Boxing + Arduino + Geometry = Awesomeness


Imagine a machine that [Anderson Silva] could throw a punch at, that would locate his fist in real time and move a punching pad to meet his moving fist. How would you do it? Kinect? Super huge sensor array? Sticking charm? What if we told you it could be done with two electret microphones, an Arduino, and a Gumstix? Yeah, that’s right. You might want to turn your phone off and sit down for this one.

[Benjamin] and his fellow students developed this brilliant proof of concept design that blocks incoming punches for their final project. We’ve seen boxing robots here before, but this one takes the cake. The details are sparse, but we’ve dug into what was made available to us and have a relatively good idea on how they pulled off this awesome piece of electrical engineering.

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A portable, WiFi-enabled Kinect

The builds using a Kinect as a 3D scanner just keep getting better and better. A team of researchers from the University of Bristol have portablized the Kinect by adding a battery, single board Linux computer, and a WiFi adapter. With their Mobile Kinect project, it’s now a snap to automatically map an environment without lugging a laptop around, or just giving your next mobile robot an awesome vision system.

By making the Kinect portable, [Mike] et al made the Microsoft’s 3D imaging device much more capable than its present task of computing the volumetric space of the inside of a cabinet. The Reconstructme project allows the Kinect to be used as a hand-held 3D scanner and Kintinuous can be used to create a 3D model of entire houses, buildings, or caves.

There’s a lot that can be done with a portabalized, WiFi’d Kinect, and hopefully a few builds replicating the team’s work (except for replacing the Gumstix board with a Raspi) will be showing up on HaD shortly.

Video after the break.

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Full-color video on a spinning POV display

Watching Big Buck Bunny on a spinning POV display is pretty impressive. Sure, the circular display area cuts off some of the picture, but otherwise it looks fantastic. This POV display is based on a Gumstix board. It runs embedded Linux which makes video playback rather easy. But translating each frame to the round display is another story.

The device is the result of a course project at Telecom ParisTech. [Félix], [Sylvain], and [Jérémy] used an FPGA to do the pixel mapping. This uses an encoder wheel (rather than a traditional hall effect sensor) to ascertain the blade’s position. The sensor that monitors the disc sends quadrature encoded pulses which result in 10-bit position data. The FPGA uses that data to calculate where each LED falls in its arc, then looks up the pixel color for that position. It’s not the largest POV display we’ve seen, but it certainly has the very best RGB resolution by far.

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Data broacasting “Transparency Grenade” ads whimsy to your meetings

If you’re tired of underhanded deals going down behind closed doors maybe you need to start carrying around this transparency grenade. The enclosure is modeled after a Soviet-era F1 Hand Grenade. But it’s not filled with explosives and won’t send deadly shrapnel around the room. Instead, when the pin is pulled it starts recording audio and sniffing network packets, then broadcasts both to a remote server. Perhaps you could consider this to be data shrapnel sent around the world.

The exploded parts image above shows what hardware is at use. There’s a Gumstix board at the heart of the device which uses a WiFi module for sniffing and broadcasting data. The LED bar graph which you see in the fully assembled unit shows the wireless signal strength.

It sounds like the enclosure itself was 3D printed from Tusk2700T translucent resin but we’re a little confused by this part of the hardware description. We don’t have much of a need to transmit recordings of our meetings, but we’d love to use this case design for that MP3 enclosure.

[via Reddit]

An e-paper information panel

With all the Kindles and Nooks we’re bound to find at yard sales and thrift shops in the coming years, this might be useful. [Chris] made a door-mounted e-paper display to keep himself up to date on recent events.

The hardware comes from an e-paper development kit [Chris] and his friend [Deian] were given a few years back. The dev kit sat in a dusty drawer until [Chris] decided to do something with it. With his door looking like a suitable palette, [Chris] decided to make an information panel that displays the date, his calendar, the weather, and a few RSS feeds.

There was already a Gumstix single board computer attached to the e-paper display, so [Chris] wrote a few scripts on his server and upload information to the paper display. The server renders the display as a PNG image at 800×600 resolution, converts it to PGM and compresses it for the Gumstix. There is a script running on the Gumstix to download the image from the server every five minutes and put it up on the display.

With the awesome readability and low power consumption of e-paper, we’re surprised we haven’t seen a project like this before. Guess we’ll have to wait until Kindles start showing up at flea markets.

Drill-based Kinect camera

[Brett Graham] and [David Cox] are taking the Kinect out into the world thanks to this handheld hack they call the Drill of Depth. Apparently, the Kinect wants 12V at 1A which is quite easy to provide with a rechargeable power tool like this Ryobi drill. The setup features a 4.3″ touchscreen display, connected to the Gumstix Overo Air that is running Linux. They claim that there’s a “legitimate scientific reason” for building the device but they’re not sharing it yet.

So what would you use this for? We wonder if it would be possible to roll a GPS into the mix, then use post processing from the captured data to recreate the environment in a virtual setting? Imagine if a weekend spent walking around campus and processing the results let you model your University and make it an add-on level for your favorite game. Or perhaps this could be paired with a regular camera to generate high-quality 3D skinning data for Google Earth. That’s what we came up with, what do you think?

Unmanned ocean crossing

This is the Pinta, an autonomous sailboat built to attempt an ocean crossing from Ireland to Martinique (in the Caribbean). A group of researchers at Aberystwyth University built her as part of the Microtransat Challenge.

To keep tabs on the vessel her creators included an Iridium short burst data modem with a backup system made from a SPOT satellite tracker using a PIC microcontroller to trigger a transmission every six hours. The sailing systems are a conglomeration of a Gumstix board, GPS, a windshield wiper motor to control the sail, and a tiller pilot for steering. A set of solar panels helps to top off the lead-acid batteries that power the system.

Unfortunately the old gal has encountered problems. You can see from the tracking data that, although it sailed 500 km in the last twelve days, she is still just off the coast of Ireland. The primary tracking system has failed, which could signal a system-wide computer failure. We hope the team will eventually recover the vessel as we’re interested in finding out what caused this unfortunate turn of events.