[Michael Gainer] is a big fan of Portal, and it shows in the Weighted Companion Cube he made. [Michael] hand-machined the many pieces that comprise the Cube’s body and medallions out of 6061 aluminum. Dykem was used to transfer the marks for accurate machining, and the color is powder-coated to a heat tolerance of 400F. A CNC was used to make the distinctive hearts. [Michael] notes the irony was “very Portal” in having them cut by a heartless machine when everything else was done manually. The attention to detail is striking, the level of design more so when [Michael] proceeds to incinerate the poor Companion Cube with a brush burner. In the video shown at the link above, the Cube falls apart as the glue holding it together melts. When all is said and done, just grab more glue to bring that Cube back to its six-sided glory. Repeat to your heart’s content. Huge success! We have to be honest, after seeing all those pieces, we aren’t sure we’d want to do this very often. Companion Cubes have been featured in variousiterations on Hackadaybefore, but they were never built with the idea of repeatedly destroying and rebuilding them. This novel take would make GlaDOS proud.
[Michael] has plans to put an Android device inside it with some light and temperature sensors. He wants to give it a voice resembling Portal’s turrets so it can whine when it needs to be charged or scream when it’s too hot or cold. He dubs this next project the “Overly Attached Weighted Companion Cube.” It wouldn’t be a good idea to incinerate this upcoming version, though we’d probably be inclined to if it demanded so much of our attention!
The build is primarily a modified speaker box cube—constructed out of what appears to be MDF—with four Alpine SXE-1725S speakers placed at the center of the middle faces. The faces were routed out to resembled the Companion Cube, while the electronics mount and the speaker grills were 3d printed. Inside is a homemade amplifier built around an Arduino Mega, with a TDA7560 quad bridge amplifier, a TDA7318 audio processor, a Belkin bluetooth receiver, and a 3.5″ touchscreen for volume control and for input selections.
Two 12v 7.2Ah lead-acid batteries keep the cube functional for an entire weekend of partying, but probably add a few pounds to the already hefty MDF construction. Check out [Andreas’s] blog for more pictures and his GitHub for all the necessary code.
[Crenn] obtained a string of official companion cube lights from Valve, but being in Australia couldn’t put them to their non-judgemental glory without the use of a step down transformer. They sat on the workbench for a few months until an idea was hatched: replace the bulbs with an Adafruit Neopixel strip, making these wonderful inanimate friends a string of individually addressable RGB LEDs.
The process of converting these cubes required stuffing a very small 9.4mm PCB inside. This PCB was designed in KiCAD thanks to a few classes at the Melbourne hackerspace. The board files were sent off, PCBs received, soldered up, and stuffed into the cubes.
Control is via a Duemilanove with a single IO pin using the Neopixel library. All the code, board files, and schematics are available on the gits. Future improvements might include a 3D printed cable relief and a way to securely mount the PCBs to the inside of the cubes.
The robotic experiments are based on angular momentum. Inside of the cube there are center mounted motors which each spin a wheel. Three of these are mounted perpendicular to each other to give the cube the ability to change its position along any axis. This is best shown by the first video after the break where just a single side of the assembly is demonstrated. A square frame starts at a rest position. You see the wheel spin up and it is suddenly stopped, which causes the momentum of the wheel to pop the square frame up onto one corner. The wheel then switches into a second mode to keep it balancing there. The final mode is a controlled fall. This theoretically will let the cube move around by falling end over end. So far they’re not showing off that ability, but the second demo video does show the assembled cube balancing on one corner.
I was out to lunch with a couple friends, brainstorming ideas for fun projects when one of them says “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could build a working gravity gun?”. We all immediately concurred that while it would in fact be cool, it is also a silly proposition. However, only a few seconds later, I realized we could do a display piece that emulated this concept very easily. Floating magnetic globes have been around for quite some time.
I determined I would tear the guts out of a stock floating globe and mount it on a portal gun, since they’re easier to find than a gravity gun. I would also build a custom companion cube to be the correct size and weight necessary.
This build started off as a coffee table that was to have an oval glass top (no word if the edges were going to be blue or orange). The guts of the cube are taken from a 400 Watt sub. As any good sub builder would, [Cube] kept the air volume and port tuning of the donor box.
We’ve seen a companion cube sub before that featured EL wire for a ‘glowing cube’ effect, but [Cube] may have taken things a little too far by including glowing rings on each side of the cube. The rings lit by 2,500 LEDs mounted on pieces of perspex and wired point-to-point. While [Cube] claims he’s ‘not a electronics guru,’ he certainly has a lot of patience to assemble those lights.
Check out [Cube]’s YouTube build video after the link. Credit to [Todd] for sending this one in.