Hacklet 20 – Halloween Hacks

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Hey, did you know that Hackaday.io is continuously being updated and improved? One of the coolest features this week is the new LaTeX based equation editor. That’s right, you can now put symbols, equations, and all sorts of other LaTeX goodies into your posts. Check out [Brian Benchoff's] LaTeX demo project for more information.

Every holiday is a season for hacks, but Halloween has to be one of the best. From costumes to decorations, there are just tons of opportunities for great projects. We know that with an entire week left before the big day, most of you are still working on your projects. However a few early bird hackers already have Halloween themed projects up on Hackaday.io. We’re featuring them here – on the Hacklet!

pumpkin1[philmajestic] is in the Halloween spirit with his AVR Halloween Pumpkin. [Phil] created a motion activated Jack-o’-lantern with an ATmega328 as its brain. The AVR monitors a PIR motion sensor. When motion is detected, it flashes Jack’s LED eyes and plays spooky sound files from a WTV-020-16sd audio player. This is a great example of how a bit of work can create something cooler and infinitely more flexible than a store-bought decoration. Nice work [Phil]!

littlebitsPortraitThe littleBits crew have been working overtime on Halloween hacks this year. We definitely like their Halloween Creepy Portrait. A motion trigger, a servo, and a few glue bits are all it take to turn a regular portrait into a creepy one. When the motion detector is triggered, the servo moves a paper behind the portrait’s eyes. The replacement eyes look like some sort of demon or cat. Definitely enough to give us nightmares!

ironman[jeromekelty] helped his friend [Greg] build an incredible Animatronic Iron Man MKIII suit. The suit features RFID tags which trigger suit features. Since we’re talking about an Iron Man suit, “features” are things like shoulder rockets, boot thrusters, and a helmet that lifts up to reveal “Tony Stark”. No less than four Arduinos handle the various I/O’s. The suit even features an Adafruit WaveShield for authentic sounds! The electronics are just one piece of the puzzle here. [Greg] is a card-carrying member of the Replica Prop Forum. His MKIII suit is incredibly detailed. We especially like the weathering and battle damage!

tenticlesFinally, [Griff's] son is going to be wearing a Crochet Cthulhu Mask, with Arduino controlled tentacles for Halloween this year. [Griff] is an experienced crochet hobbiest. He’s mixing his love of needlework with his love of electronics to build the animated Cthulhu mask for his 4-year-old son. The mask is based on a free crochet pattern from ravelry, though [Griff] is making quite a few changes to support his application. The mask will be smaller to fit a 4-year-old, and will contain servos to move the tentacles. We haven’t heard from [Griff] in a while, so if you see him, tell him to post an update on the mask!

If you haven’t started working on your Halloween hacks, get busy! But don’t forget to upload them to Hackaday.io! If we get enough, we’ll run a second Hacklet with even more great projects. Until then, you can check out our Halloween Projects List!

That’s about it for this frightful episode The Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

3D Printing Goes Hand in Hand with Iron Man Inspired Prosthetic

It’s exciting how much 3D printing has enabled us to produce pretty much any shape for any purpose on the fly. Among the most thoughtful uses for the technology that we’ve seen are the many functioning and often beautiful prosthetics that not only succeed in restoring the use of a limb, but also deliver an air of style and self-expression to the wearer. The immediate nature of the technology allows for models to be designed and produced rapidly at a low-cost, which works excellently for growing children. [Pat Starace’s] Iron Man inspired 3D printed hand and forearm are a perfect example of such personality and expert engineering… with an added dash of hacker flair.

With over twenty years of experience in animatronics behind him, [Starace] expertly concealed all of the mechanical ligaments within the design of his arm, producing a streamline limb with all the nuance of lifelike gesture. It was important that the piece not only work, but give the wearer that appropriate super hero-like feeling while wearing it. He achieves this with all the bells and whistles hidden within the negative space of the forearm, which give the wearer an armory of tricks up their sleeve. Concealed in the plating, [Starace] uses an Arduino and accelerometer to animate different sets of LEDs as triggered by the hand’s position coupled with specific voice commands. Depending on what angle the wrist is bent at, the fingers will either curl into a fist and reveal hidden ‘lasers’ on the back of the hand, or spread open around a pulsing circle of light on the palm when thrust outward.

The project took [Starace] quite a bit of time to print all the individual parts; around two days worth of time. This however is still considered quick in comparison to the custom outfitting and production of traditional prosthetics… not to mention, the traditional stuff wouldn’t have LEDs. This piece has a noble cause, and is an exciting example of how 3D printing is adding a level of heroism to everyday life.

Thank you Julius for pointing out this awesome project to us!

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Homemade Superhero: [James'] DIY Exoskeleton

We’re not just a bunch of monkeys with typewriters here at Hackaday; we don our hacker hat whenever our schedules allow. Or, in the case of Hackaday’s own [James Hobson]—aka [The Hacksmith]—he dons this slick exoskeleton prototype instead,turning himself into a superhero. Inspired by the exoskeleton from the film Elysium, this project puts [James] one step closer to the greater goal of creating an Iron Man-style suit.

