R2D2 drink dispenser will happily tinkle in your glass

As with Jabba the Hutt we’d like to have our own service droid to serve up a cold one. We’re in luck; it looks like you can make your very own beverage dispensing droid if you don’t mind a little awkward dispensation.

The body started as one of those big protein drink mix containers. After spraying it white and masking off the entire thing with blue painter’s tape, the shapes for the blue designs were cut out and painted. Half of a foam sphere from the hobby shop was used to form the dome.

Liquids are dispensed by the pump system from a Super Soaker motorized water gun. You can see it fill up a beaker with a mysterious blue liquid in the video after the break. It’s a long way from challenging the Bar2D2, but it’s also something a mere mortal can build

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Lightsaber lets you pick just about any ‘blade’ color

If you’re staging some epic Star Wars battles you could go original with Red or Blue lightsabers. But what if you decide you’re more of a fan of Jedi and want to go green? Or perhaps the prequels have inspired you to take on purple? Why choose at build time when you can adjust the color to match your mood.

[Phik] built himself a color-selectable lightsaber using RGB LEDs. He sourced a 5M strip of them from eBay for around $20. The pixels are not individually addressable, but each color channel can be driven with a pulse-width modulation signal to mix and match the final color. Now he could have gone with a microcontroller solution, but [Phik] decided to give himself a bit more of a challenge. He built three PWM circuits based on a 555 timer which can be adjusted with a potentiometer. It’s not going to kill any insects, but the keep-it-simple-stupid aspect of the project makes it something we could actually build ourselves. The same cannot be said for most of the replica builds we see.

Building a bug-zapping lightsaber

I have heard the joke several times that a light saber would make a great bug zapper. However, when [Ricky Sumbody] requested it on Facebook, I thought “why not?”. [Ricky] made a common mistake, he thought the bulb was the part that actually zaps the bugs. A quick google search revealed that many people had the same thought. I decide that, even though building a functional bug zapping light saber might not look as cool, I was going to do it anyway.

If you’re going to follow these instructions, be aware that this is a device that is literally designed to shock things to death.  It is dangerous.

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Barrel organ made from Lego plays the Star Wars theme

lego-starwars-barrel-organ

Whether or not you are a fan of the first installment of the Star Wars prequels, you have to see what [Lorenz Lnggrtnr] and [Renee Hoffmeister] have put together for the movie’s 3D debut.

In an attempt to capture the essence of Star Wars in a new fashion, they constructed a large barrel organ from Lego bricks that plays the movie’s legendary opening theme when turned. The barrel is separated into four parts, each representing one of the series’ iconic settings in plastic block form.

Hoth, the Death Star, Tatooine, and Endor are all featured on the organ, with each environment’s structures playing specific notes from the song. As the barrel turns each Lego structure toggles a note to be played on the attached organ, via a “reading” mechanism built from metal arms and Lego tires.

It looks fantastic, and sounds pretty decent too. Be sure to stick around for a short video that shows off the barrel organ in action.

[via Wired]

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Follow up: Star Wars tree gets an upgrade

star-wars-tree-sound

We asked, and [Zach] listened.

Earlier this week, we featured a circuit he built which allowed his tiny Star Wars Christmas tree to visually replicate the series’ theme song. Several of you, along with myself, thought it would be far cooler if the tree also played the music to accompany the light show, so [Zach] set off to add that functionality.

Worried that the music would get annoying if it played along with the lights constantly, he tweaked his circuit design to incorporate a piezo buzzer that could be easily switched on and off. After wiring it to the MSP430 driving the light show, he tweaked the program to output signals to both the light string and buzzer simultaneously.

While the light show accurately represented the song, he initially ignored flat and sharp notes as they would be indistinguishable to the eye. In audio form however, the missing notes would be glaringly obvious, so he re-transcribed the sheet music resulting in the video you see below.

If you happened to follow [Zach’s] lead and put one of these together in your own house, be sure to swing by his site and grab the latest code, complete with audio track.

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The force is strong with this Christmas tree light show

star-wars-christmas-tree

[Zach] is a huge Star Wars fan, and in addition to the array holiday decorations that adorn his house, he says that his wife is nice enough to let him put up a Christmas tree full of Star Wars ornaments. For the past few years, the tree sat in the corner of the room unlit, but his wife thought that it should have some lights this year.

His wife came home with a small string of battery-operated lights, but [Zach] wanted something with a bit more geek cred. He decided to program the lights to play the Star Wars theme song, translating the tune’s pitch to light intensity.

He dug through his bin of electronics and found an MSP430 along with a small target board that would do the job nicely. He sat down with some sheet music, translating the notes to PWM values, resulting in the light show you see below.

While his wife provided a lovely violin accompaniment to the tree, we think that a small audio module would make a great addition to the tree next year.

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Star Wars Imperial March Played by Dual Floppy Drives

Although many have made some sort of music with improvised electronics, few sound as cool as this Imperial March from Star Wars played by two floppy drives. According to [Pawel], “It’s nothing new” and quite simple. This may be true as we’ve featured an Imperial March-playing floppy drive here before, but it was only one drive. Although it may not be the London Symphony Orchestra, the two drives together sound quite good!

According to him, the FDD has a fairly simple interface. To move the head, one simply needs to pull the DRVSB pin low and then activate the STEP pin on a falling edge.  This will make the head move one direction dependent on the DIR pin state. In this case, an ATMega microcontroller is moving everything. An explanation of the pins used in this hack can be found here.

Although it may look like an intimidating hack on the surface, something like this might be a neat project to try with some old hardware and an Arduino or other controller! [Pawel] did have the idea to hook up a 5 1/4″ and 8″ drive to make a full FDD orchestra, so we can’t wait to see what he comes up with! [Read more...]