Hackaday Links: November 9, 2014

After many years of searching, [Dan Wood] finally got his hands on something he’s wanted for the past twenty-two years: an Amiga 4000. No, it’s not the queen bee of Amiga land – that honor would fall to the 68060-equipped 4000T, but [Dan]’s 4000 is decked out. It has a 256MB RAM expansion, Ethernet, USB, and a Picasso IV graphics card that gives it better resolution and color depth than most modern laptops.

[Pistonpedal] has a fully automatic pneumatic can crusher that is far too cool to be wasted on a case of Keystone. A funnel at the top guides the cans in to be crushed one at a time and ejected into a garbage can underneath. Great for recycling.

Coming over from ‘normal’ programming into the world of embedded development? [AndreJ] has the AVR C Macro for you. It’s a great way to get away from all those ~=, |=, and &=s that don’t make any sense at all.

[CNLohr] has a reputation for running Minecraft servers on things that don’t make any sense at all. The latest build is a light up redstone ore block equipped with an ESP8266 WiFi chip.

Oh, the Hackaday overlords and underlings are in Munich for this little shindig we’re doing. If you in town for Electronica come on down. If you have a copy of Neil Young’s Trans, bring it to the party.

Ask Hackaday: Who is Going to Build This Pneumatic Transmission Thing?

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Disney research is doing what they do best, building really cool stuff for Disney and telling the rest of the world how cool they are. This time, it’s a very low friction fluid transmission device designed for animatronics.

From testing a few toy robotic arms, we can say without a doubt that servos and motors are not the way to go if you’re designing robots and animatronics that need lifelike motion. To fix this, a few researchers at Disney Pittsburgh have turned to pneumatics and hydraulics, where one joint is controlled by two sets of pistons. It’s extremely similar to the pneumatic LEGO, but more precise and much more lifelike.

The system uses a pair of cylinders on each joint of a robot. Disney is using a rolling diaphragm to seal the working fluid in its tubes and cylinders. This is an extremely low-friction device without any shakiness or jitters found with simple o-ring pneumatics and hydraulics.

The system is backdriveable, meaning one robotic arm can control another, and the other way around. Since we’re dealing with hydraulics, the cylinders (and robotic/animatronic devices) don’t need to be the same size; a small device could easily control a larger copy of itself, and vice versa.

The devices are fairly simple, with gears, toothed belts, and bits of plastic between them. The only unique part of these robots is the rolling diaphragm, and we have no idea where to source this. It looks like it would be great for some robotics or an Iron Man-esque mech suit, but being able to source the components will be a challenge.

You can check out the videos of these devices below, and if you have any idea on how to build your own, leave a note in the comments.

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Red Bull Creation: i3 Detroit

If there’s one thing I learned about Detroit last weekend, it’s that it is freaking huge. It’s an unbelievably large city, and looking at the population numbers, you can really start to see the problem of providing city services to such a large area. With such a sparse population, it’s the ideal environment for experimentations in urban farming, after a few seasons of planting crops that will leech everything out of the soil of course.

If you have a farm, you’re going to need some means of irrigation, and you might as well throw a scarecrow in there as well, giving i3 Detroit the idea for RoboCrop, the perfect project for an urban farm or anyone who is putting on a production of The Wizard Of Oz but is a little shorthanded for a full cast.

RoboCrop is an all-in-one irrigation and bird and small mammal scaring device, controllable with webcam video streamed right to the remote. It’s a fun project, and fits right into the apparent unofficial “urban gardening” theme of this year’s Red Bull Creation.

i3 is also the largest and arguably the best equipped hackerspace in the Detroit region. They were kind enough to let us throw a little get together there last weekend where we gave away a 3D printer for The Hackaday Prize. Good times all around. We’ll have a video tour of i3 up a little bit later.

DIY Pneumatic Skeleton and Air Horn Gag to Scare Those Trick-Or-Treaters

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[Rick Osgood] has been busy making more scaring gags for Halloween. This week he’s sharing great ideas for an air horn and pneumatic jumping skeleton, both actuated by 24 V sprinkler valves. These two new gags can easily be activated using [Rick’s] cardboard floor plate switch and three 9 V batteries cleverly snapped together in series for a 27 V supply (we can’t resist dropping in this link to a 2196 V supply from 9 V batteries just for fun).

