Biking Through Google Street View


[Aki] wanted to do some stationary cycling to get in shape. Unfortunately, his stationary cycle is located in his garage which doesn’t supply much inspiration or amusement. His solution was to build a VR rig so that he could ride around inside google street view. He has rigged a simple sensor to his wheel to determine his speed and he’s using a vuzix VR 920 as a display and orientation sensor. While he notes that it isn’t perfect, or even reliable, we think it is pretty cool. He can go sight-seeing, while getting in shape from his own garage. We have to wonder if he gets a headache after a while though.

Single-wing Flight Based On Maple Seed Aerodynamics


The Samara Micro-Air-Vehicle is a product of over three years of work at the University of Maryland’s Aerospace Engineering Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory. The Samara is an applicant in the DARPA nano air vehicle program. Unlike the ornithopter we saw in July, this vehicle uses only one wing for flight. A small propeller on a rod mounted perpendicular to the wing provides rotation. The pitch of the wing is changed to climb, descend, or hover.

You can see a video of the flight tests after the break. The sound the Samara makes reminds us of classic alien invasion movies and the use of Verdi’s Requiem for the background music during flight tests (2:43) seems quite fitting. At about 5:45 there is some on board video footage that is just a blur of the room spinning by. This would be much more useful if a few frames per second were snapped at exactly the same point in the vehicles rotation.

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Battery Capacity Tester


[Moris_zen] built a device to accurately measure the capacity of batteries. He needed to have an accurate measurement for the batteries he uses in a RC airplane. Knowing the discharge time allows him to fly the friendly skies while avoiding crashes from lost communications.

He based the tester around the Arduino platform. Instead of using a pre-built Arduino board he referenced the open source schematics and built the device from components to fit his needs. His solution automatically detects the battery type (Lithium-Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride, etc) based on voltage when the battery is added to the circuit. It then uses a 2.2 Ohm resistor and ADC measurements to take the battery through a discharge cycle. A character display shows status information with the ability to track discharge information using a computer to graph the data.

Apart from flashing an LED this was his first Arduino project. It’s a great use of the platform and much more automatic than other solutions we’ve covered.

EyeWriter Is The Fruit Of The KanEye Project

The EyeWriter is an open source eye tracking initiative. This is the mature version of the KanEye project we covered in April. Collaboratively developed by Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, and the Graffiti Research Lab, they seek to aid a friend of theirs who suffers from the degenerative muscle disease ALS.

They’ve come a long way since we last looked in on the progress. The hardware used is pretty much the same: a set of sunglasses sans lenses with the CCD from a Sony PlayStation 3 Eye mounted in front of one eye. IR LEDs surround the CCD and point at the eye to increase the contrast between pupil and the rest of the eye. The major improvement comes with the software. Eye tracking appears to be extremely precise and they’ve written a custom drawing program to take advantage of their interface. Check in on their developer page for source code and a video walk-through of the software.

After the break you can see video of [Tempt1] using the system to create some tags. We’re thankful for the success this project has seen as this guy can do a lot better with his eye than we can with our hands.

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Farewell Microblog

lmc6042-4x (Custom)

[Nico]’s microblog has been a regular source of inspiration since we were introduced to it last year. Aside from posting various technical thoughts and reviews, [Nico] won our hearts over by going through the trouble to strip chips and photograph them for our pleasure. Browse through his archive and download what you want, because he’s shutting down. The posts have waned, due to his final year of school taking all of his time and graduation is coming soon. [Nico] will be looking for a job soon, so check out his resume (pdf) if you’re looking for an engineer.