For now, though, the exoskeleton is impressive enough on its own. The build is a combination of custom-cut perforated steel tubing and pneumatic cylinders, attached to a back braces of sorts. In the demonstration video, [James] stares down 170 pounds of cinder block affixed to a barbell, and although he’s no lightweight, you can tell immediately from his reaction how much assistance the exoskeleton provides as [James] curls the makeshift weights over and over. And that’s only at half pressure. [James] thinks he could break the 300 pound mark of lifting if he didn’t break his legs first.

There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of the build process to be had, so make sure you stick around after the jump for a sizable helping of videos, and check out [The Hacksmith's] website for more of his projects.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: I Am Iron Man

Back when Iron Man 2 and The Avengers were out in theaters, the Hackaday tip line couldn’t go a week without an arc reactor build being submitted. In keeping with the Internet’s fascination with blinkey glowey things, we expected a huge influx of arc reactors for our Sci-Fi contest. We were pleasantly surprised: all the submissions from the Marvel universe are top-notch, and the two Iron Man entries we have are simply amazing.

Motorized Helmet

1[James Bruton] is working on a replica of the Iron Man movie helmet, complete with a motorized face plate, light up eyes, and an OLED display for a reasonable facsimile of the horribly unrealistic on-screen heads-up display.

While a few bits and bobs of the mechanics were 3D printed, [James] is making the majority of the helmet just as how the on-screen version was made. The helmet was first carved out of sheet foam, then molded and cast into very strong rigid fiberglass. [James] put up a great tutorial series on how he did this and other parts of his Iron Man costume.

Anamatronic

2The other Iron Man costume from [jeromekelty] and [Greg Hatter] doesn’t stop at just the helmet. They’re doing everything: shoulder-mounted rocket pods, hip pods, forearm missiles, back flaps, and boots with a satisfying electronic kerthunk sounding with every step.

Inside the custom molded suit are at least four Arduinos, four XBees, an Adafruit WaveShield, and at least 20 servos for all of the Iron Man suit components. The mechanics are actuated via RFID with a tag in a glove; when the wearer waves their hand over some part of the suit, one of the mechanical features are activated.

It’s impressive to say the least, and one of the best documented projects we’ve seen in the Sci-Fi contest.

There’s still time to put together your own Sci-Fi project for the contest. Grab your soldering iron and fiberglass resin, because there’s some seriously great prizes up for grabs.

 

Create Your Own J.A.R.V.I.S. Using Jasper

Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. needs no introduction. With [Shubhro's] and [Charlie's] recent release of Jasper, an always on voice-controlled development platform for the Raspberry Pi, you too can start making your own J.A.R.V.I.S..

Both [Shubhro] and [Charlie] are undergraduate students at Princeton University, and decided to make their voice-controlled project open-source (code is available on GitHub). Jasper is build on inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware, making it very simple to get started. All you really need is an internet connected Raspberry Pi with a microphone and speaker. Simply install Jasper, and get started using the built in functionality that allows you to interface with Spotify, Facebook, Gmail, knock knock jokes, and more. Be sure to check out the demo video after break!

With the easy to use developer API, you can integrate Jasper into any of your existing Raspberry Pi projects with little effort. We could see Jasper integrated with wireless microphones and speakers to enable advanced voice control from anywhere in your home. What a great project! Thanks to both [Shubhro] and [Charlie] for making this open-source.

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A Simple Servo Hack for an Iron Man Helmet

iron man helmet

[James] makes some seriously awesome Iron Man props. In one of his latest helmet builds, he came across a handy hack to lock the faceplate servo in place.

You see, as awesome as it is walking around like Iron Man all day, you’re going to want to keep your faceplate up for extended periods of time. Simply holding the servo in place electronically is a waste of power, and results in the annoying sound of a servo under strain. On the other hand, cutting power to it will keep it in place momentarily — but it will also start to close under the force of gravity.

The solution is actually quite simple, by reprogramming the Picaxe-08M microcontroller, the board now shorts the motor terminals to hold it in place. This is called magnetic motor braking, and it works by creating a closed loop that makes it much harder to induce a current under load. We once added this feature to a motorized push-scooter — it’d stop on a dime, although you wouldn’t…

Stick around after the break to see an extremely in depth video on how he setup the entire system.

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Arc Reactor replica could have been crafted in a cave

arc-reactor-replica

Following in the footsteps of [Tony Stark] this Arc Reactor replica was hand crafted using almost no power tools. From what we can tell in his build gallery, a cordless drill was his only departure from using pure elbow grease.

[DJ Maller] started his build by cutting out a disc of acrylic for the base plate. While we might have reached for a hole saw, he grabbed a framing square and laid out a center point and square cuts on the stock. Kudos for his use of an awl (we often take the Luddite approach of hammer and nail) to make an impression for his compass point to rest in. After using a coping saw to rough out the shape he sands the round up to the line with the drill and a sanding wheel.

After drilling holes and inserting LEDs he begins to build up the replica piece by piece. What looks like a recessed handle for a sliding closet doors makes up the center. The spring-like copper coils was produced by wrapping wire around a pen then stretching to the desired shape. He added a bicycle spoke wrench wrapped with copper for some additional visual appeal before finishing the decoration off with some storm door clips.

[via Reddit]