A robot that detects whether you are awake and gently taps you if not.

Wake-Up Robot Does It Gently

For hundreds of years, people have fallen asleep while reading in bed late at night. These days it’s worse, what with us taking phones to the face instead when we start to nod off. At least they don’t have pointy corners like books. While you may not want to share your bedroom with a robot, this wake-up robot by [Norbert Zare] may be just the thing to keep you awake.

Here’s how it works: a Raspberry Pi camera on a servo wanders around at eye level, and the Pi it’s attached to uses OpenCV to determine whether those eyes are open or starting to get heavy. The bot can also speak — it uses eSpeak to introduce itself as a bot designed not to let you sleep. Then when it catches you snoozing, it repeatedly intones ‘wake up’ in a bored British accent.

We were sure that the thing was designed to slap [Norbert] in the face a la [Simone Giertz]’s robot alarm clock, but no, that long-fingered hand just slowly swings down and gently taps [Norbert] on the arm (or whatever is in the path of the slappy hand). Check out the short demo and build video after the break.

Do you want to be awoken even more gently? Try a sunlight lamp. We’ve got dozens in stock, but this one gradually gets about as bright as the sun.

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Using A Laser To Blast Away A Bayer Array

A Bayer array, or Bayer filter, is what lets a digital camera take color photos. It’s an array of tiny color filters that sit on top of a camera’s CCD. The filter makes it so that each sub-pixel in the image sensor only sees red, green, or blue light. The Bayer filter is an elegant tool that gives us color digital photos, but what would you do if you wanted to remove one?

[Les Wright] has devised a way to remove the Bayer filter from the Raspberry Pi Camera. Along with filtering red, green, and blue light for their respective sensors, Bayer filters also greatly reduce the amount of UV and IR light that make it to the CCD sensor. [Les] uses the Raspberry Pi camera in his Pi-based Spectrometer, and he wants to remove the Bayer filter to improve and expand its sensitivity.

Of course, [Les] isn’t the first one to want to do this. Some have succeeded in physically scratching the filter off of the CCD, but because the Pi Camera has vital circuitry around the outside of the sensor, scratching the filter off would likely destroy the circuitry. Others have stripped it off using chemical means, so [Les] gave this a go and destroyed no small number of cameras in his attempt to strip the filter off with solvents like DMSO, brake fluid, and industrial paint stripper.

A look at the CCD, halfway through the process.

Inspired by techniques used in industry, [Les] eventually tried to use a several-kW nitrogen laser to burn off the filter (which seems appropriate given his experience with lasers). He built a rig that raster scans the laser across the sensor using stepper motors to drive micrometer bases. A USB microscope was included to allow progress to be monitored, and you can see a change in the sensor’s appearance as the filter is removed.

After blasting off the Bayer filter, [Les] plugged his improved camera into his home-built spectrometer and pointed it outside. The new camera gives the spectrometer much more uniform sensitivity and allows [Les] to see further into the IR and UV bands. The spectrometer can even detect the Fraunhofer lines—subtle dips in the sun’s spectrum from absorption by molecules in the atmosphere.

This is incredible for a DIY setup and instrument, and we can’t wait to see what [Les] does next to improve his measurements. If your spectrometry needs are more mass than visual, take a look at this home-built mass spectrometer. Home spectrometers aren’t just for examining light spectra—they can also be used to judge the ripeness of fruit!

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Raspberry Pi Cameras Stand In For Stereo Microscope

Handling tiny surface mount components and inspecting PCBs is a lot easier with a nice stereo microscope, but because of their cost and bulk, most hobbyists have to do without. At best they might have a basic digital microscope, but with only one camera, they can only show a 2D image that’s not ideal for detail work.

The team behind [Stereo Ninja] hopes to improve on the situation by developing a stereoscopic vision system that puts tiny objects up on the big screen in three dimensions. Utilizing the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a custom carrier board that enables the use of both MIPI CSI camera interfaces, and a 3D gaming monitor, their creation combines the capabilities of a traditional stereo microscope with the flexibility of a digital solution.

With two Raspberry Pi cameras suspended over the work area, and the addition of plenty of LED light, Stereo Ninja is able to generate the 3D image required by the monitor. While the camera’s don’t have the same magnification you’d get from a microscope, they’re good enough for enlarging SMD parts, and looking at a big screen monitor certainly beats hunching over the eyepiece of a traditional microscope. Especially if you’re trying to show something to a group of people, like at a hackerspace.

Of course, not everyone has a large 3D gaming monitor on their workbench. In fact, given how poorly the tech went over with consumers the last time it was pushed on us, we’d wager more hackers have stereo microscopes than 3D displays. Which is why the team’s next step is to have the Raspberry Pi generate the signals required by the shutter glasses, allowing Stereo Ninja to show a three dimensional image on 2D monitors; bringing this valuable capability to far larger audience than has previously been possible.

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Soviet Super 8 Camera Hides Raspberry Pi Zero

A few years ago [Xabier Zubizarreta] got it into his head that he wanted to put a modern digital image sensor into a classic Super 8 camera, but he didn’t want to ruin a gorgeous piece of vintage hardware in the process. After a bit of research, he discovered an export version of the Avrora camera made for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow that could be had for cheap. Figuring nobody would miss a camera built with the utilitarian aesthetics you’d expect of a Soviet-era piece of consumer tech, he set off to cram a Raspberry Pi into its film compartment.

