Hackaday Links: September 27, 2015

Many moons ago, [Joe Grand] built an adapter that turns Atari 2600 joysticks to USB controllers. Now it’s open source.

Hackaday Overlord [Matt] is holding an SMT and BGA soldering workshop in San Francisco on October 4th. Teaching BGA soldering? Yes! He made a board where the BGA balls are connected to LEDs. Very, very clever.

Our ‘ol friend [Jeremey Cook] built a strandbeest out of MDF. It’s huge, heavy, about the size of a small car, and it doesn’t work. [Jeremy] has built beests before, but these were relatively small. The big MDF beest is having some problems with friction, and a tendency to shear along the joints. If anyone wants to fix this beest, give [Jeremy] a ring.

Everyone loves the Teensy, and [Paul] has released his latest design iteration. The Teensy 3.2 isn’t that much different from the Teensy 3.1; the bootloader has changed and now USB D+ and D- lines are broken out. Other than that, it’s just the latest iteration of the popular Teensy platform.

The DyIO is a pretty neat robotics controller, a semifinalist for the Hackaday Prize, and now a Kickstarter. The big win of the Kickstarter is an electronics board (with WiFi) that is able to control 24 servos for all your robotics needs.

[pighixxx] does illustrations of pinouts for popular electronics platforms. Everyone needs a hobby, I guess. He recently put together an illustration of the ESP8266. Neat stuff is hidden deep in this site.

You would not believe how much engineering goes into making snake oil. And then you need to do certifications!

[David] identified a problem, created a solution, got a patent, and is now manufacturing a product. The only problem is the name.

Sphero Riding Strandbeest Is A Robot With An Exoskeleton

[Theo Jansen] makes awesome things called Strandbeests; wind-driven automatons that roam beaches and art galleries. It has long been one of our favorite mechanisms. Newer, but also a favorite is the Sphero smartphone controlled orb. The combination of the two is epic!

You may remember seeing Sphero used to create a tiny BB8 replica. Inside the orb is a tiny robot capable of rolling itself hamster-wheel-style in any direction. It’s a rather powerful bot and that makes Sphero fast. The high RPM is what makes this hack possible. Sphero spins rapidly while perched on some rollerblade wheels. Gearing converts this to the rolling motion of the Strandbeest.

The original concept was posted a year ago but it was just now brought to our attention by [fhareide]  who is working on his own smaller Strandbeest driven by a Sphero. Since there are no assembly details on the original posting, you can follow along with [fhareide’s] documentation in order to complete your own build. So far [fhareide] imported the STL model into Autodesk Inventor, printed out one set of gears to insure the printer resolution could handle it, and assembled one set of legs.
We think of this as a kind of exoskeleton for a Sphero. We’ll keep an eye on this through the assembly, testing the drive mechanism and then the point where the whole thing becomes self-aware and either runs away to hide or terminates him.

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Drill Powered Scooter Walks With Legs

[Izzy Swan] is a popular wood working YouTuber who recently fell in love with [Theo Jansen’s] kinetic art — the Strandbeest. Naturally, he had to make his own; but with his own flare of course.

If’ you’re not familiar, [Theo Jansen’s] Strandbeest is a walking kinetic sculpture, powered by wind. It’s inspired a Hamster Ball powered Strandbeest, some nice 3D printed ones, and even a paper craft version! Mechanically, it’s quite a marvel — his TED talk about them is fantastic.

When [Izzy] saw all those legs moving, he knew he had to recreate it — so he came up with this two legged version that pushes him around — kind of like a tricycle, but the back wheels are… legs? It’s an oddity for sure, but an impressive feat nonetheless. Not to mention he’s powering the whole thing using a little cordless drill…

Despite it looking like machined aluminum, it is in fact made of wood, though it does feature a metal gearbox using worm gears to transfer torque from the drill. We want to see a Segway version of this… we might have to make use of the laser cutter in the office…

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Tin Spider is 13-foot Rideable Strandbeest

Arguably our best find at Bay Area Maker Faire this year was the Tin Spider built by [Scott Parenteau]. He constructed the 13-foot tall vehicle to take with him on his very first trip to Burning Man back in 2012. There’s very little information available online so we were excited that [Scott] spent some time speaking with us on Saturday.

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Wind Powered Strandbeest Could Roam the Land Indefinitely

3d printed strandbeest

We have to admit, Strandbeests are one of our favorite mechanical inventions of recent years — many-legged, life-like mechanisms that walk around? Awesome. [Eric] wanted to design something really cool — so he decided to build a turbine attachment for [Theo Jansen’s] Strandbeest — the AG5 & AG7 models specifically.

If you’re not familiar, the Strandbeest is a mechanical contraption that actually walks around. It’s been developed by [Theo Jansen] for years and has been built in many variations by other people over the years. [Theo] even gave a TED talk on it back in 2007.

The very idea of the Strandbeest is to have it move by itself with autonomy — no electronics allowed! [Theo] has designed a propeller attachment for one of his 3D printable Strandbeests to do this, but [Eric] wanted to take it a step further. He’s designed a more functional wind turbine that sits on top of the Strandbeest, allowing wind from any direction to cause it to walk.

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MountainBeest – A Theo Jansen Creature Comes Alive in My Garage

About a year ago, a member of my family sent me a video featuring [Theo Jansen’s] StrandBeest, knowing that I was interested in all kinds of wacky and hackish inventions. My initial reaction was something to the effect of “wow that’s a neat device, but that guy is a little crazy.” For better or worse, the idea that this was an incredible invention turned over in my head for some time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to build one myself.  Apparently I’m a little crazy as well.

Theo’s original beest runs on a complicated linkage system powered by wind. He was nice enough to publish the linkage lengths or “eleven holy numbers,” as he calls him at the bottom of this page. He doesn’t, however, really explain how the connections on his PVC power transmission system work, so I was left to try to figure it out from his videos.  As you’ll see from build details and video to follow, this isn’t trivial. Keep reading past the jump to learn the adversity that I encountered, and how it was overcome in the end.

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Fixing Misaligned PVC With Kerf Bends


Our old pal [Jeremy Cook] is doing his own remix of [Theo Jansen]’s Strandbeest, and like the original, he’s using PVC pipe. Unlike the originals, he’s powering it with motors, not wind, and this has caused a few problems in transmitting mechanical power through a piece of PVC. Nothing is perfect, and in a few points in the legs movement the shaft shakes violently. One motor was lost and another nearly so before [Jeremy] came up with a flex coupler made from PVC.

The technique [Jeremy] is using has seen a lot of use with people building laser cut enclosures. It’s called kerf bending, and it works simply by cutting a few slits in a panel that allow it to bend slightly. This technique was replicated by [Jeremy] on a miter saw, cutting eight slots halfway through a one inch PVC pipe, with each successive cut offset 90 degrees.

The new design works well for transmitting power, and he’s not ruining motors any more. Check out the video below.

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