Motion tracking prop from Alien movie

[Erv Plecter] likes to recreate movie props that actually work. This time around he’s making the motion detector device from the original Alien movie. You’ll immediately remember this prop after seeing and hearing it in the video after the break. For our money, the most brilliant part of that movie was the use of rhythmic sounds to boost the intensity of the tension in the viewer. [Erv’s] build captures that feeling, with the steady beat of sonar and the rising pitch of a ping as an object moves towards you. The device can easily track your own movement, as it contains both a GPS module and an electronic compass. He mentions that there is a motion sensor as well, but is a bit vague about how that part of the build works. Still, it’s a nice little piece which looks great despite not being quite finished yet.

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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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German engineering produces an overcomplicated scarecrow

This electronic scarecrow keeps the birds away and makes your neighbors hate you at the same time. That’s because its way too loud, even if the next house is far away. The conrad.de folks that brought us the climbing bike storage device are at it again, putting together car audio and strings of lights as part of the bird-shoo-ing technology. In the video after the break you’ll see that they’re using a PIR motion sensor to switch power to an automotive amp and head unit. The speakers, strings of lights, and spinning doo-dads are all hidden under a black cape. When an unsuspecting bird tries to feast on the crops, the scarecrow unfolds its arm Dracula-style and raises a ruckus. We don’t expect to see this at a local farm, but maybe for next Halloween?

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Motion activated wildlife camera (or a spy device)

Now you can capture pictures of our furry friends by building a motion activated wildlife camera. [Doug Paradis] took his Air Freshener hack and used it to trigger a camera. The white dome in the picture above is the PIR sensor from an Air Wick Freshmatic, along with a cheap keychain camera and an MSP430 microcontroller. He used one of the chips that came with the TI Launchpad, a transistor, and some discreet components to interface the devices and then put them into a project box. Now he’s got a fully configurable motion-sensing camera.

Window curtain moves to screen pedestrians

[Niklas Roy] built a motorized window curtain to screen out foot traffic in front of his window. When you hear “motorized curtain” you may think that this will move up and down but it doesn’t. Instead, the small curtain move horizontally to cover passersby as they travel down the sidewalk. This is accomplished using a camera in conjunction with some motion sensing software. In the video after the break you can see that the software also anticipates the movement, and ends up doing a good job of keeping the target covered. That’s thanks to the Processing sketch working in conjunction with a rotary encoder on the hardware setup. Details for both are available on the page linked above.

This harkens to other community involvement hacks we’ve seen like the subway stair piano, or the bottle recycling video game. It’s fun and quirky, which is not too much of a surprise as we saw a glimpse of that when we looked at [Niklas’] public fountain hydropower generator.

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Wearable controller for your paintball tank

If you’re too frail to take the full impact of a paintball round let this tank serve as your surrogate. The camera perched on top of the platform feeds video back to the operator’s head-mounted display. Instead of using a joystick or other traditional controller, the user aims by looking around, with his or her head movements mimicked by the camera and barrel of the tank. It looks cooler than it sounds so jump with us after the break to see for yourself. If you’re playing against this thing, we’d recommend aiming for the camera lens.

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Nerf sentry turret

With exams behind him [Adam Greig] had time to make a Nerf sentry gun. It’s actually quite easy to pull everything together. He’s got a netbook running Motion, an open source motion sensing program for use with a webcam. When movement is detected an Arduino, connected via a USB cable, actuates a servo to pull the trigger of the gun. The turret itself has seen a battery upgrade that increases the firing speed. It’s fun to see hardware prototyping done with a few pencils and a fist full of cable ties. Check it out after the break.

This particular toy, the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan, has become quite a popular starting point for turrent projects. We’ve seen one that uses a motorized base, and another that was part of a final project at Cornell.

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