Android legs stability testing

This is [James'] latest android build, a set of legs that use gyroscopes for balance.

He started off by planning the build with some LEGO pieces to get an idea of how each foot and leg joint would fit together. This let him achieve one of his goals. From the start he wanted to create a robot that would remain stable, and not build up enough momentum to tip itself over if there is a problem. With the dimensions established he cut out parts from 2mm sheets of HIP plastic using a hobby knife. They work in conjunction with a frame made from aluminum and HDPE. The whole thing houses eight servos responsible for movement, but he found an interesting way to use them for balance as well.

[James] came across some gyroscopic sensors which are made for use with RC helicopters. They connect in-line with a servo motor and offset it based on the gyro data. He’s using four of them with this bot, playing the hip and ankle servos against each other for balance. What results is a set of legs that look like their jonesin’ for a fix. See for yourself in the clip after the break.

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Contest entry roulette

Over 150 projects made from scrap parts (translated) have been posted for your viewing pleasure. They make up the entries in the “Make fast the scrap” project from c’t magazine. We already looked in on a toilet paper printer, but there’s a ton of other fun stuff to look at as well.

Every time you load the link at the top, the page picks a different set of entries to display. You can click through all the pages, or reload to play a little project roulette. The image above shows three that caught our eye. To the upper right is a lighbulb-man riding an old computer mouse reverse-cowgirl style. Quirky, but anyone who has access to an electroplating setup can get away with making simple objects like this into awesome desktop sculptures.

Moving clockwise we have a tiny USB drive mated with an old vacuum tube. The machine translation is a bit rough, but it looks like the LED from the thumb drive gives the tube a bit of a red glow. We just think it’s interesting to carry around a vacuum tube with you.

The final banner image shows a gyroscope for a camcorder. This is an awesome setup, which you can see in action after the break. A pair of broken hard drives provide motion stabilization for a camera. The entire assembly has a handle on the top with a universal joint. When the drives are spinning, the platform holds very still, even if the operator is swinging the unit around wildly.

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Quadcopter stabilization system using Wii Motion Plus

If you’re contemplating a quadcopter build here’s a way to add stabilization hardware without breaking the bank. The BaronPilot project uses an Arduino and a Wii Motion Plus module to ensure an even keel for your flying projects. The hardware inside of the Motion Plus includes two gyroscopes, which the BaronPilot monitors for changes in your flying rig’s orientation. The project serves as a co-pilot by differentiating between movements caused by the remote control, and changes due to wind or other outside factors (like hitting the quadcopter with a stick as seen in the video after the break). It should all translate to less chance of crashing due to operator error.

You can pick up a Motion Plus for less than twenty dollars, a deal when compared to the IMU boards that we usually see in quadcopter builds which usually run more than twice that amount. It’s an I2C device which makes it easy to hook up to just about anything. This project has native support for Teensy, Arduino Nano, and Arduino clones using an ATmega328 chip. But the portability of the Arduino platform should make it easy to tweak the code for use with just about any microprocessor.

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DIY Segway: fast, silent, and open

This is a picture of the guts of a diy Segway project (translated). Everything fits into a tiny space under the platform upon which the rider stands. It’s tight, but makes for a sleek look when the diamond plate is covering up all of the internals.

An ATmega644 controls the vehicle. It does so by using a PID control scheme to monitor a gyroscope, driving the wheels to maintain the center of balance. Electronically, the most complicated part of the build is the motor controller. It seems to be an original design, using an ATmega48 and several other integrated circuits. It was hard for us to figure out how this was implemented, but with some intensive study of the three schematics that go into the module we’d bet you can get to the bottom of things. We certainly like the outcome, as this personal transport is whisper quiet. Take a look at the clip after the break to hear for yourself.

Note: Be careful if you’re reusing the code from the translated link at the top. Google translator also translates the variable names in the code and might break how it works due to inconsistencies in the translation.

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Gyroscope-based smartphone keylogging attack

smartphone_keylogging_with_gyroscopes

A pair of security researchers have recently unveiled an interesting new keylogging method (PDF Research Paper) that makes use of a very unlikely smartphone component, your gyroscope.

Most smart phones now come equipped with gyroscopes, which can be accessed by any application at any time. [Hao Chen and Lian Cai] were able to use an Android phone’s orientation data to pin down what buttons were being pressed by the user. The attack is not perfect, as the researchers were only able to discern the correct keypress about 72% of the time, but it certainly is a good start.

This side channel attack works because it turns out that each button on a smart phone has a unique “signature”, in that the phone will consistently be tilted in a certain way with each keypress. The pair does admit that the software becomes far less accurate when working with a full qwerty keyboard due to button proximity, but a 10 digit pad and keypads found on tablets can be sniffed with relatively good results.

We don’t think this is anything you should really be worried about, but it’s an interesting attack nonetheless.

[Thanks, der_picknicker]

DIY Segway recycles broken electric scooters

[Petter] built himself a DIY Segway out of a couple of cheap electric scooters. We’ve seen a couple of very nice Segway builds in the past like the all analog Segway, or the creepy walking version, [Petter]‘s Segway build seems like it would be a useful human transport device.

The motors, chains, gears, and wheels are scavenged from a pair of electric scooters. Steering left and right is accomplished by tilting the handlebars left and right. The handlebars themselves are attached to the joint at a base that allows them to be taken on and off. We’re thinking this would be great for throwing a [Petter]‘s Segway in the trunk of a car – a design feature the original Segway doesn’t have.

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Controlling an infuriating game with an accelerometer

[Daniel] just made a motion controlled game controller to go with his infuriating game. Thankfully, [Daniel] posted the source for this game so first time players already know the level select codes.

The controller is based on an Arduino Uno with what looks to be a Sparkfun 2-axis accelerometer providing the tilt sensing. A similarly sourced half-inch force sensitive resistor and temperature sensor control the ‘jump pads’ in the game. A small vibrating pager motor strapped onto the controller as a rumble pack.

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