On the Hackaday.io page for this project, [Xabier] explains a bit about the optical properties that make this project challenging. Specifically, the miniature sensor used by the official Raspberry Pi camera module is far smaller than the 8 mm film the camera was designed for. So when the sensor placed at the appropriate focal length for the original film, the image will be cropped considerably. As you can see in the video below, this gives the impression of everything being filmed with a fairly tight zoom.

To perform this modification, [Xabier] first had to liberate the sensor of the Pi Camera from the original optics, and then carefully install it in proper position on the Avrora. To make sure he had it aligned, he watched a live feed from the camera while the epoxy holding the sensor down was curing. This allowed him to make slight adjustments before everything was solidified. With the sensor in place, he only had to stuff the Pi Zero and battery pack into the film compartment, and wire the original camera trigger to the GPIO pins so he could read it in software.

Considering the incredible amount of effort some photographers have put in to adapt their vintage cameras to digital, it’s refreshing to see such a straightforward approach. The resulting video might not be up to modern standards, but with projects like this, that’s sort of the point.

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Eyecam Is Watching You In Between Blinks

We will be the first to admit that it’s often hard to be productive while working from home, especially if no one’s ever really looking over your shoulder. Well, here is one creepy way to feel as though someone is keeping an eye on you, if that’s what gets you to straighten up and fly right. The Eyecam research project by [Marc Teyssier] et. al. is a realistic, motorized eyeball that includes a camera and hangs out on top of your computer monitor. It aims to spark conversation about the sensors that are all around us already in various cold and clinical forms. It’s an open source project with a paper and a repo and a how-to video in the works.

The eyebrow-raising design pulls no punches in the uncanny department: the eye behaves as you’d expect (if you could have expected this) — it blinks, looks around, and can even waggle its brow. The eyeball, brow, and eyelids are actuated by a total of six servos that are controlled by an Arduino Nano.

Inside the eyeball is a Raspberry Pi camera connected to a Raspi Zero for the web cam portion of this intriguing horror show. Keep an eye out after the break for the Eyecam infomercial.

Creepy or fascinating, it succeeds in making people think about the vast amount of sensors around us now, and what the future of them could look like. Would mimicking eye contact be an improvement over the standard black and gray oblong eye? Perhaps a pair of eyes would be less unsettling, we’re not really sure. But we are left to wonder what’s next, a microphone that looks like an ear? Probably. Will it have hair sprouting from it? Perhaps.

Yeah, it’s true; two eyes are more on the mesmerizing side, but still creepy, especially when they follow you around the room and can shoot frickin’ laser beams.

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Robotic Fish Swarm Together Using Cameras And LEDs

Robotics has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, but in terms of decentralized coordination in robot swarms, they far behind biological swarms. Researchers from Harvard University’s Weiss Institute are working to close the gap, and have developed Blueswarm, a school of robotic fish that can exhibit swarm behavior without external centralized control.

In real fish schools, the movement of an individual fish depends on those around it. To allow each robotic fish to estimate the position of its neighbors, they are equipped with a set of 3 blue LEDs, and a camera on each side of the body. Four oscillating fins, inspired by reef fish, provide 3D control. The actuator for the fins is simply a pivoting magnet inside a coil being fed an alternating current. The onboard computer of each fish is a Raspberry Pi W, and the cameras are Raspberry Pi Camera modules with wide-angle lenses. Using the position information calculated from the cameras, the school can coordinate its movements to spread out, group together, swim in a circle, or find an object and then converge on it. The full academic article is available for free if you are interested in the details.

Communication with light is dependent on the clarity of the medium it’s traveling through, in this case, water — and conditions can quickly become a limiting factor. Submarines have faced the same challenge for a long time. Two current alternative solutions are ELF radio and sound, which are both covered in [Lewin Day]’s excellent article on underwater communications.

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Cheap All-Sky Camera Is Easy As Pi

Combining a Raspberry Pi HQ camera and a waterproof housing, [jippo12] made an all-sky, all-Pi meteorite tracking camera on the cheap, and it takes fantastic photos of the heavens. It’s even got its own YouTube channel. Inside there’s a Raspberry Pi 4 plus an HQ camera to take the pictures. But there’s also a system in place to keep everything warm and working properly. It uses a Raspberry Pi 3+, a temperature sensor, and a relay control HAT to pump pixies through a couple of 10 W resistors, making just enough heat to warm up the dome to keep it from fogging.

A few years ago, we reported that NASA was tracking meteorites (or fireballs, if you prefer) with a distributed network of all-sky cameras — cameras with 360° views of the night sky. Soon after, we found out that the French were doing something quite similar with their FRIPON network. We pondered how cool it would be to have a hacker network of these things, but zut alors! Have you seen the prices of these things?  Nice hack, [jippo12]!

Rather do things the old fashioned way? Dust off that DSLR, fire up that printer, and check out OpenAstroTracker.