Baby Yoda has been a hit character in Disney’s The Mandalorian, but does not actually exist in real life as far as we know. Instead, [Manuel Ahumada] set about building a robotic replica, complete with artificial intelligence. (Video, embedded below.)
The first step was to build a basic robotic simulcra of Baby Yoda, which [Manuel] achieved by outfitting a toy with servos, motors and a Raspberry Pi. With everything hooked up, Baby Yoda was able to move his head and arms, and scoot around on wheels, all under the control of a Bluetooth gamepad. With that sorted, [Manuel] added brains in the form of a smartphone running Intel’s OpenBot machine learning platform. This allows Baby Yoda to track and follow people it sees on its smartphone camera, and potentially even navigate real-world spaces with future upgrades.
It’s a fun build, and we’d love to see the bot let loose at a convention to explore and make friends. We’ve covered OpenBot before, and look forward to seeing it used in more builds. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Baby Yoda Becomes Personable Robot”
Virtual reality is usually an isolated individual experience very different from the shared group experience of a movie screen or even a living room TV. But those worlds of entertainment are more closely intertwined than most audiences are aware. Video game engines have been taking a growing role in film and television production behind the scenes, and now they’re stepping out in front of the camera in a big way for making The Mandalorian TV series.
Big in this case is a three-quarters cylindrical LED array 75 ft (23 m) in diameter and 20 ft (6 m) high. But the LEDs covering its walls and ceiling aren’t pointing outwards like some installation for Times Square. This setup, called the Volume, points inward to display background images for camera and crew working within. It’s an immersive LED backdrop and stage environment.
Incorporating projected imagery on stage is a technique going at least as far back as 1933’s King Kong, but it is very limited. Lighting and camera motion has to be very constrained in order to avoid breaking the fragile illusion. More recently, productions have favored green screens replaced with computer imagery in post production. It removed most camera motion and lighting constraints, but costs a lot of money and time. It is also more difficult for actors to perform their roles convincingly against big blank slabs of green. The Volume solves all of those problems by putting computer-generated imagery on set, rendered in real time via video game engine Unreal.
Continue reading “VR Technology Helps Bring A Galaxy Far, Far Away To Our TV”
If you have fond childhood memories of afternoons spent at the local arcade, then you’ve had the occasional daydream about tracking down one of those old cabinets and putting it in the living room. But the size, cost, and rarity of these machines makes actually owning one impractical for most people.
While this fully functional 1/4th scale replica of the classic Star Wars arcade game created by [Jamie McShan] might not be a perfect replacement for the original, there’s no denying it would be easier to fit through your front door. Nearly every aspect of the iconic 1983 machine has been carefully recreated, right down to a working coin slot that accepts miniature quarters. Frankly, the build would have been impressive enough had he only put in half the detail work, but we certainly aren’t complaining that he went the extra mile.
[Jamie] leaned heavily on resin 3D printed parts for this build, and for good reason. It’s hard to imagine how he could have produced some of the tiny working parts for his cabinet using traditional manufacturing techniques. The game’s signature control yoke and the coin acceptor mechanism are really incredible feats of miniaturization, and a testament to what’s possible at the DIY level with relatively affordable tools.
The cabinet itself is cut from MDF, using plans appropriately scaled down from the real thing. Inside you’ll find a Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ running RetroPie attached directly to the back of a 4.3 inch LCD with integrated amplified speakers. [Jamie] is using an Arduino to handle interfacing with the optical coin detector and controls, which communicates with the Pi over USB HID. He’s even added in a pair of 3,000 mAh LiPo battery packs and a dedicated charge controller so you can blow up the Death Star on the go.
Still don’t think you can fit one in your apartment? Not to worry, back in 2012 we actually saw somebody recreate this same cabinet in just 1/6th scale.
Continue reading “Miniature Star Wars Arcade Lets You Blow Up The Death Star On The Go”
[Greg06] started learning electronics the same way most of us did: buy a few kits, read a few tutorials, and try your hardest to put a few things together. Sound familiar? After a while, you noticed your skills started increasing, and your comfort level with different projects improved as well. Eventually, you try your hand at making your own custom projects and publishing your own tutorials.
Few are lucky to have a first-project as elaborate as [Greg06’s] quadruped robot. We don’t know about you, but for some of us, we were satisfied with blinking two LEDs instead of just one.
[Greg06’s] robot has a quadruped based, housed within a 3D printed spherical body. The legs are retractable and are actuated by tiny servo motors inside the body. [Greg06] even included an ultrasonic distance sensor for the obstacle avoidance mechanism. Honestly, if it weren’t for the ultrasonic distance sensor protruding from the spherical body, you might think that the entire robot was just a little Wiffle ball. This reminds us of another design we’ve seen before.
