It’s not every day that we see someone trying something new with robot locomotion, but [kong]’s robot Rollyboi was made to do exactly that by mixing up the usual robot-wheel-motor layout. Instead of the robot using motors to drive wheels, Rollyboi is itself the wheel, and uses multiple simple arms (legs?) attached to hobby servo motors to propel itself. The idea is that the arms swivel out one at a time to roll the robot along as needed.
It’s a novel idea, but how well does it work in practice? The first version was blind and mechanically unstable, with no idea which way was up and therefore no way to effectively control which arm needed to be extended, but was nevertheless able to roll along. The next version implemented a simple control system: buttons installed along the outside rim let the robot know how it is moving and which arm to extend next. With two sets of arms (one on each side) the robot becomes capable of executing simple turns by extending one arm more than the other.
In the end, Rollyboi could move but still lacks a means to perceive and navigate its environment. This is made more challenging by the fact that the robot’s body (and therefore any sensors mounted to it) would be in constant motion as the robot moves. Still, it’s interesting to see how far the idea went using only simple hardware, and its motion gives off a certain radial solenoid engine vibe. You can watch a brief video below.
Having a laser cutter these days isn’t a big deal. But [Chunlei Guo], a professor at the University of Rochester, has a powerful femto-second pulse laser and used it to create what might be the perfect solar absorber. You can see a video about the work, below.
It stands to reason that white materials reflect most light and therefore absorb less energy than black materials — this is part of what makes a radiometer work. Tungsten, in particular, is a good metal for absorbing solar power, but this new laser treatment — which builds nanostructures on the surface of the metal — increases efficiency by 130% compared to untreated tungsten.
Why would anyone want to be confronted by a count of the number of seconds left until you’ve made 80 trips around the sun? We can think of plenty of reasons not to, but creator [Jia Xun Chai] thought it would be somehow motivating to see the seconds tick irretrievably by while going about his life. Thus the idea for “Lifeclocc” came to be, with its ten seven-segment displays and Teensy to tally up and display the number of seconds left in a nominal 80-year life. A DS3231 RTC module keeps it on track between power-offs. It’s not clear what happens when you hit your 80th birthday; we assume it rolls over and starts counting up as you start playing in the bonus round. No word either on what happens should you croak with time left on the clock. Answer these questions and many more by building one yourself, or you can just wait for the Kickstarter.
It took [Jia Xun] three years to develop Lifeclocc, during which time his personal life clock decreased by 94,608,000 seconds. We will say that the finished product, with its matte-finish PCB, makes a handsome timepiece. Circuit sculptor [Mohit Bhoite] took a less-angsty stab at a similar clock, the cute appearance of which is no doubt intended to blunt the pain of impending doom.
Laser tag is rarely (if ever) referred to as “The Sport of Kings”, but is a fun pastime nonetheless. While some are content to play with off-the-shelf toys, others prefer to make their own gear to suit their needs. [Heine Nielsen] is just one such builder, creating a fully-featured laser rifle loaded with features.
As far as hardware goes, [Heine]’s laser rifle is packed to the gills. There are two ESP32s running the show, along with a meaty 6S lithium battery to provide plenty of juice for long combat sessions. A 40W audio amp is hooked up to a speaker mounted in a faux-grenade launcher, aping the design of the M203 – and is able to deliver ear-splitting sound for that realistic touch.
Knowing the popularity of modern FPS games, [Heine] cribbed a lot from titles like PUBG and CS:GO. Grabbing sound effects from various weapons was just one step, with the ultimate goal being to replicate advanced game modes from these games. To help keep the player aware of the game state, there’s even a HUD on the gun, thanks to a 2.8″ TFT screen tucked into the scope.
It’s a serious build for playing serious laser tag, and we’d love to head out to the field for a match with gear like this. We’ve seen other hyper-realistic builds before too, like this one that uses actual blanks. Video after the break.
The good thing about computers is they do your work for you, right? If you are a programmer, that doesn’t always seem to be a true statement. [Runtimemicro] has the answer, at least if you are writing PWM code for the Arduino. Their free application lets you set a few parameters, visually see the results, and then generates code for you. You can see a video of the tool in operation, below.
According to their site, the tool works for timers 1 through 5 on an Arduino Nano, Uno, or Mega2560. The app appears to work on Windows, but it doesn’t look like it would have any trouble running under Wine on other platforms.
A couple of months ago I wrote a piece about the evolution of hackerspaces, and mentioned that I’d be attending a party for a hackerspace birthday. As I write this that party was last weekend, and it was celebrating both the birthday of RevSpace in the Hague, and the tenth anniversary of hackerspaces in the Netherlands. After a relaxing ocean cruise across the North Sea and a speedy train ride I found myself in RevSpace with a bottle of Club-Mate in my hand, hanging out with not only the locals but a selection of others from all across northwestern Europe and beyond. RevSpace is an exceptionally well-organised hackerspace with a large membership, so there was plenty to talk about and a lot of interesting projects to look at.
There was a short programme of talks in Dutch, covering hackerspace history and interviewing a panel of hackerspace founders. I am told that these may make their way online with an English translation in due course, and should be worth looking out for. Then there was an epic-scale barbecue, an old-school rave with Gameboy chiptunes and analogue synth EDM among other delights, and the chance for an evening’s socialising with the rest of the attendees. Continue reading “Dutch Hackerspaces At Ten Years Old: Celebrating A Community With A Special Map”→
For true aesthetic accuracy, [xito666] used an old discarded Crown 5TV-65R portable TV and radio combo. The unit hails from the 1970s, so a bit newer than Vault technology, but it still gives off a great retro charm with its CRT screen and knobs. Sadly, the original components couldn’t be reused, and the shell was stripped empty so that the new hardware could take its place. This includes an off-the-shelf HDMI LCD screen with resistive touchscreen and new potentiometers and knobs that still fit in with the overall look of the machine.
What makes this build unique, however, is that it also includes custom software to turn it into a clock and music player, with the deliciously Pip Boy-like UI being controlled entirely with the front buttons and knobs. The whole project is well written up in the Reddit post, in it [xito666] explains some of their choices and planned improvements. One that we would suggest ourselves is replacing the menu scrolling selector dial with a rotary encoder rather than a potentiometer, for that added knob feel. We also think that with the addition of a keyboard, it would easily pass for one of those luggables from the 1980s, a style of project we’ve featured once or twice here before.