Ball inverted pendulum

We’ve seen several different balancing bot styles over the past few years, but this one is new to us. The BallP, short for Ball inverted Pendulum, balances on top of a ball. We’re not sure what the advantages are to this layout though. Anyone care to enlighten us? Even though we hadn’t seen this style, it is apparently not new. The Ballbot has been around for a while and might seem even more impressive visually.

Office prank: death from above

Unsuspecting office workers beware. You may already be in the cross-hairs of a ping-pong ball launching robot. This covert robot hangs out on the other side of a suspended ceiling, waiting for its operator to unleash the fury. When put into action a hatch in a ceiling tile is raised and balls are launched at a cowering cube-dweller.

It looks like the balls are launched at a reasonable speed and won’t hurt anyone. The next generation of this bot should do a better job of integrating the trap door and be quieter. This would be a lot more fun if the victim couldn’t figure out where the heck that ball just came from.

[via BotJunkie]

New pet, Project 413

I wonder if anyone ever mouses over images anymore. Oh silly me, xkcd reference.

[Jacob] sent in his teams final project, Project 413. While sounding like something straight out of an action movie, don’t worry, it’s not the next terminator. Rather a combination of an eBox (in place of an EEE pc), omni wheels, motors, batteries, and the finishing touch – a hamster ferret ball. If this is sounding familiar to a certain web comic, then right you are, as XKCD was their main inspiration. Sadly, the web cam and ‘having a soul’ functions didn’t make it into their version, but being controlled via Wii remote is always a plus.  Check out a video after the break. [Read more...]

Urban Defender: location aware game

What do gangs, territories, cities, and glowing blue balls have in common? No, not that one drunken night you can’t seem to remember, rather a new location aware game called Urban Defender.

The concept behind the game is simple. A player hold a ball that knows its current location and can notify you if needed via LEDs and a speaker of changes in its environment. He or she then runs around the city until the ball tells them of an unclaimed or enemy territory. Bounce the ball against a building and that territory is now claimed.

The ball itself is a prototype combination of an Arduino, Accelerometer, vibration motor, LEDs, XBee, batteries, and wire all packed inside of an industrial rubber gym ball. Unfortunately after testing the Urban Defender team found the GPS and a few other components would need to be kept outside of the ball and on the player.

Finally, a project that warrants the use of an Arduino. Anyone up for a game?

Virtual pool, real-world interface

Sunday we saw robots playing pool and an augmented reality pool game. Today we’ll complete the pool trifecta: virtual pool using a real cue stick and ball in another vintage video from Hack a Day’s secret underground vault. The video is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:

First is the year it was made: 1990. There’s been much buzz lately over real-world gaming interfaces like the Nintendo Wii motion controller or Microsoft’s Project Natal. Here we’re seeing a much simpler but very effective physical interface nearly twenty years prior.

Second: the middle section of the video reveals the trick behind it all, and it turns out to be surprisingly simple. No complex sensors or computer vision algorithms; the ball’s speed and direction are calculated by an 8-bit processor and a clever arrangement of four infrared emitter/detector pairs.

The visuals may be dated, but the interface itself is ingenious and impressive even today, and the approach is easily within reach of the casual garage tinkerer. What could you make of this? Is it just a matter of time before we see a reader’s Mini-Golf Hero III game here?

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