Sensor rig finds out if motorists are sharing the road with cyclists

Apparently there’s some cause for concern when it comes to bikes and automobiles sharing the roads in Austin, Texas. [Christopher Stanton] wrote in to tell us there’s a law on the books now that requires motorists to give three feet of space when passing a cyclist. This is pretty difficult to enforce as there’s no solid proof like the radar gun provides when it comes to speed limits. The hardware above is seeking to help by collecting data on passing habits. It measures and records the distance of each vehicle that passes you while on the bike. The goal isn’t to ticket more drivers, it’s to collect statistical data that might help change dangerous driving habits.

As you can see, a front equipment rack hosts the hardware for easy installation on a bike. It has an arm that extends to the side the same distance as the handle bars. The HD camera with wide-angle lens is set to snap a photo which can be used to determine the bike and vehicle positions in the lanes, along with the distance readout from the sensor.

We’d certainly be interested in seeing the numbers for average passing clearance in a heavily traveled urban environment. Even with bike lanes, things can feel pretty tight on a busy day!

Make Your Own Odometer from Scraps

For those out there who would enjoy a quick and interesting weekend project, this odometer made by [PeckLauros] is for you. Featured on Instructables it is made from the simplest of materials including some cardboard, a calculator, wires, glue, hot glue, magnetic drive key, an old CD and a reader, and a rubber band.  The magnets, when attached to the CD work in a calculation to add 0.11m to the calculator when a magnet closes the circuit. [PeckLauros] points out that since it is a homebrewed device, it does have flaws such as adding 0.11m twice when the CD is rotated too slowly.  It is easily fixed by simply running faster.  The video is below the break.

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Crash Space Takes on the Machine

It’s that time again, time to take on the machine with the Hackerspace, Crash Space (and part two)! The team of Californians set out and successfully turned the front of their building into a musical instrument, similar to [David Byrne’s] Playing the Building. When a pedestrian walks by they set off distance sensors, which in turn actuate mallets that strike particular objects to produce a tone. We were pleasantly surprised at how interactive the installation was, even if it didn’t sound that great. But will it be enough to beat out the previous two teams? And how will it do up against Artisans Asylum’s not what you’re thinking Breakfast Machine next time?

[thanks Deven]

Ultrasonically controlled instrument

[Rui] is working on a sequencer to control his robotic gamelan. The software maps out the controllers that operate the musical robot, which play the traditional Indonesian instruments.

The controls use ultrasonic distance sensors that detect the proximity of the musician’s hands. This data is collected by an Arduino and sent to a computer for use with the sequencer. The controller body is an upside down salad bowl from Ikea; cheap, available, and creative!

[via @littlebirdceo]

Distance detecting pc

distance

Reader [Joshua] sent in his latest project. using a sonar rangefinder, an Arduino, and some clever programming, he’s made is computer react to his distance from it. As you can see in the video after the jump, he has programmed it to change text size and background color depending on his distance from the screen. While he admits that his implementation doesn’t seem immediately useful, there’s lots of potential  there. We can actually think of several uses. What would you use it for?