The name Rube Goldberg has long been synonymous with any overly-built contraption played for laughs that solves a simple problem through complicated means. But it might surprise you to learn that the man himself was not an engineer or inventor by trade — at least, not for long. Rube’s father was adamant that he become an engineer and so he got himself an engineering degree and a job with the city. Rube lasted six months engineering San Francisco’s sewer systems before quitting to pursue his true passion: cartooning.
Rube’s most famous cartoons — the contraptions that quickly became his legacy — were a tongue-in-cheek critique meant to satirize the tendency of technology to complicate our lives in its quest to simplify them. Interestingly, a few other countries have their own version of Rube Goldberg. In the UK it’s Heath Robinson, and in Denmark it’s Robert Storm Petersen, aka Storm P.
Rube Goldberg was a living legend who loved to poke fun at everything happening in the world around him. He became a household name early in his cartooning career, and was soon famous enough to endorse everything from cough drops to cigarettes. By 1931, Rube’s name was in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, his legacy forever cemented as the inventor of complicated machinery designed to perform simple tasks. As one historian put it, Rube’s influence on culture is hard to overstate.
Continue reading “Rube Goldberg’s Least Complicated Invention Was His Cartooning Career”
Many Hackaday readers may also be familiar with the Discworld series of fantasy novels from [Terry Pratchett], and thus might recognise a weapon referred to as the Piecemaker. A siege crossbow modified to launch a hail of supersonic arrows, it was the favoured sidearm of a troll police officer, and would frequently appear disintegrating large parts of the miscreants’ Evil Lairs to comedic effect.
Just as a non-police-officer walking the streets of Ank-Morpork with a Piecemaker might find swiftly themselves in the Patrician’s scorpion pit, we’re guessing ownership of such a fearsome weapon might earn you a free ride in a police car here on Roundworld. But those of you wishing for just a taste of the arrow-hail action needn’t give up hope, because [Turnah81] has made something close to it on a smaller scale. His array of twelve mousetrap-triggered catapults fires a volley of darts made from wooden kebab skewers in an entertaining fashion, and has enough force to penetrate a sheet of cardboard.
He refers to a previous project with a single dart, and this one is in many respects twelve of that project in an array. But in building it he solves some surprisingly tricky engineering problems, such as matching the power of multiple rubber bands, or creating a linkage capable of triggering twelve mousetraps (almost) in unison. His solution, a system of bent coat-hanger wires actuated by the falling bar of each trap, triggers each successive trap in a near-simultaneous crescendo of arrow firepower.
On one hand this is a project with more than a touch of frivolity about it. But the seriousness with which he approaches it and sorts out its teething troubles makes it an interesting watch, and his testing it as a labour-saving device for common household tasks made us laugh. Take a look, we’ve put the video below the break.
Continue reading “Rapid-Fire Hail Of Chopstick Arrows Makes Short Work Of Diminutive Foes”
Just when you thought you had explored all the weird stuff on YouTube, along comes [Shawn Woods] with his channel dedicated to testing different types of mouse traps. His weekly videos demonstrate the construction and ultimate effectiveness of everything from primitive traps that can be made in the field from sticks and rocks to 3D printed creations sent in from viewers. But his latest video might just be the weirdest one yet, as he found a way to use the classic “Mousetrap” board game to capture an actual rodent.
Well, sort of. For one, [Shawn] admits the “trap” is completely impractical and is just for fun. Which should be pretty obvious considering the thing is enclosed in a box the size of a small refrigerator. Second, the lucky rodent that gets to test drive this Milton Bradley-powered gadget is actually the family’s pet chinchilla which is obviously rather calm and we dare say accustomed to these sort of shenanigans.
The key to the whole contraption comes via two traditional mousetraps, one on either end of the game’s more fanciful rendition of the same device. The first trap is used to pull the crank which gets the board game going when the mouse steps on the pad (a piece of wood with padding prevents the bar from actually hitting the animal). The game goes through its nostalgic routine featuring metal balls rolling down tracks and figurines on jumping boards, eventually triggering the second real mouse trap. In this case, the trap pulls a rope which closes a door at the opening of the box.
