Tables are Turned as Robots Assemble IKEA Furniture

Hackaday pages are rife with examples of robots being built with furniture parts. In this example, the tables are turned and robots are the masters of IKEA pieces. We are not silly enough to assume that these robots unfolded the instructions, looked at one another, scratched their CPUs, and began assembling. Of course, the procedure was preordained by the programmers, but the way they mate the pegs into the ends of the cross-members is a very human thing to do. It reminds us of finding a phone charging socket in the dark. This kind of behavior is due to force feedback which tell the robots when a piece is properly seated which means that they can use vision to fit the components together without sub-millimeter precision.

All the hardware used to make the IKEA assembler is publicly available, and while it may be out of the typical hacker price range, this is a sign of the times as robots become part of the household. Currently, the household robots are washing machines, smart speakers, and 3D printers. Ten years ago those weren’t Internet connected machines so it should be no surprise if robotic arms join the club of household robots soon. Your next robotics project could be the tipping point that brings a new class of robots to the home.

Back to our usual hijinks, here is a robot arm from IKEA parts and a projector built into a similar lamp. or a 3D printer enclosed in an IKEA cabinet for a classy home robot.

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Turning That Old Hoverboard Into A Learning Platform

[Isabelle Simova] is building Hoverbot, a flexible robotics platform using Ikea plastic trays, JavaScript running on a Raspberry Pi and parts scavenged from commonly available hoverboards.

Self-balancing scooters a.k.a. Hoverboards are a great source of parts for such a project. Their high torque, direct drive brushless motors can drive loads of 100 kg or more. In addition, you also get a matching motor controller board, a rechargeable battery and its charging circuit. Most hoverboard controllers use the STM32F103, so flashing them with your own firmware becomes easy using a ST-link V2 programmer.

The next set of parts you need to build your robot is sensors. Some are cheap and easily available, such as microphones, contact switches or LDRs, while others such as ultrasonic distance sensors or LiDAR’s may cost a lot more. One source of cheap sensors are car parking assist transducers. An aftermarket parking sensor kit usually consists of four transducers, a control box, cables and display. Using a logic analyzer, [Isabelle] shows how you can poke around the output port of the control box to reverse engineer the data stream and decipher the sensor data. Once the data structure is decoded, you can then use some SPI bit-banging and voltage translation to interface it with the Raspberry Pi. Using the Pi makes it easy to add a cheap web camera, microphone and speakers to the Hoverbot.

Ikea is a hackers favourite, and offers a wide variety of hacker friendly devices and supplies. Their catalog offers a wide selection of fine, Swedish engineered products which can be used as enclosures for building robots. [Isabelle] zeroed in on a deep, circular plastic tray from a storage table set, stiffened with some plywood reinforcement. The tray offers ample space to mount the two motors, two castor wheels, battery and the rest of the electronics. Most of the original hardware from the hoverboard comes handy while putting it all together.

The software glue that holds all this together is JavaScript. The event-driven architecture of Node.js makes it a very suitable framework to use for Hoverbot. [Isabelle] has built a basic application allowing remote control of the robot. It includes a dashboard which shows live video and audio streams from the robot, buttons for movement control, an input box for converting text to speech, ultrasonic sensor visualization, LED lighting control, message log and status display for the motors. This makes the dashboard a useful debugging tool and a starting point for building more interesting applications. Check the build log for all the juicy details. Which other products from the Ikea catalog can be used to build the Hoverbot? How about a robotic Chair?

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IKEA Lamp with Raspberry Pi as the Smartest Bulb in the House

We love to hack IKEA products, marvel at Raspberry Pi creations, and bask in the glow of video projection. [Nord Projects] combined these favorite things of ours into Lantern, a name as minimalist as the IKEA lamp it uses. But the result is nearly magic.

The key component in this build is a compact laser-illuminated video projector whose image is always in focus. Lantern’s primary user interface is moving the lamp around to switch between different channels of information projected on different surfaces. It would be a hassle if the user had to refocus after every move, but the focus-free laser projector eliminates that friction.

A user physically changing the lamp’s orientation is detected by Lantern’s software via an accelerometer. Certain channels project an information overlay on top of a real world object. Rather than expecting its human user to perform precise alignment, Lantern gets feedback from a Raspberry Pi camera to position the overlay.

Speaking of software, Lantern as presented by [Nord Projects] is a showcase project under Google’s Android Things umbrella that we’ve mentioned before. But there is nothing tying the hardware directly to Google. Since the project is open source with information on Hackster.io and GitHub, the choice is yours. Build one with Google as they did, or write your own software to tie into a different infrastructure (MQTT?), or a standalone unit with no connectivity at all.

