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Motorized binocular chair has you stargazing in comfort

motorized-binocular-chair-for-stargazing-in-comfort

It seems like something out of The Red Green Show but this motorized stargazing chair is a serious piece of astronomical hardware. It has a shelf that places a set of high-power binoculars directly in the user’s line of sight. The elevation is easy to adjust. And a power drill lets you take the whole thing for a spin.

The base has been outfitted with cogs and a chain from an old bicycle. The gear reduction lets a power drill rotate the platform. This worked well enough but [Gary] found that making fine adjustments was rather difficult and more often than not he ended up moving the binoculars to avoid overshooting when adjusting the platform with the drill. Luckily he didn’t give up on the idea. On the eighth and final page of his build log he refines the rotating setup with the help of an ice cream maker. It’s gear box is used as a speed reducer so that a very slow drill speed results in an extremely small heading correction. Now he can view the stars in peace, freed from frustration by a well-refined hack.

Motorized wheelchair built from LEGO pieces

You’re certainly not going to sneak up on anyone if using this LEGO motorized wheelchair. The high-pitched whine of all those tiny motors sounds like an army of robotic mosquitoes out for blood.

Six of the LEGO Mindstorm bricks are used to drive the motors, with a seventh acting as the master. It’s not pictured above, but there is a joystick on the right hand side which allows the rider to navigate. The master brick monitors the four sensors on that joystick. It then uses a pair of motors to actuate switches monitored by the slave bricks. Each slave has one switch for forward, and another for backward and drives two motors. To get around problems with angular velocities dues to turning, all of the wheels are multidirectional.

The plan is to add Bluetooth control in the near future. The master/slave setup should make that relatively easy as it only affects one of the bricks. The idea is to facilitate Android control to the chair like we’ve seen in other Mindstorm builds.

Don’t miss the demo embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

Super Angry Birds is a physical controller for the game

This role reversal is quite entertaining. While the game Angry Birds is a virtual realization of knocking over stuff with a sling-shot, Super Angry Birds adds a physical control element back to the virtual game. It’s silly, but well-executed. The main controller takes advantage a part which we don’t see used very often. It’s a motorized linear actuator which would most often be seen on a high-end audio console.

Check out the video after the break to see the controller in action. The linear encoder is used to simulate pulling the rubber sling shot back. It uses the motorized feature to spring back in place, but we’re not sure whether or not the motor also provides resistance during the pull. The laser cut case also includes a companion in the form of a TNT trigger box al-a Wile E Coyote.

If this isn’t real enough for you perhaps this slingshot controller will suffice.

[Read more...]

Motorized camera rig makes panoramic shooting simple

diy-panorama-rig

Where some people might see a pile of junk, Hackaday reader and budget-conscious photo nut [FantomFotographer] sees inspiration. He was in search of a rig that would help him take better panoramic photos and found all that he needed to build one right around him.

He had an old tripod kicking around, which serves as the base for rig. At the top sits a pair of servos [FantomFotographer] attached to the tripod with some scrap wood, screws, and glue. The servos are driven by an Arduino Nano, which sits comfortably in a plastic enclosure he scavenged from trash heap. He uses an IR receiver to control the whole thing, which allows him to not only change shooting angles, but camera settings as well.

While it might sound like all is well with his upcycled camera rig, [FantomFotographer] says that like every project, there is some room for improvement. He’s keeping the source code under wraps at the moment, but once he gets everything working to his liking, he says that he’ll release it.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the cool panoramas he has put together.

Photographing near-space objects we’re not supposed to know about

[Thierry Legault] doesn’t just look up at the stars, the uses a motorized telescope base of his own making to track and photograph secret objects orbiting the earth. What do we mean by ‘secret objects’? Spy stuff, of course.

Last month he captured some video of the X-37B, an unmanned and secretive reusable spacecraft (read: spy shuttle) which is operated by the United States Air Force. That was back on the 21st of May but a few nights later he also saw the USA-186, an optical reconnaissance (Keyhole) satellite.

After trying to cope with manual tracking using the RC control seen above [Thierry] set out to upgrade his equipment. He ended up designing his own software package (and then released it as freeware) to automatically track the trajectory of orbiting objects. He uses a second telescope to locate the object, then dials it in with the bigger telescope. Once in frame, the software takes over.

[Wired via Dangerous Prototypes]

Kinect-driven cart makes shopping a snap

wi_go

[Luis de Matos] is working on a neat Kinect project called Wi-GO that aims, as many do, to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. While the Wi-GO project is geared towards disabled persons, it can be quite helpful to the elderly and pregnant women as well.

Wi-GO is a motorized shopping cart with a Kinect sensor mounted on the back. The sensor interfaces with a laptop and functions much as you would as you would expect, scanning the area in front of the cart for objects and people. Once it identifies the individual it is meant to help, the cart diligently follows behind as the person goes about their typical shopping routine. The robot keeps a safe distance to avoid collisions, but remains within reach so that it can be used to carry goods.

If you take a look a the video below, you can see Wi-GO in action. It starts off by showing how difficult it would be for an individual in a wheel chair to use a shopping cart alone, and follows up by showing how much easier things are with Wi-GO in tow.

While the project is only in prototype form at the moment, we suspect that it will only be a matter of time until you see devices like Wi-GO in your local supermarket.

[Read more...]

Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor’s dream ride

While surfing one of our favorite websites, we came upon this little jewel. We can’t really tell if this is hack-worthy, or just a deathtrap, so to help decide…

Mechanics crawler + 80cc motor – safety concerns = deathtrap

It’s really that final “Brakes? Why would I need to stop?” that puts this project over the edge. Regardless, check out a video after the break. And please, do not try this at home.

[Read more...]

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