Hyperloops and Robot Cars, A Glimpse into The Future

His mobile blooped at him with one of those noises a company spent money to get. A timer started on the screen as he rushed to put his shoes on. He finished and pushed open his door, running down the stairs two to a bound. By the time he reached the bottom of the stairs he had his backpack slung over both shoulders, which he mentally cursed himself for since he’d just have to take the dang thing off again.

It was morning on January first, and he was due at his parent’s house for a new year’s dinner fifteen hundred miles away. He should have booked a plane weeks ago, but now the Loop was his only option. The Loop didn’t really have peak rates, and while the plane would be a little faster, more direct, and cheaper IF he had remembered to book it in time, the Loop would take him the same distance today. Plus, the seats were comfier. They reclined nicely, and he intended to nap on the way. Hopefully, by the time he got there, the bleariness from last night’s celebration would be undetectable by parental senses.

He locked the door to his apartment complex, a reassuringly square assembly from the seventies, and walked to the sidewalk where a friendly light blue car waited for him. When he got close, his mobile vibrated and made another distressingly cheery noise. The doors of the car swung open opposite of each other to expose the space inside. The car displayed two rows of inward facing bench seats, a panoramic row of windows around the entire perimeter of the vehicle, and… yes, his nose was telling him before his eyes fixed on it, a very unsettling amount of vomit in the center of the floor.

He turned around, a bit squeamish, and took out his mobile. He navigated through the controls. Where is the menu option? What year is it now? Why is this still hard? Three awkward menus deep and he finally found and selected the option to let the dispatch know the car had an issue which made it uninhabitable. The car immediately began to chirp warnings and the doors soon started to close. In a moment, a human somewhere in the city would be looking at a video of the inside of the car, determining him a liar or not. As expected, a few seconds later, the little car began to drive off. The lights on the rear of the car turned from bright red to the yellow amber of headlights as it decided its front would be its back. It drove off to the dispatch center for cleaning and repair. Someone would be eating a 100 dollar cleaning bill today. He didn’t feel sorry for them.

His phone began to vibrate. He picked it up to answer a call from a bored customer service representative who was trying hard to sound earnest. “Sorry for the trouble sir, the ride today will be free. We have another car on its way”

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There Is No Spoon; Automatic Self Stirring Mug

Sometimes it’s helpful to realize the truth that there is no spoon. At least, not with [Ronaldo]’s automatic self-stirring mug. At first it was just a small propeller in the bottom of the mug that turned on by pushing a button in the handle, but this wasn’t as feature-rich as [Ronaldo] hoped it could be, so he decided to see just how deep the automatic beverage-mixing rabbit hole goes.

The first thing to do was to get a microcontroller installed to handle the operation of the motor. The ATtiny13a was perfect for the job since it’s only using one output pin to control the motor, and can be configured to only draw 0.5 microamps in power-saving mode. This ensures a long life for the two AAA batteries that power the microcontroller and the motor.

As far as operation goes, the motor operates in different modes depending on how many times the button in the handle is pushed. It can be on continuously or it can operate at pre-determined intervals for a certain amount of time, making sure to keep the beverage thoroughly mixed for as long as the power lasts. Be sure to check out the video below for a detailed explanation of all of the operating modes. We could certainly see some other possible uses for more interesting beverages as well.

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Custom driver board for paintball gun

custom-driver-circuit-for-paintball

[Gabe’s] been wanting to do some embedded development for years, and his other hobby of playing paintball recently provided him with a test project. He’s been working on a custom driver board for his paintball gun.  Don’t be confused by the name, GCode is a mash-up of his name and the fact that he wrote the code for the project. It has nothing to do with the G Code CNC language.

At first this might seem like a trivial hack, but this Viking paintball gun has some serious velocity and throughput so he needs a reliable control that won’t just start shooting randomly. Another thing that [Gabe] took into consideration was monitoring the loading process to make sure the paintball is full seated before firing. All of this is handled by that tiny little Femtoduino board. it interfaces with the guns hardware using the connector board mounted above it.