Assuming your target rodent is very patient and not startled by the cacophony of plastic machinery, the whole thing works perfectly. To use the parlance of his channel, this is what’s known as a “Live Catch” trap as it doesn’t hurt the mouse and lets you easily remove them after the fact. Which is the least you could do after humiliating it like this.
While likely the most unique, it surely isn’t the only mouse trap we’ve ever covered here at Hackaday. This clever soda bottle trap can be built cheaply and easily, but if you want something expensive and complex you can always use a Raspberry Pi.
[Thanks to Pete for the tip.]
Continue reading “Mouse Trap Game Used As An Actual Mouse Trap”
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door, but what about a smarter mousetrap? [Alain] decided to find out by making a Raspberry Pi-powered, Internet-connected smart trap. The brains of the operation is a Pi running Arch Linux. Connected to that is a IR trigger, a servo to unlatch the sliding door, and a camera to see your new friend.
The housing of the trap is CNC cut foam PVC board, which is both easy to cut and to clean. Once the IR beam is broken the Pi turns the servo, which pulls a pin on the front door. Once your new friend is settled in a LED light turns on to illuminate the subject, a picture is taken and sent via email.
With automated alerts you don’t have to manually check the trap, and you also don’t have to worry about a trapped animal being inside for too long. Join us after the break for a demonstration video showing off all the features, and a real world example.
Continue reading “Building A Better Mousetrap With The Raspberry Pi”
Who knew you could build your own digital computer out of paperclips? EMSL did a great feature on the guide which was published in 1968.
Trying to keep your Raspberry Pi from overheating? Make it log its core temperature on the web.
[Lennart] must be some kind of Eagle CAD guru. Check out these PCBs that incorporate his logo in a very artsy way.
No need for a tripod when you can just strap the video camera to your safety glasses for some POV project videos.
Turn your Pogoplug E-02 into a Shairport (Airplay clone) music hub. Just follow this guide which installs Arch Linux and all the supporting packages you need.
We don’t have the background to judge the quality of this build. But you have to admit it’s pretty neat to see a radio telescope built using a tin can and an umbrella.
Dead rodent email: get a notification every time your mouse trap springs.
Induction cook top provides power too
We’re familiar with induction cook tops but we never thought to power a microcontroller with one. [Thanks Hadez]
We’ve been big fans of the chain reaction demonstration using ping-pong balls and mouse traps ever since we saw [Mr. Wizard] do it back in the day. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, check out this demonstration that is analogous of a fission reaction. [Thanks nateL]
Phone tripod enclosure
If you’re interested in using your smart phone for some photography, [Mike] has a nice wood and elastic mount for an iPhone which you might try yourself.
Bicycle snow tires
Admittedly we’re a bit late on this one. But keep it in mind for next year: you can use some zip ties for added traction on your bike when it snows. [Thanks Rob]
Now you can BE mario
A little Kinect script lets this gentleman play Super Mario Bros. with his body. Now you can have all the fun that goes along with being a pixellated character stuck in a two-dimensional environment (plus, there are shrooms). [Thanks Das_Coach via Slashdot]
[Ned] had a mouse problem in a very uncomfortable place.
No, not like the back of a Volkswagen, in his ceiling. He wanted to put a mouse trap up there to take care of the critter, but knowing how nasty a tripped trap can be after a few days, he was hesitant. He recalled a project he saw online where a mouse trap was wired like a dead man’s switch and he got to work putting together a trap of his own.
He scavenged some parts from around the house and wired up the mouse trap so that a pair of LEDs were lit so long as the trap had not been sprung on an unsuspecting mouse. Once a mouse is caught in the trap, his circuit is broken, and the LEDs go off, letting [Ned] know it’s time to poke his head back up into the ceiling and clean things up.
While his trap is decidedly low-tech, we always enjoy seeing a cheap and easy solution to annoying, everyday problems.