Many of us have been asking for some time now “where are our robot servants?” We were promised this dream life of leisure and luxury, but we’re still waiting. Modern life is a very wasteful one, with items delivered to our doors with the click of a mouse, but the disposal of the packaging is still a manual affair. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to summon a robot to take the rubbish to the recycling, ideally have it fetch a beer at the same time? [James Bruton] shares this dream, and with his extensive robotics skillset, came up with the perfect solution; behold the Binbot 9000. (Video, embedded below the break)
In case you weren’t around in the 80s, or you happened to blink, you may have missed the Mattel Aquarius computer. [Nick Bild] has a soft spot in his heart for the machine though and built the Aqua cartridge to make the Aquarius into a more usable machine.
Originally equipped with a mere 4 KB of RAM and a small, rubbery keyboard, it’s not too surprising that the Aquarius only lasted five months on the market. [Nick] decided on the cartridge slot to beef up the specs of this little machine given the small number of expansion ports on the device. Adding 32 KB of RAM certainly gives it a boost, and he also designed an SD card interface called Aqua Write that connects to the Aqua cartridge for easily transferring files from a more modern machine.
The Aqua Write uses an Arduino Mega 2560 to handle moving data between the SD card and the system’s memory. This is complicated somewhat because a “PLA sits between the Z80 and data bus that XORs data with a software lock code (initialized to a random value on startup).” [Nick] gets around this by running a small program to overwrite the lock code to zero after startup.
Getting data on and off retrocomputers can certainly be a challenge. If you’re trying to get files on or off another old machine, check out this Simple Universal Modem or consider Using a Raspberry Pi as a Virtual Floppy Drive.
The oldest form of television used a spinning disk with a progression of holes — a Nipkow disk — to slice the image into lines for display. They’re surprisingly simple machines and capable of unexpectedly high-quality images despite their relatively low resolution. Even better, in an age of microcontrollers and bright LEDs, making one that works is not the chore it might once have been. [Markus Mierse] has created one that uses an Arduino Mega and a set of 3D printed parts, so there’s no excuse for not having a spinning disk TV on your shelf.
The Arduino Mega is chosen because it has enough lines to drive three six-bit DACs for each of red, green, and blue. The disk is driven by a PWM motor controller, and synchronization is taken care of by a piece of reflective tape and an IR proximity sensor. Images and video are read from an SD card and displayed on the screen in glorious 32-line colour. The full build process can be seen in the video below the break.
A surprise when viewing mechanical TV is that its quality is much better than the meager resolution would have you believe, and this one with its colour display is much better than the usual monochrome devices. It’s hardly HDTV, but it acquits itself well and would provide an excellent talking point.
If you’re curious about Nipkow disks, they’re a subject we’ve examined in the past.
One of the joys of being a Maker and Hacker is solving problems and filling needs. When you can do both, well, that’s something special. [rodrigo.mejiasz]’s project surely fits into that special category of solving a problem and filling a dire need with his Bedridden Patient Monitor.
While [Rodrigo]’s project page does not specify his motivation for creating this project, one only needs to look as far as their local hospital ward or senior care facility to understand why this device is so wonderful. Healthcare workers and caregivers are stretched paper thin, and their attention is being constantly interrupted.
This is where the Bedridden Patient Monitor comes in. A healthy person can reposition themselves if they are uncomfortable, but bedridden patients cannot. It’s not just that a bedridden patient is unable to get out of bed, but that they are unable to move themselves without assistance. The result is a great amount of pain. And if left unchecked, pressure sores can be the result. These are not only extremely unpleasant, but an added danger to a patients health.
The Bedridden Patient Monitor steps in and provides not just an egg-timer like alert, but helps caregivers track a patients position in bed across even several working shifts. This ensures a continuity of care that might otherwise be easy to miss.
The beauty of this build is in its application but also its simplicity: it’s just an Arduino Mega, a TFT shield with its Micro SD card, and the touch screen itself. A few LED’s and a buzzer take care of alerts. A thoughtfully configured interface makes the devices use obvious so that staff can make immediate use of the monitor.
Makers have a long history diving into the medical field, such as this stab wound treatment device that won the Dyson award in 2021.
Who says it’s too early to get in the holiday spirit? We say it’s not. After all, people need time to get in the spirit before it comes and goes. And what better way to count down the days until Christmas than an electronic Advent calendar?
[Tom Goff]’s kids had some pretty cool ideas for building a decoration, like a musical, lighted sleigh complete with robotic Santa Claus. While that’s a little much to pull off for this year, they did salvage the music and lights part for their Hackvent calendar.
There are 24 small LEDs for December 1st through the 24th, and a big white star for December 25th. Each day, the kids just push the button and the day’s LED lights up. On the big day, all the small lights cascade off and the white one lights up, then it plays Jingle Bells through a sound playback module.
Each LED is connected directly to an input on an Arduino Mega. While there are several ways of lighting up 25 LEDs, this one is pretty kid-friendly. We think the coolest part of this build is that [Tom] and the kids did it old school, with nails hammered into the laser-cut plywood and used as connection terminals. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.
The more time you have, the more you can put into your Advent calendar build. Like chocolates, for instance.
Ever since we saw the movie Big, we’ve wanted a floor piano. Still do, actually. We sometimes wonder how many floor pianos that movie has sold. It’s definitely launched some builds, too, but perhaps none as robust as this acrylic and wooden beauty by [FredTSL]. If you want more technical detail, check out the project on IO.
The best part is that this piano is modular and easily expands from 1 to 8 octaves. Each octave runs on an Arduino Mega, with the first octave set up as a primary and the others as secondaries. When [FredTSL] turns it on, the primary octave sends a message to find out how many octaves are out there, and then it assigns each one a number. Whenever a note is played via conductive fabric and sensor, the program fetches the key number and octave number and sends the message back to the primary Mega, which plays the note through a MIDI music shield.
We think this looks fantastic and super fun to dance around on. Be sure to check out the build log in photos, and stick around after the break, because you’d better believe they busted out some Heart and Soul on this baby. After all, it’s pretty much mandatory at this point.
Wish you could build a floor piano but don’t have the space or woodworking skills? Here’s a smaller, wireless version that was built in 24 hours.
A lot of electronic busy boxes that are built for children are simply that — a mess of meaningless knobs and switches that don’t do much beyond actuating back and forth (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty fun to do). But this Mission Control Center by [gcall1979] knocks them all out of orbit. The simulation runs through a complete mission, including a 10-minute countdown with pre-flight system checks, 8.5 minutes of powered flight to get out of the atmosphere that includes another four tasks, and 90 minutes to orbit the Earth while passing through nine tracking stations across the world map.
That’s a lot time to keep anyone’s attention, but fortunately [gcall1979] included a simulation speed knob that can make everything go up to 15 times faster than real-time. This knob can be twiddled at any time, in case you want to savor the countdown but get into space faster, or you don’t have 90 minutes to watch the world map light up.
The main brain of this well-built box is an Arduino Mega, which controls everything but the launch systems’ mainframe computer — this is represented by bank of active LEDs that blink along with the voice in the sound clips and runs on an Arduino Uno and a couple of shift registers. To keep things relatively simple, [gcall1979] used an Adafruit sound board for the clips.
We love everything about this build, especially the attention to detail — the more important pre-flight tasks are given covered toggle switches, and there’s a Shuttle diagram that lights up as each of these are completed. And what Shuttle launch simulator would be complete without mushroom buttons for launch and abort? Grab your victory cigar and check out the demo video after the break.
Is your child too young to be launching the Shuttle? Here’s an equally cool busy box with toddler brains in mind.