There are few things as frustrating when you’re trying to get some serious hacking done than intruders repeatedly showing up without permission. [All Parts Combined] has the solution for you, with a Kinect-based robotic sentry turret to keep them at bay.
The system consists of a Microsoft Kinect V2 connected to a PC, which runs an app to do all the processing, and outputs the targeting information to an Arduino over serial. The Arduino controls a simple 2-axis servo mount with an electric airsoft gun zip-tied to it. The trigger switch is replaced with a relay, also connected to the Arduino.
The Kinect V2 comes with SDKs that really simplify tracking human movement, and outputs the data in an easy-to-use format. [All Parts Combined] used the SDK in Unity, which allows him to choose which body parts to track. He added scripts that detect a few basic gestures, issues voice commands, and generates the serial commands for the Arduino. The servo angles are calculated with simple geometry, using XY coordinates of the target received from the SDK, and the known distance between the Kinect and turret. When an intruder enters the Kinect’s field of view it immediately starts aiming at the intruder’s heart, issues a “Hands Up!” command, and tells the intruder to leave. If the intruder doesn’t comply, it starts an audible countdown before firing. [All Parts Combined] also added a secret disarming gesture (double hand pistols), which turns the turret into an apologetic comrade. All it needs is a Portal-inspired enclosure.
It’s a fun project that illustrates how the Kinect can make complex computer vision tasks relatively simple. Unfortunately the V2 is no longer in production, having been replaced by the more expensive, developer focused Azure Kinect. We’ve covered several Kinect-based projects, including a 3D room scanner and a robotic basketball hoop.
Ever wished for some robotic enhancements for your next nerf war? Well, it’s time to dig through the parts bin and build yourself a nerf gun with aimbot built right in, courtesy of [3Dprintedlife]. (Video, embedded below.)
The gun started with a design borrowed from [Captain Slug]’s awesome catalog of open source nerf guns. [3Dprintedlife] modified the design to include a two-axis gimbal between the lower and the upper, driven by a pair of stepper motors via an Arduino. For auto-aim, a camera module attached to a Raspberry Pi running OpenCV was added. When the user half-pressed the trigger, OpenCV will start tracking whatever was at the center of the frame and actively adjust the gimbal to keep the gun aimed at the object until the user fires. The trigger mechanism consists of a pair of microswitches that activate a servo to release the sear. It is also capable of tracking a moving target or any face that comes into view.
We think this is a really fun project, with a lot of things that can be learned in the process. Mount it on a remote control tank and you’d be able to wage some intense battles in your backyard. All the files are available on GitHub.
The Drive had an interesting post recently, about someone noticed a procurement from the U. S. Air Force to reverse engineer the B-2 bomber’s Load Heat Exchanger (whatever that is). You’d think if the Air Force wanted to reverse engineer something, they’d be looking at another country’s aircraft. What can this mean?
Presumably, the original plans for the system have been lost, or maybe the company who made them is long gone and the tooling to create new ones along with it. Then again, maybe the assembly needs parts that you can no longer get. The Drive has another interesting speculation: perhaps the plans were so secret that were accidentally destroyed.
You don’t hear much about the B-2. There are only 20 left of the 21 built, at least that we know about. Original plans in the 1980s called for 132, but the end of the Cold War spelled the end for the stealth bomber. They get an overhaul every nine years. The Drive also speculates that this may be part of the Air Force’s desire to digitize spare parts and use 3D printing, but — honestly — it doesn’t sound that way to us. Especially since the fleet will retire no later than 2032, so whatever is replaced is only needed for a decade.
If you think you want to have a go, here’s the help wanted ad from the Air Force. If you read the text, it’s pretty clear they have some defective units that need replacement and it sounds like no one knows how to do it with existing materials. Not many of us get to design things that are still working nearly three decades later. Keeping a supply of parts and even know-how for something built in the 1990s isn’t trivial. Something to think about if you design something with a long service life.
The B-2 is a stealth bomber and while one did crash, it wasn’t shot down. The F-117A — the stealth fighter — was shot down against all odds, though. While the B-2 appears to be quite a plane, we prefer our bombers a little bit older. Still, you might enjoy the video below about the B-2’s chief engineer, although he doesn’t mention the Load Heat Exchanger.