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Flite Test Puts a Chair in the Air

The Flite Test crew is well known for putting some crazy flying contraptions together. They’ve outdone themselves this time with a flying IKEA chair. This build began with [Josh] issuing a challenge to [Stefan]. Take a standard IKEA ladderback chair and make it fly– in less than six hours. With such a tight schedule, measuring twice and cutting once was right out the window. This was a hackathon-style “throw it together and hope it works” build.

The chair was plenty sturdy, so it became the core of the fuselage. [Stefan] grabbed the wing from a previous plane and placed it on the seat of the chair. Two carbon fiber rods drilled into the seat frame formed a tail boom. The tailfeathers were built from Flite Test foam – paper coated foam-core board.

With the structure complete, [Stefan] and his team added servos for control, a beefy motor for power, and some big LiPo batteries. The batteries hung from the bottom of the chair to keep the center of gravity reasonable.

When the time came for the maiden flight, everyone was expecting a spectacular failure. The chair defied logic and leaped into the air. It flew stable enough for [Josh] to take his fingers off the sticks. The pure excitement of seeing a crazy build that works is on full display as the entire Flite Test crew literally jumps for joy. [Alex] even throws in a cartwheel. This is the kind of story we love to cover here at Hackaday – watching a completely nutty build come together and perform better than anyone expected.

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Robotic Wood Shop Has Ambitions To Challenge IKEA

Many people got their start with 3D printing by downloading designs from Thingiverse, and some of these designs could be modified in the browser using the Thingiverse Customizer. The mechanism behind this powerful feature is OpenSCAD’s parametric design capability, which offers great flexibility but is still limited by 3D printer size. In the interest of going bigger, a team at MIT built a system to adopt parametric design idea to woodworking.

The “AutoSaw” has software and hardware components. The software side is built on web-based CAD software Onshape. First the expert user builds a flexible design with parameters that could be customized, followed by one or more end users who specify their own custom configuration.

Once the configuration is approved, the robots go to work. AutoSaw has two robotic woodworking systems: The simpler one is a Roomba mounted jigsaw to cut patterns out of flat sheets. The more complex system involves two robot arms on wheels (Kuka youBot) working with a chop saw to cut wood beams to length. These wood pieces are then assembled by the end-user using dowel pegs.

AutoSaw is a fun proof of concept and a glimpse at a potential future: One where a robotic wood shop is part of your local home improvement store’s lumber department. Ready to cut/drill/route pieces for you to take home and assemble.

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Keep Track Of Your Weight While Sleeping

When the average person looks at a bed, they think about sleeping. Because that’s what beds are for. You cover them with soft, warm cloths and fluffy pillows and you sleep on them. [Peter] is not your average person. He’s a maker. And when he looks at a bed, he thinks about giving it the ability to track his weight.

The IKEA bed has four Chinese-made TS-606 load cells under each foot with custom aluminum enclosures. Each one goes to an HX711 analog-to-digital converter, which offers a 24 bit resolution. These feed an Arduino Nano which in turns connects to a Raspberry Pi via USB to UART bridge. Connecting to the Pi allows [Peter] to get the data onto his home network, where he plots the data to gnuplot.

This smart bed doesn’t just track [Peter’s] weight. It can also track the weight of other people in the house, including his pets. Be sure to check his GitHub for full source code.

Hacking the IKEA Trådfri Light Bulb

[BasilFX] wanted to shoehorn custom firmware onto his IKEA Trådfri light bulb. The product consists of a GU10-size light bulb with a LED driver as well as IKEA’s custom ZigBee module controlling it all. A diffuser, enclosure shell, and Edison-screw base give the whole thing the same form factor as a standard A-series bulb. The Trådfri module, which ties together IKEA’s home automation products, consists of an ARM Cortex M4 MCU with integrated 2.4Ghz radio and 256 Kb of flash — not bad for 7 euros!

Coincidentally, [BasilFX] had just contributed EFM32 support to RIOT-OS (“the friendly OS for IoT”) so he was already halfway there. He used a JTAG/SWD-compatible debugger to flash the chip on the light bulb while the chip was still attached.

[BasilFX] admits the whole project is a proof of concept with no real use yet, though he has turned his eye toward getting the radio to work, with a goal of creating a network of light bulbs. You can find more info on his code repository.

We ran a post on Trådfri hacking earlier this year, as well as one on the reverse-engineering process used to suss out the bulb’s secrets.

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