A robotic turret shooting plastic balls at a man

Automated Turret Keeps Dorm Clean, RoboCop Style

Students’ dorm rooms are not generally known to be the most orderly of places. Whether it’s mountains of dishes in the sink, piles of clothes waiting to be washed, or random bits and bobs strewn across the hallway, cleaning up is pretty low on the agenda for many dorm dwellers.

[Luis Marx] seems to have invented a useful solution to his (or his roommates’) sloppiness: a robotic turret that opens fire on anyone who leaves items unattended (video, in German, embedded below). This system uses a set of “clutter sensors” that can be placed in strategic locations around the house and will detect stray objects using ultrasonic sensors. If any are found, the main system is alerted through WiFi. The turret will then search for any persons in its vicinity and start shooting them with little plastic balls.

The turret in question is a beautifully-designed piece of kit made from 3D printed parts and controlled by an ESP32. It can swivel around its axis and tilt up and down using two servos, while its firing mechanism is driven by a DC motor. It tracks its target thanks to a camera-based object sensor that can recognize humans. The whole thing gives us a bit of a RoboCop vibe; we’d half expect it to shout Pick up those clothes. You have twenty seconds to comply.

While this might not be the definitive solution to messy dorm rooms, we like the creative thinking behind it. We’ve seen auto-targeting turrets before, but not in household applications like this. Of course there are plenty of other robots that can help you with domestic tasks.

Continue reading “Automated Turret Keeps Dorm Clean, RoboCop Style”

A Professional-Level Desk In A Dorm

Heading off to college comes with its own set of challenges. Harder course material, living away from home for the first time, and dealing with roommates are common hurdles to overcome, but an oft-overlooked issue is the poor quality dorm room desks. For a place that a student is expected to spend a majority of their study time, colleges and universities don’t often provide inspiring areas in the dorm rooms for this task. With a few tools and some time, though, anyone suffering in a dorm can have a much better place to work.

This desk build comes to us from reddit user [lucas_talbert] and is noteworthy for using simple tools and materials to transform the standard, boring desk in a way which won’t upset the facilities manager in charge of the dorm furniture. The backer is a piece of plywood which was covered in bamboo flooring. It was screwed into the back of the desk and secured with L-brackets. A piece of 1×4 was attached around the edges to help hide the LED lights and cables as well.

We like this build for its impressive transformation of an otherwise drab dorm room into a place that most of us wouldn’t mind having as our main workstation, even beyond college. It also uses common materials and is easily removable, both of which are perks when living as a student. The one thing it doesn’t have, though, is the ability to exercise when using it.

Ridiculously Automated Dorm Room

Take three NRF24L0+ radios, two Arduino Nanos, and a Raspberry Pi. Add a bored student and a dorm room at Rice University. What you get is the RRAD: Rice Ridiculously Automated Dorm. [Jordan Poles] built a modular system inspired by BRAD (the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm).

RRAD has three types of nodes:

  • Actuation nodes – Allows external actuators like relays or solenoids
  • Sensory nodes – Reports data from sensors (light, temperature, motion)
  • Hub nodes – Hosts control panel, records data, provides external data interfaces

Continue reading “Ridiculously Automated Dorm Room”

IOU Management For Roommate Chores

[Chris] shares a dorm room with five other people. When living with others its important to stay on top of cleaning and to do so equitably the sextuplet came up with a well-planned whiteboard of chores. The problem lies in getting everyone to do theirs in a timely manner. To help facilitate this, [Chris] came up with a system that lets roommates swap chores, giving each other IOU’s for future duties.

The system uses an Arduino board along with an RTC chip for precise timekeeping. The user interface is made up of a graphic LCD and a keypad with everything mounted inside of a cardboard box. [Chris] shows off his system in the video after the break, spending the majority of time on the debt system. The roommates have a pot of money for group groceries and this system will let you know where everyone stands. But according to his written description this also stores the calendar of chores that need to get done, and will let you trade with one another to fit your personal schedule.

So now the issue is getting everyone to use the system. But we don’t think that’s going to be too tough since all six of them are computer scientists.

Continue reading “IOU Management For Roommate Chores”

Keypad Door Lock, Better Than Last Years Keyfob?

It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing colors, it’s getting colder outside, and all the littler hackers are off to college. Which means we get to see an influx of dorm room locks and openers.

[Adam] is back at it again with a new keypad dorm room lock. Last year he had an exceptional setup using a car keyfob, so we’re a little curious as to why he would revert to such a low level system as a keypad that isn’t even color coded.

Perhaps its in his “new” way of presenting the hack. Rather than a blog or write up, he documents the entire most of the process in a little less than 20 YouTube videos. Watch him testing out the system after the jump.

Continue reading “Keypad Door Lock, Better Than Last Years Keyfob?”

Rhythmic Combo-lock

[MusashiAharon’s] dorm room door was practically begging to be hacked. There was already an electronic strike plate in place as well as junction boxes on the inside and out that were connected by conduit. Jumping on the bandwagon after seeing some other door lock hacks here, he built one that uses a rhythmic combination.

The control panel on the outside is a blank faceplate with two buttons and a status LED. Theses are wired to a jack and connected with a cable traveling through the conduit to a breadboard on the inside of the door. Seeing a large breadboard hanging on an outlet cover is a bit comical but it does the job. From there, a Teensy microcontroller waits for the code and if correct, actuates the strike plate via a relay.

The rhythmic nature of this lock reminds us of the knock-based system. One button signals the start and end of the code, the other is used to input the rhythmic sequence. This does seem a little more discreet and we’d imagine it’s quite hard to eavesdrop on the correct combination.