A few weeks ago, a video went viral on social media that depicted a rather unsavory individual receiving what could be described as a “percussive reminder” of social norms courtesy of a bystander armed with a can of Twisted Tea. The video served as inspiration for many a meme, but perhaps none more technically intricate than this air cannon that launches 24 ounces of hard iced tea at better than 100 miles per hour built by [Greg Bejtlich].
Technically we’re looking at two different hacks here. The first is the pneumatic launcher put together using a low-cost eBay tire bead seater. These tools are designed to unleash a large volume of air into a tire so it can be properly seated onto the rim, but it doesn’t take much more than a few pieces of PVC pipe from the hardware store to turn it into an impromptu mortar. It’s even got a convenient trigger and a handle to help control the recoil. Though as you can see in the video after the break, it still ends up being a bit too energetic for [Greg] to keep a grip on.
For the projectiles, [Greg] has 3D printed a nose cone and tail fin that snap onto the 24 oz cans in hopes of making them more aerodynamically stable. The slow motion video seems to indicate they aren’t terribly effective, but they certainly look impressive. Spring-loaded control surfaces that deploy after the can leaves the muzzle could be the answer, though at some point you have to ask yourself how far you’re willing to go for an Internet meme.
While VR is becoming really immersive, it still can’t compete with a game of good old laser tag to get the blood pumping and spending quality time with friends. [Xasin] has been working on a DIY laser tag system for a while now, and it has grown to include an impressive array of features and customizability.
Named LZRTag, the project started back in 2018 with simple ATmega328 based prototypes on breadboards. It has since evolved to a fully-featured system with ESP32s in the 3D printed pistol communicating with a Raspberry Pi/Linux game server over MQTT. Each pistol also features an accelerometer, I2S audio amp and speaker for game sounds, and WS2812 RGP LEDs for light effects. IR Lasers are used as emitters to target wearable IR receivers with more RGB LEDs wired to the pistol.
A Ruby server on a Linux machine takes care of all the communications, game management, shot validation, and scoring. It can handle up to 255 players and is designed to be extremely customizable for game modes, weapons classes, or any other feature you would like to have. [Xasin] has also created IR beacons to add even more possibilities, such as capture the flag, safe zones, and revive zones.
Humanity is another step closer to a fantasy-accurate lightsaber thanks to Hackaday alumnus [James Hobson] at Hacksmith. Their proto-saber cuts through (cosplay) stormtrooper armor, (foam) walls, and a (legit!) 1/4″ (6.35mm) steel plate. For so many reasons, we want to focus on the blade and handle. (Video, embedded below.)
The blade is a plasma stream designed for glassworking and burns a propane/oxygen mix with almost no residue, but the “blade” stays in a tight cylinder shape. With a custom PCB hosting a mixing controller, the blade extends and retracts like in the movies. The handle is not a technical marvel; it is an artistic wonder and if you want to see some machining eye-candy, check out the first video after the break. The second video demonstrates just how much damage you can do with a 4000° Fahrenheit tube of portable plasma.
You won’t be dueling anyone just yet, since there is no magnetic field shaping the blade like the ones [Lucas] envisioned. Unfortunately, you can’t block anything more substantial than a balloon sword since solid material will pass right through it, but it will suffer a mighty burn in the process. Lightsabers are a fantasy weapon, but the collective passion of nerds have made it as real as ever, and the Guinness folks give credibility to this build.
Compound bows (unlike recurve bows, their more mechanically-simple relatives) use a levering system with pulleys and spring tension to grant the user a mechanical advantage. We’re not exactly sure what to call [Zünder’s] bow design. He shared his unconventional take on a DIY bow that uses coiled springs as well as some other unique features.
What we really dig about [Zünder]’s design is how easy it is to grasp how it all works. As he demonstrates using the bow, the way the levers, pulleys, and spring tension all work together is very clear. The 3D-printed quiver and arrow rest are nice added touches, and we especially love the use of three toothbrush heads to provide contained support for a nocked arrow. The ring of bristles are sturdy enough to easily support the shaft, and don’t interfere with the arrow’s fletching.