RC car transforms into RC robot

Transformer

After nearly 30 years since the first episode of Transformers aired, someone has finally done it. A company named Brave Robotics out of Japan has created a true transformer robot that is half remote control car and half remote control bipedal robot.

According to the Brave Robotics’ site, this creation is the result of more than 10 years. In 2002, the first version of the Transform Robot was completed – a relatively simple affair that transformed but couldn’t walk or drive. Over the last 10 years, the prototypes have seen incremental improvement that included a drive system for the wheels, a steering mechanism, and even the ability to move its’ arms and shoot plastic darts.

Surprisingly, you can actually buy one of Brave Robotics’ transforming robots for ¥1,980,000 JPY, or about $24,000 USD. A little pricy but we’re sure we’ll see a few more transforming robots in the future.

Check out a few more videos of the Brave Robotics transform robot after the break.

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A huge microwave-powered bug zapper

This is the biggest bug zapper we’ve ever seen. It’s called the Megazap as its zapping area is 1 square meter. [Eighdot] and [Sa007] combined their talents for the build in order to help reduce the insect population around the Eth0 2012 Summer festival.

You may recall from our bug zapping light saber build that these devices work by providing two energized grids. When an insect flies between the grids it allows the potential energy to overcome the air resistance by travelling through the insect’s body. The Megazap uses a transformer from a microwave oven to source that potential. The transformer produces 2.4 kV and the current is limited by a floodlight fitted inside the microwave. The side effect of using the lamp as a limiter is that it lights up with each bug zapped, providing a bit of a light show. Don’t miss the video after the break to see some flying foes get the life shocked out of them.

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Building a sound reactive EL panel and learning something in the process

We’ve seen a lot of builds using electroluminescent wire, usually in the realm of costumes and props. Unfortunately, most electrical engineers don’t deal with blinking and dimming EL wire and panels and any tinkerer trying to control electroluminescence doesn’t have a lot of resources on how to control EL stuff. [ch00f] wanted to fill this knowledge gap, so he build a sound reactive EL panel driver and learned a lot in the process.

Nobody really knows how electroluminescent wire and panels work on a molecular level, but [ch00f] did know that changing the direction of an electric field will cause the EL material to glow. Changing the frequency of this electric field will change the EL material’s brightness, so all [ch00f] had to do was make a variable-frequency EL driver – something that’s a lot harder than it sounds.

We won’t bore you with the details because we  couldn’t do [ch00f]’s write up any justice. We will skip to the end and tell you [ch00f] was able to make a sound reactive EL panel after a month of work that included making his own transformers and doing a whole bunch of math. You can check out the video of [ch00f]’s [Tony Stark]-esque EL panel after the break.

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There’s more than meets the eye to this robot car

This is a robot that any Transformers enthusiast will love. Sure, the car looks just a bit boxy, but you’ll forget all about that when you see it unfold into a bipedal robot (translated). [Zak Sawa] is responsible for the creation. He pull off the build using 22 servo motors which let the car transform, and provide the somewhat awkward ability to walk. Fold it back up again and the car can drive away. In other words, here’s the Transformers toy that you always wanted; radio controled and it actually works!

This is the result of about four years of work. Apparently it’s the eighth iteration, and a note on the video after the break teases a ninth version on the way. It’s not just the robot that looks great, check out the carrying case that houses it for storage.

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Burning plasma screen with breathtaking beauty

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At some point you’ve got to resign yourself to the fact that the TV you’ve been trying to resurrect is just not salvageable. But if you’re knowlegable about working safely with high voltage, you might get quite a show out of it yet. Here [Aussie50] finds beauty in destruction when he fries a large plasma panel from a broken HDTV.

The flyback transformer from a microwave oven drives the display. The video after the break starts off kind of boring at first but before long it takes off. As portions of the display burn out the electric arcs jumping those gaps provide a thrilling view for the remainder of the 14 minutes.

Don’t want to commit to a video that long? Here’s a display that gives up the ghost after just four and a half minutes but we don’t think it’s quite as cool.

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Tutorial series shows you everything you need to salvage transformers from microwaves

Transformers certainly have a tendency to increase the cost of any project, especially if you need a large transformer to get the job done. Microwave ovens are great sources of free transformers, though they are not always in the shape required for your next build.

[Matt] put together three great tutorial videos covering the basics of salvaging Microwave Oven Transformers (MOTs), that anyone new to the process should watch before giving it a go. The first video covers MOT removal and disassembly, which is a time consuming yet easy process providing you follow [Matt’s] pointers.

The second video delves into transformer theory, and discusses how to achieve optimal performance when rebuilding an MOT or hand wrapping coils to fit your project specs. The third video in the series follows [Matt] as he rebuilds one of the salvaged transformers, documenting his pitfalls and successes along the way.

If you haven’t given much thought to salvaging MOTs, we definitely recommend taking a bit of time to watch the video series in full – it’s definitely worth it.

You can see the first video in the series after the jump – the rest can be found via the YouTube link above.

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Transformer-based PSU repair

Repairing someone else’s design mistakes is much more difficult than starting from scratch. So whenever we come across someone who’s good at this type of trouble-shooting we pay attention. [Jim] had a Sangean HDR-1 in his home. It’s a tabletop HD radio that stopped powering up for some reason. He cracked it open and got to the bottom of the problem.

The first order of business is disassembly, which isn’t too hard with this model. With multimeter in hand he started probing the transformer and found that the contacts for the primary are an open circuit; signaling a problem. There’s no inline fuse for protection, and further study of the secondary winding let him to discover the use of 1N5817 diodes. These are underrated parts for this particular transformer. He replaced them with 1N4003 diodes to bring the device in spec. But there was still the issue of fuse protections. A bit of circuit free-forming allowed him add a fuse and varistor  by soldering the directly to the transformer’s contacts.

Why stop there? While [Jim] had the case open he also swapped out the low-end op-amp and a few electrolytic capacitors to improve the sound quality of the radio. Op-amp replacement seems to be a popular way to improve the sound from HD radios.