Mini Go Kart Built In A Day


The crew at the MIT student-run shop MITERS love their go karts, and when sitting around a pile of parts in the middle of the night on Saturday, there was only one thing to do: build a mini electric go kart in a day.

The parts for this were all taken from the jumble of parts lying around the shop: a few scooter wheels, some aluminum tubing, a 1×4″ piece of extrusion, a huge motor, and a ton of A123 cells were enough to ge tthe project started. They began by bolting the back wheel and motor to the aluminum extrusion and machining a simple steering mechanism.

The real fun began when they realized they could fill the aluminum extrusion with batteries, creating a 6S5P pack with the balance connectors and – after a few tries – the proper insulation. Combine all the parts with a Kelly motor controller and an old Brooks saddle, and the MITERS have a fairly light mini go kart that can cruise around the halls at about 15mph. Not much, but it was built in a single sleep-deprived night.

Video of the kart in action below.

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DIY Ceiling Rack Keeps your Bikes Out of the Way

bikke lift

Need to optimize some space in your garage? Why not build a ceiling mounted winch-assisted bicycle rack!

[Mathieu] already has a rather spacious garage, but wanted to make it even more organized. He built the bicycle rack out of 1″ square aluminum tubing, and it’s all bolted together (no welding required!). The bikes sit in aluminum U-channels to be secured in place. The entire rack is hinged off of the back wall, and a pulley system using a little ATV winch raises and lowers the rack for easy access to the bikes.

It’s currently powered off a 12V motorcycle battery, which he plans to add a trickle charger to — that being said, it has lasted for more than 6 months and he still hasn’t had to recharge it! He threw together a little control circuit featuring two relays (up and down) and a 2 channel remote control. The motor is a little slow, but it does the job quite well. If he wanted to get it going a bit faster, he could probably double the voltage to allow for a quicker movement — since it’s only on for short periods of time it should be okay. Seeing hacks like this has us wondering just how many winch-driven extras you could build into a single abode.

Check out the following video of it in action!

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Replacing a Tire Valve Stem Without Special Tools!


Your car’s tire is losing air from the valve stem — what do you do? Well you could take it to the mechanic and pay upwards of $30 to replace it… or you could try this MacGyver style approach!

Not wanting to take his car to the shop, [David] tried several ways of knocking the tire off its bead. Hitting it with a sledge hammer… Jumping on it… throwing it against the ground… In the end, he realized leverage would be his friend! He’s constructed a tool out of a few pieces of wood — simply place it on the tire near the valve stem, and then drive up the wood with your car. The weight of the car easily compresses the tire leaving you just enough room to pull the tire valve stem out, and put a new one in.

It’s pretty much the same method shops use, they just have a machine to do it for them — because of this, so we don’t think this would hurt your tire. As always though, we’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments! Stick around for the video to see [David's] process.

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Garage Clicker Dashboard Integration


Vehicles with the highest level of trim package sometimes come with the ability to learn garage door opener codes. Less costly offerings lack that feature as well as others bells and whistles, leaving blank plates where fancy buttons would have been. [JiggMcFigg] makes the best of this situation by gutting his garage remote and hiding it behind a button blank.

One thing that raised an eyebrow is the coin cell battery holder you can make out on the size-check image shown to the left. But really, these remotes must drain their batteries at a rate nearly the same as an unused battery so why complicate the hack? A holder was soldered onto the board, and jumper wires were soldered to the push button added to the blank plate. This type of utilitarian button is much more satisfying to use than those fancy-pants silk-screen molded-plastic types anyway!

Of course you could go the other way with this hack. [JiggMcFigg] started out with the problem of losing the remotes in the mess of the car. You could retrofit it with a huge button to make it harder to misplace.

Self-Balancing Uni-board?


There are skateboards, long boards, and snowboards. This was originally a snowboard, but we’re not quite sure how to classify it now… Introducing the Segbot Snowboard.

[Steve Ghertner] has been playing around with accelerometers lately and decided to try making something practical. He’s taken a snowboard and turned it into a two-wheeled, segway-like balancing board. The two parallel wheels are powered individually by 12V scooter motors. An Arduino Uno takes care of processing the data from a MPU-6050, which is a triple axis gyro and accelerometer.

You can control the board by leaning, or  by using a small two-button remote. He hasn’t taken it very far out of the lab yet, but plans to after cleaning up the programming a bit.

Stick around for the following video where he explains it at his local hackerspace in Nashville, the Middle TN Robotic Arts Society where members strive to “Control Them (robots) Before They Control You!”

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The Beginning of a DIY Vehicle Night Vision System

night vision car

[Stephen] has just shared with us the current progress of his night vision vehicle system, and it’s looking quite promising!

The idea of the project is to provide the driver with a high contrast image of the road, pedestrians and any other obstacles that may not be immediately visible with headlights. It’s actually becoming a feature on many luxury cars including BMW, Audi, GM and Honda. This is what inspired [Stephen] to try making his own.

The current system consists of an infrared camera, two powerful IR light spot lights, and a dashboard LCD screen to view it. It may be considered “not a hack” by some of our more exuberant readers, but [Stephen] does such a great job explaining his future plans for it, which include object recognition using OpenCV, so we felt it was more than worth a share, even at this point.

You see, the idea of vehicle night vision is not to constantly watch a little screen instead of the road — it’s designed to be there when you need it — and to let you know when you need it, [Stephen's] planning on adding a Raspberry Pi to the mix running OpenCV to detect any anomalies on the road that could be of concern. We shudder at the amount of  training a system like that might need — well, depending on the complexity of this image recognition.

Anyway, stick around after the break to hear [Stephen] explain it himself — it is a long video, but if you want to skip to the action there are clips of it on the road at 1:53 and 26:52.

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S.A.M. The Safety Attention Monitor


Last term’s project at Chico State University hopes to reduce driver distraction by alerting you when it notices you aren’t paying attention (to the road!).

The team designed SAM using OpenCV to track your face in order to recognize when you aren’t watching the road. It alerts you through a variety of audible beeps and LED lights, and is programmed to only alert you after set time values — i.e. it’s not going to go off when you’re checking your blind spot, unless you’ve been checking it for over a certain length of time. It also has a silence button you can press for situations like looking around while you are parked.

The proof of concept device was built using a Raspberry Pi, the PiCam, and a breadboard to accommodate some manual controls, the buzzer, and LEDs. It also continuously records video of you on a 30 second loop, and in the event of an accident, it saves all the video — perhaps proving it was your fault. Can you imagine if all cars had this installed? On the plus side you wouldn’t have to argue with insurance companies — but if it really was your fault, well then you’re straight out of luck.