Remember in the late 90s and early 2000s when everything had blue LEDs in them? Blinding blue LEDs that lit up a dark room like a Christmas tree? Nobel prize. There’s a good /r/askscience thread on why this is so important. The TL;DR is that it’s tough to put a p-type layer on gallium nitride.
Have a Segway and you’re a member of the 501st? Here’s your Halloween costume. It’s a model of the Aratech 74-Z speeder bike, most famously seen careening into the side of trees on the forest moon of Endor.
[Andrew] needed something to do and machined an iPhone 5 out of a block of aluminum. Here’s the video of icon labels being engraved. The machine is a Denford Triac with a six station auto tool changer. He’s running Mach3, and according to him everything – including the correct tooling – cost far too much money.
Another [Andrew] was working the LEGO booth at Maker Faire New York and has finally gotten his LEGO Mindstorms Minecraft Creeper build written up. Yes, it’s probably smarter than your average Minecraft Creeper, and this one also blows up. He also had a physical version of the classic video game from 1979, Lunar Lander. Both are extremely awesome builds, and a great way to attract kids of all ages to a booth.
[Wilfred] was testing a titanium 3D printer at work and was looking for something to print. The skull ‘n wrenches was a suitable candidate, and the results are fantastic. From [Wilfred]: “Just out of the printer the logo looks amazing because it isn’t oxidized yet (inside the printer is an Argon atmosphere) Then the logo moves to an oven to anneal the stress made by the laser. But then it gets brown and ugly. After sandblasting we get a lovely bluish color as you can see in the last picture.”
The folks at Lulzbot/Aleph Objects are experimenting with their yet-to-be-released printer, codenamed ‘Begonia’. They’re 2D printing, strangely enough, and for only using a standard Bic pen, the results look great.
Everyone is going crazy over the ESP8266 UART to WiFi module. There’s another module that came up on Seeed recently, the EMW3162. It’s an ARM Cortex M3 with plenty of Flash, has 802.11 b/g/n, and it’s $8.50 USD. Out of stock, of course.
Have you ever seen a wet sloth? They’re pretty scary. If that’s not bad enough, how do you feel about a robotic one?
Named the X-4 “Sloth”, this is one of [222Doc’s] hardest projects to date — a highly experimental quadra-ped that can climb up and across ladders. It makes use of a Lego Mindstorms NXT controller, 8 servo motors for the joints, 4 Power Function Motors for the hands, and a whole lot of Lego. Due to the number of motors, he also had to multiplex the Power Function servos to make it all work!
Sure, it’s Lego, but it was far from an easy project, as [222Doc] estimates he spent well over a hundred hours on it, and it still isn’t complete. He says he’ll never say to himself “this will be easy…” ever again.
Stick around after the break to see it scale this ladder — we wish they sped up the video though, it appears the movement speed is modeled after a real sloth…
Continue reading “Robotic Sloth Haunts Your Dreams”
[J. Benschop] is teaching his nine-year-old son electronics by giving him a few wires, LEDs, and batteries. Eventually, the son looked over at his dad’s workbench and wondered what the little bug-shaped rectangles did. Microcontrollers and embedded programming are just a bit too advanced for someone who hasn’t hit a double-digit age, but [J] figured he could still have his son experience the awesomeness of programming electronics by building a custom electronic Lego microcontroller system.
This isn’t as complex as a Lego Mindstorms system. Really, it’s only an ATMega and a 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver. Still, that’s more than enough to add a few sensors and motor drivers, and an awesome introduction to electronics development. The enclosure for the LegoDuino is, of course, compatible with every Lego brick on the planet. It’s made from a 6×16 plate, three blocks high, with enough room for the electronics, three AA batteries, and the IO headers.
Programming an ATMega, even with the Arduino IDE, is a little beyond the capacity of [J. Benschop]’s nine-year-old son, so he made a few changes to the Minibloq programming environment to support the newly created LegoDuino. It’s a graphical programming language that kids of just about any age can pick up quickly, and with the included RF transceiver inside the ‘Duino, it can even be programmed wirelessly.
It’s an amazing piece of work, and much, much simpler than even the noob-friendly Lego Mindstorms. Not as powerful, though, but when you’re just teaching programming and electronics, you really don’t need much.
