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GeekCon participants add a switch and actuator to a HAL 9000 model for the world’s largest “leave-me-alone box.”

You’ve probably seen the silly boxes that when you flip a switch to turn it “on,” an arm comes out to turn itself “off” again. At this year’s GeekCon Makers conference, participants decided to make a useless machine, but in place of a simple box, they made a model of the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Rather than the normal “useless” configuration, it turns itself “on” instead of “off” in an apparent nod to the fact that the computer didn’t want to be disconnected in the movie. One Arduino controls a projector for the “eye” assembly, while another takes care of the servos and audio. HAL’s sounds are stored on an SD card inside an Adafruit Music Shield.

Behind the eye, made out of round lamp and a red plastic diffuser, there is a projector. The projector is connected to Arduino TVout which only outputs a white filled circle that also changes its diameter based on microphone input. Having the circle moving according to the sounds gives HAL’s eye more realistic look.

The second Arduino was in charge of servos and audio. We divided the tasks to two Arduino Uno to avoid collisions in PINs requirements.

You can find more information on this project on its blog and in Hackaday’s recent writeup. If you just want to see the Arduino code, it’s available here.

(Photos: Rafael Mizrahi)

[Eric Dirgahayu] wanted to explore underwater with some sensors and cameras. First, he needed a platform to carry them. That led to his Arduino-controlled swimming fish. The fish is made from PVC and some waterproof servos. From the video (see below) it isn’t clear how much control the fish has, but it does swim with an undulating motion like a real fish.

The included software allows for infrared control (so clean water is a must) and there is a ballast tank for buoyancy. The site has several videos and tabs that show different aspects of the project. We found the site a little difficult to navigate, so to help you out, you can go straight to the interesting bits of the construction. Here’s the electronics, too.

If you need a home for your robot fish, we’ve seen plenty of high-tech tanks. If you prefer your submersibles a little more futuristic, you can always try Star Trek.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

With his beautifully-colored classroom “noise-o-meter,” Mr. Jones knows when things are getting out of hand.

When you were in school (or if you are in school) the teacher likely told the class to be quiet, perhaps repeating him or herself over an over during the day. The teacher, however, likely never really defined what is good and bad. Mr. Jones has finally solved this issue by creating a classroom “noise-o-meter” using an Arduino, an electret microphone, and a programmable LED strip. In order (apparently) too keep the class in line, noise is simply marked as green for “expected,” amber for “louder,” and “red” for too loud which corresponds nicely with more “traditional” VU meters.

I built this a short while ago as an idea to use in a primary classroom setting. Poster displays are often used by primary teachers wanting to control the noise levels in their classrooms but I wanted to add technology to make it dynamic and responsive. The motivation for this came after seeing the Adafruit Digital NeoPixel LED Strip online and realizing its potential as part of a VU meter.

Are you a teacher and want to build one for yourself? You can check out Mr. Jones’ Instructables page or his own website in a different format.

In a time when we’re inundated with talk of an impending AI apocalypse it’s nice to see an AI that’s intentionally useless. That AI is HAL 9000. No, not the conflicted HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey but the World’s Biggest AI Useless Machine HAL built by [Rafael], [Mickey] and [Eyal] for GeekCon 2016 in Israel.

Standing tall, shiny and black, the box it’s housed in reminds us a bit of the monolith from the movie. But, in a watchful position near the top is HAL’s red eye. As we approach, HAL’s voice from the movie speaks to us asking “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” as the eye changes diameter in keeping with the speech’s amplitude. And at the bottom is a bright, yellow lever marked ON, which of course we just have to turn off. When we do, a panel opens up below it and a rod extends upward to turn the lever back to the ON position.

Behind the scenes are two Arduinos. One Arduino manages servos for the panel and rod as well as playing random clips of HAL from the movie. The other Arduino uses the Arduino TVout library to output to a projector that sits behind the red diffuser that is the eye. That Arduino also takes input from a microphone and based on the amplitude, has the projector project a white circle of corresponding diameter, making the eye’s appearance change. You can see all this in action in the video after the break.

Paradoxically, useless machines serve the purpose of being fun and we’ve seen other fun ones in the past, such as one that snuffs out a candle the moment you light it and another that turns the pages of a book and scans them, with wooden eyes. So check them out while not wasting time having fun.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

This dust buster-based robotic vacuum may or may not work as well as a Roomba.

If you’re fascinated by the idea of a robotic vaccum cleaner to keep you from having to do certain chores, you could buy an iRobot, or you could make your own instead. This particular DIY model uses four motors for locomotion, an Arduino Uno, an IR and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles, as well as a (formerly) handheld vacuum cleaner to suck up debris.

The assembly sits on a wooden chassis, and as author B. Aswinth Raj is quick to point out, many variations on this robot could be made. Code is included and fairly short, so whether you’d like to copy this design or improve upon it, the bot should certainly give you some build ideas!

In this project we will use the power of embedded systems and electronics to make our own robot which could help us in keeping our home or work place neat and tidy. This robot is simple four wheeled vacuum cleaner which could smartly avoid obstacles and vacuum the floor at the same time. The idea is inspired by the famous vacuum cleaner iRobot Roomba…

You can find more detailed instructions, along with its code and a circuit diagram, on this CircuitDigest page.

An Arduino plus fake food and audio capabilities equals something truly unique!

