Follow the Bouncing Ball of Entropy

When [::vtol::] wants to generate random numbers he doesn’t simply type rand() into his Arduino IDE, no, he builds a piece of art. It all starts with a knob, presumably connected to a potentiometer, which sets a frequency. An Arduino UNO takes the reading and generates a tone for an upward-facing speaker. A tiny ball bounces on that speaker where it occasionally collides with a piezoelectric element. The intervals between collisions become our sufficiently random number.

The generated number travels up the Rube Goldberg-esque machine to an LCD mounted at the top where a word, corresponding to our generated number, is displayed. As long as the button is held, a tone will continue to sound and words will be generated so poetry pours forth.

If this take on beat poetry doesn’t suit you, the construction of the Ball-O-Bol has an aesthetic quality that’s eye-catching, whereas projects like his Tape-Head Robot That Listens to the Floor and 8-Bit Digital Photo Gun showed the electronic guts front and center with their own appeal.

Continue reading “Follow the Bouncing Ball of Entropy”

Doomed Incandescent Light Blinker

[Jānis]’s entry for the Flashing Light Prize was doomed from the start. Or should we say Doomed? It was a complicated mess of Rube-Goldbergery that essentially guaranteed that he’d have no time for making a proper video and submitting and entry. But it also ran Doom. Or at least ran on Doom.

(Note: [Jānis] sent us this hack in the e-mail — there’s no link for this blog post. You’re reading it here and now.)

It starts with a DC motor salvaged from a DVD player that spins a wheel that flips a switch back and forth, which in turn flips the polarity of the power on the motor. It’s like a most-useless machine, but with no human involved. This contraption periodically presses a button on a gutted mouse.

Pressing the mouse button on one computer fires a rocket in a multiplayer Doom game, and triggers a light on a wall when it does. A second Doom player, on another computer, sits facing the wall. Solar cells dangled in front of Player 2’s monitor emit high and low voltages as the LCD blinks on and off. That output goes into the ADC of an Arduino clone that drives a transistor that drives a relay that turns on and off a lightbulb.

We had a lot of fun watching all of the entries for the Flashing Light Prize, and we were also stoked by the presence of so many Hackaday regulars in the Honourable Mention list. (Sad to see [Sprite]’s ping-flasher didn’t make the cut!)

If you, like [Jānis] are still sitting on a design, don’t fret. It looks like the prize will make a return next year. Woot!

Continue reading “Doomed Incandescent Light Blinker”

Rube Slowberg

This one was buried in our tips line for a couple of months, but we’re glad it eventually surfaced. [Bob Partington] built the “Rube Slowberg” contraption – it’s billed as the world’s slowest Rube Goldberg Machine. The golf ball that he tee’d off took six weeks to reach it’s rather dramatic end.

Rube Goldberg machines are fascinating, but most often the fun ends quite quickly. [Bob] decided to slow it all down and it took several hacks to get that done. Thankfully for us, the edited video with extensive use of stop-motion and fast forwards brings the chase down to under three minutes.

Check out the video below. It starts with the Golf ball riding a slow boat on molasses, hitching a ride on a Tortoise, running through a series of melting popsicle sticks and then being propelled one tiny bit at a time by a bunch of growing grass. If you are interested is seeing behind the scenes, watch the other video where he talks a little about how he managed to pull it off.

Continue reading “Rube Slowberg”

Retrotechtacular: Automatic For The People

Throughout their long history, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) have made forays into many areas of automation. And as the American cultural landscape of the 1950s and ’60s shifted toward fast, cheap, and convenient foodstuffs available for consumption inside of spacious, finned automobiles, AMF was there with AMFare, an (almost) completely automated system for taking orders, preparing food, and calculating bills.

