Alarm clock learns new trick, opening doors

Waking up at 5:30 in the morning. [Mark Stead] didn’t like the idea either when his chickens started crying to be let out. One simple solution obviously is to eat the chickens build an automatic door opener. The mechanism starts out with an old style mechanical alarm clock, add a geared motor with some creative switch work to pull open the door, weather proof the entire thing, and done. [Mark] even modified the setup later to work with vertical doors. No MCU required for either.

Pair this with an automated feeder system, egg gathering and cooking setup, and you’re half way to having your breakfast ready for you when you wake up in the morning – around noon like the rest of us.

[Thanks MS3FGX]

More automated wire cutting

[MC] realized he had forgotten about an order for 2000 cut wires that was now due in a few days. Rather than dropping everything to complete the task, he whipped up this machine to cut the wires for him. A PIC 16F628 board drives a couple of battery-powered drill motors. One of them powers two lawnmower wheels for the feed, and the other turns a pin that squeezes the wire cutters. It’s not as advanced as the cutter/stripper from last year, but it gets the job done.

After the break you can see it does what is intended. The final product took about $80 and 12 hours of his time to build.  [MC's] planned improvements include more accurate wire measurement, plus an LCD and button based user interface.

[Read more...]

Perfect spiral, every time

[Carmine] let us know about his team’s Automated Football Launcher. Their goal was to combine a football launcher with motion tracking, to allow a player to practice running and catching with the perfect throw. Unfortunately, and we’re not quite sure when, they ended up changing out the Jugs machine for an air cannon, which resulted in the use of foam footballs and the loss of throwing factors such as spiral. Somewhat defeating the purpose but we’ll let it slide; only because we know its going to be shooting potatoes eventually.

The project comes together by using two cameras giving distance and color tracking, combined with a rotating platform (and the best use of garden hose ever), an accurate set-top for their launcher. As seen in the video after the jump, it works out quite nicely. [Read more...]

Automated rain barrel watering system

[Dmritard96] built this automated watering system to keep his garden growing while he’s out-of-town. It uses rain barrels, which capture and store rainwater, as a source. These barrels provide very low water pressure so he’s added a battery-powered pump along with a solar array for recharging. Don’t worry, if the rain barrels run dry there’s a float sensor that will switch the system over to city water and stave off those wilted leaves.

A different breed of camera controllers?

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We’ve covered almost every way possible to remotely control a camera setup, from lasers, to Lego, to doorbells, and even having a Nintendo DS run the show. But at the end of the day, what if you want something that’s small, simple, has amazing flexibility for future additions, and most importantly doesn’t take away your favorite game system. [Whiternoise] wrote up an extremely detailed guide on getting an AVR to control your camera. We like the clean look the final product has, and the large amount of possible add-ons is a major plus. What do you look for in a cheap multi-function wireless camera controller?

Automated Paintball Sentry

Reader, [Ben Godding], sends in the video for his senior design team’s automated paintball sentry. The frame is made of plasma cut aluminum. The paintball gun uses a custom hopper mounted remotely from the gun body. It has two webcams offering a 160 degree field of vision, and the image processing is done by a dual core pentium CPU booting windows xp off a compact flash card. The computer interfaces with the 1/4scale RC servos using a PIC24. The paintball sentry can either be configured via a computer GUI when a monitor is available or a baclkit keypad and 4×20 charachter display in the field.

Related: [Jared Bouck]‘s paintball gun turret

Automatic grow light

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We’ve covered automated plant growing before, but that project might be overkill for many situations. Many of us don’t need our plants to have facial expressions either. Sometimes, we just need a little bit of help. This automated grow light is a nice little project that supplies decent light when necessary. You can download the source files on the tutorial. It is currently set to supply an additional 4 hours of light, detecting the low light levels to turn it on.

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