555s for your mouse and R/C airplane

[lenny] decided to build a 555-based auto-firing mouse based on a 555 after seeing a similar PIC-based project we posted earlier. Lenny’s version is self-contained in one mouse without requiring a second mouse to act as the rapid-fire button. It uses only a handful of components, costs less than $5 to build, and doesn’t require any programming.

But then, [wfdudley] shakes things up a bit. He added a 4022 counter IC and some diodes to act as logical “OR” gates in order to create a unique blinking pattern (short-short-long) for the lights on a friend’s RC airplane. While this project involves more components, it’s definitely a trickier problem to solve with a 555 timer IC. We love seeing people choosing simplicity in design over popular off-the-shelf microcontroller frameworks as these two have done.

Don’t forget, the 555 Design Contest is still going strong, and you’ve got the entire month of February to submit your awesome designs. We wanted to highlight two of the more clever 555-based hacks that we’ve had in our backlog for a while, though.

Radio controlled hard drive security

[Samimy] has put together this really neat video tutorial on building a Radio Controlled secure hard drive. How can a hard drive be radio controlled? That’s the first thing we thought too. He has torn apart a remote-controlled car and is using the guts to remotely switch on power to the drive. This means that the drive is only active if you boot the computer after you put the fob in the hidden security system. It looks like it would be fairly effective. We’re curious though, if he is putting the entire drive assembly inside his PC, why rely on batteries for the circuit? Why not pull from the PC power supply? Another neat upgrade might be connecting to an internal USB connection on the motherboard so a reboot isn’t necessary.

Check out the entire video after the break.
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RC controlled camera takes intimate video of rodents

[Leor] wanted to take some video of the wildlife in his yard, like this chipmunk or some hummingbirds, but every time he tried to get close it scared them away. His solution was to rig up a cheap video recorder to be radio controlled (PDF). The donor camera was a cheap SD card based eBay purchase that takes 720×480 video. [Leor] removed the SMD switches from the recorder’s PCB and wired up a 4066 quad bi-lateral switch IC in its place. An RC toy car donated the receiver transmitter pair. The receiver signals are monitored by an AVR microcontroller which translates the commands in a proper set of button presses for the video. What you get is a controller that and turn the camera on and set to the proper mode, and the ability to start and stop the recording.

We’ve got some pics of the hardware after the break, and [Leor] posted a bit of the chipmunk video for your enjoyment.

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Forget the Rovio, drive a taxi with your mind.

While browsing through flicker this morning, we spotted this interesting image. Two radio controlled cars hooked to Arduinos. What was going on? What is [knolleary] doing with them? We couldn’t find any information so we clicked through to his personal site. What we found was a quite interesting story about how he set up a race between two taxi cabs being controlled by the Emotiv headsets for the BBC. Yeah, forget driving a Rovio around with your mind. We’re still a bit curious about the two bumper cars in the picture. We can see that his tests were done on a blue radio controlled mini, so what are the bumper cars for? Did any of you catch this on the air? How well did the taxis drive? Was he using the facial expressions or the concentration?

Aerial photography platforms

[Eric Austin] is using a Canon 7D with this RC helicopter to capture some amazing HD video. His success has manifested itself in a company that is now manufacturing these platforms ready-to-use. Take a look at their blog to see some of the hardware they’re working on, such as a tricopter and hexacopter photo platforms. We’ve also embedded a video after the break of the unit seen above and the stunning shots it’s able to grab.

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Wireless painting

[Tom Shannon] uses science as part of his art. One of his methods when painting is to use this radio controlled paint pendulum. He gave an interview at his studio, which we’ve embedded after the break, and goes into detail about this device. It has six different reservoirs that hold the paint colors. Each gravity-fed canister connects to a central nozzle with flexible tubing. The hand held control box has a slider for each color that moves a servo pinching each supply tube. This ingenuity keeps him creating even though Parkinson’s Disease has started to manifest itself with tremors in his hands.

It’s hard to make out the paintings seen above, but the ones on display in the video are pretty amazing. He mentions that anything can be loaded into the hoppers, including tomato sauce. Is anyone else thinking about large scale pizza constuction? This also reminds us of the mechanical bartenders we’ve seen in the past. [Read more...]

Trashplane

[Flyboy258] shows us that hobby R/C airplanes can be built from trash relatively easily. A bit of old tarp and a simple frame work as the body.  The rudder is made from old foam packaging.  It seems to fly pretty well considering the lack of official design, or aerodynamic features.

[via Makezine]