Nothing Comes From Nowhere

How do you come up with new ideas? As much as it sometimes seems like they arrive in a flash out of the blue, they don’t just come out of nowhere. Indeed, we all have well-stocked mental toolboxes that say “this thing can be used to do that” and “if you want to get there, start here”.

One incredibly fertile generator of “new” ideas is simply putting old ideas next to each other and realizing that a chain of two or three can get you to someplace new. It just happened to me while listening to Mike and myself on this week’s Hackaday Podcast.

bikelangelo

Here’s the elevator pitch. You take something like the player-pianoesque MIDI barrel piano that we featured last Thursday, and mix it together with the street-painting bicycle trailer that we featured on Friday. What do you get? A roll of paper that can be drawn on by normal kids, rolled up behind a bicycle, with a tank that they can pressurize with a bike pump, that will spray a pixelated version of their art as they roll down the sidewalk.

Now how can I make this real? One of my neighbors has a scrap bike trailer…

But see what I mean about ideas? I just took two existing ideas and rubbed them together, and in this case, they emitted sparks. And I’ve got a mental catalogue of all of the resources around me, some of which fell right into place. This role as fountain of good proto-ideas is why I started reading Hackaday fifteen years ago, and why it’s still a daily must-read for folks like us everywhere. A huge thank you to everyone who’s sharing! Read more Hackaday!

Message In A Bottle: Bicycle Trailer On A Mission

Graffiti is a controversial subject, and whether you see it as art or vandalism usually depends where and how you come across it. From the scribbled tag on a house wall, to highly sophisticated murals, they tend to have one thing in common though: making a statement — whether that’s political, showing appreciation, or a simple “I was here”. [Sagarrabanana] had his own statement to make, but chose a less permanent way to express himself with his type of graffiti.

Unhappy about the lack of dedicated cycle lanes in his area, he built an automatic, Arduino-controlled water dispensing bicycle trailer, writing his message on every street he rides on. The build is documented in a video, and shown in action in another one — which are both in Spanish (and also embedded after the break), but pictures are worth their thousand words in any language.

Inspired by persistence of vision (POV), where moving LEDs sync up their blinking to give the illusion of a static image, [Sagarrabanana] transformed the concept to water on a road using an array of solenoids attached to a water tank. Each solenoid is controlled by a relay, and a predefined font determines when to switch each relay — the same way pixels on a display would be set on or off, except small amounts of water are squirted out as the bicycle is moving along. The message itself is received via serial Bluetooth module, and can be easily modified for example from a phone. To adjust the water dispensing to the cycling speed, the whole system is synced to a magnetic switch mounted to one of the trailer’s wheels, so you could theoretically take it also with you on a run.

Time will tell if [Sagarrabanana]’s mission has the success he hopes for, but there’s no doubt the trailer will attract attention anywhere he goes. Well, we wish him all the best to get the message through without requiring a too drastic alternative as writing medium. Although, we’ve seen a graffiti robot that uses chalk spray in the past, so there’s certainly room for a not-too-permanent upgrade if needed.

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Robot Graffiti

There’s talk of robots and AIs taking on jobs in many different industries. Depending on how much stock you place in that, it might still be fair to say the more creative fields will remain firmly in the hands of humans, right?

Well, we may have some bad news for you. Robots are now painting our murals.

Estonian inventor [Mihkel Joala] — also working at SprayPainter — successfully tested his prototype by painting a 30m tall mural on a smokestack in Tartu, Estonia. The creative procedure for this mural is a little odd if you are used to the ordinary painting process: [Joala] first takes an image from his computer, and converts it into a coordinate grid — in this case, about 1.5 million ‘pixels’. These pixels are painted on by a little cart loaded with five colours of spray paint that are able to portray the mural’s full palette once combined and viewed at a distance. Positioning is handled by a motor at the base of the mural controlling the vertical motion in conjunction with tracks at the top and bottom which handle the horizontal motion.

For this mural, the robot spent the fourteen hours trundling up and down a set of cables, dutifully spraying the appropriate colour at such-and-such a point resulting in the image of a maiden cradling a tree and using thirty cans of spray paint in the process.

