Bicycle-Powered Wimshurst Machine

A lot of great pieces of real technology were inspired (or, at least, look like) pieces of technology from science fiction of the past. Like the smartphones of today have a surreal resemblance to the Star Trek communicators of the 60s, [Steve] took inspiration from a story about a bicycle racing in space and set out to make his own.

In the story, the bicycle wheels are replaced by electrostatic generators that power a type of (fictional) ion drive. Since an ion drive wouldn’t add much thrust to a bicycle operated on the Earth, [Steve] used the electrostatic generator he built to create a sparking light show. The generator is called a Wimshurst machine and has two counter-rotating discs which collect charge. The charge is dissipated across a spark gap which is placed where the bike light would normally go.

We don’t know if the sparks from the Wimshurst generator are enough for a proper headlight, but it’s definitely a cool effect. [Steve] also points out that it might also work as a bug zapper, but either way you should check out the video after the break to see it in action! While it’s not quite a tricorder it’s still a pretty impressive sci-fi-inspired build, and something that’s definitely unique in the bicycle realm.

There’s quite a collection of these Wimshurst projects beginning to come together. Here’s one made using a trio of soda bottles, and another example which used 3D printing.

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Walk Like A Xenomorph

[James Bruton] is busy working on his latest project, a “scrap metal sculpture”-inspired Alien Xenomorph suit.  However, he wanted to get a boost in height as well as a digitigrade stance. To that end, [James] 3D-printed a pair of customized stilts. Each stilt consisted of a lifter with several parts laminated together using acetone. He bolted an old pair of shoes onto the stilts, adding straps across the toes to keep the shoes from lifting up.

While the stilts worked very well, [James] wanted to add soles to them to give him some traction as he walked – falling while in a Xenomorph costume composed of sharp plastic sounds painful enough! He decided to hybrid print the soles using ABS and Ninjaflex. The ABS part of the sole was then acetone-welded to the bottom of the stilts.

[James] hopes to add some claws for effect, so long as they don’t impede his walking too much. He has already completed a good amount of the 3D-printed suit. We know the finished project is going to be amazing: [James] has created everything from Daleks to Iron Man!

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Star Wars Training Droid Uses The Force

Star Wars Training Droid

We all know the scene, Obi-Wan Kenobi gives Luke a helmet with the blast shield down. He tells Luke “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them. Stretch out with your feelings!” Easy for Obi-Wan to say – he doesn’t have a remote training droid flying around and shooting at him. [Roeland] and his team are working to create a real-life version of the training droid for Hackday’s Sci-Fi contest.

The training droid in Star Wars may not have had the Force on its side, but it was pretty darn agile in the air. To replicate this, the team started with a standard Walkera Ladybird micro quadcopter. It would have been simple to have a human controlling the drone-turned-droid, but [Roeland and co] wanted a fully computer controlled system. The Ladybird can carry a small payload, but it just doesn’t have the power to lift a computer and sensor suite. The team took a note from the GRASP Lab and used an external computer with a camera to control their droid.

Rather than the expensive motion capture system used by the big labs, the team used a pair of Wii Remote controllers for stereo vision. A small IR LED mounted atop the droid made it visible to the Wii Remotes’ cameras. A laptop was employed to calculate the current position of the droid. With the current and desired positions known, the laptop calculated and sent commands to an Arduino, which then translated them for the droid’s controller.

Nice work guys! Now you just have to add the blaster emitters to it!

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Alien Autopsy And Jacking On

There’s still a few days left in our sci-fi contest, and unless you really pull out the stops today, it might be too late to get your entry in. Even though the contest is wrapping up, a lot of projects are wrapping things up and posting their finished projects. Here’s a few good ones.

These puns are awesome

chestbursterThe folks at the LVL1 hackerspace had the idea of making a life-sized game of Operation. This plan changed when someone at the hackerspace had the great idea of making it an alien autopsy. The game play remains the same, but this time the puns are awesome.

The play field is a life-sized alien, stuffed with metal-lined holes that set off a buzzer whenever the modified hemostat touches the side. Inside these holes are incredible puns that include, “Farscraped knee”, “Phantom Tentacle”, a “Tattoine removal”, “Jeffries Tuberculosis”, “HALatosis, “Babelfish in the Ear”, and “Grabthar’s Hammertoe”

The hackerspace took their alien autopsy game to the Louisville 2013 Mini Maker Faire where it was a huge hit. We’re thinking some of the puns were a little too obscure for the general population, but the attention to detail is impressive; there’s a 3D print of Pilot from Farscape. Awesome.

Jacking On


In the Futurama universe, immoral robots get their fun by “Jacking On”, or supplanting their 6502-based CPUs with a ton of electricity. This is contraindicated by Bender’s operational manual, but a robot needs his fix, right?

[RodolpheH] and [pierrep] are building one of these jack dispensers, but instead of simply supplying a whole lot of electricity through a jack, they’re creating a Raspi-powered wireless audio streaming device. Plug some speakers into the jack, connect to the Raspi, and you’ve got a very cool audio system on your hands.

The team is going all out with the design of their jack dispenser, using random bits of plastic stuff for the enclosure and a USB-powered plasma ball for the top. It impresses random strangers, and that’s the only thing that’s important, right?

