Robot Travels The World

Around the World in 80 Days may have been an impressive feat of international travel in a world before widespread air transit. In modern times though, it’s not even necessary to leave your home in order to travel around the world. To that end, [Norbert] is attempting to accomplish this journey using a robot that will do the traveling for him as part of this year’s Virtual Maker Faire.

The robot is called the World Tour Robot, and the idea for it is to be small enough to ship to each new location around the world and be simple enough to be repaired easily. It is driven by two servo motors and controlled by a Raspberry Pi which also handles a small camera. Once at its location, it can connect to the internet and then be able to be controlled through a web interface. Locations are selected by application, and the robot is either handed off to the next person in the chain or put back in a box to be shipped.

The robot hasn’t left for its maiden voyage just yet but [Norbert] plans to get it started soon. Hopefully there are enough interesting places for this robot to explore on its trip around the world, although it’s probably best to avoid Philadelphia as it is known to be unfriendly to robots.

A Double Shot Of Vintage Computing This Weekend

Going anywhere interesting this weekend? No, of course you aren’t. None of us are. So why not tune your computer or smartphone to the online stream of one of the virtual Vintage Computer Festivals that will be taking place between October 10th and 11th. Granted only one of them is in English, but we’ve often thought of blinky lights as something of a universal language anyway.

Vintage Computer Festival East, which normally would have happened in the Spring, has finally decided that 2020 is a wash for any in-person meetings and has decided to switch over to virtual. Interestingly, it sounds like they’ll be live streaming at least some of the exhibitor tables from the InfoAge museum in New Jersey where the physical event would have been held. So from an attendee perspective, the virtual event should be a bit closer to the real thing than if everyone had to figure out their own streaming setups from home. Presentations will run from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern on both days.

On the other side of the globe, Vintage Computing Festival Berlin will be broadcasting their own exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. In an interesting use of the virtual format, they’ll be giving viewers an intimate look at vintage computers and technology that’s held in private collections, museums, or otherwise inaccessible storage and research facilities. Content will be streaming from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM CEST on both days, with a musical performance overnight.

While there’s an understandable tendency to bemoan the trend of moving events online in the face of COVID-19, there are certainly situations where the format can actually bring you more content than you’d have access to otherwise. Especially when they end up being free, as is the case with both of these Festivals. We’re still eagerly awaiting the point where we can get back to attending these events in person, but we certainly aren’t complaining when so many incredible people are willing to put on these presentations without seeing a dime.

School’s In Session With HackadayU

The global COVID-19 pandemic has kept many of us socially isolated from friends, family, and colleagues for several months at this point. But thanks to modern technology, the separation has only been in the physical sense. From job interviews to grade school book reports, many of the things we’d previously done in person are now happening online. The social distancing campaign has also shown that virtual meetups can be a viable alternative to traditional events, with several notable hacker conventions already making the leap into cyberspace.

With this in mind, we’re proud to announce HackadayU. With weekly online videos and live office hours, these online classes will help you make the most of your time in isolation by learning new skills or diving deeper into subjects with experienced instructors from all over the world. Whether you’re just curious about a topic or want to use these classes to help put yourself on a new career path, we’re here to help.

In a community like ours, where so many people already rely on self-study and tutorial videos, these four week classes are perfect for professional engineers and hobbyists alike. To make sure HackadayU is inclusive as possible, classes will be offered on a pay-as-you-wish basis: we’ll pick up the tab for the instructor’s time, and you kick in whatever you think is fair. All money collected will be donated to charities that help feed, house, and educate others. We know these are tough times, and the hope is that HackadayU can not only benefit the members of our core community, but pass on some goodwill to those who are struggling.

Classes will be rolling out through the rest of 2020, but here’s a look at some of what we’ve got planned: Continue reading “School’s In Session With HackadayU”

Redeem Your Irresponsible 90s Self

If you were a youth in the 90s, odds are good that you were a part of the virtual pet fad and had your very own beeping Tamagotchi to take care of, much to the chagrin of your parents. Without the appropriate amout of attention each day, the pets could become sick or die, and the only way to prevent this was to sneak the toy into class and hope it didn’t make too much noise. A more responsible solution to this problem would have been to build something to take care of your virtual pet for you.

An art installation in Moscow is using an Arduino to take care of five Tamagotchis simultaneously in a virtal farm of sorts. The system is directly wired to all five toys to simulate button presses, and behaves ideally to make sure all the digital animals are properly cared for. Although no source code is provided, it seems to have some sort of machine learning capability in order to best care for all five pets at the same time. The system also prints out the statuses on a thermal printer, so you can check up on the history of all of the animals.

The popularity of these toys leads to a lot of in-depth investigation of what really goes on inside them, and a lot of other modifications to the original units and to the software. You can get a complete ROM dump of one, build a giant one, or even take care of an infinite number of them. Who would have thought a passing fad would have so much hackability?

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Spray Paint Goes DIY Virtual With A Vive Tracker

Here is a virtual spray painting project with a new and DIY twist to it. [Adam Amaral]’s project is an experiment in using the Vive Tracker, which was released earlier this year. [Adam] demonstrates how to interface some simple hardware and 3D printed parts to the Tracker’s GPIO pins, using it as a custom peripheral that is fully tracked and interactive in the Vive’s VR environment. He details not only the custom spray can controller, but also how to handle the device on the software side in the Unreal engine. The 3D printed “spray can controller” even rattles when shaken!

There’s one more trick. Since the Vive Tracker is wireless and completely self-contained, the completed rattlecan operates independently from the VR headset. This means it’s possible to ditch the goggles and hook up a projector, then use the 3D printed spray can to paint a nearby wall with virtual paint; you can see that part in action in the video embedded below.

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A Virtual Glimpse Into The Forest

Taking a stroll through the woods in the midst of autumn is a stunning visual experience. It does, however, require one to live nearby a forest. If you are one of those who does not, [Koen Hufkens] has recently launched the Virtual Forest project — a VR experience  that takes you though a day in a deciduous forest.

First off, you don’t need a VR apparatus to view the scenery. Web-browsers and most smart phones are capable of displaying the 360 degree images. The Raspberry Pi 2-controlled Ricoh Theta S camera is enclosed in a glass lamp cover and — with the help of some PVC pipe — mounted on a standard fence post. Power is delivered ingeniously via a Cat5e cable, and a surge protector has also been included in case of lightning strikes.  Depending on when you view the website, you could be confronted with a black screen, or a kaleidoscope of color.

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Virtual Archery Game Makes Practicing Convenient, Safe, And Inexpensive

Virtual-Archery

Inspired by playing The Legend of Zelda video game series, Cornell University students [Mohamed Abdellatif] and [Michael Ross] created a Virtual Archery game as their ECE 4760 Final Project.   The game consists of a bow equipped with virtual arrows and a target placed about 20 ft away. The player has three rounds to get as high of a score as possible. A small display monitor shows the instructions, and an image of where the shot actually hit on the target.

Pressing a button on the front of the bow readies a virtual arrow. A stretch sensor communicates with a  microcontroller to determine when the bow string has been drawn and released.  When the bow is drawn, a line of LEDs lights up to simulate a notched arrow. The player aims, and factors in for gravity. An accelerometer calculates the orientation of the bow when fired. The calculated shot is then shown on the display monitor along with your score.

This immediately makes me think of Laser Tag, and feels like a product that could easily be mass marketed. I’m surprised it hasn’t been already. Good work guys.

[via Hackedgadgets]

Check out the video demonstration after the break:

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