A Robot To Top Up Your Tesla

The convenience of just plugging in your car in the evening and not going into a gas station is great as long as you remember to do the plugging. You really don’t want to get caught with an empty battery while you’re in a rush. [Pat Larson]’s Tesla plugging robot might be a handy insurance policy if you count forgetfulness among your weaknesses.

The robot consists of a standard Tesla charging plug attached to a 2-axis robotic arm mounted on [Pat]’s garage wall. Everything is controlled by a Python script running on Raspberry Pi 4. After taking a picture with a camera module, it uses a Tensor Flow Lite machine learning model to determine the position of a reflector on the charging port cover. The platform moves back and forth to align with the charging port, after which it opens the charging port using the Tesla API. It then extends the arm towards the charging port, using ultrasonic proximity sensors for distance control, and again uses the camera module and Tensor Flow to look for the illuminated Tesla logo adjacent to the charging port. The charge plug is flipped out using a large servo, and after some final position adjustment, it takes the plunge. While robot won’t be winning any interior design contests, it does the job well, and adds a bit of convenience and peace of mind.

Other Tesla hacks we’ve seen include building a working Model S for $6500, turning an old Honda into a speed demon using Tesla parts, and a Casio F-91W that can unlock your Tesla.

Lighthouse Locates Drone; Achieves Autonomous Battery Swap

The HTC Vive’s Lighthouse localization system is one of the cleverest things we’ve seen in a while. It uses a synchronization flash followed by a swept beam to tell any device that can see the lights exactly where it is in space. Of course, the device has to understand the signals to figure it out.

[Alex Shtuchkin] built a very well documented device that can use these signals to localize itself in your room. For now, the Lighthouse stations are still fairly expensive, but the per-device hardware requirements are quite reasonable. [Alex] has the costs down around ten dollars plus the cost of a microcontroller if your project doesn’t already include one. Indeed, his proof-of-concept is basically a breadboard, three photodiodes, op-amps, and some code.

His demo is awesome! Check it out in the video below. He uses it to teach a quadcopter to land itself back on a charging platform, and it’s able to get there with what looks like a few centimeters of play in any direction — more than good enough to land in the 3D-printed plastic landing thingy. That fixture has a rotating drum that swaps out the battery automatically, readying the drone for another flight.

If this is just the tip of the iceberg of upcoming Lighthouse hacks, we can’t wait!

Continue reading “Lighthouse Locates Drone; Achieves Autonomous Battery Swap”

Outlet Charging Station Retrofitted With The Guts Of A WiFi Router

While wandering around the aisles of his local electronics store this Westinghouse USB charging station caught [James’] eye. He sized it up and realized it would make the perfect enclosure for a small WiFi router. And so began his project to turn a TP-Link TL-WR703NĀ into a DIY Pwn Plug.

The basic idea is to include hidden capabilities in an otherwise normal-looking device. For instance, take a look at this ridiculously overpriced power strip that also happens to spy on your activities. It doesn’t sound like [James] has any black hat activities planned, but just wanted an interesting application for the router.

He removed the original circuit board from the charging station to make room for his own internals. He inserted a cellphone charger to power the router, then desoldered the USB ports and RJ-45 connector for the circuit board to be positioned in the openings of the case. He even included a headphone jack that breaks out the serial port. There’s a lot of new stuff packed into there, but all of the original features of the charging station remain intact.