make us more productive but really only make us lose our focus to send, read and reply to email? Nobody knows Zen better than [Leo] at Zen Habits. We weren’t surprised that he and his friends (with Firefox and Greasemonkey) have found a way to trim all the unnecessary elements from Gmail and make it into an email powerhouse that focuses on a basic productive email client. The minimalist inbox for Gmail consists of Greasemonkey scripts for:
- Removing gadgets
- Hiding labels, chat and footer
- Removing ads
- Removing stars
- Getting rid of the Gmail logo and searchbar
- Removing menu navigation bar
- Cleaning up and removing unnecessary buttons
To get started focusing on email, and only email, head on over to ZenHabits for a list of associated scripts and what exactly they can do to help you on your road to the minimalist Gmail.