Continuum robots — which look like a tentacle or perhaps an elephant’s trunk — use a series of linkage sections and internal tendons to move both horizontally and vertically. While they may seem quite exotic, in the video below element14 Presents’ DJ Harrigan breaks down how he built one with an Arduino Mega and a fairly simple list of parts.
The robotic mechanism hangs down from a support structure, with universal joints allowing each section to bend, but not twist, with respect to the next one. These 10 sections are pulled in different directions using two servos and Kevlar cord, with user interface provided by two potentiometers. A third pot actuates another motor attached to the tentacle, acting as a gripper for tools, or whatever else Harrigan needs at the time!
Redditor “Higgs8” had a gas convection heater that is (or was) controlled manually, but they wanted something a bit more. To accomplish this, they came up with a small Arduino-based thermostat.
This allows you to set the desired temperature using a potentiometer, and it senses the current temperature value via a DS18B20 thermometer unit. It then adjusts the formerly manual knob with a stepper motor and custom gear reduction in response, maintaining the desired comfort level.
Feedback is displayed on a small OLED screen, which charts the room’s temperature over a 24-hour period. It also shows if the heater was on, letting you see if it was working properly.
Standard Arduino Nanos can be used for many purposes, but they do not feature wireless capabilities. Somehow, though, Hari Wiguna’s Arduino psychic system is apparently able to pass data between two of them. No external communication hardware is implemented, yet one Nano is able to recognize when a random number chosen on the other Nano setup is input via an attached keypad.
As noted by Wiguna, it’s easier shown than explained, and you can see this techno-magic trick in action in the first clip. How things work is revealed in the second video, but can you guess how it’s done?
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The build supposedly has its roots in the 1970s South African nuclear program, where it was used for radiation measurement and encrypted satellite data transfer. Given the luggable cyberdeck’s superb quality, one could almost believe it was military equipment.
Looking inside the rugged case reveals a Raspberry Pi 3 that provides computing power along with an Arduino Leonardo for a custom joystick input, indicating civilian origins. While there’s no satellite uplink (at least not without WiFi), it does feature a functional Geiger counter, which allows one to monitor local conditions for dangerous radiation levels.
As an exhibit at the Phaneo Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, Niklas Roy and Felix Figus created a remotely-operated storytelling machine dubbed “Smart Fairy Tale.”
When initiated, a little red ball rolls down the apparatus’ transparent tubing, triggering different interactions based on the interruption of light sensors along its path. 25 Arduino Nanos are used to control each individual animatronic part of the “story,” making the code manageable and allowing the overall installation to still work if there’s a malfunction in one section.
To start the Smart Fairy Tale, people can log on to its Raspberry Pi server, where they can also change how it works. Animations were designed with the help of donated toys, inspirational drawings from kids, and the participation of artist Wolfgang Kowar – a truly public art exhibit!