Stubby, The Adorable And Easy To Build Hexapod

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A while back, we had a sci-fi contest on Hackaday.io. Inspired by the replicators in Stargate SG-1, [The Big One] and a few other folk decided a remote-controlled hexapod would be a great build. The contest is long over, but that doesn’t mean development stopped. Now Stubby, the replicator-inspired hexapod is complete and he looks awesome.

The first two versions suffered from underpowered servos and complex mechanics. Third time’s the charm, and version three is a lightweight robot with pretty simple mechanics able to translate and rotate along the XYZ axes. Stubby only weights about 600 grams, batteries included, so he’s surprisingly nimble as well.

The frame of the hexapod is designed to be cut with a scroll saw, much to the chagrin of anyone without a CNC machine. There are three 9g servos per leg, all controlled with a custom board featuring an ATMega1284p and an XBee interface to an old Playstation controller.

Video of Stubby below, and of course all the sources and files are available on the project site.

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THP Entry: A Wireless Bootloaders And Linux Build Systems

radioWith The Hackaday Prize, you’re not just limited to one entry. Of course it would be better to devote your time and efforts to only one project if you’re competing for a trip to space, but if you’re [Necromant], you might be working on two highly related project that are both good enough for The Hackaday Prize

[Necromant]‘s first project is rf24boot, an over-the-air bootloader using the very cheap and very popular NRF24L01 2.4GHz wireless module. There have been many, many projects that add wireless bootloading to microcontrollers using XBees and the NRF24, but [Necromant] is doing something different with this project: he’s building in support for a wide variety of microcontrollers, that include the STM32, MSP430, PIC32, 8051, and of course AVR chips for that ever so popular Arduino compatibility.

The support of multiple microcontroller platforms is a result of [Necromant]‘s other entry to The Hackaday Prize, Antares, the Linux kernel-like build system for microcontrollers. The idea behind Antares is to separate the writing of code from microcontrollers away from compiling and burning. Think of it as a giant makefile on steroids that works with everything, that also includes a few libraries for common projects.

Supported platforms for Antares include the popular aforementioned targets, and allow you to use any IDE you could possibly desire. emacs? Sure. Eclipse? Right on. Arduino? You’re a masochist. For a really great overview of Antares you can check out the Readme, or the post we did a year or so ago.

It’s all very cool stuff, and very easy to see the potential of what [Necromant]‘s working on. Combining the two together, it’s almost a complete system for developing that Internet of Things we’ve been hearing about – uploading code to simple AVRs for simple sensors, and deploying significantly more complex code for your ARM-powered dishwasher or microwave.

Seeker Hats Find Each other With Directional LEDs

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[John Petersen] created a very cool piece of wearable technology for him and his son. Eager to explore the Maker Fair, but not eager to lose his son in the crowds, he’s come up with the Seeker Hat — a kind of auto-locating GPS hat which always points towards the other.

It’s a clever setup that makes use of a GPS module, a microprocessor, a xBee wireless chip, a compass, and LEDs to light the way. The GPS determines the hat’s approximate location, the xBee transmits it to the other hat, the digital compasses determine the directions of both hats, and the microprocessor figures out the azimuth, resulting in a difference in trajectory of the two — a strip of LEDs, like landing lights, direct you in the right direction.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: I Am Iron Man

Back when Iron Man 2 and The Avengers were out in theaters, the Hackaday tip line couldn’t go a week without an arc reactor build being submitted. In keeping with the Internet’s fascination with blinkey glowey things, we expected a huge influx of arc reactors for our Sci-Fi contest. We were pleasantly surprised: all the submissions from the Marvel universe are top-notch, and the two Iron Man entries we have are simply amazing.

Motorized Helmet

1[James Bruton] is working on a replica of the Iron Man movie helmet, complete with a motorized face plate, light up eyes, and an OLED display for a reasonable facsimile of the horribly unrealistic on-screen heads-up display.

While a few bits and bobs of the mechanics were 3D printed, [James] is making the majority of the helmet just as how the on-screen version was made. The helmet was first carved out of sheet foam, then molded and cast into very strong rigid fiberglass. [James] put up a great tutorial series on how he did this and other parts of his Iron Man costume.

