Larger-Than-Life Game Of Operation Is The Future Of Healthcare

It’s hard to beat the warm memories of Hasbro’s Operation, a game that boils down the fine art of surgery to removing farcically named plastic bones and organs. Just in case you can’t conjure up the memory, the game board looks just like this huge version of it, but normally  sits flat on the table and is no larger than… well, a board game. Players take turns using a tethered tweezer to remove butterflies from your stomach without touching the metal sides of the incision area. If the tweezers touch the metal, a buzzer goes off and the player loses a turn.

Of course, we now live in the future and robots do our difficult surgeries while the talented doctor looks on from a video console. So, [Ben] and [Jonathan] built themselves an oversized upright version of the game that includes a CNC-wielding surgery robot.

Delightfully, the controls are designed like a coin-op arcade machine and the three-axis CNC machine they’ve built is a new take on the claw machine. It has a gantry that moves left and right, a head that moves up and down along that gantry rail, and an actuator that moves in to snatch those pesky organs. Limit switches cut the power to the motors if the axis moves too far.

In true robosurgery fashion, there’s a webcam that goes along for the ride to give the surgeon a close-up look. Just stay away from those edges! There’s a button on the tip of the actuator that sets off the alarm if you miss the hole and hit the surface of the board, thereby ending your turn. Each organ is made of foam, faced with a piece of sheet metal, and hung from a hook made of coat hanger wire. That sheet metal allows the gripper to use an electromagnet to pick each piece up.

The project is called Sergio and you can see it demonstrated in the video below. We first met these hackers last fall at Maker Faire New York when they were showing off a giant Connect Four game where you play against the computer. It’s nice to hear they’ll be exhibiting Sergio at Philadelphia Maker Faire two weeks from now.

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Nerf Mods Via 3D Printing

Nerf guns are a great way to annoy parents. Simply give them as a gift to any child, and watch precious family heirlooms tumble to the ground as little Holly commando rolls behind the couch to avoid enemy combatants invading the loungeroom. Adults may find them lacking in stopping power and firing rate, but not to worry – there’s plenty to be done about that. [3D Printing Nerd] took a trip to visit the [Out of Darts] workshop, to check out some seriously hardcore blasters.

[Out of Darts] runs as a store that sells all manner of tools and components for hopping up Nerf blasters, but they also sell complete original builds as well. The video showcases all manner of hardware, from powered backpack ammunition hoppers, to drain blaster shotguns and multirocket launchers. The workshop also contains 22 Prusa i3 printers that run 24/7 producing parts, barring breakdowns. Injection moulding, eat your heart out.

Things have come a long way since the old days of swapping in big springs to Hasbro blasters and crossing fingers that nothing breaks. 3D printing allows the home maker to produce just about any part imaginable without requiring advanced machine tools or special skills beyond the use of garden variety CAD software. It’s not the first time we’ve seen 3D printed Nerf blasters, and we’re sure it won’t be the last either. As always, tip ’em if you got ’em. Video after the break.

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Mission Impossible: Infiltrating Furby

Long before things “went viral” there was always a few “must have” toys each year that were in high demand. Cabbage Patch Kids, Transformers, or Teddy Ruxpin would cause virtual hysteria in parents trying to score a toy for a holiday gift. In 1998, that toy was a Furby — a sort of talking robot pet. You can still buy Furby, and as you might expect a modern one — a Furby Connect — is Internet-enabled and much smarter than previous versions. While the Furby has always been a target for good hacking, anything Internet-enabled can be a target for malicious hacking, as well. [Context Information Security] decided to see if they could take control of your kid’s robotic pet.

Thet Furby Connect’s path to the Internet is via BLE to a companion phone device. The phone, in turn, talks back to Hasbro’s (the toy’s maker) Amazon Web Service servers. The company sends out new songs, games, and dances. Because BLE is slow, the transfers occur in the background during normal toy operation.

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Furbies Sing Queen At Fresher’s Faire

kent-furby

The University of Kent has their own hacker space, called  [Maker Society]. Every year the school holds an orientation for new students called the Fresher’s Faire. The [Maker Society] display at this year’s Fresher’s Faire included a group of partially clothed Furbies singing the classic Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. This isn’t our first run in with Bohemian Rhapsody and hacked hardware.

The [Maker Society] started by doing some internet research and reverse engineering a first generation Furby.  The Furby itself is a marvel of cost reduction. All the doll’s functions run from a single motor and a cam system. A limit switch tells the on-board microcontroller when the cam is at the zero position. An optical encoder keeps track of the cam as it moves. The [Society] replaced Furby’s internal microcontroller with an Atmel ATMega328. This allowed them to use the Arduino programming environment.

Many classic Animatronic systems use an audio recording for motion. Typically a stereo recorder would perform double duty. The first track would contain the audio for the animation. A second track would contain audio tones corresponding to movement of each of the degrees of freedom of the doll being animated. Because the two tracks were on the same strip of magnetic tape, the audio and movement would always be in sync. Multitrack tape record and playback systems added even more flexibility to this type of system.

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Building A Giant Game Of Life Spinner

We see a lot of projects related to Conway’s Game of Life, but this one is Hasbro’s Game of Life. The board game company recently commissioned a giant game spinner as part of a museum exhibit. Here’s the build log that shows how it was pulled off.

The first thing to note is that [Jzzsxm] does this for a living. His company was hired to build several exhibits related to board games for a children’s museum in Springfield, MA. But don’t let that stop you from offering to help at your own local museum. We know some hackers love doing that kind of work.

The scale of the project is what makes the build really interesting. It starts with a design which can be cut out with a CNC router. First the spinner frame and numbers are cut out of MDF to verify the code. From there the design is cut in two pieces out of HI-MACS, a durable solid-surface material. Pegs for spinning the dial are milled from more HI-MACS stock. The clicker mechanism uses a steel rod as a pivot point. On the underside of the table it has opposing springs to hold it in place no matter which way the thing is spun. [Jzzsxm] mentions that it sees a lot of abuse from the young patrons, but seems to be holding up just great!

[via Reddit]

Devote Your Life To Replicating A Lightsaber

Life-sized Star Wars replica props, it’s one way to keep the ladies away. But if you’re going to make them, you should do it right. [Bradley W. Lewis] spent some serious time getting this [Obi-Wan Kenobi] lightsaber right. The seven-page build log provides plenty of eye-candy. We especially enjoyed the machine and coloring of he grenade-fin portion. The LED ladder that lights the blade is also quite interesting. For the icing on the cake he incorporated a high-performance speaker connected to the sound board from a Hasbro Force FX which provides that classic swashbuckling sound from a galaxy far, far away.