Gyroscopically stabilized car/motorcycle thing

So yeah, this thing exists. Well, at least some pretty interesting looking prototypes of it do. It’s the C-1 from Lit Motors (anyone else think that’s a reference which belongs in /r/trees?). The idea here is that the small form-factor of a motorcycle is very efficient and easily maneuverable. But the cage protecting the passenger from harm, and the canopy keeping the elements out give it some of the desirable traits of a car.

Design aside, check out the video after the break. The prototype uses two horizontally positioned gyroscopes placed beneath the passenger seat, just in front of the rear wheel. The builders take it out on a hockey rink and give it a few kicks and slide a few tires into it. Sure, it reacts to the impact but it doesn’t fall over.

Want to see some fast-motion welding of the C-1? Right now there’s a one-minute clip up on the company’s main page.

Continue reading “Gyroscopically stabilized car/motorcycle thing”

There’s more than meets the eye to this robot car

This is a robot that any Transformers enthusiast will love. Sure, the car looks just a bit boxy, but you’ll forget all about that when you see it unfold into a bipedal robot (translated). [Zak Sawa] is responsible for the creation. He pull off the build using 22 servo motors which let the car transform, and provide the somewhat awkward ability to walk. Fold it back up again and the car can drive away. In other words, here’s the Transformers toy that you always wanted; radio controled and it actually works!

This is the result of about four years of work. Apparently it’s the eighth iteration, and a note on the video after the break teases a ninth version on the way. It’s not just the robot that looks great, check out the carrying case that houses it for storage.

Continue reading “There’s more than meets the eye to this robot car”

RC car controller and receiver replacement

This radio controlled car controller replacement is a great project to try some new things with that fancy hardware you’ve got sitting around. The hack comes in two parts, the receiver and the transmitter. They’re communicating via Bluetooth so if you only want to build one side of the hardware you should be able to make most Bluetooth devices work as the other. For instance, build the receiver for the car and control it with a Wii remote. Or use the controller to play emulator games on an Android phone.

Both pieces are Arduino based. The controller makes use of a Freeduino with a Bluetooth shield as well as a pair of analog stick breakout boards. The car side of things uses a Bluetooth Bee (a Bluetooth module that is pin compatible with an Xbee socket) and an Arduino pro. Once the hardware bits are assembled, it takes very little code to get the system up and running. Join us after the break for a quick clip of the car in action.

Continue reading “RC car controller and receiver replacement”

Racing with Dyson’s spare parts

When it comes time to unwind at the Dyson design facility these engineers know how to do it right. Recently, the company challenged their engineers to a grown-up version of the Pinewood Derby in which they raced their own cars powered by a Dyson motor.

The video after the breaks shows a large collection of these time trials on a track made from upturned wooden pallets. Most of the vehicles are made from parts which we don’t recognize. But some of them are very familiar like our favorite hand dryer ever (seen above) and the iconic goldenrod manifold from the Dyson ball vacuum cleaner.

The course ends abruptly, as you can see in the last run of the video. There is one entry that included a human rider and he seems to be going nearly as fast as the riderless carriages are. The video cuts away before he hits the wall, but we can’t image he had the time to include brakes in that design.

Continue reading “Racing with Dyson’s spare parts”

Over engineering windshield wipers to sync to music

In the late 90s, Volkswagen aired a series of awesome television advertisements that won a few awards relevant to those in advertising circles. One of these ads was titled Synchronicity and showed a VW Jetta’s windshield wipers (among other things) syncing to music as the car drove down a rainy alley. [ch00f] thought beat tracking wipers would make for a great project, and we love the sheer amount of engineering that went into this build.

The build began with [ch00f] taking apart his wiper motor to get some specifics for his build. Ideally, a rotary encoder would be very useful for this project, but designing a durable encoder would be a pain anyway. [ch00f] had to settle with the ‘parking pins’ on the wiper gear motor that allow the wipers to be driven in intermittent mode.

[ch00f] spent a great deal of time writing code that would guarantee a constant wiper speed, but that didn’t solve the problem of phase, or having the wipers begin or end their cycle on the beat. This problem was somewhat solved (as you can see in the video after the break) by using a feed forward system – basically, the software would predict the change in phase needed and correct it by changing the speed.

The build still isn’t perfect, although that’s mainly due to the placement of wiper parking switch on the wiper motor. [ch00f] plans on spending a little more time correcting the wiper speed/phase control with software, but what he’s got now is still very impressive.

Continue reading “Over engineering windshield wipers to sync to music”

Relighting a gauge cluster

When a few lights in the dashboard of  [Garrett]’s truck burned out, he was looking at a hefty repair bill. The repair shop would have to replace the huge PCB to change a few soldered light bulbs, so he was looking at a $500 repair bill. Lighting up a LED is everyone’s first project, so [Garrett] decided to change out the bulbs with LEDs and save a few dollars.

The repair was very simple – after removing the dials and needles, [Garrett] found a huge PCB with a few burnt out bulbs on board. He took a multimeter to each bulb’s solder pad and replaced each one with an LED and resistor. The finished project looks like it came out of a factory and is a huge improvement over the ugly amber bulbs originally found in his truck.  [Garrett] also posted a nice Instructable of his build showing the nicely soldered lamp replacements.

SMS remote start gives new life to your old smartphone

iphone-sms-remote-start

Hack a Day alum [Will O’Brien] recently upgraded his phone, and was trying to find a use for his old one. He always wanted a remote starter for his Subaru Outback, but wasn’t interested in paying for an off the shelf kit. Since he had this old smartphone kicking around, he thought that it would be the perfect starting point for an SMS-triggered remote start system.

He started off by jailbreaking his phone, which allows him to run some Perl scripts that are used to listen for incoming texts. Using a PodBreakout mini from Sparkfun he connected the phone to an Arduino, which is responsible for triggering the car’s ignition. Now, a simple text message containing the start command and a password can start his car from a anywhere in the world.

While [Will] is quite happy with his setup he already has improvements in mind, including a way for the Arduino to send a message back to him via SMS confirming that the car has been successfully started. He’s thinking about putting together a kit for others looking to add the same functionality to their own car, so be sure to check his site periodically for project updates.