[DJ Sures] got his hands on a plastic Wall-E toy and decided to build a robot that includes a camera, voice recognition, and object tracking. The result is adorable so we’re putting this video before the break:
After seeing his fair share of hexapod-style bots on the Internet, [Russell] decided he wanted to build one of his own. One of the downsides to building these robots is the cost. He often saw them constructed from laser cut parts and very expensive servos. Rather than blow hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on the bot, [Russell] decided he could a lightweight bot on the cheap using chopsticks and polymorph modeling plastic.
His octopod robot is aptly called “Chopsticks” and utilizes 28 different servos to control its motions. 24 servos are used for its legs, 3 more are reserved for head movements, while a single additional servo manipulates the robot’s mandibles. The robot’s legs and main structure are composed of chopsticks, while the polymorph is used for feet, servo mounts, and pretty much anywhere else chopsticks just wouldn’t do.
[Russell] even added a set of eye stalks to complete the spider theme, arming them with IR compound eyes for object tracking. The robot is quite interactive as you can see in the video below.
Keep reading to see a video of Chopsticks, or swing by his Let’s Make Robots site if you get a chance – he has a pretty detailed construction journal as well as plenty of videos showing his spider bot in action.
Last year, [Justin Dailey] was coming down the home stretch of his senior year as a Computer Engineering student and needed to build a final design project. He always wanted to construct a robotic arm, and figured that there was no better way to legitimize such a project, than to claim that it was “homework”.
While he originally wanted to control the arm with a joystick, he had been messing with Blender quite a bit leading up to his final project, and thought it would be pretty cool to let Blender do the work. He started out by testing his ability to control a single servo with Blender, then slowly increased the complexity of the project. He prototyped the arm using cardboard, and satisfied with his progress thus far, began constructing the arm out of aluminum.
Once he had all six of his servos attached to the arm’s joints and wired to his Roboduino, he got busy constructing a 3D model in Blender. Using a few Python scripts, the movements inside Blender are translated to serial data in real-time, which is relayed to the Roboduino in order to control the arm.
Check out his site if you get a chance – there’s plenty of code to be had, as well as several videos of the arm in various stages of construction and testing.
Twitter can be a great tool for keeping up to date with your favorite person/company/band/etc. You can find a Twitter client for just about anything that plugs in these days, but sometimes we find that we simply need a break from our computers and smart phones – even if just for a few minutes. What happens when you want to unplug, but still need to know what everyone is up to?
[Patrick Dinnen] asked himself the same thing, and decided that the solution was a mechanical Twitter feed display. The display consists of a static user list strung up against the wall, with a mobile speech bubble mounted next to it. The bubble moves to the user who has most recently updated their status (presumably using a pair of servos), and uses a projector to display their messages. The effect is pretty neat, and it still allows you to get your Twitter fix without staring blankly at your computer screen or smart phone.
We think it would be even cooler if it used a projector on both sides, enabling it to dynamically shuffle through users and status messages at the same time. [Patrick] says that for right now it is merely a proof of concept, so there is no telling how he’ll tweak it going forward.
Continue reading to see his mechanical Twitter feed in action.
Most everyone is looking to live a little greener these days, with motivating factors typically being the preservation of the environment or financial considerations. [Fabien] fit into the latter category after realizing that about 25% of his monthly gas bill went to heating the water he and his family use each day. After a few calculations, he found that they only required hot water 68 of the 168 hours per week that the water heater was typically running. He figured the best way to save a few dollars was to rig the water heater to turn itself down when it wasn’t being used.
He connected a servo to the temperature control knob on his water heater, allowing it to be adjusted by a microcontroller. Having a rough idea as to the schedule his family keeps during an average week, he wrote an application for his Netduino that would actuate the servo when needed. A DS1307 real-time clock was wired to the Netduino for accurate timekeeping, so as to ensure [Fabien's] wife never had to endure a cold shower.
It’s a shame that most water heaters don’t ship with some sort of programmable thermostat like you see with newer HVAC systems, but this hack is definitely a step in the right direction.
Continue reading to see his power-saving water heater in action.
[Markus Kison] built a device called Pulse, which is part art installation and part data visualization tool. What the emotional visualization organism called Pulse actually does is scan new posts on Blogger.com blogs for synonyms of keywords related to 24 distinct emotions from eight emotional groups. A red cone in the center expands when keywords are detected, in effect acting as a mood indicator for Blogger.com blogs.
The 24 distinct emotions are based on [Robert Plutchik]‘s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion, and the device itself is built from a glass case, various servo motors, and custom controller for the servos. This is a compelling idea, but we wonder whether it scans for modifying words or just the keywords alone. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have the sadness region expand drastically if many people simultaneously post the sentence “I’m not sad at all.” Video embedded after the break.
We love hardware modding, robots, and generally all things in the DIY category, but cartoons are pretty awesome too. The hilarious yet sadly short lived Nickelodeon cartoon Invader Zim was a favorite ours, due in no small part to a character called GIR, a little borderline insane robot. Not content with just a cartoon, a group of Montana State Univesity, Bozeman graduates have decided to build a real, functional GIR robot.
For those unfamiliar with the cartoon, GIR is a quirky, malfunctioning robot designed to help an alien named Zim take over Earth. Loaded with cameras, lights, and all manner of Inspector Gadget style devices in the cartoon, the team have their work cut out for them: if their version is even half as advanced as the cartoon version, it would be several generations more advanced than anything we’ve ever seen. So far, the team has only begun working on the head and neck, installing servos to control its motion, cameras, decorative LEDs in the eyes, and the software to control it all. According to [Arthur Krebsbach], one of the project contributors, this is a long term, open-ended project that will employ new technology as it becomes available. The project is a bit silly, but legitimately ambitious; [Krebsbach] notes, “I don’t think we will ever be satisfied with the Gir until he can fly but runs out of fuel quickly because he replaced it all with Tuna.”