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Google ADK clones pack a few extra features, hopefully far cheaper than the original

adk_board_clone

[charliex] from Null Space Labs wrote in to share a project that he and the rest of the gang have been working on over the last few weeks. The team has been remixing and building clones of the Google ADK demo board we saw earlier this year, in hopes of getting a huge batch prepped before Defcon 19.

Their version makes subtle changes to the original, such as extra header rows for Mega AVRs, higher quality RGB LEDs, and a nifty pirate-Android logo. They also added the ability for the board to send and receive IR signals allowing it to be used as a TV-B-Gone, as well as in more fruitful pursuits. The Arduino board used with the ADK has only undergone minor revisions, most of which were layout related.

[charliex] hasn’t mentioned a price for their improved ADK boards, but we’re guessing they will be substantially cheaper than the official Google version. In the meantime, check out their site for a boatload of pictures and videos of these boards undergoing various stages of construction.

Importing PCB layout into Google Sketchup

If you’ve been spending hours with the digital calipers while designing enclosures for your circuit boards there may be a better way. [Phil] tipped us off about a new software package that will let you import PCB layout files into Google Sketchup. This way you can start working on the enclosure in CAD before you’ve populated your first board. Of course this adds to the pain of realizing there’s an error in your layout, but what are you going to do?

The free software was developed by RS Components, a European component distributor. It takes IDF files, which can be exported from most PCB design software, and converts them to a format compatible with Sketchup, Google’s 3D design software. For those who enjoy a very dry demonstration video you won’t want to skip seeing what we’ve embedded after the jump.

We’re kind of surprised that this hasn’t already been done. If it has, leave a link in the comments.

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A badge without a conference

We saw this one a few days ago when it was first bouncing around the interwebs but never took a close look at it. Today, when we ran across a direct link in the tips box it was the promo video (embedded after the break) that won us over. Once you dig into the particulars of The Verbalizer we think you’ll agree that this is a hackable conference badge without the pesky need to attend a conference.

As you probably guessed from the design of the PCB, this is a microphone. It’s intended for use with Google’s new voice search feature, and connects to a computer via a Bluetooth module. But really it’s just another roll-your-own Arduino with a few extra bits. You’ll find an ATmega328 and an FTDI chip which provides a USB connection for programming. The real fun starts with the microphone and speaker circuitry which is just waiting to be breadboarded at home. We found a few other things while poking around in the schematic (available by downloading their Product Docs and Schematics package). It looks like there’s some capacitive touch… you what? Isn’t it more fun if you find this stuff yourself, kind of like the hidden gems of the DEFCON badges?

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Mini Google Street View car built from Lego

lego_street_view

[Mark] was playing around with a small GPS sensor when a light bulb lit over his head. He imagined it would be pretty cool to replicate one of Google’s Street View cars at a fraction of the scale using Lego NXT parts. He figured it would be easy enough to rig a few cameras to a remote controlled car, recording images and GPS coordinates as it went along.

The mini Street View car is controlled by a single NXT module that receives commands from a PS2 controller via a PSPNx sensor he purchased. A trio of cameras have been attached to the car, which are meant to take pictures in all different directions when triggered by his remote. A handful of additional motors are also used for driving the car, steering, and for activating the shutter release on the cameras.

The car worked decently during testing, but [Mark] says there is still plenty of room for improvement. He is having issues reliably triggering all cameras at the moment, but we’re sure he’ll have it sorted out soon enough.

Keep reading to see a video of his mini Street View car in action.

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Tablet-controlled disco Droid

disco_droid_adk_control

We have seen a few neat Google ADK projects pop up since its announcement a few weeks back, and this one is already on the list of our favorites.

YouTube user [chrisjrelliot] has put together a great hack demonstrating the ADK’s power and how easy it can be to control devices in real time with an Android-powered device.

He hacked apart an Android figure (naturally) and fitted it with some LED eyes as well as four servos. The servos are used to rotate the head, body, and arms of his Disco Droid, all of which can be controlled via his Android-powered tablet. As you can see in the video below, he is able to control the Droid’s actions in real time with a few simple swipes of his finger. One thing we did notice is that his tablet is not connected to anything via wires, so we are assuming that there’s a Bluetooth module hidden away somewhere in the mix.

While the video is a bit short on details, [Chris] promises that source code and build plans will be published in short order.

BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

Using Google’s ADK on standard Arduino hardware

adk_on_arduino

When we heard that Google’s open accessory development standard was forthcoming, we were pretty excited. However once we heard that the reference hardware kit was going to cost nearly $400, our thoughts changed to, “Surely you can’t be serious.”

Well, Google is dead serious (and we hear they don’t take kindly to being called Shirley either.)

With such a ridiculous asking price, it was only a matter of time before someone tried getting the ADK software running on vanilla Arduino hardware. [Inopia] wrote in letting us know that he did just that.

Using an Arduino Uno and a Sparkfun USB shield, he was able to get the ADK working without a lot of fuss. He tweaked the ADK firmware image in order to bypass a couple of hardcoded pin assignments Google made, and he was good to go. The image boots just fine, though he can’t necessarily guarantee that his setup works with an Android handset, as he doesn’t currently own one that supports accessory mode.

Now that just about anyone can get their hands on the ADK at a reasonable price, we look forward to seeing what you can put together!