LightByte: Animated Shutters

lighrbright

Here’s another interesting project to come out of the MIT Media Lab — it’s called LightByte, and it’s all about interacting with sunlight and shadows in a new, rather unorthodox way.

We suppose its technical name could be a massive interactive sun pixel facade, but that’s a bit too much of a mouthful. What you really want to know is how it works, and the answer is, a lot of servos. We weren’t able to find an exact number but the hardware behind LightByte includes well over 100 servos, and a matrix of Arduinos to control them. While that is quite impressive by itself, it gets better — it’s actually completely interactive; recognizing gestures, responding to text messages and emails, and you can even draw pictures with the included “wand”.

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A Six Part CNC Machine

CNC

CNC machines are impressive pieces of kit. We’re all for seeing the big, burly, impressive machines, but there’s something to be said about seeing how small they can get. [Jay] has what is probably the most minimal CNC plotter we’ve ever seen, built from only six 3D printed parts.

[Jay]‘s plotter is based on the Piccolo, an exceedingly small-scale CNC platform that can be built for $70 with laser-cut parts. This version, though, uses only six parts that can be downloaded from Thingiverse. Powered by an Arduino and two micro servos, this CNC plotter would be a great introduction to CNC for any robotics club or hackerspace tutorial series.

[Jay] has been doing some awesome work with CNC plotters; we saw his large format Plotterbot earlier this month, and his giant plotted HaD logo with HaD infill poster was a great submission to our Trinket contest.

Video of [Jay]‘s plotter in action available after the break.

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Hola! From a Spanish Speaking Drawing Arm

[Acorv] wrote in to tell us about his latest hack, a robotic arm that writes with a marker. In the video after the break, the arm is set to copy whatever someone writes in a touchpad. As you might guess from this video, the hack is written up in Spanish, but it’s nothing your favorite translator can’t handle if you don’t speak the language.

This robot it the result of improvements on his first drawing arm ‘bot featured here. The basic kinematics stayed the same in the arm’s second iteration, but the resolution was greatly improved by using belts to achieve a gear reduction. The second build also features mechanical reinforcement with an Erector-set style building set known as [Mekanex].

A simple hobby servo moves the marker up or down, and control is achieved through, you guessed it, an Arduino with a motor shield! Although from a different time, the way this arm is used is reminiscent of a mechanical writing automaton from long ago. [Read more...]

Raspy Juice gives you serial ports and servo control

Up next on the continual march of expansion boards for the Raspberry Pi is the Raspy Juice, a board designed to break out the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi into servo, serial, and other miscellaneous connections.

The Raspy Juice features an ATMega168A microcontroller connected to the Raspberry Pi as an I2C slave device. Not only does the addition of a microcontroller add analog inputs to the Raspberry Pi, but also RS232 and RS485 serial connections, a real-time clock, and four JST plugs for hobby servos.

Because the Raspberry Pi can be powered from the GPIO header, the creator, [NTT] added a buck regulator so batteries or solar cells can be used to power the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is a terribly awesome robotics platform, but sadly limited by its capability to drive motors and servos natively. The Raspy Juice adds some much-needed capability to the Raspberry Pi, and we can’t wait to see a robot take its first steps with this expansion board.

Servos, servos, and more servos

For one reason or another, a lot of Hackaday readers are doing stuff with servos as of late. Here’s a few servo hacks that made their way into our tip line over the past day or so:

USB servo controller and a Stewart Platform

[Patricio] needed a way to control a bunch of servos for his thesis project. He came up with a USB servo controller (Spanish, here’s the translation) powered by a 40-pin PIC 18F microcontroller. The board connects to the USB port of a computer and supports up to 8 servos with 8 additional digital I/Os. Why all this horsepower? It’s for a Stewart Platform [Patricio] and his partner [Natalia] built.

Continuous rotation servos

Standard servos are usually limited to a rotation angle of somewhere between 140 and 160 degrees. Sometimes you need a continuous rotation servo, and those are a little more expensive. Every servo is a continuous rotation servo if you disable a the variable resistor as [Valentin] shows us. It’s a simple, if old, hack. It’s new to someone, though.

Eight servos on a Raspi

[Mikael] made a little board to attach to the GPIO header of his Raspberry Pi and control up to 8 servos. The board is running a serial interface with a small microcontroller on board. There’s nothing in the way of schematics or code, a testament for why you should always use a good email address when sending something into the HaD tip line. It seems [Mikael] is making a proper board, and we’ll more than happily give it a full post when it’s complete.

Hackaday Links: November 24, 2011

Finally an Arduino shield that does nothing

The folks at Evil Mad Scientist labs have finally created the Googly Eye Shield for Arduinos. With it’s pass-through .100 headers, it adds googly eyes to your Arduino projects. Of course, instead of in addition to the googly eyes you could add a breadboard, making it somewhat useful. A million fake internet points goes to the first person to implement Xeyes on this thing.

Phat beats from kids toys

[Ville] couldn’t afford an Akai MPC for laying down some beats. Wanting a real tactile interface, he hacked this kid’s toy. It’s just an RCA cable attached to the tiny chip inside the toy. The new line out goes to his mixers where he does some pretty impressive stuff.

Mona Lisa is Vigo the Carpathian

What did we just say about real-life Xeyes? [Geert] just made a print of the Mona Lisa follow you around the room with her eyes (Dutch, translation). The build is a pair of servos and a DIY motion capture app running on a laptop. Now we need to find a print of Vigo…

Quantifying heat sink efficiencies

[Mike] is an experimenter at heart. He was wondering about the efficiency of small, clip-on heat sinks versus the ones we use to defrost frozen food. The results are exactly as you would expect, but he did find something interesting – his experimental technique didn’t find much of a difference between thermal paste/grease/pads and no thermally conductive material.

Mini-fig sized R/C LEGO car

The guys at Brickmodder.net took a car from a LEGO set and made it remote control. The drive train and steering both use servos controlled by the smallest 3-channel receiver they could find.

Basic Animatronics Continued: Servo Actuated Mouth

[Chris] is at it again and this time he has put together a tutorial rounding off his animatronic face by actuating the mouth. His tutorial covers two different styles of robot mouth: an LCD mouth which dims to imply actuation and a servo articulated flap.

[Chris] covers all the aspects of each mouth type, from the basics of human mouth actuation to servo motor control. In this case the LCD mouth is not quite as impressive so it gets installed on a face mock up while the servo mouth goes on the face previously featured in his other tutorials. The entire setup is still controlled using a single PIC 18F452. The circuit diagrams and code for both types of mouth are all available on the site including videos of the actuated mouth and a gif of the LCD mouth in action.

Check out a video of the articulated mouth below throwing down some classic season 6 Jean-Luc. If you are interested in the other parts of the face we have covered [Chris]‘s other tutorials on the eyebrows and the eyeballs. These are a great jumping point for your own animatronic face project and do a great  job of setting up all the know how you’d need to build your own emotional puppet.

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