Robotic mobility for the little ones

Researchers at the University of Delaware are helping disabled kids by designing robot transportation for them. Exploring one’s environment is an important part of early development. Disabilities that limit mobility can prevent young children from experiencing this. Typically children are not offered a powered wheelchair until they are five or six years old, but adding intelligent technologies, like those found in the UD1, makes this possible at a much younger age. Proximity sensors all around the drive unit of the robot add obstacle avoidance and ensure safety when used around other children. When confronted with an obstacle the UD1 will stop, or navigate around it. The unit is controlled by a joystick in front of the rider but it can also be overridden remotely by a teacher, parent, or caregiver.

[via Robot Gossip]

iPad arcade dock has hidden projector

This iPad dock is a well-executed gaming accessory. [Linkreincarnate] used a Hori Wii fighting stick as the controller. In his hardware explanation he outlines several benefits of this choice including built-in support in most of the iPad emulators, as well as foregoing the need for a wired connection. Just above the controls there is a standard docking connector which holds the iPad in place and patches through the audio to some external speakers. But  that’s not all that is included in the build, the final touch is a pico projector that can be used if you want a larger gaming experience. Video of the hardware and a gaming demonstration can be found after the break.

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HID crafting with a PIC and a joystick

[Amr Bekhit] converted his gameport joystick to use as a USB joystick. Much like a universal USB joystick interface, this uses an additional microcontroller to talk to the serial bus while monitoring the controls on the stick. [Amr’s] discussion about creating HID descriptors is clear and easy to understand. What he’s laid out can be translated to any custom HID your heart desires. Give it a try with that old peripheral that’s been gathering dust in the corner.

Interfacing with an analog joystick

[Firestorm_x1] put together a tutorial about interfacing an analog joystick with a microcontroller. These analog sticks are easy to find; he got his from Goodwill but we’ve got a couple in our junk box right now. The stick uses variable resistors to report its position so it’s just a matter of reading and interpreting that data. After explaining the concepts he demonstrates how to use the joystick to control a Basic Stamp 2 based robot, the Boe-Bot. This could easily be adapted for use with other robot platforms.

Cubicle-dwellers rewarded for reflexes

[StudioJooj] is trying to torture or test his colleagues in his office. A lot of folks leave a candy jar on their desks for all to enjoy but he’s making his friends work for their reward. Like cubicle-dwelling lab subjects, they must successfully navigate his maze to be rewarded with chocolate. The game piece is an amazingly orb-like peanut M&M candy. The maze is constructed from plywood and moves on two axis with the help of a couple of servos. The user interface includes a couple of NES console buttons to release the game piece and a PS2 joystick to control the maze. [StudioJooj] was nice enough to include a music video in his project clip.

We wonder the M&Ms will disappear faster or slower than they would from a candy jar.

[via SparkFun]

Joystick controlled alarm clock

While it may sound like a dirty joke, turning off the alarm clock with a wiggle of your joystick is entirely possible here. [Sean] was inspired by the light gun alarm clock featured in Make magazine a while back and decided to build something similar. Instead of going the light gun route, he chose to use a joystick. You set the time on the clock using the joystick and the fire button works as a snooze button. Though it currently doesn’t have a snooze-waggle feature, it could without too much effort.

[Sean]’s server is small. He notes in his comments that he can’t handle the traffic from us. This is why we had to find it our selves instead of him submitting it. Tsk Tsk. To help, we have included the few other pictures of his build after the break. If you really want to overload his poor little server, you’ll find the link to his site here, instead of at the beginning of the article.

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USB accelerometer controller

As you can see above, there is no wiimote in that accessory steering wheel. There is, instead, a home-made accelerometer controller that connects to the pc via USB. Based around a PIC 18F2550 and a 2 axis accelerometer, this device is detected by windows as a standard controller. The schematic and source code are available on his website. He says it can also be used as a “motion mouse”. You can see a video of that after the break.

When we first saw the video, we thought it might be the same person as the accelerometer controlled maze project, due to the wiimote steering wheel casing.

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