Animal testing has always been a subject of much debate. On one hand, it allows us to determine if something is probably safe for humans. On the other hand, it’s injuring and killing the very animals that help us escape that same fate. Any way you look at it, be thankful you’re not a lab rat. Being a mammal, they share a similar physiology with us. They are also easy to breed and easy to dispose of. These characteristics make them the prime subject for testing the safety of drugs and treatments that might one day be used on humans. Scientists at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, have created a new rat nemesis – the WR-3, a robot designed specifically to stress and depress lab animals in the name of science.
Depression isn’t normally something rats have to worry about in the wild. So, the WR-3 tries to instill it upon them. The robot has three functions: attacking continuously (relentlessly rams the victim), attacking interactively (attacks for 5 seconds whenever the victim moves, then stops), and chasing (stays right next to the victim but never attacks). The scientists found that the best way to make the rats depressed was to attack them continuously in their youth, then attack interactively as they get older.
With the data the scientists gain from these new experiments, they hope to learn more about human depression and hopefully come up with more successful treatments. There isn’t a lot of specific information we could find about the WR-3, but we’ll keep you posted.
[Heinrich Laue] was kind of a latecomer to the fake guitar playing video game phenomenon. He played Frets on Fire — an open source clone of the game — on PC and eventually bought a copy of Guitar Hero World Tour. But playing on the keyboard was a drag. Instead of buying a controller he built his own hacked Guitar Hero controller from a scrapped keyboard and a toy guitar.
The plastic toy he started with was screwed together. This is a really nice since it’s almost impossible to open toys that have been welded together. There was plenty of room inside for all his components and even some space to run the wires.
He started the electronic portion of the build by tracing out the keyboard matrix to figure out which solder pads he could tap into. The strum bar uses a door hinge with buttons on either side of it. When you move it back and forth it hits the buttons, with the spring mechanism in each returning it back to center. The fret buttons are keys from the keyboard, but the switches uses were pulled from a few computer mice. But the real innovation comes into play when he added the Star Power tilt sensor and whammy bar. Follow the link above to find out how he did it.
This set of PVC cranks make you work for your game of Puzzle Bobble, also known as Bust-a-Move. It uses a little cannon centered at the bottom of the screen to pop bubbles based on like colors. There is a cartoon character that cranks as hard as it can to aim that cannon, and this hack brings that effort into the real world.
The controllers are made from PVC. A bit of creative use of joints and different pipe diameters make for a freely rotating rig. Rotation is monitored via the optical encoder wheel from an old mouse. Above you can also see the plastic container that hosts the ‘fire’ button. Since the mouse is already an input device, there’s no other electronic work to be done. Just plug the controllers in and map the wheel/buttons to the game you want to play. Make sure to check out the demo video embedded after the break.
If Angry Birds is more of what you’re playing these days you should consider building your own slingshot controller.
Continue reading “Bust-a-Move physical controller”
What if we could do away with mice and just wear a thimble as a control interface? That’s the concept behind Magic Finger. It adds as movement tracking sensor and RGB camera to your fingertip.
Touch screens are great, but what if you want to use any surface as an input? Then you grab the simplest of today’s standard inputs: a computer mouse. But take that one step further and think of the possibilities of using the mouse as a graphic input device in addition to a positional sensor. This concept allows Magic Finger to distinguish between many different materials. It knows the difference between your desk and a piece of paper. Furthermore, it opens the door to data transfer through a code scheme they call a micro matrix. It’s like a super small QR code which is read by the camera in the device.
The concept video found after the break shows off a lot of cool tricks used by the device. Our favorite is the tablet PC controlled by moving your finger on the back side of the device, instead of interrupting your line of sight and leaving fingerprints by touching the screen.
Continue reading “Magic Finger input device is a camera on your finger tip”
If you’ve got an old mouse sitting around that has that perfect retro look why not start using it again? We’d bet there’s just enough room in there to turn the input device wireless.
The hack does away with everything but the case. The guts from a brand new wireless laser mouse are used as replacements. For the most part this is a simple process of making room for the new board and laying it in place. It involves cutting off a few plastic case nubs, enlarging the hole on the bottom so that the laser has a clear line of sight to the desktop, and hot gluing the thing in place. The button cover had a bit of plastic glued in place so that it lines up correctly with the replacement mouse’s switch.
The only thing that didn’t work out well is the battery situation. The AA cell that the mouse needs was too big for the retrofit so it was swapped with an AAA. These have a lower capacity which means more frequent replacement.
This is a special controller that [Gary Scott] built to help train camera operators. The pan and tilt controls on high-end movie cameras use wheels to pan and tilt smoothly. This rig can be built rather inexpensively and used to practice following a subject as you would with a camera. This is where the project takes a turn into familiar territory. [Gary] set up a system so that you can play the game Quake using this controller, with your feet doing the rest.
The pan/tilt controller uses two heads from an old VCR. They are mounted above the guts from an old ball-type mouse. A couple of rubber belts connect the heads to the two mouse bars that are normally rotated by the ball. This gives him control of where the Quake game is looking. But he still needed to be able to move, jump, change weapons. and shoot. So he built a second controller for his feet. It uses a CD and some switches as a joystick, and a set of buttons for the other controls. He actually rigged up solenoids to each of those foot switches to physically press keys on a keyboard. You really must see it for yourself. We’ve embedded his set of videos after the break.
Continue reading “Pan/Tilt wheel trainer ends up being a different way to play Quake”
[Vinod’s] latest project lets him use a TV remote control as a mouse. It may not sound like much, but he did it with a minimum of hardware and packed in the maximum when it comes to features.
He’s using an ATmega8 to read the remote control signals and provide USB connectivity. With the V-USB stack he enumerates the device as an HID mouse. One note of warning, he used the PID/VID pair from the USBasp programmer project. If you use that programmer you’ll need to uninstall the drivers to get this to work (we think this is only necessary on a Windows box).
The cursor can be moved in eight directions using the number pad on the remote. The numeral five falls in the center of the directional buttons so [Vinod] mapped that to the left click, with the zero key serving as right click. He even included the scroll wheel by using the volume buttons. The firmware supports cursor acceleration. If you hold one direction the cursor will move slowly at first,then pick up speed. Fine adjustments can be made by single clicking the button. Check out his demonstration embedded after the break.
Continue reading “Use your TV remote as an HID mouse”