Boxes, Form An Orderly Queue Behind The Armchair!

If you have ever been to a hacker camp, you’ll know the problem of transporting all your stuff to your hackerspace village, or to wherever you’ll be basing yourself for the duration. The car park is always too far away, whatever trolley you’ve brought along is never big enough, and the terrain you have to drag everything over feels more like the Chilkoot Trail than a city sidewalk.

[Jan Henrik] and [Niklas Fauth] have an effective solution to all your hacker camp transport woes, in the form of a motorized platform designed to carry a storage box. Underneath the platform are a pair of hoverboard motors and their controller board reflashed with a custom firmware.

You might be now looking at it and thinking “So what?”, for a single platform is handy but hardly a comprehensive transport solution. What makes this one impressive though is that it’s not a single board, instead there is a swarm of them for which they appear to have implemented some form of optical following system which is teased through the video we’ve placed below the break and with this Tweet, but not in detail yet in the wiki page. A neat train of platforms follows the lead one, transporting everything with minimum fuss. What can we say, except “We want one too!”. There is some code to be found in a GitHub repository, should you be interested in having a go for yourself.

As the pair behind the motorised armchair you saw in our SHA 2017 coverage, we hope one of these two will lead their train of storage boxes from his chair like a comfortably ensconced Pied Piper of Hamelin, meanwhile you might remember [Jan Henrik]’s name appearing on these pages when he found a Game Boy embedded in a medical device.

12 thoughts on “Boxes, Form An Orderly Queue Behind The Armchair!

  1. I have half a dozen or so of these scooters, none workers form new and have been waiting for something useful to do with them. Good to know that the internal source is available but not really something I need isn’t this.

    I wondered about making a quadcopter out of them or something to pull my wheelie bin up my drive maybe, that is 50 metres of 1:6 and I am getting too old.

    Any other suggestions?

  2. I’m working on an arduino based driver for these boards, but I’m spoofing the gyroscope boards rather than reprogramming the motherboard (stm32).

    Only need to sort out the hall sensor interrupts so I know the wheel rotation speed to properly accelerate/steer.

    Taking full control of the stm2 (like this project) is defs the next step forward. You likely only need something like an ST-Link and you have “root” on the hoverboard

  3. How about a cyber-pack mule from this GOOGLE company in Boston Massachusetts? It’s called FIDO. The US Marines are using them to haul equipment around and I think they nickname it ALPHA MALE. Why can’t HaD’ers think of something like this? You might be able to invite Boston Dynamics to a trade show to show this thing off. I’ll bet BD brought FIDO up to Chilkoot Trail Alaska for field trials or is at least thinking about it. I would think this cyber-quadruped could OWN that trail easily…. Allegedly you can load these things up with anything, including the kitchen sink. I would use the fossil fueled big dog for that instead of the electric powered FIDO.

    1. > Why can’t HaD’ers think of something like this?

      You mean build something at the absolute limit of current technology using a military budget? Sure, we can whip that up in the shed in a couple of evenings for $20.

      1. pelrun – Why the defeatist attitude? I said LIKE the Boston Dynamics gadget. Not an exact copy. We here at HaD could never get the legs algorithm to work right without someone at BD giving us the albeit classified code. We could think of cutting corners and using a $29 (AUS) toy from USA as the driver pulling a loaded cart or wagon. There is this American toy truck from JAKKS PACIFIC that actually pulls 90 kilos (200 lbs.) with just a 9 volt group of C-cell batteries. That can be bypassed with a lithium-ion or even a Pb-Acid car battery. An Arduino could bypass the motor controls and mute (cut) or modify the sound of the goofy speaker. About 3 of them in swarm-mind tandem mode could pull 270 kilo (600 pound) load. AND IT’S ALL TERRAIN TOO! It could push or pull or you could use them as motorized feet like that BD fast mover hybrid with wheels. It would be very slow but that’s OK if you program it to bring your stuff to your booth and it eventually gets there and hopefully no one nicks your stuff along the way…:-)

        I’m sure a HaD can take this seed of an idea and make it better than how it looks here on the surface. Maybe just gut the motors. But the ATV wheels are awesome. It can climb stuff too. Here’s a 7 minute video about it. It’s just food for thought.

        1. Urgh, You’re the one accusing us of a lack of imagination.

          There’s *no* comparison between a state-of-the-art legged walker and a repurposed wheeled RC toy. They’re completely different concepts and thinking of one does not lead you to the other.

          There’s lots of scope for experimenting in the hobbyist environment, but a good design also takes into account the cost and difficulty of an approach, and whether it’s appropriate for the task at hand. Making an intelligent wheeled trolley with existing parts works well for this. Pointing at BD’s cutting edge devices and saying “why don’t we do that” isn’t any more useful than saying “why didn’t you think of using teleportation to solve this problem?”

          1. pelrun – No need for the cyber-angst mite… I am one of “US” too. Been here a good while now, even won a HaD prize once. I like Jenny List’s innovations and I just thought I’d “take us outside the box” for a bit like I am custom to do (as most HaD old-timers here know I do a lot). My bit about Boston Dynamics was a whimsical inspiration for what’s out there not a lofty HaD goal for “US” to over-achieve. My heart was in the right hacker-space.

            Repurposed toys is my thing…I like to tinker. I also like “seeding” as I am bit of a cyber-muse. I’m sorry you misunderstood my intent. I was not accusing HaD for hypo-imagination. That’s one thing I’ve never conveyed (intentionally) to my HaD brothers and sisters. I’ve always offered kudos for imagination here. That’s my reason for being here so many years now as the HaD experience is moving and inspirational to me. I’ve often referred to US as the civilian equivalent to America’s DARPA. Of course technically that is a hyperbole, but I meant well.

            Also I have a bit of an agenda with BD as I am a Seppo (Yank) who lives near them. I kinda’ am proud of their work too as it shows that we can hang in there with our Japanese brothers on high-end robotics. My attic is full of iRobot remnants and others. I just wish I had time to do more tinkering. I’m like that nutty Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth on that puerile cartoon Futurama. I kinda’ look like him too! :-D :-P

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