Autonomous tank will track you down, cover you in welts


[Dan] wrote in to share a project he recently finished up, an autonomous Airsoft tank. The toy tank makes use of a wide array of technologies to get the job done, and will stop at nothing to hunt you down (provided you are wearing an IR beacon).

An Arduino board is used to control the tank’s motors, while a Lego NXT module handles most of the other operations. The tank makes its way around using an ultrasonic sensor, which ensures it doesn’t get stuck on any errant furniture or hung up in a corner. While driving around autonomously is well and good, [Dan] upped the ante a bit by making the Airsoft turret completely autonomous as well.

He fitted a Wiimote IR sensor to the tank, successfully interfacing it with the NXT module after a bit of trial and error. Now that things are up and running, he can place his IR beacon anywhere in the room, and the tank will drive around scanning its surroundings until the target is found. Once the tank locks on, a flurry of Airsoft pellets take down whatever stands in its way.

We think that [Dan] did a fantastic job here, but see for yourself in the videos embedded after the break.

[via HackedGadgets]

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Wii homebrew hack – no game discs required

Jailbreaking hacks have come and gone for the Wii, ever changing as Nintendo tweaks their software to prevent homebrew from running. Piracy concerns aside, there is a legitimate Wii homebrew scene, and a  new, easy to use tool has been released for those looking to give it a try.

Many of the previous jailbreaks relied on bugs found within official Wii games, but there’s a new kid on the block that requires nothing more than an Internet connection and an SD card. LetterBomb is the latest jailbreaking tool, which was created by an individual named [blasty]. It seems incredibly easy to use, requiring little more than entering your Wii’s MAC address into a web form. The site generates a customized jailbreak file, which your run on your Wii via the SD card – that’s all there is to it!

If I had a Wii, I would be hesitant to enter any sort of globally-unique number that could identify my console into a random web site, but perhaps I am being overly paranoid. Either way, it would be great to see an open-source version of this tool released so that jailbreaks could be done offline, without any risk of having your MAC address recorded.

[Thanks, blurry]

Wireless rover has two guns…one for each of ya


We never really get bored with remote-controlled rovers around here, especially when they involve reusing some old hardware as well as lasers. [Tycoon] wrote in to share his creation, which he has dubbed “Texas Ranger”.

Texas Ranger is built around an old Linksys WRT54GL router, which provides the rover’s WiFi connectivity as well as the serial interface through which everything else is controlled. The rover features a pair of PIC microcontrollers, which handle all of the servo control as well as telemetry calculations.

An onboard camera gives the operator a driver’s seat view of the action, allowing for precise control of the vehicle. Laser triangulation is used to help measure object distance, and a pair of airsoft pellet guns straddle the camera for whenever [Tycoon] feels like making his presence known. One feature we are especially fond of is the pair of Wii nunchucks which the rover uses to monitor its position. Always aware of its operating angle, it auto-adjusts the camera to compensate for uneven surfaces, guaranteeing that [Tycoon] doesn’t have to tilt his head to see straight.

Keep reading to see a quick demo video he shot of Texas Ranger in action.

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Teaching children to walk using video games


Medical conditions that prevent individuals from being able to walk are difficult to handle, even more so if the patient happens to be a child. Shriner’s hospitals treat a good number of children suffering from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or amputations. They are always looking for creative treatment methods, so their Motion Analysis Laboratory looked to some Rice University undergrads for help. They asked the group of engineers to design a system that would make physical therapy a bit more fun, while helping encourage the children along.

The team recently unveiled their project, called the Equiliberator. The game system incorporates a series of five Wii balance boards situated between a pair of pressure-sensitive handrails. The platform communicates with a computer via Bluetooth, registering the patient’s movements as he or she moves along the path. The software portion of the system consists of a monster-slaying game which requires the child to step on a particular section of the pathway to dispose of the oncoming enemies.

The game is designed to get more difficult as the child’s balance and coordination improve, encouraging them with an ever growing bank of points as they progress. The final goal of the project is to enable the pressure sensitive handrails to determine how much the child is relying on them for balance, offering in-game incentives to walk with as little support as possible.

We love seeing hacks like this which not only entertain, but truly help people in the process. Kudos to the team at Rice University – they have done a fantastic job here.

Continue reading to see a quick video describing the Equiliberator in the designers’ own words.

[via MedGadget]

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Retake on a Wii remote controlled balancing robot

[Tijmen Verhulsdonck] built his own version of a Wii remote-controlled balancing robot. He drew his inspiration from the SegWii, which was built by [Ara Kourchians].

The body is built using one of our preferred fabrication methods; threaded rod makes up a rail system, with three sheets of hard board serving as a mounting structure for the motors, electronics, and battery. This does away with the 9V batteries used on the original SegWii, opting for a very powerful lithium battery perched on the highest part of the assembly. It uses an Arduino as the main microcontroller. That detects roll, pitch, and tilt of the body by reading data from a Sparkfun IMU 5 board (we’re pretty sure it’s this one). Check out the videos after the break. The first demonstrates the robot balancing on its own, then a Wii remote is connected via Bluetooth and [Tijmen] drives it around the room by tilting the controller. The second video covers the components that went into the build.

This is impressive work for a 17-year-old. [Tijmen] lists his material cost at $800 but since he’s Dutch this might not be a USD currency.

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Wiimote-based whiteboard lets you write on any surface


The Wiimote is a fantastic tool for hackers, given their affordability and how easy they are to work with. [Gareth] had a “eureka” moment while working on another Wiimote-based project, and with some alterations, converted it into an electronic whiteboard.

The whiteboard was built using the IR sensor he extracted from a Wiimote, which is wired to an EasyProp board to process the input. The Wiimote is aimed at a LCD screen, which can be “drawn” upon using a light pen he constructed from an IR led and a few batteries. Any movement of the pen is tracked by the Wiimote’s IR sensor and converted to an XY coordinate, which is then painted on the screen. The sensor has the ability to track up to four points at a time, so you can theoretically use up to four pens simultaneously.

[Gareth] points out that the sensor is not limited to tracking small displays, as the white board can be easily scaled up in size using any kind of rear projection device.

Continue reading to see a video of his whiteboard in action.

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Bluetooth-enabled Wii nunchuck


The wireless controller for the Nintendo Wii has been used in many a hack due to its simple to use Bluetooth interface. The nunchuck portion of the controller however, has always required a physical tether to the wireless controller, or an aftermarket wireless dongle. [Rousselmanu] is looking to change that with his Bluetooth-enabled wireless Wii nunchuck. He is able to retrieve a slew of data from the nunchuck, including information from all of the accelerometers, buttons, as well as the joystick. The data is read into a PIC MCU and relayed via serial to a Bluetooth module he purchased online.

The Bluetooth module looks fairly easy to interface in Linux, and [Rousselmanu] has a video showing off how well the nunchuck can be used to interact with 3D models. He admits that the controller is a bit ugly at the moment as all the components don’t quite fit so well, but future revisions will surely remedy that.

Keep reading to see a video of the nunchuck in action.

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