Electronic Message In a Bottle

We remember going to grandfather’s garage. There he would be, his tobacco pipe clenched between his teeth, wisps of smoke trailing into the air around him as he focused, bent over another of his creations. Inside of a simple glass bottle was something impossible. Carefully, ever so carefully, he would use his custom tools to twist wire. He would carefully place each lead. Eventually when the time was right he would solder. Finally he’d place it on the shelf next to the others, an LED matrix in a bottle.

led-message-in-a-bottle-assemblyWell, maybe not, but [Mariko Kosaka]’s father [Kimio Kosaka] has done it. In order to build the matrix, he needed tools that could reach inside the mouth of the bottle without taking up too much space to allow for precise movement. To do this he bent, brazed, twisted, and filed piano wire into tools that are quite beautiful by themselves. These were used to carefully bend and position the LEDs, wires, and other components inside the bottle.

Once the part was ready, he used a modified Hakko soldering iron to do the final combination. We wonder if he even had to be careful to solder quickly so as not to build up a residue on the inside of the bottle? The electronics are all contained inside the bottle. One of the bottles contained another impressive creation of his: an entire Arduino with only wire, dubbed the Arduino Skeleton. Batteries are attached to the cork so when the power runs low it can be removed and replaced without disturbing the creation.

It’s a ridiculous labor of love, and naturally, we love it. There’s a video of it in operation as well as one with him showing how it was done which is visible after the break. He showed them off at the Tokyo Maker Faire where they were surely a hit.

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Incredible Marble Music Machine

We tried to figure out how to describe the band [Wintergatan]. It took a lot of googling, and we decided to let their really incredible music machine do it for them. The best part? Unlike some projects like this that come our way, [Wintergatan] documented the whole build process in an eight part video series.

The core of the machine is a large drum with two tracks of alternating grey and black Lego Technic beams and pins. The musician sequences out the music using these. The pins activate levers which in turn drop ball bearings on the various sound producing devices in the machine. The melody is produced by a vibraphone. At first we thought the drum kit was electronic, but it turns out the wires going to it were to amplify the sound they made when hit. At the end of their travel the bearings are brought up to the hopper again by a bucket conveyor.

The final part count for the machine sits at 3,000 not including the 2,000 ball bearings rolling around inside of it. If you’ve ever tried to make a marble machine, then you’ll be just as impressed as we were that the machine only appeared to lose a few marbles in the course of a three minute song. Aside from the smoothness of the machine, which is impressive, we also enjoyed the pure, well, hackiness of it. We can spy regular wood screws, rubber bands, plywood, bits of wire, and all sorts of on-the-spot solutions. Just to add bonus cool, the whole project appears to have been built with  just a bandsaw, a drill press, and a few hand power tools.

The machine is great, but we also really appreciate the hacker spirit behind it. When a commenter on a YouTube video told him he was a genius, he replied, “Thank you for that! But I do think, though, that it is mostly about being able to put in the time! I mean the talent of being stubborn and able to see things through are more important than the abilities you have to start with. If you work hard on anything, you will learn what you need and success! Its my idea anyway! So happy people like the machine!”. Which we think is just as cool as the machine itself. Video of the machine in action and part one of the build series after the break!

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Big Head costume would make Max Headroom jealous

big-head-halloween

[Dan Rosenfeld] does a lot of thinking in his spare time, and one thing he returns to pretty often is videoconferencing. He’s often wondered why it hasn’t caught on enough to become a ubiquitous piece of technology, and his examination of the topic in regards to eye contact and spatial awareness inspired him to create a very unique Halloween costume.

His “Big Head” costume consists of a front-mounted 24” LCD panel that displays the wearer’s face in real time. Inside the large headpiece [Dan] installed a microphone, another LCD screen, a half silvered mirror, and a video camera – not to mention all of the power-related goodies required to keep it running. While the main LCD displays his face, the internal monitor is fed by an externally mounted camera that shows him everything going on outside the box. This image is reflected off the half silvered mirror, allowing him to gaze directly at the camera, while also seeing what’s going on in front of him.

As you can see in the video below, the effect is pretty cool, and devoid of the ‘disconnected’ look most people have when talking to others via a camera and computer screen.

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Awesome fan-powered Frankenscooter

fanscooter

We believe that some of the best things in life are built from half-assed ideas and held together with duct tape. Take this fan-powered Razor scooter [Charles Guan] built, for example – it’s chock full of both.

Having built a ducted fan-powered shopping cart in the past [Charles] is no stranger to ridiculous ideas. After a friend sent him a mockup of a fan powered scooter, he felt that he couldn’t “…take such an absurd image not seriously.”

Determined to make his fan-powered dreams a reality, he hunted around for Razor scooter parts, and managed to scavenge just about everything he needed. Parts of three scooters were welded together, forming the wide-stanced trike you see in the picture above. He mounted a fan and some battery packs onto the scooter, both similar to those found on his Fankart. Once everything was in place, he hit the streets.

As you can see in the video below, the Fanscooter looks as fun as it is loud. [Charles] says they have hit a top speed of about 10 mph thus far, but they should be able to blow past that once they balance the blades and have a victim tester willing to suspend his babymakers over the fan duct. Keep your eyes on his site, we’re sure to see some tweaks and improvements over the coming weeks.

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IR air conditioner timer

installed (Custom)

[Tom] has an office job in China. His office is cooled by a small single room air conditioner. In an effort to make his office a little more comfortable, he built this IR timer unit. It cools his office down before he gets there so he doesn’t have to wait for it in the morning. He started by decoding the IR signal from the remote for the unit. He then built this ATiny13 based remote. He notes that the internal clock of this thing isn’t that accurate. power cycling it every day seems to help. It is also pretty cool that he built the unit to not only send the cooling code, but he can switch it to the heating code for the winter.

[thanks Mario]