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We don’t know what cats see when they see a red laser beam, but we know it isn’t what we see. The reaction, at least for many cats — is instant and extreme. Of course, your cat expects you to quit your job and play with it on demand. While [fluxaxiom] wanted to comply, he also knew that no job would lead to no cat food. To resolve the dilemma, he built an automated cat laser. In addition to the laser module, the device uses a few servos and a microcontroller in a 3D printed case. You can see a video, below. Dogs apparently like it too, but of course they aren’t the reason it was built.

If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can still cobble something together. The microcontroller is an Adafruit Pro Trinket, which is essentially an Arduino Pro Mini with some extra pins and a USB port.

There are twelve different patterns the device cycles through at random to attempt to confuse your cat. We couldn’t help but wonder if this ought to be on the Internet so you could take control and manually play with your cat. Sounds like a job for Blynk. The last time we saw a cat laser, it was a little more mobile.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Arduino Hacks, laser hacks

There have been a lot of smart computers on TV and movies. We often think among the smartest, though, are the ones on Star Trek. Not the big “library computer” and not the little silver portable computers. No, the smart computers on Star Trek ran the doors. If you ever watch, the doors seem to know the difference between someone walking towards it, versus someone flying towards it in the middle of a fist fight. It also seems to know when more people are en route to the door.

Granted, the reason they are so smart is that the doors really have a human operating them. For the real fan, though, you can buy a little gadget that looks like an intercom panel from the Enterprise. That would be cool enough, but this one has sound effects and can sense when someone walks into your doorway so they can hear the comforting woosh of a turbolift door.

Of course, for the real hacker, that’s not good enough either. [Evan] started with this $25 gadget, but wanted to control it with an Arduino for inclusion in his hackerspace’s pneumatic door system. He did a bit of reverse engineering, a bit of coding, and he wound up in complete control of the device.

The internals of the device were mostly straightforward with some PIR sensors, switches, LEDs, and some epoxy blobs that produce the sound and control the logic. [Evan] had to be a little creative since the red alert sound, once started, would not stop for some time. The solution? Let the Arduino cut power to the board when it wants silence.

The code is available on GitHub. There were a few other tricks required, including removing a PIR sensor chip and adding a USB to serial adapter. Once you can treat the whole thing as an I/O device, you could probably do a lot of interesting projects easily. And of course, this sort of offering would be perfect as an entry in the Hackaday Sci-Fi contest.

For some reason, we don’t see as many original series hacks as we do for the Next Generation. We have, though, seen at least one other swoosh door. On the other hand, if you fly against that door while being thrown by a Captain Kirk style body slam the door will still open. We can’t vouch for it, but this video has an interesting analysis of the door noise that reminded us of a modern version of playing our old LPs backward.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Give kids some responsible and challenging tasks, and you’d be surprised at the results. The “Anything Goes” exhibit at the National Museum in Warsaw was aimed as a museological and educational experiment. A group of 69 children aged 6–14 was divided into teams responsible for preparing the main temporary exhibition at the museum. Over six months, they worked on preparing the exhibition during weekly four-hour meetings. They prepared scripts, provided ideas for multimedia presentations, and curated almost 300 works for display. One of those was [Robert Mordzon]’s Giant Interactive Crossword.

The build is in two parts. The letter tiles, which have embedded RFID tags, obviously look like the easiest part of the build. The table, looking at the video (after the break), probably needed a lot more effort and labour. It is built in two halves to make construction easier. There are a 130 boxes that need to be filled in with the right letters to complete the crossword. Each box contains a bunch of electronics consisting of an Arduino Nano, a RFID Reader and a bunch of sixteen WS2812B LEDs, all assembled on a custom PCB. Do the math, and you’ll figure out that there’s 2080 LEDs, each capable of sipping 60 mA at full brightness. That’s a total current requirement of almost 125 amps at 5 V. Add in all the Arduino’s, and [Robert] needed a beefy 750 W of power, supplied via four switch mode power supplies.

Each Arduino Nano is a slave on the I²C bus. The I²C master is an Arduino Mega 2560, which in turn communicates with a computer over serial. When a box is empty, the LEDs are dim, when a wrong letter is placed, they turn Red, and when the right letter is placed, they turn Green. If a word gets completed, a special word animation is played. This information is also passed on to the computer, which then projects an animation related to the word on a giant wall screen. Upon the crossword getting completed, the table erupts in to a sound (via the computer) and light “disco” show and also reveals the main motto of this section of the exhibit – “Playing the Hero”.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

When your microwave is done with its food, it generally beeps… and beeps… and beeps. Though you definitely want to know when your frozen burrito is edible, if you get to it right when it wants, things can get quite annoying. Tim Gremalm decided to do something about it, and replaced the buzzer in his appliance with an Arduino Nano, an amplifier, and small speaker.

His initial speaker/amplifier combination wasn’t loud enough so he replaced it with more appropriate options. After this hack, he now has something that can play a more pleasing tone—in his case, the Windows XP startup sound—and do so only once!

