Stewart platforms are pretty neat, and not seen in the wild all that often, perhaps because there aren’t a vast number of hacker-friendly applications that need quite this many degrees of freedom within such a restricted movement range. Anyway, here’s an interesting implementation from the the curiously named [Circular-Base-Stewart-Platform] YouTube channel (no, we can’t find the designer’s actual name) with a series of videos from a few years ago, showing the construction and operation of such a beast. This is a very neat mechanism comprised of six geared motors on the end of arms, engaging with a large internal gear. The common end of each arm rides on the central shaft, each with its own bearing. With the addition of the usual six linkages, twelve ball joints, and a few brackets, a complete platform is realised.
This circular arrangement is so simple that we can’t believe we haven’t come across it before. One interesting deviation from the usual Stewart platform arrangement is the use of a central slip-ring connector to provide power, allowing the whole assembly to rotate continuously, in addition to the usual six degrees of freedom the mechanism allows. Control is courtesy of an Arduino Pro Mini, which drives the motors using a handful of Pololu TB6612 (PDF) dual H-bridge driver modules. Obviously, the sketch running on the Arduino will give the thing a fixed motion, but add in an additional data link over that central slip-ring setup (or maybe a wireless link), and it will be much more useful.
We recently saw another 6-DOF actuator design, using flexures, yet another ball-balancing hack, but if you want an actually useful Stewart platform application, checkout this pool-playing robot!
Continue reading “An Interesting Circular Stewart Platform”
Well, here it is: a shoe-in for the new world’s largest NERF gun. (Video, embedded below.) The Guinness people haven’t shown up yet to award [Michael Pick], but at 12.5 feet, this baby is over twice as long as the current record holder, which belongs to former NASA mechanical engineer Mark Rober and his now-puny six-foot six-shooter.
We have to wonder if it is technically bigger than the six-shooter, because they seem to be roughly the same scale, except that [Michael] chose a much bigger model to start from. The main body is made from wood, and there are a ton of 3D-printed details that make it look fantastically accurate. The whole thing weighs over 200 pounds and takes at least two people to move it around. We especially love the DIY darts that [Michael] came up with, which are made from a PVC tube inside a section of pool noodle, topped off with a 3D printed piece for that distinctive orange cap.
Propelling those darts at around 50 MPH is a 3,000 PSI air tank connected to an Arduino Pro Mini that controls the trigger and the air valves. While [Michael] hasn’t run the thing quite that high, it does plenty of damage in the neighborhood of 40-80 PSI. As you’ll see in the video after the break, this is quite the ranged weapon. Watch it blow a hole clean through a sheet of drywall and much more.
Want to build something with a bit more stealth? Make it death from above with a NERF quadcopter.
Continue reading “Giant Working NERF Gun Runs On Tiny Arduino”
One way of communicating with autistic and non-verbal people is through the use of a Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS board, which they can use to point out what they need or want throughout the day. However, the commercial versions of these boards have their share of problems — they’re expensive, and they’re fairly rigid as far as the pictures go. [Alain Mauer] has created an open-source PECS board that is far more personalized, and has audio to boot.
The number one requisite here is sturdiness, as [Alain]’s son [Scott] has already smashed two smartphones and a tablet. [Alain] went with a laser-cut MDF enclosure that should last quite a while. Inside is an Arduino Pro Mini and a DF Player Mini that plays corresponding clips from a micro SD card whenever [Scott] presses a button on the 16-key copper foil capacitive keypad. This PECS board is smart, too — it will sound a turn-me-off reminder after a few minutes of inactivity, and issue audible low battery warnings.
So far, [Scott] is responding better to photographs of objects than to drawings. Watch him interact with the board after the break.
This is far from the first thing [Alain] has built to help [Scott]. Be sure to check out this Pi-based media player built to engage and not enrage. Continue reading “DIY PECS Board Uses Pictures To Communicate”
The past year has been quite a ride for everyone on Earth. But you never know which day is going to be your last, so you might as well live a little, eh? This clock doesn’t actually know when you’ll kick off, either. But just for fun, it predicts the number of years remaining until you go to that hackerspace in the sky by hazarding a guess that’s based on your current age and the latest life expectancy tables. Don’t like the outcome? It’s completely randomized, so just push the button and get a set of numbers: the age you might die, and the percentage of life elapsed and remaining.
