BlenderDefender: Automating Pavlovian Conditioning


This isn’t your typical home automation project; who turns a blender on remotely? [Brian Gaut] did, when he rigged his blender and a strobe light to scare his cat off the kitchen counter. To be fair, we’ve linked to this project before on Hackaday—twice actually—but neither the article about relays or the related cat waterwall article actually talk about the BlenderDefender, and that’s a shame, because it’s pretty clever.

[Brian] began by installing a DCS-900 network camera on the wall near his kitchen sink. The camera monitors any motion on the counter, and once it detects something, a networked computer starts recording individual frames. This security camera setup isn’t looking for criminals: [Brian] needed to keep his cat away from a particularly tasty plant. The motion detection signals an X10 Firecracker module to turn on both a nearby blender and a strobe light, provoking some hilarious reactions from the cat, all of which are captured by the camera.

Check out some other ways to work with the X10 firecracker, and feel free to jump into the home automation discussion from last week.

[Thanks Joy]

Complex camera rig controlled with Blender 3D


This is a pretty intricate camera mount. Not only does it provide pan and tilt as the subtitles state, but it moves along a track and offers zoom and focus controls. Its great, but you’ll need an equally complex set of controls to do anything meaningful with it. That’s where the real hack comes into play. The entire system is controlled by its virtual model in Blender 3D.

You probably already know that Blender 3D is an open source 3-dimensional modeling suite. It’s got a mountain of features, which include a framework for animating virtual objects. The camera rig was replicated inside of the software, and includes a skeleton that moves just like the real thing. You can make an animation of how the camera should move, then export and play back those motions on the physical hardware.

Now if you need help making 3D models of your hardware perhaps you should try scanning them.

Continue reading “Complex camera rig controlled with Blender 3D”

Delta-type 3D printer built using extruded rails


From concept to completion this delta-style 3D printer (translated) is a sweet build. The quality of the work comes as no surprise. We’re familiar with [Arkadiusz Spiewak’s] craftsmanship from that H-bot type 3D printer we saw from him back in April.

Planning started off with a render of the design using Blender 3D. Not only did this give him a 3D model to use as his building reference, but the animation framework allowed him to test the kinematics of the design. After ordering an extruded rail system and assembling the frame he found the pillars had too much flex to them due to the rails used on the top and bottom. The fix was to mill a top and bottom plate to stiffen things up. After testing out the motors and the extruder head mount he made one final design change. He exported his Blender design as dxf files to cut and weld an aluminum replacement for the extruder mounting platform. As you can see in this video, the preliminary results are looking good!

Continue reading “Delta-type 3D printer built using extruded rails”

Simulating LED cubes in Blender

The Jyväskylä, Finland hackerspace hacklab-jlk was lucky enough to work on a public arts project for their home town. They had the opportunity to design, build, and install a trio of LED cubes in Jyväskylä’s central Church Park. As such a high-profile project, the hacklab-jlk team decided to take their time and ended up implementing a lot of very cool features for their LED cubes, including simulating the light show in Blender.

The LED cube is similar to all the other LED cube builds we’ve seen before; it’s an 8x8x8 cube controlled by an ATMega328. The Elovalo project, as it is called, is a trio of LED cubes – one using red LEDs, one using green LED, and a blue LED cube each mounted on a pedestal in a Jyväskylä park.

Because the Elovalo is a permanent installation, the team needed a way to verify new firmware for the LED cubes. They came up with a LED cube simulator for Blender that allows them to write a new display function in C and render either single frames or a full animation of the lighting pattern.

A very cool build, and nearly too awesome for a public arts project. We look forward to a video of the complete installation, but until then we’ll make do with the short preview video available after the break.

Continue reading “Simulating LED cubes in Blender”

Giving old appliances a second life with simple tweaks


Cruising estate sales can be a total crapshoot – sometimes you find a goldmine, other times nothing but junk. [John Ownby] recently found a sleek-looking old blender at such a sale and decided to take it home. The chrome plated base and fluted glass immediately caught his eye, but he didn’t buy the blender so he could make mediocre frozen drinks – he wanted a lamp instead.

The conversion was fairly simple, requiring him to gut the machine of its moving parts including the motor and blades, replacing them with a small incandescent candelabra base. While his modifications themselves are not groundbreaking, taking them a step further would make for some really cool (and functional) retro house fixtures.

Indulge me for a moment, if you will, and imagine swapping out the simple incandescent bulb for some LED strips or even EL wire. Replace the blender’s cap with a small speaker, and you can use several of these together as retro-looking surround satellites.

We can definitely get behind his reuse of the blender, which would have otherwise likely ended up in a landfill. It’s great to see solid, durable appliances given a second life, even in ways which were never intended. Have you rescued anything from the trash heap like [John], or do you have other ideas for your fellow hackers who might come across similar goods? Let us know in the comments.

Kitchen hacks: The Margarita Machine

If [Paul Degenkolb] really decided to make this on a whim one day (like he says he did) we think he should quit his job and go into a full-blown state of whimsy for the rest of his life. The Margarita Machine makes five gallons of slushy intoxicants in a quick and relatively quiet process that will have a backyard full of guests lining up not just to imbibe, but to see what the heck you’ve come up with this time around.

It’s easy enough to see that the vessel is an Igloo cooler, but where do you get a motor and blade assembly strong enough to turn ice cubes into slush? Just hit the home center and pick out the Garbage Disposer model of your choice. With the ball-valve serving spigot closed, the disposer sucks down the liquid and ice, shooting the pulverized mixture through some PVC pipe back to the top of the cooler. This circulation helps to mix things up, but at times [Paul] uses a glass as a plunger to wrangle rogue ice cubes.

Sorry folks, doesn’t look like there’s any video of this in action.

[Thanks Brad]

Real-time robotic arm control with Blender


Last year, [Justin Dailey] was coming down the home stretch of his senior year as a Computer Engineering student and needed to build a final design project. He always wanted to construct a robotic arm, and figured that there was no better way to legitimize such a project, than to claim that it was “homework”.

While he originally wanted to control the arm with a joystick, he had been messing with Blender quite a bit leading up to his final project, and thought it would be pretty cool to let Blender do the work. He started out by testing his ability to control a single servo with Blender, then slowly increased the complexity of the project. He prototyped the arm using cardboard, and satisfied with his progress thus far, began constructing the arm out of aluminum.

Once he had all six of his servos attached to the arm’s joints and wired to his Roboduino, he got busy constructing a 3D model in Blender. Using a few Python scripts, the movements inside Blender are translated to serial data in real-time, which is relayed to the Roboduino in order to control the arm.

Check out his site if you get a chance – there’s plenty of code to be had, as well as several videos of the arm in various stages of construction and testing.