If that weren’t enough, the spherical head can rotate, widening the range of the ultrasonic distance sensor and obstacle avoidance mechanism. This is accomplished by attaching another servo motor to the head.
Pretty neat design if you ask us. Definitely one of the coolest quadrupeds we’ve seen.
For many of us, movies are a great source of inspiration for projects, and the Star Wars films are a gift that just keeps giving. The D-O droid featured and the Rise of Skywalker is the equivalent of an abandoned puppy, and with the help of 3D printing, [Matt Denton] has brought it to life. (Video, embedded below.)
D-O is effectively a two-wheeled self-balancing robot, with two thin drive wheels on the outer edges of the main body. A wide flexible tire covers the space between the two wheels, where the electronics are housed, without actually forming part of the drive mechanism. The main drive motors are a pair of geared DC motors with encoders to allow closed-loop control down to very slow speeds. The brains of the operation is an Arduino MKR-W1010 GET on a stack that consists of a motor driver, shield, IMU shields, and prototyping shield. [Matt] did discover a design error on the motor driver board, which caused the main power switching MOSFET to burst into flames from excessive gate voltage. Fortunately he was able to work around this by simply removing the blown MOSFET and bridging the connection with a wire.
The head-on D-O is very expressive and [Matt] used four servos to control its motion, with another three to animate the three antennas on the back of its head. Getting all the mechanics to move smoothly without any slop took a few iterations to get right, and the end result looks and moves very well. Continue reading “Building D-O, The Cone Face Droid”
Etsy is a service aimed at providing a way for makers of handmade items to sell them online. [Bithead] closed up shop earlier this year and wrote up an interesting perspective on what did and didn’t work out. The main market for [Bithead]’s store was Star Wars cosplayers, because it all started with some Star Wars inspired com pads, some of which are pictured here.
One thing [Bithead] felt worked well overall was to “think big, start small, and scale fast.” In essence, bootstrap things by selling inventory on hand and carefully monitoring demand, then if demand is sustained, ramp up to larger batches, which are more efficient. The risk of making larger part orders and carrying more stock on hand is offset by the reliable demand. Waiting until solid data on reliable demand is available means missing out on early sales, but it’s a low risk approach that works well for niche products that have little or no real competition.
A couple things that didn’t work out were efforts to follow Etsy’s advice to add more products to attract a wider audience, and to try out tools for offering discounts and incentives aimed at turning abandoned carts into sales. Neither went well. The first resulted in adding items that sold poorly, diluted the focus of the store, and incurred a cost for each listing. The second never seemed to have any impact on sales whatsoever. Perhaps there is a place for these efforts, but [Bithead]’s niche market wasn’t it.
It’s a good read about how things went for an Etsy store that served a niche audience over three years. The perspective and experiences might be useful to anyone looking to turn a bright idea into something sold online, so if you’re at all interested, take a few minutes to check it out.
We’ve seen [Bithead]’s work before, this lightsaber-inspired violin bow was one project that went on to become a kit for sale.
A glass table makes a perfect display case for showing off whatever’s important to you, but if you want keep the dust off of your treasures, closing up the sides is probably a wise move. It might not be a bad idea to put some lighting in there to make sure everything is easy to see. You might as well make the lights RGB and remote controlled, so you can fiddle with the look from across the room. Of course, you could go all in and just make the thing a diorama…
It’s not hard to imagine the line of thinking that convinced [Erv Plecter] he should turn a simple glass table into a docking bay for a model of the Millennium Falcon, and looking at the final results, we think it was the right move. With an incredible attention to detail, what started out a generic looking table and rather modest toy, have been combined into an interactive display that could woo even the staunchest of Trekkies.
If you’ve ever considered lighting a model, this project is an excellent example to follow. The Hasbro toy that [Erv] started with certainly wasn’t what you’d call studio quality; the little lighting it featured wasn’t even accurate to how the ship appears in the films. But with some reference material, fiber optic cables, and enough Arduinos to drive it all, the final lighting is truly a marvel. We’d say the engine is our favorite part, but those tiny lit panels in the cockpit are hard to beat.
While the Falcon is clearly the star of the show, the docking bay itself is certainly no afterthought. The back-lit panels, with their inscrutable Imperial design aesthetic, look fantastic. The addition of small details like crates and barrels, plus the glossy black PVC sheet used for the floor, really brings the whole scene to life. It’s almost a shame that the ship itself is so big, as a smaller model would have left more room to toss in a few Stormtroopers and droids out on patrol.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen somebody augment a “toy” grade model with additional lighting effects. While the scale miniature aficionados in the audience might turn their nose up at some of the artistic liberties taken on these low fidelity models, we think any normal person would be blown away if they saw them in person.
Continue reading “Millennium Falcon Docking Bay Doubles As Table”