We love the design of this calculated doom clock, and it’s quite simple inside — an Arduino Pro Mini outputs the graph on an 2.9″ e-paper display, and both are powered with a 5.5 V solar panel. Just suction cup that puppy to the window and you’ll get automatic updates about your impending demise on sunny days, and none on cloudy days.
Want a more realistic picture of your mortality? Here’s a clock that counts down to your 80th birthday.
Playing the guitar requires speed, strength, and dexterity in both hands. Depending on your mobility level, rocking out with your axe might be impossible unless you could somehow hold down the strings and have a robot do the strumming for you.
[Jacob Stambaugh]’s Auto Strummer uses six lighted buttons to tell the hidden internal pick which string(s) to strum, which it does with the help of an Arduino Pro Mini and a stepper motor. If two or more buttons are pressed, all the strings between the outermost pair selected will be strummed. That little golden knob near the top is a pot that controls the strumming tempo.
[Jacob]’s impressive 3D-printed enclosure attaches to the guitar with a pair of spring-loaded clamps that grasp the edge of the sound hole. But don’t fret — there’s plenty of foam padding under every point that touches the soundboard.
We were worried that the enclosure would block or muffle the sound, even though it sits about an inch above the hole. But as you can hear in the video after the break, that doesn’t seem to be the case — it sounds fantastic.
Never touched a real guitar, but love to play Guitar Hero? There’s a robot for that, too.
Continue reading “Auto Strummer Can Plectrum The Whole Flat-Strumming Spectrum”
Don’t know about you, but over the last year or so, we have gone from spending ten or twelve hours a day at this computer to upwards of sixteen or eighteen. Fortunately there’s a window behind the monitor for taking those 20/20/20 breaks that are supposed to prevent eye strain, but it’s so hard to remember (and boring) to do it. And nobody needs yet another thing to remember in the name of self-care.
[Daniel Hingston] certainly agrees. As you’ll see in the delightful video after the break, [Daniel] has made a game out of the whole process of stopping every twenty minutes to spend twenty seconds looking at a point that’s at least twenty feet away. Once the break is over, [Daniel] uses the dual-purpose start button to acknowledge having looked away for 20 seconds. The device is meant to clip onto the corner of any monitor, and [Daniel] has provided several sizes of the bridge piece so that everyone can find their fit.
The Guardian’s guts are pretty simple — an Arduino Pro Mini runs the stop watch and a TFT display to show the graphics that live on an SD card. This is a great way to preserve your eyesight by gamifying something we all know we should be doing. It might be nice to add a break timer that counts up to 25 or thereabouts so you have time to stand up and come back. If you press the button too soon, it scolds you and you have to start your eye break over.
Need some more self-care lately? Our own [Jenny List] has your back in these interesting times.
Continue reading “Eyesight Guardian Polices Your Poor Pupils”
Farkle is a classic dice game that only requires 6 dice and a way to write down scores based on the numbers rolled. Even so, this type of game isn’t inherently portable — it would be fairly difficult to play on a road trip, for instance. [Sunyecz22] decided that Farkle would make an excellent electronic game and got to work designing his first PCB.
This little game has everything you could want from a splash screen introduction to a handy scoring guide on the silkscreen. After choosing the number of players, the first player rolls using the momentary button and the electronic dice light up to indicate what was rolled. As long as the player rolled at least one scoring die, they can take the points by selecting the appropriate die/dice with the capsense pads, and either pass or keep going. The current player’s score is shown on the 7-segment, and the totals for each player are on the OLED screen at the bottom.
The brains of the operation is an Arduino Pro Mini. It controls two MAX7219s that drive the 42 LEDs plus the 7-segment display. A game like this is all in the code, and lucky for us, [Sunyecz22] made it available. We love how gorgeous the glossy 3D printed enclosure looks — between the glossy finish and the curved back, it looks very comfortable to hold. In the future, [Sunyecz22] plans to make a one player versus the computer mode. Check out the demo and walk-through video after the break.
The capsense modules are a great touch, but some people want a little more tactility in their handheld games. We say bring on the toggle switches.
Continue reading “Handheld Farkle Really Sparkles”