AMF named the system “ORBIS” after its two main functions, ordering and billing. But ORBIS was not completely autonomous. A human operator received orders from a table-side telephones inside the restaurant and intercoms used by drive-in customers, and entered them on an enormous console. Orders were routed to several machines to prepare the food, cook it, and package it in various ways. We witness the odyssey of the burger in complete detail, from punching out perfect patties to their final, plastic-wrapped form.

Surprisingly, the AMFare selection wasn’t limited to delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. It could crank out sixteen different menu items, and do so pretty quickly. In the space of one hour, AMFare could produce more than 400 burgers, over 350 orders of fries, or about 700 milkshakes. Even so, collating the orders required human intervention. We imagine that the awful task of cleaning all that expensive Rube Goldberg-esque machinery did, too.

Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Automatic For The People”

How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?

waste

The greatest – and last – question that will ever be asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased”. It follows then, that the worst – and possibly first – question ever asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?” While for the former question there’s insufficient data for a meaningful answer, we’ve found the answer to the latter question. It’s a machine designed to waste energy, and the exact opposite of a perpetual motion machine.

The machine is set up along two stories of a building, with cables, pulleys, and levers constantly pressing an elevator button. The device is powered by the elevator doors opening, so when the elevator opens of the first floor, the part of the machine on the second story calls the elevator. This repeats ad infinitum.

Wait. It gets better. Inside the elevator car, there’s a modified printing calculator also powered by the elevator doors. Every time the doors open, it calculates the amount of energy consumed for each cycle of the elevator. It’s a hydraulic elevator without a countersink, so moving down is effectively free, but each cycle of the elevator still uses up 11.8 Kilojoules of the universe’s energy. To make the build a complete waste of resources, the printing calculator neatly empties it’s printed tape into a wastepaper bin.

We’re tempted to call this a [Rube Goldberg] machine, but that doesn’t seem to fit this machine that does absolutely nothing. Calling it a useless box is more fitting, but this is far, far more impressive than a box that turns itself off. Whatever it is, you can see a video of it in action below.

Continue reading “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?”

Complicated iPhone garage door opener

iphone-garage-door-opener

The round-about way this iPhone garage door opener was put together borders on Rube Goldberg. But it does indeed get the job done so who are we to judge? Plus you have to consider that the Apple products aren’t quite as hacker friendly as, say, Android phones — so this may have been the easiest non-Jailbreak way.

The main components that went into it are the iPhone, a Wemo WiFi outlet, and a 110V rated mechanical relay. But wait, surely it can’t be that simple? You’re correct, just for added subterfuge [Tall-drinks] rolled IFTTT into the mix.

You may remember hearing about If This Then That from the Alert Tube project. It’s a web-based natural language scripting service. Throw everything together and it works like this: The iPhone sends a text message which IFTTT converts to a Wemo command. A power cord connects the Wemo outlet to the 110V electrodes on the relay. The normally open connection of the relay is attached to the same screw terminals of the garage door opener as the push button that operates it. When the relay closes, the garage door goes up or down.

The biggest problem we have with this is the inability to know if your garage door is open or closed.

Oreo separators Episode 2 chucks food at your face

Here’s a portable, well-built Oreo separator that still manages to border on ridiculous. Instead of just ditching the creme filling, it dispenses the cookie and the creme separately. Ostensibly the two creators like different things. One enjoys the cookies while the other only likes the creme. Of this division was born the professional-looking snack divider.

Unlike the hatchet-based system shown off in the first episode this machine has a hopper into which several Oreos may be loaded. The demo cookie is like none we’ve seen before because the top portion is pushed off as if it took no effort at all. The creme is then softened with a stream of hot air before the gooey creme is blasted into the other creators face. Some of it may even have entered his mouth. The final step ejects the remaining chocolate cookie by launching it straight up into the air.

Our favorite part of the video after the break is the “DO NOT ATTEMPT” subtitle that flashes on the screen whenever the apparatus is launching food into the guys’ mouths.

Continue reading “Oreo separators Episode 2 chucks food at your face”