[Eric Steenstra], from the Netherlands, decided to build a GoKart entirely from LEGO Mindstorm parts. Tested at being able to carry just over 100Kg in weight, a 16 stone man(224 lbs). This GoKart can easily carry a child and propel him along. Eric used 48 stock Mindstorm motors, geared down, and 16 battery packs to provide a balance between torque and speed.
This vehicle doesn’t expect to win any races in the speed department. From the point of view of being something different this wins hands down. The Karts first test drive was only two weeks ago so drivability and durability are still under development at this stage. See the video after the break on this monstrous Mindstorms creation.
Continue reading “Le-GoKART; a GoKart built entirely from Lego”
Modern society owes so much to medical research, though what happens behind the scenes in a laboratory is usually far less than glamorous. A group of scientists at the University of Cambridge are working to develop synthetic bone tissue, but the process to create the samples used in the study is incredibly tedious.
To make the bones, a substructure must be dipped in a mixture of calcium and protein, rinsed, then dipped in a mixture of phosphate and protein…hundreds and hundreds of times. Equipment that can automate the process is available but very cost prohibitive, so the scientists did what they do best and built a set of robots to do the work for them.
Their new bone manufacturing setup was constructed using Lego Mindstorm kits, which were a perfect solution to their problem in several ways. The kits are relatively cheap, easy to construct, easy to program, and able to perform the same function precisely for days on end.
Now instead of burning time manually creating synthetic bone samples, the group can focus on the more important facets of their research.
Continue reading to see a video presented at the 2012 Google Science Fair, showing how everything came together for the crew at Cambridge.
Continue reading “Lego Mindstorms used to automate tedious laboratory tasks”
It’s no mystery that we like the Kinect around here, which is why we’re bringing you a Kinect two-fer today.
We have seen video hacks using the Kinect before, and this one ranks up there on the coolness scale. In [Torben’s] short film about an animation student nearly missing his assignment deadline, the Kinect was used to script the animation of a stick figure model. The animation was captured and built in Maya, then overlaid on a separate video clip to complete the movie. The overall quality is great, though you can notice some of the typical “jitter” that the Kinect is known for, and there are a few places where the model sinks into the floor a bit.
If you want to try your hand at animation using the Kinect, all of the scripts used to make the movie are available on the creator’s site for free. [via Kinect-Hacks]
Our second Kinect item comes in the form of a gesture driven Lego MindStorms bot. Using OpenNI along with Primesense for body tracking, [rasomuro] was able to use simple motions to drive his NXT bot around the house. His movements are tracked by the Kinect sensor which are translated into commands relayed to the robot via his laptop’s Bluetooth connection. Since the robot has two motors, he mapped couple of simple arm motions to drive the bot around. We’ll be honest when we say that the motions remind us of Will Farrell’s “Frank the Tank” scene in Old School, but [rasomuro] says that he is trying to simulate the use of levers to drive the bot. Either way, it’s pretty cool.
Videos of both hacks are embedded below for your perusal.
If you are interested in seeing some more cool Kinect hacks be sure to check out this Minecraft interface trio, this cool Kinect realtime video overlay, and this Kinect-Nerf gun video game interface.
Continue reading “Kinect Two-fer: MoCap movie and robot control”
Here’s a double-dose of Lego NXT goodness; a robotic tank and an automatic aquarium heater.
The image to the left is a robotic tank powered by the popular Lego Mindstorms NXT kit. The brains rest inside of a tube, including the controller brick, ultrasonic range finder, a gyroscope, and a compass. Two sets of treads surround each edge of the tube making us wonder which end is up? We’ve embedded a video of this beast after the break. You’ll see that the tank is incredibly agile in this configuration.
To the right is an aquarium heater. [Dave’s] kid were growing some tiny water dwellers which we’ve always know as Sea-Monkeys. The problem is that the tank needs to be between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit for the little shrimp to thrive. He dug out his NXT controller and paired it up with the Lego temperature sensor and a dSwitch relay. This setup monitors the Aquarium for temperatures between 72-78 degrees and switches a lamp on an off to regulate the temperature. This keeps his kids and the stagnant pool happy.
Now that we’ve whet your appetite for NXT check out the wiimote operated NXT Segway and the NXT Sudoku solver.
Continue reading “NXT hacks: tanks and heaters”