Unless you’re sonically savvy, trying to sleep, or simply on edge, you probably don’t realize just how noisy common items can be. Pretty much everything makes enough racket to ruin a sound man’s day, or at the very least, their chance of picking up the dialogue between two characters. What you need on a set are noiseless but realistic versions of common noisemakers like paper bags, ice cubes, and to a lesser extent, billiard balls.
If you’ve spent any time at all on Reddit, you’ve probably seen frustratingly short GIFs of [Tim Schultz] quickly explaining how this or that noiseless prop is made. Embedded below is a compendium of prop hacks with more information worked in along the way. Talk about dream job! Problem solving and then hacking together a solution for a living sounds terrifying and delightful all at once.
Speaking of terrifying and delightful hacks, there’s still plenty of time to enter our Halloween Hackfest contest, which runs through Monday, October 11th. Halloween is the best time to go all out, so show us what you can do!
Controller vs keyboard and mouse is one of the never-ending battles in the world of gaming, with diehard proponents on both sides of the fence. [Tech Yesterday] has been working to create a controller that’s the best of both worlds. His latest Mouse Pro Controller V5 features an inverted mouse riding on ball bearings.
Mouse Pro Controller V1-3‘s main focus was to create the largest possible moving surface for an optical thumb mouse for precision aiming. However, [Tech Yesterday] found that one’s thumb doesn’t work well for traversing a large flat surface, but works better with a concave surface. On V4 he flipped the optical sensor around, embedding it in the controller, with a small circular “mouse pad” attached to his thumb. The concave surface was made from the diffuser of a large LED light bulb. It had slightly too much friction for [Tech Yesterday]’s liking, so he embedded an array of small ball bearings in the surface using magnets.
While this “thumb mouse” has excellent precision, it can be a bit slow when you need to make large movements, like when performing 360° no scopes for the clips. For these situations, [Tech Yesterday] embedded a thumb stick on the back of the controller to allow for fast sideways movements using his middle fingers.
Downforce is a major part of modern motorsport, keeping cars glued to the track at high speeds. However, for small radio control cars, adding a fan for a little suction can achieve even greater feats, as demonstrated by this build by [DD ElectroTech].
The build began as a simple two-motor, skid-steer RC car build with a fan for suction. Controlled by a smartphone app, a cheap Arduino board with an HC-05 Bluetooth module ran the show. However, when this was all assembled, the car was too heavy to climb walls or stick to the ceiling.
Thus, a weight-saving plan was in order. Wheels were swapped out for lighter 3D printed parts. The electronics saw significant re-engineering, too, with the multiple separate modules all condensed down into one single custom PCB. After a few other tweaks, the new lighter car was able to easily drive on the ceiling and even climb walls, albeit with some difficulty.
We’ve always been delighted with the thoughtful and detailed write-ups that accompany each of [Tommy]’s synth products, and the background of his newest instrument, the Scout, is no exception. The Scout is specifically designed to be beginner-friendly, hackable, and uses 3D printed parts and components as much as possible. But there is much more to effectively using 3D printing as a production method than simply churning out parts. Everything needed to be carefully designed and tested, including the 3D printed battery holder, which we happen to think is a great idea.
[Tommy] also spends some time explaining how he decided which features and design elements to include and which to leave out, contrasting the Scout with his POLY555 synth. Since the Scout is designed to be affordable and beginner-friendly, too many features can in fact be a drawback. Component costs go up, assembly becomes less straightforward, and more complex parts means additional failure points when 3D printing.
[Tommy] opted to keep the Scout tightly focused, but since it’s entirely open-sourced with a hackable design, adding features is made as easy as can be. [Tommy] designed the PCB in KiCad and used OpenSCAD for everything else. The Scout uses the ATmega328, and can be easily modified using the Arduino IDE.
One of the major challenges of animatronics is creating natural looking motion. You can build something with an actuator for every possible degree of freedom, but it will still be disappointing if you are unable to control it to smoothly play the part. [Mr. Volt] has developed a passion for animatronic projects, but found programming them tedious, and manual control with keyboard or controller difficult to do right. As an alternative, he is building Waldo, an electronic puppetry controller.
The Waldo rig is being developed in conjunction with [Mr. Volt]’s build of Wheatley, the talkative ball-shaped robot from the Portal 2 game. The puppetry rig consists of a series of rings for [Mr Volt]’s hand, with the position of each being read by angle sensors. This allows him to control Wheatley’s orientation of the body and eyeball, eyelids, and handles. Wheatley and Waldo both still need a few refinements, but we look forward to seeing the finished project in action.
Last week, I got my first chance to get out and about among the hackers in what feels like forever. Hackerspaces here in Germany are finally able to re-open for business-as-almost-usual, allowing access to reasonable numbers of people providing they’re immunized or tested, and wearing masks of course. And that meant that I got to take up [Andreas’] invitation to come see his Stereo Ninja inspection microscope project in person.
Stereo Ninja basically makes clever use of two Raspberry Pi cameras, swaps out the optics for greater enlargement, and displays the results on a 3D monitor — to be viewed with shutter glasses. This is one of those projects that you really have to see in person to “get it”. He’s still working on stripping the build down to make it simpler and more affordable, to make the project more accessible to the average hacker.
We talked about DIYing a 3D monitor. It turns out that the shutter glasses are cheap, and it looks like they’re synced by an IR pulse to the monitor. There should be a hacker solution for 3D to work with a fast gaming monitor at least. [Andreas] also pointed me to this great breakout board for the Raspberry Pi CM4 that breaks out both camera lanes for easy stereo / 3D capture. I got the tour of the FabLab, and we talked welding, metal 3D printing, software, hardware and assorted nerdy stuff. [Alex] showed up on his way out of town for the weekend — it’d been ages since we hung out.
In short, I remembered how it used to be in the before-times, when visits with other hackers, and to other hackerspaces, were possible. There’s this spontaneous and mutually inspirational kind of chat that’s just impossible remotely, and is tremendously important.
We’re not done with the COVID pandemic yet, I fear, and different parts of the world have entirely different trajectories. If you told me two years ago that I would be visiting hackerspaces with a mask and proof-of-vaccination, I would have thought you were crazy. But at the same time this brief visit gave me a little boost of hope for the future. We will get through all of this, and we’ll all meet up again at our local hackerspaces.
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After an initial design was sketched out, rectangular tube steel was cut to size and welded together with a MIG welder. A central shaft linked to some secured bearings made the central pivot point. A few pistons offered the resistance needed for leaning into the curves. To the central shaft, a seat and an old bicycle fork were attached. A clever linkage from the handlebars to the base causes the bike to tilt when turning the handlebars and vice versa.
The bike was ready for prime time after some grinding, orange paint, a license plate, and some lights and grips. [The Q] just needed to get the angle of the bike into the simulation of their choice. While we expected a teensy or other microcontroller emulating a controller, [The Q] went for a somewhat simpler approach, and 3D printed a cradle to hold a PlayStation controller. Little levers pull strings to articulate the joystick, and a cable from the throttle grip pulls back the trigger on the controller. All in all, the experience looks pretty decent, particularly when you’re comparing it to a motocross arcade machine. What it really needs are some fans blowing for the effect of the air stream coming at you.