Afroman Teaches Intro To Servos, Builds Laser Turret

After a longish hiatus, we were pleased to see a new video from [Afroman], one of the most accessible and well-spoken teachers the internet has to offer. If you’re new to electronics, see the previous sentence and resolve to check out his excellent videos. The new one is all about servos, and it culminates in a simple build that provides a foundation for exploring robotics.

[Afroman] leaves no gear unturned in his tour de servo, which is embedded after the break. He explains the differences between open vs. closed loop motor systems, discusses the different sizes and types of servos available, and walks through the horns and pigtails of using them in projects. Finally, he puts this knowledge to use by building a laser turret based on a pan-tilt platform.

The Arduino-driven turret uses two micro servos controlled with pots to move by degrees in X/Y space. Interestingly, [Afroman] doesn’t program the board in the Arduino IDE using wiring. Instead, he uses an open-source microcontroller language/IDE called XOD that lets you code by building a smart sort of schematic from drag-and-drop components and logic nodes. Draw the connections, assign your I/O pin numbers, and XOD will compile the code and upload it directly to the board.

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Building An Automated Laser Turret Targeting System

Last year, [Alvaro] built a laser turret robot for the DEFCONBOTs competition. It worked pretty well, but this year, he decided to step it up a notch. Now instead of moving the entire robot laser array, he’s using galvanometers to moveĀ only the laser — he’s essentially built a mini laser projector.

A galvanometer is basically a very sensitive ammeter that moves — it can also be used as a very precise electro-mechanical actuator, for say, moving a tiny mirror. As you can imagine, you can actually build home-made galvanometers — but it’s really not that easy. Instead, [Alvaro] opted to order a few laser show controllers on eBay, and hack his way to a solution — we approve.

Wiring up the galvanometers and making some circuitry for them was the easy part. The tricky part is automating the system.

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Google Hangout Laser Turret

The guys from the House4Hack hackerspace in Johannesburg won the 2011 Google+ Hackathon with their Friggin’ Laser Turret. The build started off as a remote-controlled webcam that can be controlled by anyone in a Google+ hangout. On a whim, the team decided to add a laser to the build because lasers are awesome.

The inspiration for the build was to have a Google+ hangout available whenever someone is at the hackerspace. If a guest can’t grace the team with their physical presence, at least they can be there virtually. The camera is controlled by an Arduino running a bog-standard servo library implementation. The Arduino is connected to a laptop over a serial connection and is able to move left and right. To spice things up a little, the team added a 25mA laser diode to the build controlled from a digital output on the Arduino.

For winning the Jo’burg Google+ Hackathon, the guys scored themselves a Samsung Galaxy S II phone. Not a bad prize for building something cool. Check out the demo of the friggin’ laser turret after the break.

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