It sucks that certain stuff in public is off-limits right now, like drinking fountains and coin-operated candy and gum machines — especially the fun kind where you get to watch your gumball take a twisting trip down the tower and into the collection bin. Hopefully there will be commercial contact-free machines one of these days that take NFC payments. Until then, we’ll have to make them ourselves out of cardboard and whimsy and Micro:bits.
[Brown Dog Gadgets] also used one of their Crazy Circuits Bit Boards, which is a Micro:bit-to-LEGO interface module for building circuits with conductive tape. There’s a distance sensor in the rocket’s base, and a servo to dispense the gumballs. This entire build is fantastic, but we particularly like the clever use of a LEGO Technic beam to both catch the gumball and prevent the next one from going anywhere. You can see it in action after the break.
Wave hand, receive gumball is about as simple as it gets for the end user. The three robots approach takes much more work.
Continue reading “A Whimsical Touch-Free Gumball Machine For These Trying Times”
We’re all pretty well-acquainted with the obstacle avoiding robot. These little inventions use a proximity sensor to detect an object in front of the robot, then circumvent the object accordingly. Brown Dog Gadgets’ little robot really caught our eye, mostly because it’s kind of cute.
This little robot combines a few LEGO pieces, Arduino, and Brown Dog Gadgets’ own in-house invention, Crazy Circuits. The LEGO pieces make up the body of the robot, craftily enclosing a small portable battery pack used to power the bot. Brown Dog Gadgets uses another home-grown design, their robotics controller board, breaking out a few GPIO pins of an Arduino-compatible microcontroller into LEGO-compatible connections. This makes it easy to interface two of our favorite DIY STEM tools using a solderless connection.
Add a few LEGO wheels and a caster for pivoting and you’ve got a pretty simple, little robot. Fortunately, Brown Dog Gadgets was very thorough in their write-up, so head on over to their Instructable for all the details.
In the meantime, we’ve got a rich history of obstacle-avoiding robots here on Hackaday. Take a look around.
If you were thinking “I should spend $130 on LEGO bricks and build a giant USB NES controller just to see what that would be like,” but you were afraid of spending that much money, [BrownDogGadgets] has you covered. He built a giant NES controller out of LEGO. The controller is designed in LEGO Digital Designer, which lets you create a virtual model, then get a full list of parts which can be ordered online.
The electronics are based on a Teensy LC programmed to appear as a USB keyboard, and the buttons are standard push buttons. The insides are wired together with nylon conductive tape. LEGO was an appropriate choice because the Teensy and switches are built on top of LEGO compatible PCBs, so components are just snapped in place. The system is called Crazy Circuits and is a pretty neat way to turn electronics into a universal and reusable system.
If that controller is too big, they’ve also used the same circuit with some laser cut parts for your own controller. If you do want to go even bigger, take a look at [Baron von Brunk’s] LEGO NES controller, which used the electronics from a real controller.
Continue reading “Giant Solderless LEGO NES Controller Gives Everyone Tiny Hands”