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Thinking 4th Dimensionally

Notwithstanding [John Titor] and his time travelling ’67 Corvette convertible, the coolest time machine on wheels has to be the DeLorean from Back to the Future. BTTF is apparently a very popular theme for our sci-fi contest, with a lot of great entries.

You mean to tell me  you made a time machine? Out of a Hyundai Accent?

fluxAfter a careful bit of research, it appears the Hyundai Accent (GLS) has both a higher top speed and faster 0-60 time than a DeLorean, and that’s before the installation of time circuits, a flux capacitor, and plutonium reactor. [docbrownjr] and [Jennifer] decided their Accent was the perfect vehicle for a time machine conversion and decided to add a Mr. Fusion  to the mix.

Like the on-screen version, this version of a Mr. Fusion is made from a kitchen appliance. With the original Krups coffee grinder out of production, the team settled on an iced tea machine. There will, however, be copious amounts of dry ice involved,  as will half-empty beer cans and banana peels.

WiFi-enabled Flux Capacitor

ledAfter knocking his head on a toilet, [Beamsjr] came up with a great idea – a networked flux capacitor, able to display the Teamcity build progress.

This build is going all out with custom PCBs – one for the controller board, and three for the shift registered LEDs underneath the acrylic knobbies in the flux capacitor. WiFi is provided by the TI CC3000 module, with the main microcontroller being an ATmega 328p,

Time circuits on

segmentsHonestly, we’d be a bit disappointed if this contest didn’t have a BTTF time circuit build entry. Luckily for us, [atheros] and [bwa] are on top of things with their time circuit clock, complete with an alarm and FM radio receiver (FM isn’t going to work in 1955, guys).

Unlike a few other time circuit builds we’ve seen over the years, the guys are doing this one up right, with 14-segment LEDs for the month display. They’re etching their own boards for this one, and it’s looking like it’ll be a very cool project when it’s complete.

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: I Am Iron Man

Back when Iron Man 2 and The Avengers were out in theaters, the Hackaday tip line couldn’t go a week without an arc reactor build being submitted. In keeping with the Internet’s fascination with blinkey glowey things, we expected a huge influx of arc reactors for our Sci-Fi contest. We were pleasantly surprised: all the submissions from the Marvel universe are top-notch, and the two Iron Man entries we have are simply amazing.

Motorized Helmet

1[James Bruton] is working on a replica of the Iron Man movie helmet, complete with a motorized face plate, light up eyes, and an OLED display for a reasonable facsimile of the horribly unrealistic on-screen heads-up display.

While a few bits and bobs of the mechanics were 3D printed, [James] is making the majority of the helmet just as how the on-screen version was made. The helmet was first carved out of sheet foam, then molded and cast into very strong rigid fiberglass. [James] put up a great tutorial series on how he did this and other parts of his Iron Man costume.


2The other Iron Man costume from [jeromekelty] and [Greg Hatter] doesn’t stop at just the helmet. They’re doing everything: shoulder-mounted rocket pods, hip pods, forearm missiles, back flaps, and boots with a satisfying electronic kerthunk sounding with every step.

Inside the custom molded suit are at least four Arduinos, four XBees, an Adafruit WaveShield, and at least 20 servos for all of the Iron Man suit components. The mechanics are actuated via RFID with a tag in a glove; when the wearer waves their hand over some part of the suit, one of the mechanical features are activated.

It’s impressive to say the least, and one of the best documented projects we’ve seen in the Sci-Fi contest.

There’s still time to put together your own Sci-Fi project for the contest. Grab your soldering iron and fiberglass resin, because there’s some seriously great prizes up for grabs.


Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Star Trek

Star Trek Banner

Ah yes, how could we miss Star Trek? To be honest, we’re surprised there aren’t more entries of Star Trek related projects in our Sci-Fi Contest!

Star Fleet Communicator Badge

4053121396952461870There’s actually no info on this project yet, but we have to admit — it’s a pretty cool (albeit nerdy) concept. They want to fit a Bluetooth headset with a loudspeaker into a Star Fleet Communicator Badge, activated by tapping on it gently.

Just don’t wear a red shirt with it…







Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball Machine

star trek the mirror universeThis ones a really cool hack. A team of four have taken a 1978 Bally Star Trek Pinball machine, and converted it into a Star Trek  Mirror Universe Pinball machine based on the TOS episode Mirror, Mirror where Kirk and his crew are transported to a parallel (mirrored) universe!

Notable features include the custom CNC machined table with custom artwork, a Nixie tube score board, and that they’ve made the design open source! Minus copyrighted artwork of course…


JJ Tricorder

The JJ Tricorder, named after its team [Julia] and [Jaromir] is planned out to look just like the SR-580 type Tricorder — except its going to be backed with 21st century technology.

jj tricorderThe main goal of the project is to have it be able to detect and analyse electromagnetic, geographic and environmental parameters. There’s lots of inspiration for it, like the now-open-source Berkeley Tricorder or the Tricorder Project itself!




Still haven’t entered the contest? Don’t worry — there’s still time for you to put an awesome Sci-Fi project together to win some crazy cool prizes! It just needs to be done and documented by April 29, 2014!