Motobrain: A Bluetooth controlled PDU

motobrain

If you’ve ever considered modding your vehicle’s electrical system, [Josh Oster-Morris's] Motobrain PDU (power distribution unit) might make life easier by providing precision control and protection for auxiliary 12V outputs in your car, bike, boat, etc. Once the Motobrain is paired to a phone over Bluetooth, a companion app displays real-time telemetry and lets you program up to 8 output channels.

Each of these 8 outputs can be directly controlled in the app, but the real power lies in the 4 programmable inputs. Here you can tie systems together and dictate exactly how one should respond to the other, e.g. detecting high-beams and disabling the auxiliary light bar you added. There’s even a “delayed on” option. Programming also has PWM capabilities, so flipping a switch could raise the brightness of some lights over 4 levels of intensity. If those lights are LEDs, the Motobrain can also provide constant current to specification. Each circuit can supposedly handle 15A continuous current and has a programmable circuit breaker, which would make fuses optional.

You can watch an overview video after the break to get a better idea of how it all works, but stop by [Josh's] project blog to see all the features explained across multiple videos and blog posts as they are developed and tested.

[Read more...]

Kinetic sculpture takes a page from modern life

The blurry image above is a snap of toy cars as they zoom around a multi-lane, multi-level, maniacal-maze called Metropolis II. We originally took a look at the video after the break (do it now!) but found more information on [Chris Burden's] kenetic sculpture in this NYT article. He and eight studio artists began work on the project back in 2006. They built 1200 custom designed cars and gave them a huge city to traverse, with up to 18 lanes at times. The work is not yet done, and the video below is dated (having been filmed in 2009), but project is slated to conclude in about two months and the installation has already been snapped up by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

And here we thought this was the product of an out-of-work packaging system design engineer. Nope, it’s art, and it certainly eclipses other kinetic sculptures we’ve seen.

[Read more...]

Stop light for HotWheels

stop

[Paul] wrote in to show us this little project he did for his kids. His children love playing with their toy cars. In an effort to give them even more fun while playing, [Paul] built a stop light for them. He’s using an ATtiny13 to run them and has the source code available on his site. Not only did the kids get a new toy, he got an excuse to go build something in his workshop.

Using MatchBox cars as a switch

cars

[atduskgreg] posted this interesting setup to flickr. He’s using two toy cars as a switch. He has wired into their metal undercarriages so when they collide, the circuit closes. We’ve seen some pretty nifty home made interface items, but usually they are posted with a clear purpose or a project. This one is a little puzzling. Does he intend to keep using the cars or was he just fooling around? Is he working on a toy that does something when they crash? Was he merely bored and wanted to see what he could attach to his Arduino. We may never know.

Escape From Berkeley

Escape From Berkeley (By Any Non-Petroleum Means Necessary) is an alternative-fueled road rally that starts October 10th and ends October 13th. The rally begins in Berkeley, California, and finishes in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Sahara. Contestants are required to use any fuel other than petroleum, and using only those fuels scavenged “for free” along the way. Fuel cannot be purchased. Judges will present awards for both artistic and technical achievements. If you want to get in on the action, there are a number of ways to participate, from registering your vehicle to volunteering for the event or even sponsoring the route “by the mile” or by landmark.

[via Laughing Squid]

How to hotwire your own car

Ignition switch
Picture this scenario: it’s 2 AM, you’re stuck somewhere you’d rather not be, and you’ve lost your car keys. If you can’t call the Auto Club, what do you do? Hotwire your own car, of course. Wired.com has a wiki article detailing all the things you need to do to get that car running: how to identify which wires to connect, potential pitfalls of newer cars that require an RFID chip in the key, and so on. Of course, hotwiring a car that doesn’t belong to you is illegal, but this is one of those skills-like lockpicking-which just might come in handy in an emergency.

[Photo: D.B. Blas]

British Steam Car


The land-speed record for steam-powered locomotion has been holding steady for 88 years at 127mph, but a team of British engineers and stunt drivers will attempt to break it with the Steam Car.

The Steam Car works by burning liquid petroleum fuel at 750° F, which heats 10.5 gallons of water, converting into steam. The steam passes through lagged pipes before it is injected into the 360-hp Curtis turbine at extremely high pressure and speed via compressed air hydraulics. It spins the turbine at over 13,000 rpm, powering the rear wheels, allowing the car to reach speeds higher than 150mph. The car itself is 25 feet long and uses about 1.86 miles of tubing. All of the hot pressurized steam is ejected from the exhaust, which means the car is only capable of running for about 3 minutes, and requires an 8-minute warmup.

The attempt to break the speed record will occur in late August at Bonneville.

[via Newlaunches]