Once you step into the world of controls, you quickly realize that controlling even simple systems isn’t as easy as applying voltage to a servo. Before you start working on your own bipedal robot or scratch-built drone, though, you might want to get some practice with this intricate field of engineering. A classic problem in this area is the inverted pendulum, and [Philip] has created a great model of this which helps illustrate the basics of controls, with some AI mixed in.
Called the ZIPY, the project is a “Cart Pole” design that uses a movable cart on a trolley to balance a pendulum above. The pendulum is attached at one point to the cart. By moving the cart back and forth, the pendulum can be kept in a vertical position. The control uses the OpenAI Gym toolkit which is a way to easily use reinforcement learning algorithms in your own projects. With some Python, some 3D printed parts, and the toolkit, [Philip] was able to get his project to successfully balance the pendulum on the cart.
Of course, the OpenAI Gym toolkit is useful for many more projects where you might want some sort of machine learning to help out. If you want to play around with machine learning without having to build anything, though, you can also explore it in your browser.
Continue reading “Inverted Pendulum For The Control Enthusiast”
The value of a mobile adjustable height cart in the shop can’t be overestimated. From moving tools around to installing heavy fixtures on walls and ceiling, a scissor-lift platform is a great tool. Commercial versions get a bit expensive, though, so a shop-built scissor lift table made of wood might be a nice project for the budget-minded to tackle.
Wood might not be your first choice for a fixture such as this, but it’s what [Marius Hornberger] is set up to use, and with proper species selection and careful engineering, it can make for an amazingly sturdy table. [Marius] chose ash for his parts, a wood with a long history of performing well under difficult conditions. The table is not all wood, of course; metal bushings and pins are used in the scissor mechanism, and the lift drive is a stout Acme-thread screw and nut. We’re impressed by [Marius]’ joinery skill, and with how sturdy the table proved to be.
Not a lot of woodworking projects seem to show up in our tip line for some reason, which is a shame. We love to feature wood builds, and like our own [John Baichtal] recently pointed out, the health of the wood shop is often a leading indicator of the health of a hackerspace.
Continue reading “Scissor Lift Table From The Wood Shop, For The Wood Shop”
When it comes to machine tools, a good rule of thumb is that heavier is better. A big South Bend lathe or Bridgeport mill might tip the scales at ludicrous weight, but all that mass goes to damping vibration and improving performance. So you’d figure a lathe made of soda cans could use all the help it could get; this cast concrete machine cart ought to fit the bill nicely
Perhaps you’ve caught our recent coverage of [Makercise]’s long and detailed vlog of his Gingery lathe build. If not, you might want to watch the 5-minute condensed video of the build, which shows the entire process from melting down scrap aluminum for castings to first chips. We love the build and the videos, but the lightweight lathe on that wooden bench never really worked for us, or for [Makercise], who notes that he was never able to crank the lathe up to full speed because of the vibrations. The cart attempts to fix that problem the old fashioned way – more mass.
There are a few “measure twice, cut once” moments in the video below, as well as a high pucker-factor slab lift that could have turned into a real disaster. We might have opted for a countertop-grade concrete mix that could be dyed and polished, but that would be just for looks. When all is said and done, the cart does exactly what it was built to do, and there’s even room on it for the shaper that’s next on the build list. We’re looking forward to that.
Continue reading “Bulking Up A Lightweight Lathe With A Concrete Cart”
[Frank] came up with a clever way to extend the storage of his PS4. He’s managed to store his digital PS4 games inside of storage devices in the shape of classic NES cartridges. It’s a relatively simple hack on the technical side of things, but the result is a fun and interesting way to store your digital games.
He started out by designing his own 3D model of the NES cartridge. He then printed the cartridge on his Ultimaker 3D printer. The final print is a very good quality replica of the old style cartridge. The trick of this build is that each cartridge actually contains a 2.5″ hard drive. [Frank] can store each game on a separate drive, placing each one in a separate cartridge. He then prints his own 80’s style labels for these current generation games. You would have a hard time noticing that these games are not classic NES games at first glance.
Storing the game in cartridge form is one thing, but reading them into the PS4 is another. The trick is to use a SATA connector attached to the PS4’s motherboard. [Frank’s] project page makes it sound like he was able to plug the SATA cable in without opening the PS4, by attaching the connector to a Popsicle stick and then using that to reach in and plug the connector in place. The other end of the SATA cable goes into a custom 3D printed housing that fits the fake NES cartridges. This housing is attached to the side of the PS4 using machine screws.
Now [Frank] can just slide the cartridge of his choice into the slot and the PS4 instantly reads it. In an age where we try to cram more and more bits into smaller and smaller places, this may not be the most practical build. But sometimes hacking isn’t about being practical. Sometimes it’s simply about having fun. This project is a perfect example. Continue reading “Add Extra Storage To Your PS4 With Retro Flair”
[Luis de Matos] is working on a neat Kinect project called Wi-GO that aims, as many do, to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. While the Wi-GO project is geared towards disabled persons, it can be quite helpful to the elderly and pregnant women as well.
Wi-GO is a motorized shopping cart with a Kinect sensor mounted on the back. The sensor interfaces with a laptop and functions much as you would as you would expect, scanning the area in front of the cart for objects and people. Once it identifies the individual it is meant to help, the cart diligently follows behind as the person goes about their typical shopping routine. The robot keeps a safe distance to avoid collisions, but remains within reach so that it can be used to carry goods.
If you take a look a the video below, you can see Wi-GO in action. It starts off by showing how difficult it would be for an individual in a wheel chair to use a shopping cart alone, and follows up by showing how much easier things are with Wi-GO in tow.
While the project is only in prototype form at the moment, we suspect that it will only be a matter of time until you see devices like Wi-GO in your local supermarket.
Continue reading “Kinect-driven Cart Makes Shopping A Snap”
[Fred Keller] and [Judy Foster], both retired, are proving that age is just a number. What you see above is a nostalgia inducing full size driveable Radio Flyer red wagon. The base of which is a 1976 Mazda pickup truck, while the wagon portion is a mishmash of wood, fiberglass and bondo, detergent bottles, and more. Even the steering wheel has been retrofitted from an actual wheel from a wagon. We were surprised to find out the entire conversion only took the two 11 months to complete (finishing this past august), and even more confounded to learn the vehicle is completely street legal.
[Todd Harrison] put together a welding cart that has all kinds of tricks built-in. The carcass is a cheap rolling cart that has been reinforced with steel plate and beefier wheels. The top tray can be loaded up with fire brick for oxygen-acetylene welding or with a grate for cutting. That grate lets the slag fall through and into the red-rimmed fire-box below. Finally, there’s a steel plate to the right of the cart that rotates and slides over the top of the unit to prepare it for MIG welding. Todd walks us through his versatile invention in the video after the break. This will nicely augment your other welding hacks.
Continue reading “Multi-purpose Welding Cart”