Fireball-Flinging Figurine Feeds Fiction

If you’re writing a screenplay or novel, there will likely be points along the way at which you can’t get enough encouragement from friends and family. While kind words are kind, acts such as [scubabear]’s can provide a push like no other. By commissioning another 3D designer friend to model a character from the first friend’s screenplay so he could print and animate it, [scubabear] fed two birds with one scone, you might say.

Designer friend [Sean] modeled the mighty Braomar in Maya and Z-brush, and [scubabear] did test prints on a Formlabs Form2 as they went along to keep an eye on things. Eventually, they had a discussion about making space for wires and such, so [Sean] took to Blender to make Braomar hollow enough for wires, but not so empty that he would collapse under the stress of being (we presume) the main character.

Braomar stands upon a sigil that changes color thanks to an RGB LED ring in the base that’s driven by an Arduino Nano. A single pixel in the fireball is wired through Braomar’s body and flickers with the help of an addressable LED sequencer board.

Our favorite part of this build has to be the power scheme. Not content to have a wire running out from the base or even a remote control for power-draining concerns, [scubabear] used disc magnets in the base to switch on the 9 V battery when Screenplay Friend rotates it.

Of course, if you need inspiration to even thing about beginning to write a screenplay or novel, maybe you should lead with the maquette-building and then construct a story around your creation.


This project was an entry into the 2022 Sci-Fi Contest. Check out all of the winning entries here.

Camera Zero Looks Cool, Runs Cool

Security cameras are a commodity item these days, but that doesn’t mean [edgett’s] design using a Pi Zero, an Arducam, an LED ring, and active cooling isn’t worth a look. This is a great example of how integrating some off-the-shelf modules and 3D printing can create very professional-looking results. There’s also a trackball interface so you can control the camera. The software, written in Python, is available on GitHub.

The trackball doesn’t move the camera, but it does manage a menu system that lets you capture a photo or video, set the optical parameters like exposure, shutter, and ISO, and launch Camera Remote to offer a Web-based interface instead of the trackball.

If you add infrared illumination, you can swap out the camera for an IR version and have a nice-looking night vision camera, too. The camera is reasonably compact. Not including the lens and the tripod, the camera measures 100 by 44 by 44 mm. So under two inches square and about 4 inches long.

We worried a little about gluing the LED ring down, but then again our phones are all glued together these days, so maybe we should stop fretting. One thing we didn’t see on either site, though, was a picture taken with the camera itself. However, the 12-megapixel camera and quality lens should do a great job. We’ve even seen that particular camera module work with a much smaller computer recently.

Ambience Lamp Ripples Like Water

After the year humanity has endured, we could all use a little more relaxation in our lives. This atmosphere lamp is just the thing to set a relaxing ambience for work, studying, or hanging out. Just touch the surface and the light ripples to life, resembling the concentric circles that form on the surface of still water when it is touched. When the light settles, it looks like an inviting pool that’s ready for a nighttime swim.

There aren’t really any surprises inside — the lamp is operated via capsense by touching the center of the top. Three NeoPixel rings and an RGB LED strip provide the lighting, and an Arduino UNO runs the show. [Qttting_F] used an inexpensive ceramic bowl with a piece of acrylic for a lid, but this could just as easily be printed in white PLA or something. Check it out in action after the break.

Ambience is nice, but sometimes you need something more functional. Those types of lamps can be printed, too.

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Sims-Style Plumb Bob Broadcasts Your Mood

While there are a lot of objects from the Sims that we wish were real, we probably wish more than anything that everyone had a mood indicator hovering above their heads at all times. It would make working from home go a lot more smoothly, for instance. [8BitsAndAByte] made this Bluetooth-controlled plumb bob as part of their Sims Halloween costume, but we think it has real day-to-day value as this pandemic wears on, either as a mood ring or a portable free/busy indicator.

The hardware is about as simple as it gets — an Adafruit Feather nRF52 Bluefruit controls a pair of NeoPixel rings, one for each half of the translucent 3D-printed plumb bob. Power comes from a 500mAh battery, and all the electronics are situated inside of an attractive hat. Check out the build video after the break.

There’s more than one way to use color to convey information. This seven-segment temperature display does it with thermochromic film.

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Dad Scores Big With DIY Indoor Hockey Game

We suppose it’s a bit early to call it just yet, but we definitely have a solid contender for Father of the Year. [DIY_Maxwell] made a light-up hockey game for his young son that looks like fun for all ages. Whenever the puck is hit with the accompanying DIY hockey stick (or anything else), it lights up and produces different sounds based on its acceleration.

Inside the printed puck is an Arduino Nano running an MPU6050 accelerometer, a 12-NeoPixel ring, and a piezo buzzer. [DIY_Maxell] reused a power bank charging circuit to charge up the small LiPo battery.

The original circuit used a pair of coin cells, but the Arduino was randomly freezing up, probably because of the LEDs’ current draw. Be sure to check out the video after the break, which begins with a little stop motion and features a solder stand in the shape of a 3D printer.

Got a house full of carpet or breakables? You could always build an air hockey table instead.

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A Levitating Lamp Without Magnets

If you think of levitating objects you probably think about magnets but this is not what [Aaron Hung] used to build his levitating LED lamp. To be fair, his lamp is not really levitating but merely generates the illusion through the principles of tensegrity. We have featured a number of tensegrity structures over the last months but this is maybe the first time somebody has used it to build a daily-use item.

In his instructable [Aaron Hung] points out that according to Earnshaw’s theorem magnetic levitation using static magnetic fields like those of permanent magnets is actually impossible. If you are interested, the Wikipedia article also explains why floating superconductors and the Levitron toy do not contradict this theorem. (TL;DR: they’re dynamic.)

Coming back to [Aaron Hung]’s tensegrity lamp, the construction is rather simple and only requires an Arduino Nano, a Neopixel ring, a 9 V battery some wood or cardboard, and fishing line. The tensegrity part of the lamp consists of two similar pieces of laser-cut wood which are held together by fishing line so that the top part seems to float in mid-air. Normally, tensegrity structures are very fragile so [Aaron Hung] added some extra lines for stability which allowed him to hang the lamp from the top section without collapsing the whole structure. After coding some animations for the Neopixel ring and adding a paper lampshade the project was finished.

We would like to see more tensegrity versions of classic DIY projects and it was fun to see that similar objects were already built from Lego.

[Video after the break].

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Open Laser Blaster Shells Out More Bang For The Buck

[a-RN-au-D] was looking for something fun to do with his son and dreamed up a laser blaster game that ought to put him in the running for father of the year. It was originally just going to be made of cardboard, but you know how these things go. We’re happy the design went this far, because that blaster looks fantastic.

Both the blaster and the target run on Arduino Nanos. There’s a 5mW laser module in the blaster, and a speaker for playing the pew pew-related sounds of your choice. Fire away on the blaster button, and the laser hits a light-dependent resistor mounted in the middle of the target. When the target registers a hit, it swings backward on a 9g servo and then returns quickly to vertical for the next shot.

There are some less obvious features that really make this game a hit. The blaster can run in 10-shooter mode (or 6, or whatever you change it to in the code) with a built-in reload delay, or it can be set to fully automatic. If you’re short on space or just get sick of moving the target to different flat surfaces, it can be mounted on the wall instead — the target moves forward when hit and then resets back to flat. Check out the demo video we loaded up after the break.

No printer? No problem — here’s a Node-RED shooting gallery that uses simple wooden targets.

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