Bird buggy soothes a screeching parrot

bird

[Andrew] has enjoyed the company of [Pepper] the parrot for more than a decade, but the screeching of a bird in the next room is something you just don’t get used to. [Pepper] gets very lonely some times, and short of having someone carry him around on a shoulder, there’s not much that will calm this parrot down. [Andrew] had the idea of allowing [Pepper] to wander around the house with the help of a mobile platform. Thus was born the Bird Buggy, a parrot-controlled vehicle built just for [Pepper].

The buggy itself is a basic two-wheel drive platform driven with a small beak-compatible joystick mounted just forward of [Pepper]‘s perch. With this system, it’s possible for [Pepper] to follow [Andrew] through the house. [Andrew] wanted to make sure [Pepper] couldn’t drive into walls or table legs, so a suite of sensors on the front stops the buggy whenever an object is detected.

One very cool feature of the bird buggy is its ability to drive itself to a recharging station. It does this with the help of a webcam and OpenCV and a pair of markers just behind the charging port. When the Beagleboard on the buggy sees the green and yellow markers for the charging port align, it knows its directly in front of the charging port.

You can see [Pepper] driving his new whip around after the break, along with a very cool demo of the bird buggy docking with its charging port.

[Read more...]

Adding Node.js based sensors to the Parrot AR drone

[Max Ogden] wanted the option to add sensors to his Parrot AR Drone. This a commercially available quadcopter which runs Linux. This makes it rather easy for him to use Node.js to read the sensors from an Arduino board. The use of the Arduino is merely for easy prototyping. It is only needed to bridge the drone’s serial port with a sensor’s delivery method, so just about any microcontroller could be substituted for it.

There are some hardware considerations to take into account. The manufacturer was nice enough to populate a 0.1″ pitch pin socket on the serial port (if only this kind of invitation to mess with hardware was an industry standard). But the device expects 3.3V levels so pick your hardware accordingly. There is one commenter who tried the project for themselves and found that the drone wouldn’t boot up with the Arduino already connect — he had to boot and then complete connections. Troubles aside this makes adding your own sensor payload very simple and you don’t have to wait until landing to get at the data.

Maybe we’ll have to add some shock voltage data reporting to our shockerDrone.

This digital picture frame runs Linux better than you might think

Ah, the beauty of spreading the guts of some hackable hardware across your workbench. This happens to be the circuit board and LCD screen from a Parrot DF3120 digital picture frame. The device is pretty powerful, considering you can still find them available for around $25. You’ll get a 3.5″ screen, ARM9 processor with 8MB or RAM, Bluetooth, a tilt sensor, and more. It seem that [BusError], [Sprite_tm], [Claude], and few others really went to town and spilled all of the secrets this device has to offer.

Their goal of the hack was to get their own Linux kernel running. It is possible to reprogram the processor using its JTAG interface. And if you really want to drill down to the good stuff, there’s access to all of the BGA pins on the bottom of the board thanks to a grid of micro vias. But the device can be tricked into flashing your own firmware just by altering a stock upgrade image.

You can get a pretty good idea of what there is to do once you’ve replaced the firmware from the video after the break. A RAM upgrade (using a chip from an old PC133 stick) lets the video run smoothly as it’s controlled via a Wii remote.

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CES: Parrot AR Drone update

Here’s a small update on the AR Drone from Parrot. We finally got this video uploaded. It isn’t anything fantastic, but you get a good view of the board on the bottom of the device. You can clearly see a tiny camera in the middle and what looks like sonar range finders toward the front of the drone.

As some commenters have stated, this looks like a more robust platform of the X-UFO. We haven’t seen the X-UFO, but the salesperson even mentioned it. Check out some flight video after the break. We’ve shot some flight video of our own that we’ll have up soon. [Read more...]

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