Art installations are an interesting business, which more and more often tend to include electronic or mechanical aspects to their creation. Compared to more mainstream engineering, things in this space are often done quite a bit differently. [Jan Enning-Kleinejan] worked on an installation called Prendre la parole, and shared the lessons learned from the experience.
The installation consisted of a series of individual statues, each with an LED light fitted. Additionally, each statue was fitted with a module that was to play a sound when it detected visitors in proximity. Initial designs used mains power, however for this particular install battery power would be required.
Arduinos, USB power banks and ultrasonic rangefinders were all thrown into the mix to get the job done. DFplayer modules were used to run sound, and Grove System parts were used to enable everything to be hooked up quickly and easily. While this would be a strange choice for a production design, it is common for art projects to lean heavily on rapid prototyping tools. They enable inexperienced users to quickly and effectively whip up a project that works well and at low cost.
[Jan] does a great job of explaining some of the pitfalls faced in the project, as well as reporting that the installation functioned near-flawlessly for 6 months, running 8 hours a day. We love to see a good art piece around these parts, and we’ve likely got something to your tastes – whether you’re into harmonicas, fungus, or Markov chains.
If you have done any sort of radio work you probably have a fair idea about what antennas do. It is pretty easy to have a cursory understanding of them, too. You probably know there’s something magic about antennas that are a quarter wave long or a half wave long and other multiples. But do you know why that matters? Do you understand the physics of why wire in a special configuration will cause signals to propagate through space? [Learn Engineering] does, and their new video is one of the best graphical explanations of what’s really going on in an antenna that we’ve seen. You can watch the video below.
If you tackle antennas using math, it is a long discussion. However, this video is about 8 minutes long and uses some great graphics to show how moving charges can produce a propagating electromagnetic field.
Continue reading “The Physics Behind Antennas”
If you’re familiar with the DSLR camera market, you’d know that modern lenses are works of technological art. Crammed full of motors and delicate electronic assemblies, they’re bursting with features such as autofocus, optical stabilization and zoom. [Saulius Lukse] has been experimenting with motorized lenses for webcam applications, and has built a controller to make working with them a snap.
The controller is capable of controlling up to 3 stepper motors, as well as a voice coil, which should be enough for the vast majority of lenses out there. Microstepping is supported, which is key for optical systems in which tiny adjustments can make a big difference. The controller speaks USB and I2C, and is now based on an STM32 chip, having been upgraded from an earlier version which used the venerable ATmega328. The board is designed to be as compact as possible, to enable it to neatly fit inside camera and lens assemblies.
The board has been used to successfully control an 18x zoom lens, among others. Combining such a lens with a webcam and a good pan and tilt mechanism would create a highly capable surveillance package, or an excellent vision system for a robot.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen work from [Kurokesu] in these parts – they’ve done work on pedestrian detection before, too.
Gatling guns were an early attempt at creating a rapid-firing weapon, and were popular amongst armies in the 19th century. Today, the basic design remains in use as a heavy weapon for putting many rounds downrange very quickly. [Ivan Miranda] decided that the Nerf world was missing a piece of the action, and got started on his own design (Youtube link, embedded below).
As per most [Ivan] builds, this one is a glorious pile of 3D printed parts turned into something functional and fun. It’s an ingenious design that’s more a Gatling in spirit than reality as it lacks the multiple barrels of the original, and it uses smart ducting to allow a single electric fan to both fire the foam Nerf balls as well as suck them in to reload the next shot. In testing, it achieved a muzzle velocity of 60 mph, firing at a rate of approximately 10 rounds/second. The presentation is great too, with plenty of cable wrap, meaty switches, and glowing lights to add to the aesthetic. There are even a couple of bright LED lamps on the front to help dazzle your targets into submission.
Once again, [Ivan]’s work is a great example of what is achievable with a 3D printer and smart design. His water jet drive ain’t bad, either. Video after the break.
