Imagine you are at the movies and you see a Roomba-like robot climbing a wall or clinging to a ceiling. How would that work? If you are like us, you might think of suction cups or something mechanical or magnetic in the wall. Then again, it is a movie, so maybe it is just a camera trick. The robots from the Bioinsipired Robotics and Design Lab at UCSD are no camera trick, though. As [Evan Ackerman] mentions in a post on IEEE Spectrum, “It’s either some obscure fluid effect or black magic.” You can watch a video about the bots, below.
It turns out, the answer is closer to a suction cup than you might think. According to the paper from the lab, a small flexible disk vibrates at 200 Hz. This generates a thin (less than 1 mm) layer of low pressure air in between the disk and the underlying surface. The robot can resist a force of up to 5 newtons from the suction from the disk.
Continue reading “Robot Clings To Ceiling”
Every home needs renovations after a few decades, and the International Space Station is no different. This fall, they’ll be getting a new Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), aka a new toilet.
Though the news coincides with increased traffic to the ISS, this move stems from a more serious issue with bacterial contamination during longer-term space travel. Today’s ISS toilets already recycle urine back into potable water and scrub the air reclaimed from solid waste as it gets compacted and stored. The new UWMS will act more like a food dehydrator, reducing the water content as much as possible to save on space, and petrifying the poo to inactivate the bacteria.
The current commode on the American side of the ISS was designed in the 1990s and is based on the Space Shuttle’s facilities. It has a funnel with a hose for urine and a bag-lined canister with a seat for solid waste, both of which are heavily vacuum-assisted.
Though the current toilet still does everything it’s supposed to do, there is room for improvement. For instance, women find it difficult to engage both parts of the system at the same time, and almost everyone prefers the toe bars on the Russian toilet to the more encumbering thigh bars on the American throne. Also, the current commode’s interface is more complicated than it needs to be, which takes up valuable crew time. Continue reading “The ISS Is Getting A New WC”
Building a robot arm is fun, but no longer the challenge it once was. You can find lots of plans and kits, and driving the motors is a solved problem. However, there is always one decision you have to make that can be a challenge: what effector to put on the end of it. If you are [MertArduino] the answer is to put suction at the end. If you need to grab the right things, this could be just the ticket for reliably lifting and letting go. You can see a video of the arm in action, below.
The arm itself is steel with four servo motors and comes in a kit. The video shows the arm making a sandwich under manual control. We suspect he might have put it under Arduino control but there’s no sudo for making sandwiches.
Continue reading “Robot Arm Sucks In A Good Way”
Q: What do you call 8000 dead mosquitoes in a Mason jar?
A: A good start. And [Dan Rojas]’s low-tech mosquito trap accomplished the feat in two nights with nothing fancier than a fan and a bottle of seltzer.
We know what you’re thinking: Where’s the hack? Why not at least use a laser sentry gun to zap skeeters on the fly? We agree that [Dan]’s mosquito trap, consisting of a powerful fan to create suction and a piece of window screen to catch the hapless bloodsuckers, is decidedly low-tech. But you can’t argue with results. Unless he’s fudging the numbers, a half-full Mason jar of parasite cadavers is pretty impressive. And you have to love the simplicity of the attractant he’s using. Mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 exhaled by tasty mammals, but rather than do something elaborate with a paintball gun cartridge or the like, [Dan] simply cracks a bottle of seltzer and lets it outgas. Dead simple, and wickedly effective. The trapped bugs quickly desiccate in the strong air stream, aided by a few spritzes of isopropyl alcohol before cleaning the screen, which leaves them safely edible to frogs and insects.
Simple, cheap, and effective. Sounds like a great hack to us. And it’s really just a brute-force implementation of this mosquito-killing billboard for areas prone to Zika.
Continue reading “Eradicating Mosquitoes From Your Backyard — With Seltzer?”
[Moogle] wrote in to see if anyone can figure out why his unused electrolytic capacitors are popping. This is the behavior you see in populated caps whose electrolyte dries out. But these are still in his parts bin. Anyone know why they would pop when going unused?
We see a lot of BIOS flashing hacks; but it’s always a handy thing to know about when you get in a bind. Here [Adan] shows us how to reflash a corrupt BIOS using a Tiva C Launchpad board.
Wanting to hack together her own blow gun [Carlyn] scrapped a handheld vacuum cleaner. When she discovered the pump could not easily be converted from suck to blow she made a handheld suction manipulator which picks up paper plates and a few slightly heavier objects.
Unfortunately a drill press is not one of the tools we have in our lair right now. If we did, this tip about using it to help tap threads in a hole would come in really hand.
Retro computing fans will appreciate this Z80 computer build (translated). It’s a fairly large mainboard with plenty of chips, resistors, buttons, and seven segment displays. Excellent. [Thanks Daniel]
We start to drool a little bit when we see a teardown post that shows off a piece of equipment really well. We’ve already reached for a bib to catch the slobber from pawing our way through [David’s] teardown of an HP 6010A bench supply.
Suction is incredibly powerful and can be put to use in several different ways. [Jem Stansfield] built a set of vacuum gloves for a BBC TV series to show how powerful suction really is. He climbed up the side of a 100 foot building, yet had to rely on his safety line near the top. The video of his daring ascension after the jump.
Continue reading “Vacuum Gloves For Climbing Buildings”
The Winboni is the first place winner in the International Student Design Competition of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Winboni is a small robot that cleans windows. That alone doesn’t set the robot apart. The fact that it is held on by suction is what distinguishes it. Running off AA batteries, this robot clings to the window as it cleans it with felt pads. It is hard to believe that this isn’t already a commercial product. Actually, we thought we had even seen it before, but we can’t find it now.