Tank Wars: A Video Game Controlling A Physical Bot

[Joe] sent us an email to show off his latest build. Tank Wars is the beginning of a video game/robot hybrid. You control the tank via an iPad, telling it where to go and how to fire. You have real life targets, in this case another robot. When you hit your target, the interface is updated with game stats.  Currently, this is only a step past being a wifi controlled robot. [Joe] is working on making the game part of it a little more interactive.

The tank and the target are both run by Arduinos with RN-XV WiFly modules.  The tank has obstacle avoidance both forward and backward, which, from the video,  seems like it might make navigating a bit challenging at times. The iPad interface is just a web page, so it could really be used on any device. This is pretty cool, we can’t wait to see how he proceeds from here.

Continue reading “Tank Wars: A Video Game Controlling A Physical Bot”

Finding Your Keys With Bluetooth

[doragasu]’s wife is always misplacing her keys. To solve this problem, [doragasu] created a small Bluetooth-enabled key fob that is able to remotely sound an alarm when commanded to by a cell phone.

The case and LiPo battery of [doragasu]’s project comes from a small photo frame key fob. The LCD display and PCB of the photo frame were tossed aside for a future project, and the design of the circuit started. The Bluetooth buzzer key fob is based around an MSP430 microcontroller because of their extremely low power requirements.

On the software side of things, [doragasu] built a J2ME app to connect to the key fob and turn the buzzer on. His app is portable to any Android phone, and versions can be ported to Windows, OS X and iOS devices.

How does it work? Well, [doragasu]’s wife sometimes forgets to charge her key fob, rendering the whole project useless. There are ideas for  updating the device to a Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy device, but no actionable plans. Still, very good work. You can check out [doragasu]’s walkthrough and demo video after the break.

Continue reading “Finding Your Keys With Bluetooth”

Sculpting Clay With Sound

A group of students at the University of Dundee have created this interesting prototype called Sound Sculpted. The goal was to sculpt clay using sound files drive the sculpting arms. Ideally, you would end up with pieces of art that were unique to each piece of music. As you can see in the video (after the break), they did a pretty good job of building this thing and getting the arms to respond to the music. It is almost hypnotizing to watch.

We can’t help but notice that there is a bit of a design issue. Since the 4 arms are fixed vertically, and the clay spins on the same axis they are able to move on, your variation will be very limited. We think this doesn’t detract from the project, but does offer a large area for improvement.

How would you change the sculpting arms or their motion to make each piece more unique?

Continue reading “Sculpting Clay With Sound”

Stop Motion Animation Creation

PVC man stop motion animation

Stop Motion Animation has always been interesting to me since I “discovered” that one could make animated flip books by drawing each frame a little different. Fast forward 20 years or so, and computer technology has gotten to the point where this sort of thing can be done electronically quite easily and at an incredibly low price of a camera, computer, and free or paid-for software (here’s the technique using GIMP, a free, good quality photo editing tool) to put everything together.

The frames in the picture above are of my latest [PVC man] animation, which can be made with some electroluminescent lights, gloves, and some PVC pipe.  Each frame was individually photographed, and after several hours of work we had enough footage for 17 seconds of so of stop-motion animation.

Although by no means perfect, the quality of these animations has gone up dramatically from the first animations that I made using an old ENV2 camera phone. Although I was using a “custom mount” for it, it’s amazing these came out as well as they did. As with everything hacking related, this process is a constant work in progress. Check out the videos after the break for the [PVC man] video as well as one of the early ENV2-produced stop-motion shorts!

Continue reading “Stop Motion Animation Creation”

Kits To Fund Hackerspaces

[Overflo] recently tipped us about HackerspaceShop; his plan to help fund the Viennese and European hackerspaces by creating a marketplace for electronic kits. The idea is to not only sell kits, but to also create an easy way for others to sell their own kits through the platform, which is pretty awesome if you ask us.

Their kit they sent us to play with is a sun tracking flower developed by [daniel schatzmayr] in the metalab hackerspace. All and all, it’s a pretty awesome kit that’d be perfect for any geeky girlfriend, and of course, it’s arduino controlled. Whether or not that is a good or a bad thing is up to the hackaday trolls to decide, but it does have an FTDI header; something we’d personally like to see on a lot more of these electronic kits.

Currently there’s not to big a catalog on their site but hey, wickedlasers started out as a guy selling modified laser pointers and Hewett Packard started out as two guys selling a better function generator. It’s always awesome when a hacker uses their skills to become an entrepreneur, especially for a good cause.

Good luck [overflo]!

Automated Bed Leveling With Our 3D Printer

Anyone with a RepRap or other 3D printer knows how much of a pain leveling the bed is. To get a good quality print, the bed – the surface the printer prints on – must be exactingly level, and may the engineering gods help you if your surface has the slightest bump in it. [Atntias] is developing a solution to this problem: an auto leveling platform that shouldn’t require any parts at all if you already have a metal bed.

The idea is incredibly simple: Just ground your metal bed, and apply a small voltage to the tip of your hot end. [Atntias]’ code (available on GitHub) probes the surface of the bed and shoots out a 3D mesh of your current bed profile. This can be used as a GCode offset, so the bottom of your print is always directly on the top of the bed.

Although the utility of leveling a bed down to the micron level is of questionable utility for 3D printers, it’s vitally important if you want to mill a PCB on your printer. [Atntias] says his idea is currently being implemented into the Marlin firmware, so it looks like another firmware update is in our future.

Thanks go to [technodream] for sending this one in. Check out the video after the break to see the bed leveling process in action.

Continue reading “Automated Bed Leveling With Our 3D Printer”