Randy “randofo” Sarafan had an idea when he was in college: a takeout container that talked. To the world’s great benefit, now that he knows about electronics, he finally made this dream a reality. Using an Arduino Mega with a Seed Studio Music Shield, he was able to coordinate the movements of a servo and thus the lid of a box with the audio coming out of a speaker. After attaching googly, or “googily” eyes, and modifying a fake serving of spaghetti, he had something that should be quite entertaining!

This idea came about after having taken a special effects film class when I was in college. While in the class, I made a short film of myself talking to a takout container with a face drawn on it. However, not having the know-how to do anything with electronics, the initial version was being controlled by a friend pulling upon and releasing a thin fishing line. While I do not doubt that my friend was skilled at controlling the lid in this manner, I couldn’t help but thinking that it would be great if I could automate the whole thing — at the very least — less embarrasing.

You can find more info on how to build this “foodie” contraption on the project’s Instructables page!

IDE_FB_2

A new version of the Arduino IDE (1.6.12) supporting OSX Sierra is available for download! All OSX users updating to Sierra are invited to also update the IDE to avoid crashes when uploading sketches.

This update includes an experimental integration with Arduino Cloud API already used by Arduino Create. The Arduino Cloud is simple tool to connect your Arduinos to the Internet and to each other. From now on, when you insert for the first time an Arduino/Genuino or AtHeart board which needs an additional core, you will be prompted to automagically install its bundled software.

You’ll notice that the example menu has been reorganized, making it much more consistent and easier to navigate.

We’ve released version 1.0.7 of Curie core as well, which is a transitional release guiding us towards 2.0.0 with BLE central role and a lot of other goodies. You can read all the details on the forum.

What was your first Arduino program? Probably an LED blinker — that seems to be the “hello world” of microcontrolllers. You probably moved on to things a little more complicated pretty quickly. At some point, things get harder because the Arduino lacks an operating system.

There are operating systems that will run on the Arduino. They aren’t full-featured like Windows or Linux, but they allow you to run multiple tasks that are both isolated from each other (to some degree) and have a way to cooperate (that is, synchronize, share data and resources, and so on). One such operating system is ChibiOS. It will run on AVR- and ARM-based devices. You can find documentation about the entire project on the home page along with other ports.

The problem with adopting a new operating system is always getting started. [ItKindaWorks] has started a video series on using ChibiOS and has posted three installments so far (see below; one is about getting started, the other two cover messaging, mutexes, and priorities).

If you want to follow along with the videos, the code is available on GitHub. We aren’t sure if he’s planning more videos, but these will be more than enough to get you started.

According to the ChibiOS project, they are better than many common similar operating systems because of their static design (you can put the processor to sleep without causing problems). They also support true threads instead of simple tasks, meaning that you can dynamically create and destroy threads and synchronize threads easily.

If you are building sophisticated software that needs multiple things occurring at once, having an operating system can make life a lot easier. We’ve seen examples of using ChibiOS ranging from motor control to MIDI players. There are quite a few choices other than ChibiOS, too, if you look around.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

For most of us, our touch-screen smartphones have become an indispensable accessory. Without thinking we tap and swipe our way through our digital existence, the promise of ubiquitous truly portable computing has finally been delivered.

Smartphones present a problem though to some people with physical impairments. A touchscreen requires manual dexterity on a scale we able-bodied people take for granted, but remains a useless glass slab to someone unable to use their arms.

LipSync is a project that aims to address the problem of smartphone usage for one such group, quadriplegic people. It’s a mouth-operated joystick for the phone’s on-screen cursor, with sip-and-puff vacuum control for simulating actions such as screen taps and the back button.

To the smartphone itself, the device appears as a standard Bluetooth pointing device, while at its business end the joystick and pressure sensor both interface to a Bluetooth module through an Arduino Micro. The EAGLE board and schematic files are available on the project’s hackaday.io page linked above, and there is a GitHub repository for the code.

Technology is such a part of our lives these days, and it’s great to see projects like this bridge the usability gaps for everyone.  Needless to say, it’s a perfect candidate for the Assistive Technology round of the Hackaday Prize.

 

 


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Medical hacks, The Hackaday Prize

Hard as it is to imagine, lie detectors have been sold as children’s toys for a number of years. A simple battery-operated device clipped to your fingers and would show the conductivity of your skin. The concept — which is probably not very reliable — observers that lying causes you to imperceptibly sweat which causes a sudden increase in your skin’s conductivity. These cheap toys would have a meter and you’d note the meter deflection to determine if the subject was lying.

You can debate the amusement value of interrogating your friends, perhaps, but they were pretty common and still exist (including some that shock you if they detect you are lying). Seventeen-year-old [BuildIt] has his own modern take on this classic device using — what else? — an Arduino. You can see a video of the device below.

fvb06bzirsuey29-largeOf interest is how he used the latest version of the Arduino IDE to visualize the data graphically (see right). This is easier than interpreting a bunch of numbers scrolling by on the serial terminal or having to import the data into a spreadsheet. You can find the graph under the Tools menu listed as Serial Plotter.

You don’t need a lot of external parts for this project, although the finger clips and the cardboard box will take a little mechanical skill to complete.

We’ve looked at galvanic skin response and other biosignal processing before. You can do a lot more if you build a little more hardware.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Medical hacks


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