Space-Saving Servo Tester Console Looks Space-Worthy

You know how it goes — sometimes you just have to stop in the middle of a project and build yourself a tool that vastly improves your workflow as soon as it’s completed. [Ikkalebob] aka [Will Cogley] on YouTube is working on some super secret project that requires a whole bunch of servos. And since all of them have to be tested and set, he built this adorable servo tester as a time-saving gift to himself.

This tester revolves around an Adafruit 16-channel servo driver and an Arduino Uno. The servos show up on the screen in groups of four, and can be tested four at a time with the pots. The buttons let [Ikkalebob] move up and down between the groups. The SainSmart LCD proved to be more difficult to set up than others, but [Ikkalebob] did you a solid and tweaked the library. It’s available along with his code and STLs.

Speaking of STLs, we really dig the mini NASA console look and the folding enclosure. Leveraging the print process to build hinges and other things is awesome, and so is getting away with using fewer fasteners. You can see a bit of how [Ikkalebob] designed it in the video after the break.

Depending on what you’re doing with servos, you might want a different kind of testing suite. Here’s one that’s geared toward RC pilots.

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Printed Arduino Turntable Takes Objects For A Spin

Have you built a 3D scanner yet? There’s more than one way to model those curves and planes, but the easiest may be photogrammetry — that’s the one where you take a bunch of pictures and stitch them into a 3D model. If you build a scanner like [Brian Brocken]’s that does almost everything automatically, you might consider starting a scan-and-print side hustle.

This little machine spins objects 360° and triggers a Bluetooth remote tethered to an iPhone. In automatic mode, it capture anywhere from 2-200 pictures. There’s a mode for cinematic shots that shoots video of the object slowly spinning around, which makes anything look at least 35% more awesome. A third mode offers manual control of the turntable’s position and speed.

An Arduino UNO controls a stepper that moves the turntable via 3D printed-in-place bearing assembly. This project is a (vast) improvement over [Brian]’s hand-cranked version that we looked at over the summer, though both are works of art in their own right.

Our favorite part aside from the bearing is the picture-taking process itself. [Brian] couldn’t get the iPhone to play nice with HC-05 or -06 modules, so he’s got the horn of 9g servo tapping the shutter button on a Bluetooth remote. This beautiful beast is wide open, so fire up that printer. You can watch the design and build process of the turntable after the break.

Want to scan some really tiny things? Make a motorized microscope from movie machines.

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Beat The Streets With This Text Spraying Robot

In the midst of striking for climate change awareness, you may need some extra hands. That’s what [Anred Zynch] thought when they built Strettexter, the text-spraying writing robot that sprays onto streets.

The machine is loaded with 8 spray cans placed into a wooden box (a stop line with a wooden ledge to prevent the cans from falling out) and is fixed on top of a skateboard. It uses a PWN/Servo shield soldered onto an Arduino Uno connected to 8 servo motors (TowerPro SG90s) to control each of the spray bottles. A table converts every character into 5×8 bit fonts to fit the size of the spraying module. The device also includes a safety switch, as well as an encoder for measuring the horizontal distance traveled.

The Strettexter is activated by pulling on the skateboard once it’s been set up and connected to power (for portability, it uses a 8000mAh power bank). In its current configuration, the words stretch out pretty long, but some additional testing will probably lead to better results depending on the constraints of your canvas. The shorter the words, the more difficult it is for the white text to be legible, since there is significant spacing between printed bits.

We don’t condone public vandalism, so use this hack at your own discretion.

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IoT Safe Keeps Latchkey Kids’ Phones On Lockdown

Phones are pretty great. Used as telephones, they can save us from bad situations and let us communicate while roaming freely, for the most part. Used as computers, they often become time-sucking black holes that can twist our sense of self and reality. Assuming they pick up when you call, phones are arguably a good thing for kids to have, especially since you can hardly find a payphone these days. But how do you teach kids to use them responsibly, so they can still become functioning adults and move out someday? [Jaychouu] believes the answer is inside of a specialized lockbox.

This slick-looking box has a solenoid lock inside that can be unlocked via a keypad, or remotely via the OBLOQ IoT module. [Jaychouu] added a few features that drive it out of Arduino lockbox territory. To prevent latchkey children from cheating the system and putting rocks (or nothing at all) in the box, there’s a digital weight sensor and an ultrasonic sensor that validate the credentials of the contents and compare them with known values.

Want a basic lockbox to keep your phone out of reach while you work? Here’s one with a countdown timer.

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Superbly Synchronized Servos Swaying Softly

LEDs and blinky projects are great, and will likely never fade from our favor. But would you look at this sweeping beauty? This mesmerizing display is made from 36 micro servos with partial Popsicle sticks pasted on the arms. After seeing a huge display with 450 servos at an art museum, [Doug Domke] was inspired to make a scaled-down version.

What [Doug] didn’t scale down is the delightful visuals that simple servo motion can produce. The code produces a three-minute looping show that gets progressively more awesome, and you can stare at that after the break. Behind the pegboard, a single, hardworking Arduino Uno controls three 16-channel PWM controllers that sweep the servos. We like to imagine things other than Popsicle sticks swirling around, like little paper pinwheels, or maybe optical illusion wheels for people with strong stomachs.

You won’t see these in the video, but there are five ultrasonic sensors mounted face-up on the back of the pegboard. [Doug] has optional code built in to allow the servo sticks to follow hand movement. We hope he’ll upload a demo of that feature soon.

Servos can be hypnotic as well as helpful, as we saw in this 114-servo word clock.

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Arduino Bot Rocks A PS2 Controller

As far as controlling robots goes, makers today are spoilt for choice. WiFi and Bluetooth enabled microcontrollers are a dime a dozen, and integration with smartphone apps is a cinch. Despite this, the old methods still hold sway, as [Igor Fonseca] demonstrates with a simple Arduino bot.

It’s a classic build, using a tracked chassis with a pair of motors providing propulsion and skid steering. The motors are controlled by an L298N H-bridge board, with power courtesy of a trio of 18650 batteries. An Arduino Uno acts as the brains of the operation. Control is via a Playstation 2 controller, in this case a 2.4 GHz third party version. This allows the robot to be controlled wirelessly, with the decoding handled by [Bill Porter]’s useful Arduino library.

It’s a cheap approach to building a remote-controlled bot, and one that would be a great way to teach interested children about how to work with embedded systems. We’ve featured a similar build before, too. Video after the break.

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Air Hockey Table Is A Breeze To Build

Many of us have considered buying an air hockey table, but are put off by the price. And even if the money is there, those things take up a lot of space. How often are you really going to use it?

This DIY air hockey table is the answer. It’s big enough to be fun, but small and light enough to easily stow away in the off-season. At ~$50, it’s a cheap build, provided you have a vacuum cleaner that can switch to blower mode. The strikers, goals, corner guards, and scoreboard enclosure are all 3D-printed, while the pucks and playfield are laser-cut acrylic. [Technovation] glued acrylic feet to the strikers to help them last longer.

The scoreboard is an Arduino Uno plus an LCD that changes color to match the current winner. Scoring must be entered manually with button presses, but we think it would be fairly easy to detect a puck in the goal with a force or weight sensor or something. For now, the RGB LEDs around the edge are controlled separately with a remote. The ultimate goal is to make the Arduino do it. Shoot past the break and cross-check it out.

Already have a table? Had it so long, no one will play you anymore? Build yourself a robotic opponent.

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