Barrel organ made from Lego plays the Star Wars theme

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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

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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

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[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! Continue reading “Star Wars Imperial March Played by Dual Floppy Drives”

Quadruped military vehicles from back in the day

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While Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog is pretty impressive, check out this video of the US Army’s first attempt at a quadruped vehicle. Created in the early 1960s with the help of GE, this Army experiment was the first successful attempt of replicating a four-legged animal with a mechanical machine.

This “Walking Truck” was driven by a single operator who moved each of the vehicle’s legs using force-feedback hydraulic levers. Choreographing the machine’s movement was quite complicated, and during testing the Army found that the operator needed a mental break after only 15 minutes of use. As you can see in the video, the vehicle flexes some serious muscle. It kicks a Jeep out of its way with little effort, but it is still able to gently step on a light bulb without breaking it, due to the level of tactile feedback received by the operator.

If it weren’t for government budget cuts, we could be living out [George Lucas’] dream of AT-AT based combat right this minute!

[via Gizmodo]

CNC-built R2-D2 brings childhood dreams to life

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As a kid, [Wes] always dreamed of building a full-size, functional R2-D2 droid from Star Wars. While most youthful aspirations such as this fall to the wayside amid adult responsibilities and commitments, he did not allow his dreams to disappear along with his childhood.

He began his droid-building journey armed only with his dreams and some assistance from the friendly folks over at R2Builders. The entire replica was built using MDF, wood, and styrene sheeting, along with just one tool: a CNC machine. He walks you through the every step of the construction, stopping to give recommendations on CNC hardware, software, etc. along the way. He also provides Gcode files for each of the pieces he has constructed, which should be a huge help to anyone looking to build a R2-D2 clone of their own.

It looks like he is just getting around to fitting motors into the leg housings of his R2-D2 replica, but we can’t wait to see what it looks like once he has all of the electronics and other details finished.

If you are interested in more R2-D2 coverage, look no further than right here.

R2D2 wannabe lacks lightsaber launcher, autonomy

Is this what the lovable Star Wars droid would look like without its protective skin? This R2D2 inspired robot is another Olin College of Engineering (where that CNC cake decorator came from) build developed by [Nathaniel Ting] and his classmates. Alas, it lacks autonomy, relying on an operator for guidance. But we enjoy it for the build quality. Two motorcycle batteries supply DC motors on the two rear legs of the trike. It can be driven with a wireless Xbox controller or through a Python interface that also randomly plays droid audio clips from the movie. That’s a tilting projector on top, which would be used to show Princess Leia’s pleas for assistance. That is, after the operator plugs in an extension cord to power it up. Oh well, it’s still a lot of fun to watch. See for yourself after the break.

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