Engineering Vs Pigeons

We’ve all been there. Pigeons are generally pretty innocuous, but they do leave a mess. If you have a convertible or a bicycle or even just a clean car, you probably don’t want them hanging around. [Max] was tired of a messy balcony, so like you might approach any engineering problem, he worked his way through several possible solutions. Starting with plastic crows, and naturally ending with an automated water gun.

The resulting robotic water gun that targets pigeons with openCV is a dandy project and while we don’t usually advocate shooting at neighborhood animals, we don’t think a little water will be any worse than the rain for the pigeons. The build started with a cheap electric water pistol. A Wemos D1 Mini ESP8266 development board provides the brainpower. The water pistol wouldn’t easily take rechargeable batteries, plus it is a good idea to separate the logic supply and the pump motors, so the D1 gets power from a USB power bank separate from the gun’s batteries.

That leaves the camera. An old iPhone 6S with a 3D printed bracket feeds video to a Python script that uses openCV. If looks for changes using a very particular algorithm to detect that something is moving and fires the gun. It doesn’t appear that it actually tracks the pigeons, so maybe that’s a thought for version 2.

Was it successful? Maybe, but it does seem like the pigeons learned to avoid it. We still think azimuth and elevation on the gun would help.

Most of the time when we see pigeon hacking it is to use them for nefarious purposes. [Max] should be glad he doesn’t have to deal with lions.

Head-Tracking NES Water Blaster Is Good Summer Fun

Super Soakers were great fun back in the day, but adults tend to get tired of the manual labour of pumping pretty quickly. [Sean] decided to build something a touch more modern, coming up with this head-tracking water blaster.

The water spray tracks the movement of the wearer’s head. With a camera mounted on the nozzle, this allows the user to simply look to designate targets. Similar technology is used in military fighter jets.

To eliminate pumping, the build instead enlists the services of an electric pump, powered by a 12 V battery. Pushing water through a tube into a 3D printed nozzle, it provides a fat stream of water with around 5 meters range, with little effort from the user. The nozzle is fitted into a NES Zapper, and attached to a servo pan-tilt platform. The camera is mounted on the water gun, and hooked up to a set of Fat Shark FPV goggles with an IMU unit. When the user looks around, the water gun moves in sync with their head movements. This allows for the user to look at targets to hit them with the water stream, a very intuitive method of aiming.

It’s a fun build that’s perfect for the summer, and an easy one to recreate for anyone with some spare servos and FPV gear. Of course, with a little face-tracking software, it would be easy to hit targets automatically. Video after the break.

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Sentry Water Gun Relies On LIDAR

As we head into summer, Super Soakers and their ilk become de rigeur ways to cool off in the heat. Not content with chasing targets himself, [Marcel] instead built a sentry water gun to do his bidding.

The build is one that leverages typical 3D printer components to get the job done. A Minitronics 2.0 board is used to run the show, packing a 40 MHz SAMD21 microcontroller for plenty of grunt. It’s Arduino compatible too, making it easy to program. It’s combined with NEMA17 and NEMA23 steppers and an external driver board to slew the gun towards a target. Target detection is via a RPLIDAR A1, which detects the range of nearby objects. This data is used to calculate the pan angle and tilt required to hit the target with a stream of water, fired by a relay-controlled solenoid.

It’s a fun build that does a good job of soaking those playing by the pool. [Marcel] aims to do further work to improve performance by reducing backlash and increasing slew speed. Sentry guns are a forever popular build around these parts. Video after the break.

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Super squirter automatic water gun

Motion Activated Super-Squirter Stands Guard

Thieves beware. If you prowl around [Matthew Gaber]’s place, you get soaked by his motion activated super-squirter. Even if he’s not at home, he can aim and fire it remotely using an iPhone app. And for the record, a camera saves photos of your wetted-self to an SD card.

ESPino, ArduCAM UNO and voltage converter boards
ESPino, ArduCAM UNO and voltage converter boards

The whole security system is handled by three subsystems for target acquisition, photo documentation, and communications. The first subsystem is centered around an ESPino which utilizes a PIR sensor to detect motion. It then turns on a windscreen washer pump and uses pan and tilt servos to squirt water in a pattern toward the victim.

The target acquisition hardware also sends a message to the second subsystem, an ArduCAM ESP8266 UNO board. It takes a burst of photos using an ArduCAM Mini Camera mounted beside the squirter outlet. The UNO can also serve up a webpage with a collection of the photos.

The final subsystem is an iPhone app which talks to both the ESPino and the UNO board. It can remotely control the squirter and provide a video feed of what the camera sees.

One detail of the build we really enjoyed is the vacuum relief valve he fabricated himself. It prevents siphoning through the pump when it’s not on. Don’t miss a demo of the squirter in action after the break.

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Labor Day Weekend Water Gun Spectacular

In the US, summer is marked by two holidays. In late May, Memorial day traditionally marks the the beginning of summer, the opening of public pools, and the day shopping malls are invaded by scores of petulant teenagers. In early September, Labor day marks the traditional end of summer, a great weekend to fire up the grill, and finally – finally – an end to the neighborhood kids screaming their heads off outside. Being Labor day weekend, we were very happy to see two builds show up in the tip jar concerning the one object that defines summer: water guns.

Homemade Super Soaker

[Michael] had the genius idea of building a water gun out of a diaphragm expansion tank (German, here’s the terrible translation). These tanks – usually connected to a house’s hot water line near the hot water heater – allow for the expansion of hot water and protects pipes from excessive pressure. It does this with a rubber membrane separating the inside the tank into two halves. Half the tank is filled with water while the other half is filled with compressed air from a bicycle pump.

[Michael] connected a hose and made a nice gun out of aluminum pipe to build the ‘gun’ part of his build. With 9 bar of pressure in the expansion tank, [Michael] can shoot a stream of water 20 meters.

Water gun turret with a laser sight

This build comes from [Valentin]. He picked up a automobile water pump for just a few Euros, and attached it to a 1 liter bottle filled with water. A pan/tilt turret was constructed out of CNC milled aluminum and a pair of servos.

After [Valentin] got the water-shooting turret part of the build out of the way, he installed a 2.4 GHz wireless camera on the pan/tilt mount and taped a receiver to the back of his remote control.

The addition of a small LCD screen displaying the turret’s point of view makes for a very cool build, perfect for pestering those annoying neighborhood kids.

Video of [Valentin]’s build after the break.

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Birdwatching Meets A Computer-Controlled Water Cannon, Awesomeness Ensues

squirrel turret

Sure, squirrels may bother the average home owner, but few have attempted as creative a way to control them as this automated water turret. Check out the video after the break to see how this was accomplished, but if you’d rather just see how the squirrels reacted to getting squirted, fast forward to around 16:00. According to [Kurt] he was sure this would be his solution, however, his conclusion was that “squirrels don’t care.”

As for the presentation, it’s more about how to use [OpenCV], or Open Source Computer Vision. It’s quite a powerful piece of software, especially considering that something like this would cost thousands of dollars in a normal market.  An Arduino is used to interface the computer’s outputs to the real world and control a squirt gun. If you’d rather not program something like this yourself, you could always simply use a garden hose as someone suggests just after the video. Continue reading “Birdwatching Meets A Computer-Controlled Water Cannon, Awesomeness Ensues”