The air horn construction is quite unique using a latex balloon strategically located as a reed valve for the air to vibrate over as it rushes out making a very loud honking sound. [Rick] then connected his manual bicycle pump to an air supply so that when an air valve is actuated the bicycle pump handle with a skeleton wired to it pops up. It then lowers back down via a bleed hole in the air line. Both the air horn and pneumatic pop-up skeleton seem simple to construct and his tests show them functioning perfectly.

Being the air storage chambers are small the re-trigger setup seems too repetitive to be practical for a continuous stream of Trick-Or-Treaters. Perhaps one could hide an air compressor with a long feed line to supply the gags? Plus, using an air compressor would come in handy for other scary blasts of air. Of course you would want to lower the compressor’s output regulator to safe levels so you don’t risk blowing apart your pop-up skeleton rig or any pipes.

Follow along after the break to see how to build these two great gags and get some tips from Mr. Safety.

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Tooth Fairy goes pneumatic

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Kids’ fantasy figures are long overdue for some tech upgrades, so MAKE’s [Jeff Highsmith] carved a few holes in the walls and built a pneumatic transport system for his children to deliver their teeth to the Tooth Fairy. The project uses a system of 1.5″ PVC pipe with a central vacuum in the attic and two endpoint stations, one in each child’s room. Alternating which station has the closed valve and open door dictates the airflow path and shuttles a small plastic travel bottle from one station to the next.

Each station has its own iPhone interface that sends data to a Raspberry Pi and relays information, including a simulated map indicating the travel path taken by the tooth. Apart from controlling the vacuum via one of the Pi’s GPIO, the phone serves primarily as a visual distraction for the children while one parent sneaks off into the other room and replaces the tooth with some pocket change. [Jeff] made sure to add a locking door on each station to limit access and hopefully keep the mystery alive.

Watch his son’s face light up with sheer glee at the whole event in the video below, and regret that your childhood happened before the maker revolution. Then celebrate your adulthood with a beer fetching robot.

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What the inside of a pneumatic transport system looks like

While most of us are familiar with pneumatic transport systems by their use at drive-up bank windows, these systems are also commonly found in hospitals ferrying samples around. When [Aidan] was in the hospital, he asked how this series of tubes routed samples from many different floors to the lab and back again. Well, give him an old tube to play around with and he’ll eventually come up with a way to record the inside of one of these pneumatic tubes, giving some insight into how this system actually works.

When asked, a tech that uses this system on a daily basis described it as a very basic physical Ethernet that sucks and blows through rotary junctions and physical hubs to route packets to different areas of the building. [Aidan] wanted to record a tube’s travels, so he wired up a small HD camera, a bunch of LEDs, and a few batteries. Sending this recording sample container revealed some of how this pneumatic system works; the containers will travel forward and stop before reversing through one of the rotary switches. You can check out the flight of the container in the video below.

Of course there are other glimpses of how stuff travels through the unseen world of getting from point A to point B. Here’s a time lapse camera going on a trip via DHL just for kicks.

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60,000 RPM vacuum powered rotary tool was 3D printed

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The whining of the turbines in the 3D printed pneumatic rotary tool might make your teeth hurt. When [Axodus] tipped us off about it he mentioned it sounded like a 747 taking off. But we hear a dentist’s drill when watching the demo video.

[Richard Macfarlane] published his design if you want to try building one for yourself. But you will need to do some machining in addition to printing the enclosure and the pair of turbines. The shaft of the tool needs to fit the bearings precisely. It accepts a center blue spacer with a red turbine on either side. This assembly is encapsulated in the two-part threaded blue body which has a flange to friction fit with the shop vacuum hose. The business end of the machined shaft was designed and threaded to accept the collet from a Dremel or similar rotary tool.

We wonder how much work it would be to re-engineer this to act as a PCB drill press?

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