Developing An App For Reduced-Gravity Flying

You’ve likely heard of the “vomit comet” — an rather graphic nickname for the aircraft used to provide short bursts of near-weightlessness by flying along a parabolic trajectory. They’re used to train astronauts, perform zero-g experiments, and famously let director Ron Howard create the realistic spaceflight scenes for Apollo 13. But you might be surprised to find that, outside of the padding that lines their interior for when the occupants inevitably bump into the walls or ceiling, they aren’t quite as specialized as you might think.

In fact, you can achieve a similar result in a small private aircraft — assuming you’ve got the proper touch on the controls. Which is why [Chaz] has been working on an Android app that assists pilots in finding that sweet spot.

Target trajectory, credit: MikeRun

With his software running, the pilot first puts the plane into a climb, and then noses over and attempts to keep the indicator on the phone’s display green for as long as possible. It’s not easy, but in the video after the break you can see they’re able to pull it off for long enough to get things floating around the cockpit.

Continue reading “Developing An App For Reduced-Gravity Flying”

Robot Arm Has The Touch

[Maurizio] built a robot arm, which is always a great accomplishment. But his project includes a very cool touch interface for an Android device that sets it apart from many other similar projects.You can see a very fast summary of the construction in the video below.

The design uses Fusion 360 and there are good explanations of each step in the process. The gripper is adapted from an existing design. Various 3D printed parts make up the wrist, shoulder, elbow, and rotating base.

Continue reading “Robot Arm Has The Touch”

DIY Baby MIT Cheetah Robot

3D printers have become a staple in most makerspaces these days, enabling hackers to rapidly produce simple mechanical prototypes without the need for a dedicated machine shop. We’ve seen many creative 3D designs here on Hackaday and [jegatheesan.soundarapandian’s] Baby MIT Cheetah Robot┬áis no exception. You’ve undoubtedly seen MIT’s cheetah robot. Well, [jegatheesan’s] hack takes a personal spin on the cheetah robot and his results are pretty cool.

The body of the robot is 3D printed making it easy to customize the design and replace broken parts as you go. The legs are designed in a five-bar linkage with two servo motors controlling each of the four legs. An additional servo motor is used to rotate an HC-SR04, a popular ultrasonic distance sensor, used in the autonomous mode’s obstacle avoidance mechanism. The robot can also be controlled over Bluetooth using an app [jegatheesan] developed in MIT App Inventor.

Overall, the mechanics could use a bit of work — [jegatheesan’s] baby cheetah probably won’t outpace MIT’s robot any time soon — but it’s a cool hack and we’re looking forward to a version 3. Maybe the cheetah would make a cool companion bot?

Continue reading “DIY Baby MIT Cheetah Robot”

Snowboard And Skateboard So Lit You Can Wipe Out And Still Look Good

[Nate] has made snowboarding cool with his Bluetooth connected board. Using 202 WS2812 LEDs carefully wrapped around the edge of the board and sealed with a conformal coating, it’s bright and waterproof. It’s controlled with an Arduino Nano and a Bluetooth classic board, as well as a large swappable USB battery bank; he can get roughly four hours of life at full brightness on his toy.

Where it gets even cooler is with a six-axis gyro connected to the Nano, which tracks the board movement, and the lights respond accordingly, creating cool patterns based on his speed, angles, and other factors. The app used to control this intense ice-rider is a custom app written using MIT App Inventor, which has the ability to work with Bluetooth classic as well as BLE. This came in handy when he made the 100-LED skateboard, which is based on a Feather with BLE and a large LiPo battery. The challenging part with the skateboard was making the enclosure rugged enough (yet 3D printed) to withstand terrain that is a lot less fluffy than snow.

The connected skateboard is controlled by his phone and a Feather.

We’ve seen others use flashlights and a professional connected board, but it’s been a few years and we’re due for a refreshing (and nostalgic) look back on the winter.