There are several videos sprinkled throughout the build log. But we found the officially sanctioned 12.5 balls per second mode and the ridiculously fast auto-fire clips the most interesting. It should come in handy when on the run from paintball shotgun wielding opponents.

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Automating a mechanical typewriter

typewriter-driven-by-automotive-door-lock-motors

Check out all the work going on in the cabinet below this typewriter. The hack which automates a mechanical typewriter  is for an art installation, but wouldn’t it be fun to build one of these to use as a résumé printer? It really makes us wish we had an old typewriter sitting around.

It would have been much easier to patch into an electric typewriter, but we have seen the string trick used on those as well. In this case a loop of string attaches to the the bar under each key, allowing a pull from below to type the character. An automotive door lock actuator ([Harvey Moon] tells us they’re not solenoids) connects to the other end of the string for every key. But then you’ve got to have a way to drive the actuators and that’s where the protoboard full of forty relays seen to the right comes into play. That image, which was taken from the demo video after the break, shows the board being testing. We’d guess more wires are added later to multiplex the array as we can’t figure out how the Arduino manages to drive all forty of them as shown. One thing we are sure about, the completed project looks and sounds amazing!

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Turning 3D shutter glasses into automatic sunglasses

[Dino’s] hack this week seeks to create sunglasses that dim based on the intensity of ambient light. The thought is that this should give you the best light level even with changing brightness like when the sun goes behind a cloud or walking from inside to outside. He started with a pair of 3D shutter glasses. These have lenses that are each a liquid crystal pane. The glasses monitor an IR signal coming from a 3D TV, then alternately black out the lenses so that each eye is seeing a different frame of video to create the stereoscopic effect. In the video after the break he tears down the hardware and builds it back up with his own ambient light sensor circuit.

It only takes 6V to immediately darken one of the LCD panes. The interesting thing is that it takes a few seconds for them to become clear again. It turns out you need to bleed off the voltage in the pane using a resistor in order to have a fast response in both directions. Above you can see the light dependent resistor in the bridge of the frame that is used to trigger the panes. [Dino] shows at the end of his video that they work. But the main protective feature of sunglasses is that they filter out UV rays and he’s not sure if these have any ability to do that or not.

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Cat palace with an automatic heat lamp

[Herpity] was getting tired of his cat manipulating him into turning on a lamp above her bed every time she wanted a nap. She likes the warmth put off by the light bulb but he knew he could do better than that so he built a bed which includes an automatic heat lamp. To help introduce her to the new enclosure he set it on the chair where she normally naps.

The bed has two parts, the lower chamber acts as the sleeping area. There is a false bottom underneath the blanket which acts a platform for the weight sensors which detect when the cat is ready for a nap. A PIC microcontroller monitors two sensors and switches on mains voltage to a heat lamp once the pre-calibrated weight threshold has been reached. The upper part of the enclosure holds all of the electronic components and makes room for the recessed light housing. [Herpity] included an exhaust fan for the upper chamber but it turns out a grating is all he needs to keep the temperature at an acceptable level.

[via Reddit]

Automatic cat feeder made with recycled laminator parts

automatic-cat-feeder

When [Antoine] and his family leave home for a few days, they usually have to find a neighbor who is willing to care for their cats while they are away. Instead of bothering the people who live next door, he decided it would be best to build an automatic cat feeder (Translation) instead.

[Antoine] originally tried building an auger to distribute the food, but it didn’t work as well as he had hoped. He opted to build a dispenser out of wood instead, driving the feeding wheel with an old microwave platter motor. The motor did not have enough torque to do the job, so he dismantled an old laminator, which had a more suitable motor inside.

He built a large hopper (Translation) out of wood and left over acrylic sheeting, which stores the cat food and houses all of the electronics used in the feeder. He controls the amount of food and feeding intervals using a pair of buttons and a small LCD display, all of which are controlled by an Arduino Nano.

While [Antoine] has not yet shared the source code that drives the feeder, he does have a demo video which you can watch below.

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