Continue reading “This Nerf Gun Is Terrifyingly Huge”
Would you add another radio to your smartphone? No, not another WiFi or cellular radio; a smartphone already has that. I’m talking about something that provides connectivity through ISM bands, either 433 or 915 MHz. This can be used where you don’t have cell phone coverage, and it has a longer range than WiFi. This is the idea behind Skrypt, a messaging system that allows you to send off-the-grid messages.
Skrypt is an ESP32-based hardware modem that can communicate with a smartphone, or any other device for that matter, over Bluetooth or USB. Inside, there are two modules, an ESP32 WROOM module that provides the Bluetooth, WiFi, USB connectivity, and all of the important software configuration and web-based GUI. The LoRa module is the ubiquitous RFM95W that’s ready to drop into any circuit. Other than that, the entire circuit is just a battery and some power management ICs.
While LoRa is certinaly not the protocol you would use for forwarding pics up to Instagram, it is a remarkable protocol for short messages carried over a long range. That’s exactly what you want when you’re out of range of cell phone towers — those pics can wait, but you might really want to send a few words to your friends. That’s invaluable, and LoRa makes a lot of sense in that case.
When you build a machine you can usually count on having precise dimensions for an organized and orderly set of parts, one fitting into the next exactly as you have designed them. You can count on cause and effect — when the user pushes a button or flips a switch a specific behavior will take place. But the She Bon project shows that adding the human body to the mix quickly turns an easy design into a challenging one.
During her Hackaday Superconference talk Sarah Petkus discusses her latest project that uses wearable technology to sense and react to her own body. She Bon is reminiscent of the French for “so good” and is a project whose aim transcends the technical challenges. Sarah uses engineering as a way to facilitate adults having healthy dialogs with one another about sex.
Depending on your profession, this discussion is likely not appropriate for work — it’s not sexual, but it’s fundamentally about sex — so don’t click through the video without thinking twice. But we respect Sarah’s courage for leading a project that wants to make sure there actually are places where it is possible to have these conversations and a way to get them started.
How Do You Begin an Intelligent Conversation?
Mixing an engineering challenge with a somewhat taboo topic works surprisingly well, as you can see in the video below. It’s a technical talk about sensing body temperature, heart rate, galvanic response, blush response, facial expression, and muscle tension. But it’s also a story of her attempt at creating a Suit of Amour, her tongue-in-cheek “Sexual Gundam”. Don’t be fooled, this is no gimmick. The discussions quickly leads to the real life challenges facing prosthetics designers and those developing wearable products. There’s a ton to be learned here.
Join me below for more on the hardware covered in Sarah’s talk. This out-of-the-ordinary hardware creation adventure made it a great entry in the 2018 Hackaday Prize and a particularly delightful talk at the 2018 Hackaday Superconference. We’re once again on the hunt for hardware creators to present at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference — and we can’t do it without you. Submit a talk proposal, or just grab a ticket and join us in Pasadena this November. Bonus points for those who have also entered their projects in the 2019 Hackaday Prize. Okay, now onto the hardware talk.
Continue reading “Learning About Wearable Engineering While Trying To Un-Taboo A Topic”
Word clocks are a cool way to tell the time. While they could have probably been built back in the 1960s with a bunch of relays and bulbs, they really only came into their own in the LED-everything era. [Vatsal Agarwal] built one of his own, showcasing his maker credentials.
It’s a build that relies on good woodworking practices from the ground up. Maple wood is used for the frame, cut and prepared on a miter saw for accurate assembly. MDF is used for panels that are out of sight, and teak strips act as light barriers to ensure only the right words are lit at any given time. The front panel is a sleek black acrylic piece, adding to the minimalist look. Neopixels serve as the light source, controlled by an Arduino Uno. As a finishing touch, some glowy stainless steel buttons are mounted on the side to control the clock.
It’s a build that serves as a great introduction to woodwork, as well as more modern skills like CAD design for laser cutting, as well as programming. They’re a great way to get stuck into making, and you can even go pocket-sized if you’re truly brave. Incidentally, if you do take up the challenge of an all-analog relay-based build, make sure you drop us a line.