Acrobatic tricopter inspired by the Oblivion movie trailer

tricopter

There have been a ton of commercials for the new [Tom Cruise] movie called Oblivion. One of the main points in every clip we remember seeing is the Top Gun meets Star Trek vehicle he does some tricks in. [James Cotton] loved that footage and ended up building his own RC version of the vehicle.

Three propellers give it lift, with directional control facilitated by servo motors which can pivot the motors attached to the two orange propellers. This design produces remarkably responsive controls as shown in the video after the break. That being said it’s still not immune to operator error. At the end of the clip [James] crashes it hard, stripping out the gears on the servo motors.

He has a few things in mind for the future of the device (and he’ll have plenty of time to plan while he waits for replacement servos to arrive). The aircraft should be able to carry a camera long with it. He discusses the issues involved with where the camera ends up pointing based on what the tilting motors are doing. But we figure he could always build a base that lets the camera pan and tilt separately from the chassis.

You can find a few tricopter projects around here but we’ve always like the one made of cardboard.

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Measuring the lifespan of LEGO

lifespan-of-LEGO

How many times can you put two LEGO pieces together and take them apart again before they wear out? The answer is 37,112. At least that’s the number established by one test case. [Phillipe Cantin] was interested in this peculiar question so he built the test rig above to measure a LEGO’s lifespan.

The hacked together apparatus is pretty ingenious. It uses two servo motors for testing, each driven by the Arduino which is logging the count on an SD card. One of the two white LEGO parts has been screwed onto an arm of the upper servo. That servo presses down onto the mating piece which is sitting inside that yellow band. Look close and you’ll realize the yellow is the handle end of an IC puller. When the post on the lower servo is moved toward one arm of the puller it grips the lower LEGO piece tightly so that the upper servo can pull the two apart. In addition to the assembly and disassembly step there’s a verification step which raises the mated parts so that a reflectance sensor can verify that they’re holding together. [Phillipe] let the rig run for ten days straight before the pieces failed.

Don’t miss his video description of the project after the break.

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Hidden servo automates slat-style window blinds

slat-blind-automation

[Home Awesomation] has been working on automating his slat-style window blinds. His focus has been on adjusting the angle of the slats, not on completely retracting the shades. Since the slat angle adjustment requires little torque a servo motor turns out to be just perfect for the job. The good news is that the existing blinds in his house have room in the top enclosure to completely hide his add-on hardware.

The image above is a screenshot from the demo which you can watch after the break. The top enclosure for the blinds is just shown at the top of the frame. Here [HA] is demonstrating a few different control designs which he has been trying out. You can see what looks like a Molex connector with some type of component attached to it. That’s an IR motion sensor and he’s really happy with its performance. He feels the same way about the black momentary push switch sticking down next to the power cable. But his DIY solution that works quite well is the pull string attached to a flexible piece of metal. When that metal bends enough to touch a stationary conductor it completes the circuit, telling the Arduino to start driving the servo.

The main idea behind the project is to poll a temperature sensor, closing the blind automatically to help keep the place cool during the day. We figure if he’s already using a microcontroller to drive the project he might as well throw a cheap Bluetooth in module there and make it controllable with a smart phone.

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Laser toting robot taunts house cat

laser-toting-robot-taunts-house-cat

[Rodney Lederer] and his cat were bored after moving to a new city. He fixed that for both of them by taking on this project which turns a Wowwee robot into feline entertainment.

It’s no secret that cats have a weakness for the little red dot produced by a laser pointer. [Rodney] put that trait to work by automating the movement of a red laser pointer. After mounting it on a servo motor he got down to work programming an Arduino to move it in a playful manner. But it wouldn’t have been much fun if the this was only capable of preprogrammed patterns, so he also included an IR proximity sensor to help give the thing interactivity. Add to that the treaded robot base and you’ve got mobile cat entertainment. The proof is in the video after the break… the cat is certainly having fun chasing the dot. [Rodney] plans to work a bit more on his code so that the motions of the laser dot include a lot of different patterns to keep things exciting.

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Add speed control to a DIY CNC machine

adding-speed-control-to-diy-cnc

[Jesse Merritt] bought a manual speed controller for his router. It’s used in the CNC mill he build and he figured, why not add the ability for the computer to control the speed.

The speed controller is a $20 unit from Harbor Freight. It comes with an On/Off switch and knob which adjusts the power going to the router. [Jesse] pulled off the knob and milled a gear which takes its place. The second gear is attached to the horn of a hobby servo mounted on the side of the speed controller. The video after the break demonstrates an Arduino driving the servo based on a potentiometer input as well as commands from the CNC controller board he’s using.

Design files for the gears and the Arduino code which drives the servo is available from his Github repository.

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Harry Potter location clock spies on your smart phone

harry-potter-clock

The location clock found in the Harry Potter books makes for a really fun hack. Of course there’s no magic involved, just a set of hardware to monitor your phone’s GPS and a clock face to display it.

[Alastair Barber] finished building the clock at the end of last year as a Christmas gift. The display seen above uses an old mantelpiece clock to give it a finished look. He replace the clock face with a print out of the various locations known to the system and added a servo motor to drive the single hand. His hardware choices were based on what he already had on hand and what could be acquired cheaply. The an all-in-one package combines a Raspberry Pi board with a USB broadband modem to ensure that it has a persistent network connection (we’ve seen this done using WiFi in the past). The RPi checks a cellphone’s GPS data, compares it to a list of common places, then pushes commands to the Arduino which controls the clock hand’s servo motor. It’s a roundabout way of doing things but we imagine everything will get reused when the novelty of the gift wears off.

3d printed hexapod robot

3d-printed-hexapod

This hexapod was made almost entirely via 3d printing (translated). The parts that you need to supply include a few fasteners to make connections, twelve servo motors, and a method of driving them. As you can see in the video after the break, all those parts come together into a little robot that functions quite well. The only thing that we think is missing are some grippy feet to help prevent slipping.

[Hugo] calls the project Bleuette. It is completely open source, with the cad files and source code available on his Github repository. There is additional information in the wiki page of that repo. This gives us a good look at the electronic design. He’s controlling the legs with an Arduino, but it’s all dependent on his own shield which features a PIC 18F452 to take care of the signals used to drive all of the servo motors. The board also has some peripherals to monitor the current draw and regulate the incoming power.

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