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If you are a Harry Potter fan, you might remember that one of the movies showed an Isle of Lewis chess set whose pieces moved in response to a player’s voice commands. This feat has been oft replicated by hackers and [amoyag00] has a version that brings together a Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Android, and the Stockfish chess engine in case you want to play by yourself. You can see a video of the game, below.

Interestingly, the system uses Marlin — the 3D printing software — to handle motion using the Arduino. We suppose moving chess pieces over a path isn’t much different than moving a print head. It is certainly a novel use of GCode.

There are a lot of pieces integrated to make this work. There is a Bluetooth connection between the Android and Pi. We saw code in Java, Python, C++, at least. We were sad to read that the team that built it can’t modify it anymore as it was a school project and the parts have been recycled for a new class of students. On the other hand, maybe someone else will make a copy and extend it further.

We are always surprised we haven’t seen more Harry Potter paraphernalia. There was the magic wand at this year’s Superconference. We also liked the Mad Eye Moody. There have been others, of course, but not as many as you’d think given the franchise’s popularity.

In the United States, TV and radio stations have to give the opportunity of equal airtime to all candidates. In that spirit, we thought we should show you [Jayden17’s] hack that puts Google Assistant into a Teddy Ruxpin. You can see the hacked bear do its thing in the video below.

Teddy was the best-selling toy for 1985 and 1986, and is still available, so over 30 years there are a lot of these hanging around. If you never looked at how they work, the original ones were quite simple. A cassette player routed one stereo channel to a speaker and used the other channel to control servo motors to move the mouth and eyes. The cassette was eventually replaced with a digital cartridge, and newer versions of Teddy only use two motors instead of the three in the original.

[Jayden17’s] bear was an original “Worlds of Wonder” bear which means it is from the 1985-1990 time period. If you have a newer bear, you might have to work things out a little differently. These bears often have stuck motors, which can be fixed and broken cassette mechanisms. The cassette isn’t used with this project, so that’s not a problem.

The real key to the project is an Arduino that listens to the audio coming in from a smartphone or other source and drives the motors. The project just uses a cable for the phone, although we would have been tempted to put a cheap Bluetooth receiver in there. However, because of the way it is set up, you could easily do that. You could also use a Raspberry Pi or even switch to Alexa. The Arduino doesn’t know anything about the source audio.


We’ve all been there: after assessing a problem and thinking about a solution, we immediately rush to pursue the first that comes to mind, only to later find that there was a vastly simpler alternative. Thankfully, developing an obscure solution, though sometimes frustrating at the time, does tend to make a good Hackaday post. This time it was [David Wehr] and AudioSerial: a simple way of outputting raw serial data over the audio port of an Android phone. Though [David] could have easily used USB OTG for this project, many microcontrollers don’t have the USB-to-TTL capabilities of his Arduino – so this wasn’t entirely in vain.

At first, it seemed like a simple task: any respectable phone’s DAC should have a sample rate of at least 44.1kHz. [David] used Oboe, a high performance C++ library for Android audio apps, to create the required waveform. The 8-bit data chunks he sent can only make up 256 unique messages, so he pre-generated them. However, the DAC tried to be clever and do some interpolation with the signal – great for audio, not so much for digital waveforms. You can see the warped signal in blue compared to what it should be in orange. To fix this, an op-amp comparator was used to clean up the signal, as well as boosting it to the required voltage.

Prefer your Arduino connections wireless? Check out this smartphone-controlled periodic table of elements, or this wireless robotic hand.

A good robot is always welcome around here at Hackaday, and user [igorfonseca83]’browser-controlled ‘bot s is no exception. Felines beware.

[igorfonseca83] — building on another project he’s involved in — used simple materials for the robot itself, but you could use just about anything. His goal for this build was to maximize accessibility in terms of components and construction using common tools.

An Arduino Uno gets two D/C motors a-driving using an H-bridge circuit — granting independent control the wheels — an ESP8266 enabling WiFi access, with power provided by a simple 5V USB power bank. [igorfonseca83] is using an Android smartphone to transmit audio and video data; though this was mostly for convenience on his part, a Raspberry Pi and camera module combo as another great option!

A few workarounds notwithstanding — considering some components in this particular configuration do not directly connect to each other — a bunch of code, set up of a website to act as a controller that accesses the IP address of the ESP8266, and an app installed on the audio/video streaming smartphone later, and you have a cat-stalking robot ready to rock. There are, of course, other uses for fpv robots, but with arguably less entertaining results.

[via and Instructables]

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

Fidget spinners — so hot right now!

[Ben Parnas], and co-conspirator in engineering inanity [Greg Daneault], brought to the recent Boston Stupid Hackathon in Cambridge, MA, their IoT-enabled Fidget Spinner…. spinner. A Spidget Finner. Yep, that’s correct: spin the smartphone, and the spinner follows suit. Stupid? Maybe, but for good reason.

Part satire on cloud tech, part learning experience, a curt eight hours of tinkering brought this grotesque, ESP32-based device to life. The ESP can the Arduino boot-loader, but you’ll want to use the ESP-IDF sdk, enabling broader use of the chip.

Creating an app that pulls data from the phone’s gyroscope, the duo set up the spinner-bot to access the WiFi and request packets of rotational data from the smartphone via a cloud-based server — the ‘spincloud.’ Both devices were enabled as clients to circumvent existing IoT services.

