It seems there will never be an end to the number of ways to show the time. The latest is the LumiClock from [UK4dshouse], and it uses the seldom-seen approach of a sheet of luminous paper excited by a strip of UV LEDs that pass over it guided by a lead screw.
At its heart is a micro:bit, which generates the time in dot-matrix digital form as the LEDs are moved across the sheet. It in turn has a real-time-clock module to keep it on time, and it drives a little DC motor via a robotics driver board. The appearance of the whole devices is similar to an X-Y plotter without the Y axis, as a 3D-printed carrier is moved by the lead screw and slides along a pair of stainless steel tubes. The result is an unusual and eye-catching timepiece, whose retro dot-matrix numerals fade away and are refreshed with the new time.
We’ve had a bit of a play ourselves with UV luminous materials, and we can confirm they make an interesting alternative to some other display ideas in dimmer environments. This isn’t the first such clock we’ve shown you.
Still don’t have anything to wear to that Halloween party this weekend? Or worse, your kid hasn’t decided on a costume that you both can agree on? Well, look no further than [Natasha Dzurny]’s Sally Servo the Really Robotic Robot Costume and accompanying multi-part build guide. You might want to start by raiding that recycle bin for cardboard, because you’re going to need a lot of it.
What you won’t need a lot of is hard-to-source parts, at least if you build it the [Natasha] and Brown Dog Gadgets way. Even so, there are a ton of cool moving and blinking bits and bobs to be made with servos, LEDs, and RGB LEDs connected up to something kid-friendly like the Micro:bit and the Brown Dog Gadgets Bit Board — that’s a base for the :bit that lets users connect components via LEGO and conductive tape.
Between Sally’s robotic googly eyes and her light-up belt, there are plenty of ideas here to steal and make your own, and each one is packaged in a great-looking guide complete with paper printing templates.
Our favorite part has to be the infinity mirror heart, which appears to be beating thanks to clever programming. That, and the costume details, like the waist-area wires running between the upper and lower pieces.
Is the party at your house? There’s probably still enough time to put together a projector-based stomping game for the driveway.
We’ve seen plenty of impressive robots of all sizes here at Hackaday, but recently we were particularly inspired by [Hans Jørgen Grimstad] and his thrifty mini sumo build.
Using the BBC micro:bit platform as a starting point, Hans seized the opportunity to build a competitive mini sumo bot without breaking the bank. According to his blog, the enchanting little machine uses commonly available parts and cost around $30 when built in 2020 (or $50 according to the more recent video, perhaps taking into account the cost of hardware in these trying times).
The results can be seen in the video below. Some sacrifices were made – Hans admits that the 3.3 V linear regulator gets a little toasty, but the design is kept much simpler by doing away with a switching regulator. The 700 RPM N20 motors are wired directly up to the 6 V battery pack, giving this plucky wrestler plenty of sumo-smashing power.
Hans hopes that the build can lower barriers to entry for new builders in robot tournaments, being something that can easily be put together in a garage or local makerspace for a low, low price. The mini sumo form factor is a great beginner or amateur project, made even easier when makers like Hans put all the nitty-gritty details up on GitHub. This is certainly not the first accessible sumo robotics project that we have covered, and it won’t be the last. We hope we see loads more of these endearing robotic gladiators at future events.
Continue reading “Pint-sized Sumo Robot Is Adorable, Accessible And Totally Awesome”
Good coffee is nice to have, sure, but frankly, caffeine is caffeine and we’ll take it any way we can get it. That includes freeze-dried, if that’s all you’ve got. We won’t judge anyone for their taste in caffeinated beverages, and to call this coffee dispenser ‘totally useless’ is just patently untrue. It clearly has a use, and even if you don’t like freeze-dried coffee, you could sacrifice one jar worth of Nescafe and fill it with Skittles or anything else that will fit in the little collector basket.
In this machine, the cup is the trigger — the 3D-printed plate underneath activates a micro switch embedded in the scrap wood base, and this triggers a micro:bit around back to actuate the stepper motor that twirls the collector basket around. Although [smogdog] has provided all the files, you’d have to come up with your own connector to suspend the thing over the cup and carve your own base.
