Hand-cranked magnet machine is endless fun


We can’t think of a single person who doesn’t enjoy playing with a handful of rare earth magnets now and again. We know that [Dave Johnson] certainly does. As a gift to his father in law, he constructed a magnificent machine that does little more than manipulate spherical rare earth magnets with hypnotizing grace.

The machine is constructed almost entirely from wood, save for a few fasteners and rods. Even the gears have been carefully cut from wood, with special attention paid to ensure smooth operation. When cranked, the machine slices off a single magnet from one end of a long chain, passing it along to a lift arm. The lift arm deposits the magnet into a metal tube, and with the help of eddy currents, it drifts slowly down before being redeposited at the end of the magnet chain.

Be sure to check out a video demonstration of the machine after the break, it really is fun to watch.

[via LaughingSquid]

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Today’s Arduino Minute

Sometimes projects are vast, complicated, and complex. Other times projects are a bit more on the simple. Today we thought we would share a couple projects with something in common that may be familiar sounding to the more experienced crowd, but may inspire a few readers new to the world of microcontrollers.

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Artisans Asylum Takes on the Machine

You’ll probably lose your appetite after watching part one and part two of Artisans Asylum as they Take on the Machine. Based around the Wallace and Gromit “automated” set of contraptions, the team from Boston set out to make their own breakfast machine. Of course, with only three weeks to work it didn’t exactly turn out as planned. They certainly had some good ideas though, and we were amazingly impressed at their egg cracking machine. But in the end, we wouldn’t want to be first in line for a plate of breakfast. Next is the final team, The Transistor, who will be making a live action zombie video game.

[Thanks Deven]

Machined steadicam, steadier than the rest

No, the picture above is not a store made steadicam. Rather, a CNC machined one by [Matt]. Interestingly, unlike most steadicams we’ve seen before the gimbal is not the main focus of the design though an aluminum machined gimbal would make us drool. The central idea is allowing for X and Y axis adjustment to get oddly weighted bulky camera’s exact center of gravity. [Matt’s] steadicam is also designed to handle more weight than commercial versions, and (if you already have a CNC) to be much cheaper. There’s no video, but from the skill of craftsmanship we can safely assume it’s as good and level as some of the best.

Programmable drum machine

This sequencer, called Drumssette, uses audio tape to churn out some beats. [Mike Walters] built this around a Tascam four track cassette recorder. The tape inside has a different drum sound on each of the tracks, with a corresponding row of red buttons. Pushing a button adds the drum sound to the loop on that beat. He’s using a series of digital logic gates to patch through the sounds as well as clocking the device from one of the tape’s tracks. It’s pretty  neat  to see the focus selector used in the video after the break to sync up the beginning of the repeated drum patterns. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen [Mike’s] work. If you missed it last year take some time to review the Melloman.

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Perfect spiral, every time

[Carmine] let us know about his team’s Automated Football Launcher. Their goal was to combine a football launcher with motion tracking, to allow a player to practice running and catching with the perfect throw. Unfortunately, and we’re not quite sure when, they ended up changing out the Jugs machine for an air cannon, which resulted in the use of foam footballs and the loss of throwing factors such as spiral. Somewhat defeating the purpose but we’ll let it slide; only because we know its going to be shooting potatoes eventually.

The project comes together by using two cameras giving distance and color tracking, combined with a rotating platform (and the best use of garden hose ever), an accurate set-top for their launcher. As seen in the video after the jump, it works out quite nicely. Continue reading “Perfect spiral, every time”

Halloween prop: DIY fog machine


Reader [Daniel] told us about a video detailing how to make your own fog machine. This project uses two disposable roasting pans to create a fog chamber. Inside you will find an upside-down clothes iron to convert fog liquid into a gas. The liquid is gravity-fed from a water-bottle reservoir on top, converted to smoke by the hot iron, then the newly created smoke is directed out of the chamber by a 12 volt fan.

You probably have an old iron sitting around (especially if you use the toner transfer method for making PCBs), as well as a fan of some type. The build method used in the video is not at the level we usually look for. Using one blade of a pair of scissors is not what we recommend for stripping wire insulation. We also don’t advocate hot gluing a wire to a battery for a reliable connection (for that you’d want wire glue). But with better building techniques, and perhaps an air intake fan for better fog direction, this has potential.

The project is predicated on the availability of “fog juice”. We’re probably not going to head out and buy a bottle of that so look into making some yourself from glycerin and demineralized water.