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Looptaggr: Endless Graffiti

If your problem is how to put out a maximum amount of repetitive graffiti with a minimum amount of effort, we’ve got your solution. Or rather, [Ariel Schlesinger] and [Aram Bartholl] had your solution way back in 2010. The banner image says it all.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be graffiti that you’re spraying. This idea could be easily adapted to stencil that repeating floral pattern that my grandmother had on her walls too. It’s like a patterned paint roller, but for a spray can.

There’s room for improvements here. For instance, we can’t cut out stencils to save our life but we know where to find a laser cutter. From the look of things, they could use a slightly bigger stencil and something to catch the drips. There’s probably an optimal size for this gizmo, which calls for experimentation.

We’re somewhat obsessed with graffiti machines. Whether it’s a graffiti quadcopter or the elegant and non-permanent sidewalk-chalker style bots, we like machines that make “art”. What’s your favorite graffiti hack?

Thanks [n0p;n0p;n0p;] for the (archival) tip!

Beautiful Sidewalk Graffiti Machine

Our hero [Alex] just built a sidewalk graffiti machine, and it’s a beauty to behold, so make sure you check out the video below the break. But don’t neglect [Alex]’s blog, and the build videos throughout. (Nice t-shirt in the wheel-making video, BTW.)

The machine itself is basically a two-meter wide printer where the roller is replaced with drive wheels. The frame, made of plywood, looks great and helps keep the machine light weight. Everything is done with DC motors and timing belts, which means motor encoders and closed-loop control in the firmware. It connects via a WiFi serial bridge, made with an ESP8266, to [Alex]’s cell phone.

Everything, from plans to software, is available on [Alex]’s GitHub for the project.

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The Trials Of Quadcopter Graffiti

Last April, graffiti artist [KATSU] strapped a can of red spray paint to a Phantom quadcopter, flew it up against one of the largest billboards in New York City, and pressed a button. Now, [KATSU], [Dan Moore], and Adafruit’s [Becky Stern] are trying to perfect a flying can of spraypaint, and they’ve met with some success and surely many broken props.

The team used an Iris+ for this project instead of the Phantom used by [KATSU] earlier this year, but the principle of the entire endeavor remains the same: fly up against a wall, flick a switch, and watch paint come out of a spray gun. To get the can spraying paint, they modified a can gun to accept a micro servo. This servo is connected to the trigger mechanism of the can gun, and the entire unit is slung under the quad.

Getting a quadcopter to put paint exactly where you want it is hard, even indoors. Luckily, the Pixhawk inside the Iris has sensor inputs and an ‘altitude hold’ mode that can accept a sonar sensor and can be programmed to stay a set distance away from a wall. These sensors are susceptible to interference, and a proper, shielded cable had to be made, but the sensor did work.

Flying the quad did not go as smoothly. The swinging can of paint changes the center of gravity of the quad, and even flying indoors proved difficult. Still, if you’d like to give it a go, [Becky] put up the instructions for their build. You can see the hover attempts in the video below.

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Graffiti Briefcase For Stealth Tagging

We’re floored by painter and engineer [Bob Partington’s] graffiti briefcase, which proves how well art and tech can complement one another. Fear not, Arduino haters, [Bob]’s case is an analog dream: no microcontrollers here.

The guts consist of 2 components: a linear drive system and a trigger assembly. The former takes advantage of a small RC motor with a chain drive which slides the can’s mounting unit along two stainless steel rods. The latter includes a custom wound solenoid plugged into a 24V cordless drill battery, which slams down 5 pounds of force onto the can’s nozzle to fire the paint.

This all fits into an otherwise inconspicuous looking briefcase to provide some urban camouflage. The final component is a stencil, which slides into a rectangular hole on the bottom of the case. The paint can sprays downward through the stencil and tags the ground at the touch of a brass button located near the handle.  [Bob] has plenty of other cool inventions you should check out that are less illegal. Or, stick it to the man by automating your tagging with Time Writer.

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