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A Hexacopter with FPV

hexcopterRetrospective

[Robert's] been hard at work becoming a hexacopter expert over the past two years, and he’s offered up a retrospective of his multi rotor build experience since he first clicked the “buy” button on Hobbyking. He’s come a long way from his first build, which used inexpensive carbon rods and 3D-printed parts for a frame, supported by scrap wood and hot glue. It met its end in his car; exposed to direct sunlight, the 3D-printed components melted.

The latest iteration—seen above on the right—is a complete redesign, with a laser-cut frame that dramatically reduced the overall weight and new “Donkey” motors off Hobbyking. It’s strong enough to lift a 1.6kg (3.5lbs) stuffed animal suspended from a rope! Most recently [Robert] has worked out streaming first-person video after fitting a camera to the hexacopter via a 3D-printed attachment and pairing the experience with Zeiss Cinemizer 3D glasses. He still has some bugs to work out, namely screws loosening from vibrations and adding a HUD to the display so he’ll know when the battery levels are low. You can see the poor teddy bear getting hanged along with some other videos, including the first-person video flight, after the break.

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Talking Bacon Plushie Greets You At The Door

BaconMaterials

The folks over at [gTar] decided to create a motion activated talking bacon plush toy to greet visitors to their office.

They started with a toy called My First Bacon, available from ThinkGeek — it’s a plush toy that exclaims “I’m Bacon!” when you squeeze it. But then they cut him open. We can’t imagine what must have been going through this poor self-aware Bacon’s mind!

The hack itself is quite simple. They are basically replacing the “squeeze” circuit with an IR motion sensor — a PIR sensor from SparkFun to be precise. In addition to that they needed a small inverter IC. This is because the standard talking bacon module requires a positive leading edge signal in order to trigger the audio output, and their PIR sensor drives an output pin low — slap on an inverter IC (they had an old schmitt trigger lying around) and you’re ready to go!

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An AT-ATX: A Different Kind of Power Supply

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[Jedii72] needed a power supply. A quick search online revealed many instructions for building one out of an old ATX power supply, but — he didn’t want just any kind of power supply — he wanted to build an AT-ATX.

He started with a vintage AT-AT toy from the 80′s, and then began cutting it into pieces. Hold for gasps of disbelief. Don’t worry though — it was in poor condition to start with, so it was never really considered a collectible. After cleaning over 30 years of grime and dirt off the toy, he gave it a fresh coat of jet black paint — not exactly canon, but it does look pretty awesome. You know, it would make a pretty awesome Sci-Fi contest entry, don’t you agree? [Read more...]

Open-Source Sentry Gun Plans Promise the Next Level of Office Warfare

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We admit it, we were browsing Reddit when we found this beautifully hacked together Nerf Sentry turret. But are we ever glad we did — as it turns out, it is very similar to the totally awesome, open-source Project Sentry Gun.

We have actually covered a project that used that system before, but it looks like it has evolved a bit more since then. It’s just too cool not to share.

The system itself is quite simple and easy to build. You’re going to need three servo motors, an Arduino, a webcam, and assorted wires, nuts and bolts, etc etc. Grab a copy of the code, slap it all together, and you’re ready for business!

Just take a look at the following video of the Gladiator II Paintball Sentry Gun — we know you’re going to want to build one now.

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DIY Bell For Your Trains of Lionel

[Peter]‘s dad recently rekindled his love for Lionel trains and wanted a bell to keep the crossings safe for O gauge drivers and pedestrians. Using parts he had lying around and a doorbell from the hardware store, [Peter] concocted this DIY train crossing bell at his dad’s request.

The idea was to make the bell chime about once per second. To achieve this, [Peter] used a non-repeating electro-mechanical doorbell that emits a single note on continuous press. You could also roll your own bell with a spring-loaded solenoid and something bell-like for it to strike.

[Peter]‘s three-stage design uses a full-wave bridge rectifier to convert the AC from the train transformer to DC. He drops it to 5V and sends it through a 555 and some resistors to set the frequency and duty cycle. His output section translates the voltage back up to match the input desired by the doorbell.  [Peter] included a 1N4002 as a back EMF snubber to keep feedback from damaging the power MOSFET. Stick around for his demonstration video after the jump.

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Atomic Powered Robots and Records Played With Optics

mike

If you were a child of the 80′s or early 90′s you probably remember Magic Mike. He went by many names, but he always said the same thing “I am the atomic powered robot. Please give my best wishes to everybody!” [Oona's] version of Mike had been malfunctioning for a few years. He’d stopped talking! She decided he needed more input, so she disassembled Mike to reveal the flesh colored plastic box in the center of his chest. This talkbox was used as a sound module in several toys. Before the days of cheap digital playback devices, sounds were recorded in a decidedly analog fashion. [Oona] found that Mike’s voice and sound effects were recorded on a tiny phonograph record in his chest. The phonograph was spun up by an electric motor, but the playback and amplification system was all mechanical, consisting of a needle coupled to a small plastic loudspeaker. The system was very similar to the early phonograph designs.

Mike’s record contained two interwoven spiral tracks. Interwoven tracks is a technique that has been used before, albeit rarely on commercial albums. One track contained Mike’s voice, the other the sound of his laser gun. The track to be played would be chosen at random depending upon where the needle and record stopped after the previous play. The record completely sidetracked [Oona's] repair work. She decided to try to read the record optically. She started with a high resolution image (image link) of the record, and wrote some Perl code to interpolate a spiral around the grooves. The result was rather noisy, and contained quite a bit of crosstalk. [Oona] tried again with laser illumination using a Lego train set. Unfortunately the Lego train / laser system wasn’t smooth enough to get a good image. In the end she used a bit of Gimp magic and was able to pull better audio from her original image. We never did find out if she put poor Mike back together though.

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Dad-Built Rocket Control Module

Like a lot of parents, [justbennett]‘s kids like to play rocket and spaceship command. His kids’ imagination-assigned controls kept shifting from this LEGO to that banana to the dog’s tail, so [justbennett] did what he had to do: make this Dad-built rocket control module for them.

The module supports all of the vital sub-modules required for rocket and spaceship administration. There is a launch status indicator, an acceleration vector resonator (AVR), and a com-link. He used mostly parts on hand, and the Arduino count is zero. He built a NASA-grade Plexiglas enclosure to avoid juice box incidents. The two pieces are connected with aluminum angle bar so that he can make repairs or modifications.

The analogue joystick was a thrift store find. [Justbennett] wired the trigger and thumb buttons up as the AVR which activate a recycled PICAXE 08M project of his. The PICAXE senses the button pushes to flash an LED and play an ascending or descending tone. Long-pressing one button will result in an explosion noise as you might expect.

The launch status indicator is a potentiometer wired to a second PICAXE and three LEDs that light up in sequence. In the future, [justbennett] intends to add haptic feedback with a tiny vibration motor. The com-link packet messaging system is a Radio Shack recording module and two big, tempting buttons. The control module ships with a message from Star Command that explains the controls.