Baby’s First Hands-Free Stroller

So you’ve had your first child. Congratulations; your life will never be the same again. [Dusan] was noticing how the introduction of his children into his life altered it by giving him less time for his hobbies in his home laboratory, and decided to incorporate his children into his hacks. The first one to roll out of his lab is a remote-controlled baby stroller.

After some engineering-style measurements (lots of rounding and estimating), [Dusan] found two motors to drive each of the back wheels on a custom stroller frame. He created a set of wooden gears to transfer power from the specialized motors to the wheels. After some batteries and an Arduino were installed, the stroller was ready to get on the road. At this point, though, [Dusan] had a problem. He had failed to consider the fact that children grow, and the added weight of the child was now too much for his stroller. After some adjustments were made (using a lighter stroller frame), the stroller was eventually able to push his kid around without any problems.

This is an interesting hack that we’re not sure has much utility other than the enjoyment that came from creating it. Although [Dusan]’s kid certainly seems to enjoy cruising around in it within a close distance to its operator. Be sure to check out the video of it in operation below, and don’t forget that babies are a great way to persuade your significant other that you need more tools in your work bench, like a CNC machine for example.

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Pandaphone is a DIY Baby Toy

[Tyler] was looking for a gift for his friend’s one year old son. Searching through the shelves in the toy store, [Tyler] realized that most toys for children this age are just boxes of plastic that flash lights and make sound. Something that he should be able to make himself with relative ease. After spending a bit of time in the shop, [Tyler] came up with the Pandaphone.

The enclosure is made from a piece of 2×4 lumber. He cut that piece into three thinner pieces of wood. The top piece has two holes cut out to allow for an ultrasonic sensor to poke out. The middle piece has a cavity carved out using a band saw. This would leave room to store the electronics. The bottom piece acts as a cover to hide the insides.

The circuit uses an ATtiny85. The program watches the ultrasonic PING sensor for a change in distance. It then plays an audio tone out of a small speaker, which changes pitch based on the distance detected. The result is a pitch that is lower when your hand is close to the sensor, but higher when your hand is farther away. The case was painted with the image of a panda on the front, hence the name, “Pandaphone”. Based on the video below, it looks like the recipient is enjoying it! Continue reading “Pandaphone is a DIY Baby Toy”

Baby’s Room Gets a Palace with this CNC Castle Decoration

castle decoration

[Vegard] and his wife were expecting a baby girl, and decided to build a castle for their new daughter. As a prototyping geek with his own CNC machine in his apartment, he decided to take to Google Sketchup to design this well-crafted castle decoration for his daughter’s room.

The first challenge was figuring out what the castle would look like. [Vegard] had never been to Disney Land or World, and so had never actually seen any of the fairy-tale castles in real life. After experimenting with some paper versions, he settled on a design which incorporates multiple layers and can house lights within them.

The next step was to cut the final version on the CNC machine, then sand and paint the parts. After figuring out a way to mount the castle to the wall, some LEDs were added for effect, driven by an Arduino. The final version looks pretty good!

Hacking your kids’ room is great fun, and you get to keep making new stuff to remain age appropriate. We bet [Vegard] can’t wait until she’s old enough to enjoy a marble-run that wraps the entire room. In the mean time he can work on a classic robot stroller.

Fail of the Week: Automatic Baby Rocker

fotw-baby-bouncer

The art of hacking requires you to straddle many different types of engineering. In this case, it looks like [Dan] could use a little bit of brain-storming on how to get this doubly-failed project back on track. Do go easy on him as he wasn’t the one that submitted the write-up for this week’s Fail.

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Making sure a baby is still breathing with lasers and a wiimote

[Gjoci] just became a father, and to make up for not having to carry a baby to term he decided to make himself useful in another way. He developed a sensor to detect a baby’s breathing, allaying the fears of nervous parents who are wondering why their child is so quiet.

Unlike similar builds and products that rely on microphones or capacitive sensors, [Gjoci]’s build uses the camera from a wiimote to triangulate points of light and detect motion.

The build started off with infrared LEDs, but the batteries were big and there is always the possibility of the baby swallowing electrical components. [Gjoci] finally hit upon the idea of using small 1mW laser diodes to project points of light. This worked beautifully, and since newborns don’t move much there’s no danger of shining a laser into a baby’s eye.

The rest of the build is just querying the camera every few milliseconds and seeing if the position of the reflections captured by the wiimote camera have changed. In two weeks of operation, [Gjoci] only had to respond to a few false alarms, and the hardware hasn’t crashed at all.

After the break are three videos [Gjoci] put up for us that show a test of the breathing detection system, a demo of the alarm, and an example of the build in full operation. A very awesome build, and we look forward to this post being used as evidence of prior art in a patent dispute a few years down the line.

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Repair parts from unlikely sources

baby_swing_motor_replacement

[Jay] sent us some details of a quick fix for a baby swing he owns, along with the unlikely place where he found replacement parts. We showed you a pair of his creations earlier this week, which you might recall. As luck would have it, the motor on the baby swing he modified burned out shortly after we featured his hack. Don’t worry – he didn’t break the swing when he hacked it, nor is there a Hack-a-Day curse. It’s purely coincidence, we swear!

The swing is about 7 years old so the burned out motor wasn’t that huge a surprise. After doing some research, it was looking like he would likely need to shell out $70-$100 for a replacement motor. He luckily stumbled upon a forum thread that said a motor from a cheap air freshener was a perfect match, so he gave it a shot.  Sure enough, it was the same motor, but with more torque. All it took was $5 to get the swing up and running good as new.

It just goes to show that you never know useful common items can be until you take them apart to see what’s inside.

Save a baby, nursery temperature monitor

Yes, you could argue this Nursery Room Temperature Monitor is simply an LED and an Arduino with a temperature sensor, but [Jay] really did put more thought into the process. For instance he stuck with AVR, built a wooden base and sanded globe, and even included schematics and source code. Plus, SIDS is no laughing matter and the more you know, the more it can be prevented. Back on point, one thing we would add is PWM for a more gradual change in color. What would you add?

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