Skelly The Skeleton Is A Scary Good Musician

There are a lot of things to like about [BoneConstructor]’s Skelly the skeleton robot project. Note that we said, “project”. That’s because not only does the robot work well and is built well, but the journey he took to make it contains steps we’ve all taken ourselves. We can say that with confidence since it’s his first, and we’ve all had those.

Skelly started life as a skeleton sitting in [BoneConstructor]’s antique race car at local car shows. Its eyes lit up and it made a moaning sound, which didn’t always work right.  From there came lessons learned with head and arm servos, followed by problems with a PS2 remote and a control board. When he realized he’d have to write his own code, he was stymied by his lack of programming skills. But then he found Visuino, which as you can guess from the name is a visual way to program Arduinos, mostly consisting of drag-and-drop. From there on, the path was smoother, if not completely linear.

Rather than rapidly burn through servos by mounting the bones directly to the servo arms, he fitted bearings into the bone sockets, put the limbs on shafts through those bearings, and used pusher rods connected to the servo arms to turn those shafts. It’s no wonder the arms work so well. He took that sturdy and resilient approach with the wrists and neck too. He even made its right foot able to tap in tune with the music.

And from there we begin to understand some of the method to his madness. Check out the videos below, and on his Hackaday.io page and you’ll see how wonderfully Skelly moves to the music. It even took a moment for us to realize he wasn’t actually playing the piano. But best of all, we like how he rocks out to AC/DC’s Shoot To Thrill (Iron Man 2 Version). We’re really impressed by how well those robot arms hold up given that this is a first robot.

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Reanimating Boney the Robot Dog

[Divconstructors] cashed in after Halloween and picked up a skeleton dog prop from the Home Depot, for the simple and logical purpose of turning it into a robot.

The first step was to cut apart the various body parts, followed by adding bearings to the joints and bolting in a metal chassis fabricated from 1/8″ aluminum stock. This is all pretty standard stuff in the Dr. Frankenstein biz. For electronics he uses a Mega with a bark-emitting MP3 shield on top of it. Separately, a servo control board manages the dozenish servos — not to mention the tail-wagging stepper.

[Divconstructors] actually bought two skeletons, one to be his protoype and the other to be the nice-looking build. However, we at Hackaday feel like he might have missed an opportunity: As any necromancer can tell you, a freakish combination of two skeletons beats out two normal skeletons any night of the week. Also, two words for you to consider: cyberdog ransomeware. We imagine you don’t really feel ransomware until there’s the family robodog ready to test out its high-torque jaw servos on your flesh. Of course if he were a real dog we could either remotely control him with a hot dog, or just give him a talking collar.

“Giger Counter” Makes Radiation Detection Surreal

Here’s a quick question: are Geiger and Giger (as in H.R. Giger, designer of the Alien Xenomorph) pronounced the same? The answer is no. Nevertheless, the late artist has had his name mispronounced (for the record, it’s ghee-gur) by many over the years. [Steve DeGroof’s] friend posted a goofy tweet that gave him the inspiration to finally put a skeletal lid on the matter, the Giger Counter.

The innards are a Mightyohm Geiger Counter Kit. The external casing is where the true hack lies in this project, made from a 1:2 scale plastic skeleton model, flexible conduit, and dark metallic spray paint. Only the ribcage, some vertebrae, and part of the skull are used from the model. They are assembled in a delightfully inhuman fashion with some conduit wrapped around it and into the bottom of the ribcage for good measure. After some gluing and spray painting, the LED from the Geiger Counter kit is placed through a drilled hole in the skull while the board sits inside the ribcage. Getting the board in and out can be a little tricky, but it looks like the batteries can be changed without having to pull the whole board out.

Check out the video below to see the Giger Counter. If you want another hack inspired by H.R. Giger’s artistic vision, take a look at this Xenomorph suit we covered.  Or, if you can’t get enough Geiger counters, we’ve featured plenty of cool ones on this site.

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Halloween Links: October 30th, 2013

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Happy Halloween from everyone at Hackaday! To help you enjoy the holiday here are a few festive links:

[Mike Kohn] whipped up a set of motion tracking eyeballs to make his decor extra creepy.

There’s not much to this jet-pack costume but the results are pretty amusing.

The eyes on [Tim Butler’s] skeleton prop don’t follow you around the room, but they do use a PIR sensor to light up the skull.

Speaking of skulls, [Tom] is using some real skulls as decorations. He also added lights where the eyeballs should be, but he is using a photoresistor and comparator to turn on some LEDs.

[Clark] built a Mecha Robot Warrior costume for his son. With all of those LED strips we think he’ll be pretty safe when crossing the street!

And finally, [Jesse] added a lot to his prop in order to produce a Sinister Joker. That’s Joker-as-in-cards and not as in Batman. It’s got an IR distance sensor as a trigger, with a motor to move the wrist, lights for the eyes, and a sound shield to give it a disturbing voice.

Amazingly realistic skeleton prop

[Cjmekeel] spent weeks getting his Halloween display ready this year. The centerpiece of his offering is this full-sized motorized skeleton. But there’s a few other gems that he worked on to compliment it. There’s an old-fashioned radio whose dial moves mysteriously and plays a news flash warning of an escaped mental patient. He also spent a couple of dollars to outfit a crow with some glowing red eyes and a servo motor.

But the creepiness of the skeleton means you might not even notice those other props. He started with a rather boring looking plain plastic head and did some real magic to build up the rotting flesh and gaping wounds. Those penetrating eyes don’t hurt either. The head moves on a few servo motors which use random values and sleep periods for disturbingly jerky movements. Check out the video after the break to get a glimpse at what kept kids away from his house on Halloween.

This is just a build log and unfortunately there’s no post yet showing the finished product. If we can get enough information together we’ll try to run a follow-up.

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Skeleton does a Looney Tunes style song and dance

[Kevin Harrington] throws a curve ball with this skeleton in a coffin. Instead of going for the cheap scare, he conjures memories of old cartoons when the bony figure puts on a song and dance. When activated it leans forward to hang out of the coffin donning a tattered tuxedo and top hat. You can hear the servos working as they give jerky yet realistic motion to the tune “Hello! Ma Baby” in the true Michigan J. Frog style. Classic!

He figures it took about $36 in parts to put the skeleton together plus the DyIO module to control it from a PC. Four servos are used in total, connected to the skeleton with some steel cable. Connecting it via a computer makes it a bit easier to synchronize music with motion than just using a microcontroller capable of playing back audio would have been. Code is available from the site linked at the top, and a demo video is embedded after the break.

This would also have been possible by using an Arduino as a DMX controller.

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The Kinect Controlled Zombie Skeleton

Although there is no shortage of Kinect hacks out there, this one from Dashhacks seems especially cool.  According to them, the software part of this design uses a “modified OpenNI programming along with GlovePIE to send WiiMote commands to the cyborg such as jaw and torso movement along with MorphVOX to create the voice for the cybernetic monstrosity.” As pointed out in the video, this robotic zombie also has a “pause” feature, and a feature to loop movements like what would be done at an amusement park.

The other great thing about this hack is how well the skeleton is actuated via servo motors. Although it’s difficult to tell how many servos were used for this robot, it certainly has 10 or more degrees of freedom between the head, both arms, and the torso. To control all of this a hacked Wiimote and Nunchuck is used in conjunction with the Kinect. Check out the video after the break.

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