Art installations aren’t always about static sculpture or pure aesthetics. In the case of Operation Kiba, they can be fun games for everyone to enjoy.
The aim of Operation Kiba is for the players to collect all the “balls” on the playing field, which are intended to represent scoops of ice cream. Collecting the balls is done via robot. Each player is ostensibly tasked with collecting one color of ball or the other, but players often decide to work together in harmony instead. The balls are released at the start of the game by tipping over a big bowl. This is half the fun, and is achieved by tugging a string which upends the vessel and scatters the balls.
The remote-control robots themselves come from an earlier art installation the group built called Bubble Blast. They’re built using a 3D printed chassis, with wheels on each side driven by DC gear motors. With tank-style steering, they can rotate on the spot, providing good maneuverability. An Arduino Nano runs the show, receiving commands over a 433 MHz radio link. Power is via DeWalt cordless drill batteries, and the robots are controlled via arcade sticks. They’re color-coded to match the balls in the game.
As far as art installations go, it may not be fancy or pretentious, but it certainly looks like a lot of fun. We’re sure it could eventually guide many players towards the exciting world of antweight combat robotics. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Robots Chase Down Balls In Fun Outdoor Game”
Should you wish to try high-quality voice recognition without buying something, good luck. Sure, you can borrow the speech recognition on your phone or coerce some virtual assistants on a Raspberry Pi to handle the processing for you, but those aren’t good for major work that you don’t want to be tied to some closed-source solution. OpenAI has introduced Whisper, which they claim is an open source neural net that “approaches human level robustness and accuracy on English speech recognition.” It appears to work on at least some other languages, too.
If you try the demonstrations, you’ll see that talking fast or with a lovely accent doesn’t seem to affect the results. The post mentions it was trained on 680,000 hours of supervised data. If you were to talk that much to an AI, it would take you 77 years without sleep!
Continue reading “OpenAI Hears You Whisper”
There was a time when few hobbyists had an oscilloscope and the ones you did see were old military or industrial surplus that were past their prime. Today you can buy a fancy scope for about what those used scopes cost that would have once been the envy of every giant research lab. However, this new breed of instrument is typically digital and while they look like an old analog scope, the way they work leads to some odd gotchas that [Arthur Pini] covers in a recent post.
Some of his tips are common sense, but easy to forget about. For example, if you stack your four input channels so each uses up a quarter of the screen, it makes sense, right? But [Arthur] points out that you are dropping two bits of dynamic range, which can really jack up a sensitive measurement.
Continue reading “Better Scope Measurements”
Water damage can quickly make even the nicest buildings unliveable. [Andres Leon] suffered a small flood from an air conditioning unit, and wanted to avoid such issues in future. Thus, he built a wireless monitor to solve the problem.
The device is based on the ESP8266, allowing it to wirelessly communicate with Home Assistant. Thus, if it detects water via its rust-proof probes, it can notify Home Assistant via an MQTT message. From there, Home Assistant can advise the home owner remotely via phone and email. Plus, just for completeness, there’s a loud buzzer in the unit that goes off when water is detected, too. Thanks to a 2500 mAh lithium-polymer battery on board, the device can run for up to 5 months between recharges.
Integrating warning systems into one’s smart home system can be particularly useful when one is away for long periods. Things like water leaks tend to do damage over time when we’re not paying attention, so any IoT device that can assist in this regard is helpful. If you want to investigate the cause of a difficult leak, though, this other project may help. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Wireless Water Detector Hooks Up To Home Assistant”
[Debasish Dutta] has designed a few weather stations in the past, and this, the fourth version of the system has had many of the feature requests from past users rolled in. The station is intended to be used with an external weather sensor unit, provided by Sparkfun. This handles wind speed and direction, as well as measuring rainfall. A custom PCB hosts an ESP32-WROOM module and an Ai-Thinker Ra-02 LoRa module for control and connectivity respectively. A PMS5003 sits on the PCB to measure those particulate densities, but most sensors are connected with simple 4-way I2C connectors. Temperature, humidity, and pressure are handled by a BME280 module, UV Index (SI1145), visible light (BH1750) even soil humidity and temperature with a cable-mounted SHT10 module.
All this is powered by a solar panel, which charges a 18650 cell, and keeps the show running during the darker hours. For debugging and deployment, a USB-C power port can also be used to provide charge. A 3D printed Stevenson screen type enclosure allows the air to circulate amongst the PCB-mounted sensor modules, without hopefully too much moisture making it in there to cause mischief.
On the data collection and visualization side, a companion LoRa receiver module is in progress, which is intended to pass along measurements to a variety of services. Think Home Assistant, ESP home, and that kind of thing. Software is still a work in progress, so maybe check back later to see how [Debasish] is getting on with that?
This kind of multi-sensor hosting project is nothing new here, here’s a 2019 Hackaday prize entry along the same lines. Of course, gathering and logging measurement data is only part of the problem, visualization of those measurements is also important. Why not use a mechanical approach, such as a diorama?
The true measure of engineering success — or, at least, one of them — is how long something remains in use. A TV set someone designed in 1980 is probably, at best, relegated to a dusty guest room today if not the landfill. But the B-52 — America’s iconic bomber — has been around for more than 70 years and will likely keep flying for another 30 years or more. Think about that. A plane that first flew in 1952 is still in active use. What’s more, according to a love letter to the plane by [Alex Hollings], it was designed over a weekend in a hotel room by a small group of people.
A Successful Design
One of the keys to the plane’s longevity is its flexibility. Just as musicians have to reinvent themselves if they want to have a career spanning decades, what you wanted a bomber to do in the 1960s is different than what you want it to do today. Oddly enough, other newer bombers like the B-1B and B-2 have already been retired while the B-52 keeps on flying.
Continue reading “A Love Letter To Small Design Teams, And The B-52”
While we have a definite sweet spot in our hearts for analog radio, there are times that just call for a digital upgrade. One of the downsides that can come with this upgrade is complexity. For example, the more software-minded among us might base their build on the Music Player Daemon, and use a web interface for control. But that’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, and particularly an older user of your gizmos might really appreciate a simple, tactile user interface. That’s the situation [Blake Hannaford] was in, while building an Internet powered radio for someone else.
The solution was to take a familiar analog radio, the Tivoli Audio Model One, and give it a digital makeover. Now before you get worked up about wrecking the purity of a classic radio, note that the Model One is a faux-classic, made in 2000. No antiques were harmed in the making of this hack, and the exterior is essentially left stock — the only visible modification being the taped-on tuner label.
Inside it’s a Raspberry Pi Zero, the Adafruit Audio Bonnet, and a 3D printed bracket to tie a variable potentiometer to the tuning knob. The original volume knob and speaker are re-used. As [Blake] says, sometimes all you need is tuning and volume. Plus, re-using the speaker means that the whole unit still sounds great. Sometimes simple really is best.
While you’re here, check out our previous coverage of these style hacks and conversions!