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

r2d2_build

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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Lightsaber boasts detachable blade and crystal chamber

[Bradley W. Lewis] continues to amaze us with this Return of the Jedi Lightsaber build. You’ll remember his fine work from his previous Episode IV replica. He’s taken the parts that turned out well for him and expanded upon them. In the demonstration after the break you’ll see the new version has a removable blade (which happens to house 90 LEDs). Just like the last time he’s got a Hasbro sound board and a speaker to add the Jedi-like sound effects. But there’s another trick up his sleeve. Two parts of the grip slide apart on a spring-loaded assembly to reveal the crystal that gives the weapon its sting. And as we found out the last time, [Bradley] really knows how to share his work in the build log.

Oh, and the drawings above? Well, someone who plans this meticulously obviously knows what they’re doing.

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Lightsaber color selector

[George Hadley] developed a nice setup to control the color of a replica Lightsaber. A small PCB houses a PIC 18F2221 and three switching transistors for the colors. A powerful LED resides in the tip of the handle, lighting up the diffuser that makes up the blade. But our favorite part is the control scheme. He’s embedded a small RGB LED in the handle, giving feedback as to which color of light can currently be adjusted (red, green, or blue). One button scrolls through the colors and a slide potentiometer adjusts that them.

We wouldn’t go as far as calling this a Halloween prop, we think it’s better suited for serious replica builds. But it would make an amazing addition to the little one’s costume. See it in action after the break.

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Millennium Falcon doll house

Sometimes all it takes is one idea. The shape of a cutting board found at a thrift store prompted [Paul] to build a Millenium Falcon doll house. In addition to the strangely shaped cutting board, a ring from a CD spindle and some wood slats divide the internals while PVC fittings complete the cockpit assembly. To really bring things alive for the kids [Lin] made a bunch of minifigs from hobby pegs. These exhibit her artistic skills as we think they’re better than most of the stuff you could buy in a store.

Kids really bring out the best in hacking. Looks like these children have been enjoying the spoils of hacker parents for a while, with a cardboard rocketship (beats any refrigerator box hands down), Pixie-Dust bottles using some small LED bits, and a doll bed that repurposes a wine rack.

[Thanks Joby]