[Gijs Gieskes] has a long history of producing electronic art and sound contraptions, and his Zonneliedjes (sunsongs) project is certainly an entertaining perpetuation of his sonic creations. With the stated goal of making music from sunlight, the sunsongs most prominent feature is solar panels.
Although It’s not clear how the photons transform into the rhythmic crashes and random beep-boop sounds, the results are quite satisfying. We have a strong suspicion that the same principals that turn random junk into BEAM robots are at work, maybe with some circuit bending sprinkled on for good measure. One detail we were able to glean from a picture of the device he calls “mobile” was a 40106 oscillator, which [Gijs] has used in previous projects.
The construction style that [Gijs] uses reminds us of the “Manhattan” construction style the amateur radio homebrewing community favors. Squares of copper PCB are glued directly to the back of the solar cells and the circuits are built atop them. Looking carefully at the pictures we can also see what look like cutoff leads, suggesting a healthy amount of experimentation to get the desired results, which we can all relate to.
Be sure to check out the video after the break, and also [Gijs] website. He’s been hacking away at projects such as these for a very long time, and we’ve even featured his projects going back more than 15 years. Thanks for the continued hacks, [Gijs]. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next!
If the terms “BEAM robotics” and “circuit bending” are unfamiliar to your ears (or if a refresh is due), be sure to check out our recent re-introduction to BEAM robotics and our classic “Intro to Circuit Bending” to get acquainted. Continue reading “Spiffy Summer Project Sources Solar Sounds From Scraps”
Need a steel beam? You can 3D print PLA beams that are as strong as a steel beam of equivalent weight according to [RepRap]. The Python code for FreeCAD generates a repeating structure especially well suited for belt printers that can print a beam of any length. Keep in mind, of course, given two things that weigh the same, if one is made of steel and the other PLA, the steel one will be physically smaller.
The beams are repeating tetrahedrons which are quite strong with a lot of material on the outer faces to resist bending. Each beam end has a neat block with a wiring hole and a ring of small holes that allow you to mount the beams to things or each other with 30 degree increments of rotation.
Continue reading “3D Prints Of Steel — Um — PLA, Rather”
You’re hit by the global IC shortage, reduced to using stone knives and bearskins, but you still want to make something neat? It’s time to revisit BEAM robots.
Biology, electronics, aesthetics, and mechanics — Mark Tilden came up with the idea of minimalist electronic creatures that, through inter-coupled weak control systems and clever mechanical setups, could mimic living bugs. And that’s not so crazy if you think about how many nerves something like a cockroach or an earthworm have. Yet their collection of sensors, motors, and skeletons makes for some pretty interesting behavior.
My favorite BEAM bots have always been the solar-powered ones. They move slowly or infrequently, but also inexorably, under solar power. In that way, they’re the most “alive”. Part of the design trick is to make sure they stay near their food (the sun) and don’t get stuck. One of my favorite styles is the “photovore” or “photopopper”, because they provide amazing bang for the buck.
Back in the heyday of BEAM, maybe 15 years ago, solar cells were inefficient and expensive, circuits for using their small current were leaky, and small motors were tricky to come by. Nowadays, that’s all changed. Power harvesting circuits leak only nano-amps, and low-voltage MOSFETs can switch almost losslessly. Is it time to revisit the BEAM principles? I’d wager you’d put the old guard to shame, and you won’t even need any of those newfangled microcontroller thingies, which are out of stock anyway.
If you make something, show us!
We have a soft spot for BEAM projects, because we love to see the Sun do fun things when aided by large capacitors. [NanoRobotGeek]’s marble machine is an extraordinary example — once sufficiently charged, the two 4700 μF capacitors dump power into a home-brew solenoid, which catapults the ball bearing into action toward the precipice of two tracks.
[NanoRobotGeek] started with the freely-available Suneater solar circuit. It’s a staple of BEAM robotics, slightly modified to fit the needs of this particular project. First up was verifying that the lever (or beam, if you will) principle would work at all, and [NanoRobotGeek] just built it up from there in admirable detail. The fact that it alternates between the swirly track and the zigzag track is entrancing.
There are several disciplines at play here, and we think it’s beautifully made all around, especially since this was [NanoRobotGeek]’s first foray into track bending. We love the way it flings the ball so crisply, and the track-changing lever is pretty darn satisfying, too. You can check it out in action in the video after the break.
Although this was [NanoRobotGeek]’s maiden marble track, it’s not their first circuit sculpture — check out this flapping, BEAM-powered dragonfly.
Continue reading “BEAM-Powered, Ball-Flinging Beam Has Us Beaming”
As electronics hobbyists, we live in a somewhat two-dimensional world. Our craft is so centered around the printed circuit board that our design tools are specifically geared to spit out files tailored to the board house, who can then ship us a study in fiberglass and copper. We daub on flux and solder, add components, apply heat, and like magic, our circuits come to life, all within a few millimeters above and below the PCB.
Breaking out of this self-imposed Flatland can be therapeutic. At least that’s how Mohit Bhoite sees his free-form circuit sculptures, which he spoke about at length at the Hackaday Superconference this year. By way of disclosure, I have to admit to being a longtime fan of Mohit’s work, both at his day job as a designer at Particle, and with his spare time hobby of creating sculptures from electronic components and brass wire which can be followed on his Twitter feed. He ended up joining us for a circuit sculpture Hack Chat just before heading to Supercon, too, so not only was I looking forward to meeting him, I was sure his talk would reveal the secrets of his art and give me the inspiration to start doing some of my own. I wasn’t disappointed on either score.
Continue reading “Bend It Like Bhoite: Circuit Sculptures Shatter The Bounds Of Flatland”
Normal people throw away stuff when it breaks. But not people like us. Or, apparently, [NanoRobotGeek]. A cheap robotic dragonfly died, and he cannibalized it for robot parts. But he kept the gearbox hoping to build a new dragonfly and, using some brass rod, he did just that.
The dragonfly’s circuitry uses a solar panel for power and a couple of flashing LEDs. This is a BEAM robot, so not a microcontroller in sight. You can see a brief video of how the dragonfly moves.
Continue reading “BEAM Dragonfly Causes A Flap”
A word of warning: Google for the definition of the word “pummer” at your own risk. Rest assured that this beautiful solar-powered circuit sculpture fits the only definition of pummer that we care to deal with.
For the unfamiliar, a pummer is a device from the BEAM style of robotics, a sort of cyborg plant that absorbs solar energy during the day and turns it into a gently pulsating light that “pumms” away the dark hours.
[Mohit Bhoite]’s take on the pummer is an extraordinary model of a satellite executed mainly in brass rod. His attention to detail on the framework boggles our minds; we could work for days on a brass rod and never achieve the straight lines and perfect corners he did. The wings support two solar cells, while the hull of the satellite holds a dead-bugged 74HC240 octal buffer/line-driver chip and all the other pumm-enabling components. A one farad supercap – mounted to look like a dish antenna – is charged during the day and a single LED beacon blinks into the night.
No schematic is provided, but there are probably enough closeup shots to reverse engineer this, which actually sounds like a fun exercise. (Or you can cheat and fetch the PDF copy of the old Make magazine article that inspired him.)
Hats off to [Mohit] for a top-notch circuit sculpture. We’ve seen similarly detailed and well-executed sculptures from him before; something tells us this won’t be the last.
Thanks to [Varun Reddy] for the tip.