Only you can kick a child’s balls into space

We had a lot of fun with that title. Of course when you’re talking about launching a thousand ping pong balls into space there’s no end to the puns which can be made. But this is actually a fantastic initiative to get people of all ages excited about science and near-space experiments. [John Powell] offers school children the opportunity to send an experiment into space. He’s Kickstarting the next launch, which is scheduled to take place in September. This way each entrant can fly their project for free, then get the results and a certificate back once the weather-balloon-based hardware is recovered.

There is one size restriction for the program. Each experiment must fit inside of a ping pong ball. But you’ll be surprised what can be accomplished. [John] reports that the most simple, yet interesting project is to place a small marshmallow inside the ball. As it rises through the atmosphere it will grow to fill the entire ball, then be freeze-dried by the the extreme temperatures. Some are not so low-tech. There’s an image of a tiny PCB holding a DS1337 and some sensors. It’s an atmospheric data logger that will provide plenty of information to analyze upon its return.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

A much larger rainbow board of many ping pongs

[George] started with an 8×8 grid, but just couldn’t help himself from upscaling to this 32×16 pixel ping pong ball display. That’s right, It’s a 512 pixel array of fully addressable RGB LEDs diffused with one ping pong ball each.

We featured the predecessor to this project back in January. That one was an 8×8 display using a Rainbowduino as the controller. [George] took what he learned from that build and expanded upon it. The larger display is modular. Each module starts as an 8×8 grid which connects back to the Arduino using a breakout shield with some Ethernet jacks used as quick connects. The LEDs are driven by 595 shift registers, with transistors which protect the logic chips from the currents being switched.

He had a lot of help soldering all the connections for the display and ended up bringing it to show off at the Manchester mini maker faire. See it in action in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

Tweets send your balls flying (on TV)

Members from the London Hackerspace recently got a little on-air time with a ping pong ball launcher. They were invited to build something for the Click show on BBC. The launcher that they built responds to hash tags on Twitter by barraging the audience with balls.

The hardware was built in two parts. The first is a dispenser that responds to incoming Tweets by releasing one ball onto a set of staging ramps. The other portion is the launcher itself. Building it like this makes it a rapid fire device, as the spinning wheels of the launcher make quick work of several dozen balls just waiting to be let loose. Check out some footage from the show after the jump.

We like this one just as much as that remote controlled launcher. We’re glad to have seen these both because we happen to have a surplus of the balls lying around since we built that clock and we’re not about to undertake some of the more dangerous ping pong based projects we’ve seen. [Read more...]

An odd little box

Here’s an odd little box that might get those creative juices flowing for the upcoming Halloween season. [Jeremy's] creepy glowing box has a pair of ping-pong ball eyes which diffuse the red light from a pair of LEDs. Both the lid and they eyes move, and the whole thing is set up for wireless control.

The majority of the parts came from a toy RC helicopter that [Jeremy] had sitting in his junk bin. After close inspection he found that the electronics included to motor drivers for the two rotors, as well as two servo motors which worked to steer the aircraft. One of those servos has been repurposed to aim the gaze of they eyes left and right, the other servo is used to lift and close the lid of the box. This leaves the two motor controllers, one of which switches the LEDs on and off. The other doesn’t really have a purpose yet. He tried adding one wheel to the box, but turning that on just makes the whole thing crash to the floor. Check out what he’s done so far in the clip after the fold.

[Read more...]

Quadcopter pair plays table tennis without the table

This pair of quad-rotor helicopters does a better job of keeping a ping-pong ball in the air than we could. The two flying drones are performing inside of the flying machine arena, a 1000 cubic meter indoor space surrounded by nets with a foam-padded floor. This makes for a prototype-friendly space, protecting the copters from hard landings and the experimenters from the maiming that might accompany a runaway robot.

This project is headed by researcher [Raffaello D'Andrea]. Previously, we’ve seen his work on a distributed flight array. This time around he’s not working with configurable modules, but completely separate units. Don’t miss the video after the break to see several iterations used to keep a ball in the air. Each bot has the head of a tennis racket mounted at its center. Throw a ball at them and they’ll to what they can to prevent it touching the ground.

While we’re on the topic, we caught a story on NPR about hobby drones. Sounds like their growing popularity has caught the attention of the non-hacker community and restrictions might be on the way. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your own flyer while it’s still the wild-west of personal drones.

[Read more...]

How to build a ping-pong ball display

If you’ve been lusting after your own glowing display we’re here to help by sharing some simple building techniques that will result in an interesting project like the one you see above. This is a super-accurate clock That uses ping-pong balls as diffusers for LEDs, but with a little know-how you can turn this into a full marquee display. Join me after break where I’ll share the details of the project and give you everything you need to know to build your own.

[Read more...]

LED wall and Kinect join forces

[Alex] wrote in to let us know about this Kinect controlled LED wall that was whipped up at the Tetalab hackerspace in Toulouse, France. The wall, which was built earlier in the year, uses some MAX7313 LED intensity controlling shift registers. Each gets its own board and controls the intensity of sixteen different red LEDs. They’re embedded in the wall module and covered with ping-pong balls as diffusers.

The recent activity on the project takes advantage of the Xbox Kinect. As you can see in the video after the break, they’ve used the open source Kinect drivers to capture 3D environment data, processing it into color gradients which are displayed on the Pong wall. Shouldn’t be long before they someone comes knocking on their door to install this in a dance club. We love the effect, especially because it works in a dark room and the LEDs don’t cause any interference with the video capture.

[Read more...]

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