[Parnas] stipulates that — theoretically — you could control as many spinners as you can imagine with this setup, but one is quite enough of a silly idea for us. Ridiculous or not — if you learn something, then it’s probably worthwhile! So keep hacking away at those ideas and you might be able to justify it to all the people with concerned stares.

To start, you can tell them you’re in  good company.

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks

Who doesn’t love a good robot? If you don’t — how dare you! — then this charming little scamp might just bring the hint of a smile to your face.

SDDSbot — built out of an old Sony Dynamic Digital Sound system’s reel cover — can’t do much other than turn left, right, or walk forwards on four D/C motor-controlled legs, but it does so using the power of a Pixy camera and an Arduino. The Pixy reads colour combinations that denote stop and go commands from sheets of paper, attempting to keep it in the center of its field of view as it toddles along. Once the robot gets close enough to the ‘go’ colour code, the paper’s  orientation directs the robot to steer itself left or right — the goal being the capacity to navigate a maze. While not quite there yet, it’s certainly a handful as it is.

With the care of a maker, [Arno Munukka] takes us under the hood of his robot to show how he’s made clever use of the small space. He designed a duo of custom PCBs for the motors and stuck them near the robot’s top — you can see the resistors used to time the steps poking through the robot’s case, adding a functional cosmetic effect. The Arduino brain is stuck to the rear, the Pixy to the front, and the power boards are snug near the base. Three USB ports pepper the robot’s posterior — a charging port, one for programming the Arduino, and a third to access the Pixy camera.

What do you think — had a change of heart regarding our future overl– uh, silicon-based friends? Yes? Well here’s a beginner bot to will get you started.

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

Take three NRF24L0+ radios, two Arduino Nanos, and a Raspberry Pi. Add a bored student and a dorm room at Rice University. What you get is the RRAD: Rice Ridiculously Automated Dorm. [Jordan Poles] built a modular system inspired by BRAD (the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm).

RRAD has three types of nodes:

  • Actuation nodes – Allows external actuators like relays or solenoids
  • Sensory nodes – Reports data from sensors (light, temperature, motion)
  • Hub nodes – Hosts control panel, records data, provides external data interfaces

The hub also allows [Jordan] to control things with his Android phone with Tasker. He has the Arduino and Raspberry Pi code on GitHub if you want to ridiculously automate something of your own. You’d probably want to adapt it to your dorm room, house, or RV, though.

[Jordan] continues to work on the project and promises to have voice recognition and other features, soon. We cover a lot of home automation projects including some others described as ridiculous. The video below shows BRAD, the inspiration for RRAD.

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, home hacks, Raspberry Pi

Chromecasts are fantastic little products, they’re basically little HDMI sticks you can plug into any monitor or TV, and then stream content using your phone or computer as the controller. They are powered by a micro USB port in the back, and if you’re lucky, your TV has a port you can suck the juice off. But what if you want to turn it off while you use a different input on your TV? You might have to build a power switch.

Now in all honesty, the Chromecast gets hot but the amount of power it draws when not in use is still pretty negligible compared to the draw of your TV. Every watt counts, and [Ilias] took this as an opportunity to refine his skills and combine a system using an Arduino, Bluetooth, and Android to create a robust power switch solution for the Chromecast.

The setup is rather simple. An HC-05 Bluetooth module is connected to an Attiny85, with some transistors to control a 5V power output. The Arduino takes care of a bluetooth connection and uses a serial input to control the transistor output. Finally, this is all controlled by a Tasker plugin on the Android phone, which sends serial messages via Bluetooth.

All the information you’ll need to make one yourself is available at [Ilias’] GitHub repository. For more information on the Chromecast, why not check out our review from almost three years ago — it’s getting old!

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, home entertainment hacks

Water conservation is on a lot of people’s mind, and with an older sprinkler system one may not have the finest control of when and where the lawn is getting its water. Faced with such a system [Felix] decided to hack into his, adding better computerized scheduling, and internet remote control.

The brains of the operation is handled by a Moteino, which is a Arduino compatible micro controller board with WiFi on board. In order to interface with the sprinkler system, an interface PCB is made. The interface has an on board buck power supply to regulate the 24 volt AC power of the sprinkler down to 5 volt DC for the micro and the 74HC595 shift registers.

The output from the shift registers connects to a pin header where the stock computer normally would have plugged in. With a little software and a phone app, the new micro-controller takes over the sprinkler’s TRIAC’s turning on and off zones with a push of the thumb.

Join us after the break for a quick demonstration video.

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, home hacks

As hilariously outrageous as Pacific Rim was, it was still an awesome concept. Giant robot battle suits, duking it out with the aliens. Well, it looks as if it wasn’t quite as far-fetched as we first imagined. Maker [Danny Benedettelli] just released a video of his very own Lego exoskeleton suit that when worn can be used to control a desktop size Cyclops robot. You might remember [Danny] as the author of The Lego Mindstorms EV3 Library,

The Cyclops robot (also his design) was originally built four years ago using Lego Mindstorms NXT system with an Android phone running a custom app. Cyclops has been upgraded a bit for this demonstration. Now it communicates over Bluetooth with an Arduino to [Danny’s] telemetry suit.

Relatively speaking, the system is pretty simple. The Lego exoskeleton has potentiometers on each joint, which map to a degree of freedom for the robot. When one potentiometer spins, the associated robot joint mimics it. Simple, right?

He says it’s just a prototype, so we can probably expect an even more functional robot very soon — for more information, check out his personal site called Danny’s Lab.

[via Kotaku]

Filed under: Android Hacks, Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

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