You can see more of this project on Gremalm’s page, as well as check out his code here or this Arduino program that inspired his code. It’s a neat hack, and a great example of what can be done with an Arduino, but you probably shouldn’t mod your microwave unless you really know what you’re doing!

VoronoiInstallationVoroni moves in a smooth and organic way, thanks to some creative thinking.

Read more on MAKE

The post Use Arduino, Sensors, Servos, and LEDs To Create Life-Like Behavior appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

VoronoiInstallationVoroni moves in a smooth and organic way, thanks to some creative thinking.

Read more on MAKE

The post Use Arduino, Sensors, Servos, and LEDs To Create Life-Like Behavior appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

When teaching Industrial Automation to students, you need to give them access to the things they will encounter in industry. Most subjects can be taught using computer programs or simulators — for example topics covering PLC, DCS, SCADA or HMI. But to teach many other concepts, you  need to have the actual hardware on hand to be able to understand the basics. For example, machine vision, conveyor belts, motor speed control, safety and interlock systems, sensors and peripherals all interface with the mentioned control systems and can be better understood by having hardware to play with. The team at [Absolutelyautomation] have published several projects that aim to help with this. One of these is the DIY conveyor belt with a motor speed control and display.

This is more of an initial, proof of concept project, and there is a lot of room for improvement. The build itself is straightforward. All the parts are standard, off the shelf items — stuff you can find in any store selling 3D printer parts. A few simple tools is all that’s required to put it together. The only tricky part of the build would likely be the conveyor belt itself. [Absolutelyautomation] offers a few suggestions, mentioning old car or truck tyres and elastic resistance bands used for therapy / exercise as options.

If you plan to replicate this, a few changes would be recommended. The 8 mm rollers could do with larger “drums” over them — about an inch or two in diameter. That helps prevent belt slippage and improves tension adjustment. It ought to be easy to 3D print the add-on drums. The belt might also need support plates between the rollers to prevent sag. The speed display needs to be in linear units — feet per minute or meters per minute, rather than motor rpm. And while the electronics includes a RS-485 interface, it would help to add RS-232, RS-422 and Ethernet in the mix.

While this is a simple build, it can form the basis for a series of add-ons and extensions to help students learn more about automation and control systems. Or maybe you want a conveyor belt in your basement, for some reason.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

Once solved via a series of brain teasers and a physical challenge, this puzzle box opens to reveal an engagement ring.

When proposing to your significant other, the normal course of action is to hopefully do something romantic, get on one knee, and present your hopefully soon-to-be fiancé with a ring. David Hoskins however, apparently confident that his girlfriend would have the will as well as the mental and physical capacity to pass his test, instead created “The Box.”

This device put the user through challenges including a water weight puzzle that will be familiar to Die Hard fans, an audio puzzle, a visual puzzle, and even an endurance challenge involving an exercise bike. Of course, if his girlfriend failed to complete the puzzle, that would really ruin the setup, so Hoskins, who got the idea for the game while studying for a masters degree in user experience design, tested things thoroughly beforehand.

Things apparently proceeded as planned, since she said “yes!”

“The Box” was an interactive puzzle game not too dissimilar to the likes of the Crystal Maze or Escape the Room, where the user has to solve a series of puzzles (in my case, 4) to unlock the final prize (for me, an engagement ring). The game utilized a mixture of spatial engagement technology, utilizing Arduinos to connect physical objects and beacons to guide and inform the user as they passed through physical spaces undertaking each challenge.

You can read more about Hoskins’ project and the testing that went into it here.

With a DVD pick-up, an Arduino Uno, a laser, and an LDR, Instructables user “Venkes” has managed to create a DIY Laser Scanning Microscope (LSM).

A laser microscope works by shining a beam of light on a subject in an X-Y plane. The intensity of the reflected light is then detected by a photoresistor (or LDR) and recorded. When the various points of light are combined, you get an image.

Obviously you need a very small laser beam. Since a DVD laser unit has to work with the extremely small bit markings on these disks and has coils to steer the lens built-in, this seems like a logical choice to use with a custom microscope. Though it took quite a bit of effort to make, it’s capable of 1300x magnification and attaining a resolution of 65,536 pixels (256 x 256) in an area of .05 x .05mm. Results start around 3:00 in the video below.

More details of this impressive build can be found on the project’s Instructables page.

Have you ever wondered what television would look like if transposed onto string and wrapped around another object? If so, you’re not the only one, as shown in this teleknitting sculpture.

Although it’s hard to say where the idea for this piece came from, Moscow-based artist ::vtol::’s teleknitting installation resolves a TV signal down into one pixel by lowering its resolution in eight steps. This process is displayed as video on an Android tablet, and the results are transferred to thread via a unique dying mechanism involving “dye arms.”

This multi-colored string is then wrapped around an object (or objects) rotating on a pedestal, the height of the string being controlled by the TV signal’s volume.

As you can see below, the character Bender from Futurama along with an alligator bearing an accordion act as the items being wrapped in TV-string. You can find more details of this build on ::vtol::’s website, along with a number of his other Arduino-based interactive projects.

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