We love it when we can see what a machine is doing, so not only is it useful, it’s beautiful. And it worked, at least for a little while. For some reason, it keeps burning out stepper motors. Check it out in proof-of-concept action after the break.
We’ve seen the Micro:bit do a lot, and this pinball machine is among the most fun.
Continue reading “Totally Useless Coffee Dispenser Is Anything But”
What have you been doing to ward off the winter blues? [TechnoChic] decided to lean in to winter and make a really fun-looking game out of it by combining the awesome PinBox 3000 cardboard pinball sandbox with a couple of Micro:bits to handle and display the player’s score. Check it out the build and gameplay in the video after the break.
The story of Planet Winter is a bittersweet tale: basically, a bunch of penguins got tired of climate change and left Earth en masse for a penguin paradise where it’s a winter wonderland all year round. There’s a party igloo with disco lights and everything.
[TechnoChic] used a Micro:bit plugged into a Brown Dog Gadgets board to keep track of scoring, control the servo that kicks the ball back out of the igloo, and run the blinkenlights. It sends score updates over Bluetooth to a second Micro:bit and a Pimoroni Scrollbit display that sit opposite the pinball launcher. She went through a few switch iterations before settling on conductive maker tape and isolating the ball so it only contacts the tape tracks.
There are two ways to score on Planet Winter — the blizzard at the end of the ball launcher path nets you ten points, and getting the ball in the party igloo is good for thirty. Be careful on the icy lake in the middle of the playfield, because if the ball falls through the ice, it’s gone for good, along with your points. It’s okay, though, because both the party igloo and the ice hole trigger an avalanche which releases another ball.
Seriously, these PinBox 3000 kits are probably the most fun you can have with cardboard, even fresh out of the box. They are super fun even if you only build the kit and make a bunch of temporary targets to test gameplay, but never settle on a theme (ask us how we know). Not convinced? Hackaday Editor-in-Chief [Mike Szczys] explored them in depth at Maker Faire in 2018.
Continue reading “Micro:bit Makes Cardboard Pinball More Legit”
The BBC has a long history of supporting technology education in schools. The BBC Micro introduced a whole generation of students to computers, and more recently the Micro:bit is teaching today’s children about embedded systems. [Michael Klements] happens to be a grown adult, but has whipped up a project using the little board to build an automatic plant watering system.
Rather than a simple timer-based system, [Michael’s] build measures soil moisture using a capacitive sensor. This has the benefit of not needing to be in direct contact with the soil as resistive sensors do, and thus the sensor can be built in a fashion that minimises corrosion. The Micro:bit reads this sensor using an analog input, and displays the moisture level using its inbuilt LED matrix as a graph. Once levels dip below a set threshold, a pump is activated to deliver water to the plant until the soil is suitably moist again.
It’s a simple project, but one that would be a great way to teach students about interfacing with pumps and sensors, as well as the basics of control systems. [Michael] also notes that further work could involve interfacing multiple Micro:bits using their onboard wireless hardware. We’ve thus far seen the Micro:bit used for everything from handheld gaming to gumball delivery. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Micro:bit Put On Plant Minding Duty”
It sucks that certain stuff in public is off-limits right now, like drinking fountains and coin-operated candy and gum machines — especially the fun kind where you get to watch your gumball take a twisting trip down the tower and into the collection bin. Hopefully there will be commercial contact-free machines one of these days that take NFC payments. Until then, we’ll have to make them ourselves out of cardboard and whimsy and Micro:bits.
[Brown Dog Gadgets] also used one of their Crazy Circuits Bit Boards, which is a Micro:bit-to-LEGO interface module for building circuits with conductive tape. There’s a distance sensor in the rocket’s base, and a servo to dispense the gumballs. This entire build is fantastic, but we particularly like the clever use of a LEGO Technic beam to both catch the gumball and prevent the next one from going anywhere. You can see it in action after the break.
Wave hand, receive gumball is about as simple as it gets for the end user. The three robots approach takes much more work.
Continue reading “A Whimsical Touch-Free Gumball Machine For These Trying Times”