Anamatronic

2The other Iron Man costume from [jeromekelty] and [Greg Hatter] doesn’t stop at just the helmet. They’re doing everything: shoulder-mounted rocket pods, hip pods, forearm missiles, back flaps, and boots with a satisfying electronic kerthunk sounding with every step.

Inside the custom molded suit are at least four Arduinos, four XBees, an Adafruit WaveShield, and at least 20 servos for all of the Iron Man suit components. The mechanics are actuated via RFID with a tag in a glove; when the wearer waves their hand over some part of the suit, one of the mechanical features are activated.

It’s impressive to say the least, and one of the best documented projects we’ve seen in the Sci-Fi contest.

There’s still time to put together your own Sci-Fi project for the contest. Grab your soldering iron and fiberglass resin, because there’s some seriously great prizes up for grabs.

 

Hackaday Links: April 6, 2014

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Back in September we saw this awesomesauce wristwatch. Well, [Zak] is now kitting it up. Learn more about the current version, or order one. [Thanks Petr]

Home automation is from the future, right? Well at [boltzmann138's] house it’s actually from The Next Generation. His home automation dashboard is based on the LCARS interface; he hit the mark perfectly! Anyone thinking what we’re thinking? This should be entered in the Hackaday Sci-Fi Contest, right? [via Adafruit]

PCB fab can vary greatly depending on board size, number of layers, number of copies, and turn time. PCBShopper will perform a meta-search and let you know what all of your options are. We ran a couple of tests and like what we saw. But we haven’t verified the information is all good so do leave a note about your own experience with the site in the comments below. [via Galactic Studios]

We recently mentioned our own woes about acquiring BeagleBone Black boards. It looks like an authorized clone board is poised to enter the market.

Speaking of the BBB, check out this wireless remote wireless sensor hack which [Chirag Nagpal] is interfacing with the BBB.

We haven’t tried to set up any long-range microwave communications systems. Neither has [Kenneth Finnegan] but that didn’t stop him from giving it a whirl. He’s using Nanobridge M5 hardware to help set up a system for a triathlon happening near him.

The Auto Parking Mecanum Robot

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A while back, Hackaday visited the Clark Magnet School in Glendale, California to sneak a peek on their STEM-focused curriculum, FIRST robotics club, awesome A/V classroom, and a shop that puts most hackerspaces to shame. We saw a few builds while we were there, but [Jack]‘s auto parking mecanum robot was in a class by itself. It deserves its own Hackaday post, and now that [Jack] is on Hackaday Projects, he’s sharing all the details.

The most impressive aspect of [Jack]‘s build is the mecanum wheels; the side plates for the wheels were designed by [Jack] himself and machined on his school’s Haas mill. When the plates came out of the mill they were flat, and each of the fifteen little tabs on the plates needed to be bent at a 45 degree angle. With a CNC jig and a lot of time on his hands, [Jack] bent the tabs for all eight plates.

In addition to the plates, the rollers were custom made from non-expandable polyurethane poured into a CNC milled mold. That’s a one-part mold; [Jack] needed to make sixty of these little parts, one at a time.

The electronics are built around an Arduino Mega communicating with a joystick via an XBee. [Jack] found the relays in the off-the-shelf motor board couldn’t handle the current, so he replaced them with much, much larger ones in a hack job we’d be proud to call our own handiwork. There’s also a little bit of code that allows this motorized cart to pull off the best parallel parking job anyone could ever wish for. You can see that and a few videos of the construction below.

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Hacking Window Blinds to Interface with Home Automation System

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Home automation is great, but what happens when you start mixing different systems around the house together? Follow [Bithead's] journey of interfacing with his motorized blinds!

After having his original blinds fall apart many times, [Bithead] and his wife decided to invest in some new, motorized blinds — but [Bithead] wanted to add it to his home automation setup… Unfortunately, commercial offerings for that are very expensive, so [Bithead] knew he’d have to figure out how to interface with the system manually.

The problem is, companies don’t typically advertise the kind of in depth information us hackers would love to know about products, so [Bithead] started checking out store showrooms. Salespeople didn’t quite understand his focused attention on the control boxes!

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