Your Living Room Becomes Next Mario Kart Course

RomoCart, Indoor Robot Racing

[Ken] likes his living room and he is on a continual mission to make it more interesting. Recently, he has made a giant leap forward with a racing game project he calls RomoCart. Think of it as a partially-physical game of Mario Kart. You are able to race others around a track while still having the ability to fire projectiles or drop defensive measures in efforts to win the race!

First, lets talk about the hardware required. The racers are standard Romo educational robots. Wireless game controllers provide the means for the drivers to control the Romos. Hanging from the ceiling is an Xtion motion sensing camera and a video projector, both pointed down at the floor.

To get started, the system scans the floor and determines a race course based on the room layout and any physical objects in the vicinity. A course is then generated to avoid the obstacles and is projected onto the floor. At this point it would still be a pretty neat project but [Ken] went way further. The ceiling-mounted camera tracks the motion of the Romos driving around the track and the video projector displays a smoke trail behind each racer. Randomly displayed on the track are items to help you win the race, including an acceleration item that makes your Romo go twice as fast for a short time.

Have a tailgater? No problem, just pick up some bananas and drop them on the track. If a following competitor drives into one, they spin out. If you want to get super rude, pick up some missiles and fire them at the racers ahead of you. A direct hit will stop them right in their tracks.

[Ken] is no stranger to HaD, he’s had a few of his projects covered here before. Check out his Tempescope, Moving Window and his Autonomous Lighting System.

Check out a video of the racing in action after the break. It is amazing!

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Motion sensitive RGB lamp can standby for 3 years

Ooooh, nice enclosure! This is a little motion sensing lamp which [Krazatchu] built a few years back as a Mother’s Day gift. The PIR sensor is easy enough to see as the white dome on the front of the case. But look closely below that and you’ll see the LDR which it uses to keep the thing asleep during the day. This is intended to save on batteries but the original version still ate through them like crazy. This year he gutted it and worked out a much more power-friendly design.

He moved to a TLC1079 OpAmp which greatly reduced power consumption when reading from the PIR sensor. The microcontroller was also upgraded from an ATtiny13 to an ATmega328, making the new version Arduino compatible. It puts itself to sleep and keeps the lights out during the day, drawing just 0.08 mA. When driving the RGB LED the lamp pulls about 50 mA. That should still last a while on three AA batteries but we’d still recommend using rechargeables.

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Halloween Hacks: Motion sensing fog machine

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motion-sensing-fogger

[monkeysinacan] wanted to add a fog machine to his Halloween display, but he says that the cheaper consumer-grade models are pretty unruly beasts. He cites short duty cycles and tricky fog control as his two biggest gripes with these sorts of foggers. He decided make the fogging process a little more manageable, and modified his to only generate fog when someone was walking nearby.

One obvious concern with this sort of setup is the warm-up time required to get the device ready to produce fog. If it were to only turn on when someone walked by, [monkeysinacan] would miss his mark each and every time. To ensure that his machine was accurate, he rigged it so that the heat exchanger stayed powered on, triggering the fog juice pump as needed.

To do this, he used an ultrasonic sensor similar to, but cheaper than a Parallax Ping unit. Paired with an Arduino, the sensor triggers the fog machine’s pump for 20 seconds whenever anyone gets within 6 feet of it.

While he hasn’t posted video of the modified fogger at work, it sounds like a solid plan to us.

DIY portal turret is… looking pretty good.

[Ryan Palser] wrote in to tell us about his Portal Turret. [Ryan] set about making this Portal 1 style turret by first carving a Styrofoam form, bondo and waxing then casting molds of the various components. Anyone interested in mold making (like us) should check out all the pictures and comments in the stream. The turret’s camera lens style eye has some excellent detail including a laser cut aperture with text inlay. A couple LEDs behind the eye assembly provide the signature red glow and evidently [Ryan] also fitted the little guy with a red laser. An internal Arduino (Incident Resolution Chip?) takes ques from a PIR sensor mounted in one of the turret’s arms to play one of 17 sound clips through a sparkfun MP3 player shield. In order to fight repetition the sound module runs through a playlist of the 17 tracks then shuffles it before playing through again. Theme music can also be spammed by pressing a button in the back of the motion sensing arm. The turret can be battery powered or plugged into a wall socket for constant operation. All that’s missing are the Aperture-Brand Resolution Pellets. We would love to see this integrated with some similar turret projects previously featured here.

Are you still there? We have more Aperture Science stuff including a Sentry Turret, Weighted Companion Cube, and even a portal shirt. If you are interested in more model making check out the spectacular Daft Punk helmet build from a little while back.

Shedding some light on your kitchen chores

led_light_bar

[Garret] over at Macetech wanted to supplement the lighting over his kitchen sink, which is always too dark at night. He says his house is a “geek house”, so a standard light socket just wouldn’t do – he would have to construct a LED bar for over the sink instead.

Since nobody wants to use a light switch with wet or messy hands, he did what anyone would do and rigged up a motion detection circuit to automatically turn the lights on and off for him. 16 bright white 10mm LEDs were mounted in some foam core board, along with a PIR motion sensor. He used an ATiny84 to handle the PWM fade-in and fade-out of the lights, as well as to keep track of the activity (or lack thereof) at the sink.

He does admit that the ATiny84 is way overpowered for this project, but he lacked anything smaller, and says that 555 timers wouldn’t give him the smooth light fading that he desired. Regardless, it works as advertised, and now nobody has to peel potatoes in the dark any more.

Continue reading to check out a quick video demo of the motion-sensing light system.

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Air freshener hacking

In an effort to improve his marital standing [Tech B] hacked an air freshener to make it Internet controllable. The main component here is a Glade Sense and Spray. It cost him $7 and is meant to spray out some sweet smells when it senses motion in the room. The unit also has a manual spray button which he patched into with the help of a relay. From there some Arduino code and an IRC bot take over, letting him unleash freshness from anywhere he has IRC access.

When reading about this we were also thinking: “motion sensing circuitry available at local stores for just $7?”. We may have to conduct an investigation into the alternative usefulness of that package.

If you have another brand of automatic freshener around it should be just as easy to hack as this one was.

Compound eyes for your robot

In this writeup, you can see how to build a cheap compound eye system for your robot.  Using 4 IR LEDs and 4 phototransistors, [oddbot] gave “Mr General” the ability to follow movement in objects fairly well, assuming that they are within 200 mm. Being IR, it has the typical drawbacks such as sensitivity to light or overly reflective surfaces, but we like the idea. It is perfect for a nocturnal or low light robot.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

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