A Speaking Ultrasonic Distance Sensor

speak

[Klaus] wanted some sort of aid for parking his car, and after running across a $4 ultrasonic sensor, decided to build his own speaking distance sensor (.de, Google Translation).

Inside [Klaus]‘ device is an Arduino Uno, an HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor, and an Adafruit Wave Shield. Originally, this parking/distance sensor used a small TFT to display the distance to an object, but after a few revisions, [Klaus] redesigned the device to speak the current distance, courtesy of an SD card and a soothing female voice.

Right now, the voice is set up to speak the distance from an object to the sensor from 10 cm to 1 m in 5cm increments. This isn’t the limit of the sensor, though, and the device can be easily reconfigured to sense a distance up to four meters.

The board doesn’t have an amplifier or speaker, but with the addition of a small amplifier, [Klaus]‘ device is loud enough to be heard in even the noisiest environments.

Video demo below.

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Build your own Portal turret in 150 easy steps

If there were a contest for the most thorough step-by-step project log [Kurt] would the champion. He recently a posted 150 step build log for his fleece-covered Portal turret project. If you can get over the need to click-through 30 pages of steps, there’s a lot to like about this project.

First, what it doesn’t do: The Turret doesn’t split up the middle and fire bullets at you. This is a relief, but the fact that it’s not lethal doesn’t mean it just sits there looking interesting. It can detect movement, it knows when you pick it up, and it can tell when it’s been knocked over. All of these interactive sensory inputs are used to playback various sound bytes from the Portal games, making it a great piece of desk art for those working in geek-centric offices. See for yourself in the video after the break.

The body itself is a food storage container which houses the barebones Arduino and Adafruit Wav shield. As near as we can tell, a PIR sensor detects movement, and leaf switches on the legs tell it when it’s been picked up or tipped over. But we only made a cursor examination of the assembly steps so we might be missing something.

If you’re not into the turrets, maybe this potato is more up your alley.

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Layering pinball audio using parallel WAV shields

[Ed Zarick] is preparing his pinball project and wants to have authentic sound to go with the game play. The game is modeled after NBA Hangtime and in addition to music he also needs a wide range of sound effects to beef up the experience. To make this all happen at once he developed a set of Arduino WAV shields controlled by an Arduino Mega.

As you can see above, there are three ATmega328 chips which run the Arduino boot loader and each interface with one of the three green WAV shields. That set of chips listens for commands over and i2c protocol, and once they receive instructions they play can play the chosen file without affecting the other shields.

But to have the authentic sounds you first need to acquire the audio samples. [Ed] grabbed a ROM of the original video game and dumped all of the audio samples. From there it was a chore to listen to and catalog the sounds for SD card playback with the pinball version of the game. But it’s well worth the effort as the sound will end up tying the whole experience together.

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Halloween Props: Talking skeleton in reaper robes

Here’s a great way to guard your front door on Halloween. [Sam Seide] built a motion controlled talking skeleton. The electronics are fairly straight forward, consisting of an Arduino, WAV shield, PIR motion sensor, servo motor for the jaw, and a couple of red LEDs for the eyes. But [Sam] did some really neat things in the design of the skeleton itself. As we saw with the puking pirate, he built the body out of PVC so that he can take it apart for easy storage. Under the reaper robe you’ll find a set of powered computer speakers that connect to the WAV shield. The servo motor is mounted in the skull and moves the jaw using a small wire arm. Since the whole thing is a bit flexible (thanks to the PVC), the torque of the motor causes the skeleton to move around, adding a touch of life. Don’t miss the well-made video walkthrough after the break.

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