Two of Boris Werner’s friends, both musicians, were getting married, so for a unique gift he decided on a miniature stage setup with a Playmobil bride and groom as the guitarists.
After some research and ordering quite a few parts, he was able to construct an impressive festival-inspired stage, complete with guitars, lights, and some tunes.
In order to bring this diorama to life, he used an Arduino Uno board to play WAV files from a micro SD card, along with NeoPixel rings in the background, and MOSFET-driven LEDs for lighting. There’s even a tiny disco ball that spins via a stepper motor, propelling the tiny bride, groom, and their young son as the drummer into the limelight.
With Halloween around the corner, hackers are gearing up for festivals and trick-or-treaters, hoping to spook visitors or simply impress others with their automation prowess. DIY bloggers Ash and Eileen are no different, and decided to enter a local scarecrow contest in the “Out of this World” category. Their entry? Moo-Bot, an Arduino-powered sheet metal cow that looks like it came straight off the set of a 1950s sci-fi flick.
Not that that is a bad thing; somehow this retro-futuristic bovine looks quite interesting. Making it even better is that the robotic cow’s eyes are made out of two OLED displays, and that it can interact with observers through an internal speaker.
When someone presses a button on its nose, the onboard Uno powers up and tells a pre-recorded series of cow jokes via an MP3 player module. Power is supplied by eight D batteries, which is enough to keep the Moo-Bot going for a few months.
While instruments are available for those with visual impairment to read electronic media, they can be quite expensive, costing over $1,000. This is good for adults, but something more kid-friendly (and possibly replaceable) is needed to open up this world to those just learning.
The device–which is now in a prototype form–senses when a plastic object (a letter block, a plastic animal, etc.) is placed in the reader via preprogrammed NFC tags, then raises the corresponding dots on four Braille pads. The prototype uses an Arduino Uno for control, and a system that he developed to raise the Braille dots as needed.
I incorporated an NFC reader (Adafruit PN532) into the device. The idea was that the reader would read a preprogrammed tag that a parent, caregiver or educator could place on a toy such as a letter block, a plastic dog, cow, goat, etc. When the child places the toy in the reader the device will display the braille equivalent of the object on the four cells. Of course lights and sounds would also come later in the development of the device.
While playing board games on a computer screen can be entertaining, this experience lacks a certain tangible aspect. YouTuber RoboAvatar decided to take things into the third dimension with a chess machine that uses an XYZ gantry system and gripper to move pieces as needed.
Instead of a vision system, RoboAvatar’s robotic device uses 64 reed switches (one for each square) to tell an Arduino Uno where the magnetized pieces reside. The project also features a Mux Shield and a pair of MCP23017 I/O expander chips, providing a total of 93 available pins.
While the Uno controls the physical motion and sensing of the board, a computer runs a Python program that does the chess game calculations and sends this information to it. You can see the machine demonstrated in the first video below. The second gives an overview of how it was made.
While most of us take being able to remotely control a television or other appliance for granted, for the millions of people with some form of disability, this can present a challenge. In order to help those with limited mobility, Cassio Batista along with Erick Campos have come up with a system that translates head movements into infrared (IR) control signals.
In the project’s video seen below, Batista shows off how he can move his head to turn a TV on and off, as well as control channel selection and volume. A webcam captures these gestures, which are passed on to a Linux-based C.H.I.P. board that translates the movements using OpenCV. Finally, an Arduino Uno receives these commands over Bluetooth and signals the TV as needed via IR.
In addition to television, this system could easily be applied to other IR-based appliances, making lives easier, or perhaps simply eliminating a physical remote altogether.
We’ve all seen clips of people careening down mountain roads on luges, but if landing on concrete or careening off a cliff doesn’t look like your cup of tea, perhaps something meant for the beach would be more suitable. Taking inspiration from these luges, as well as kite surfing rigs, and even Land Speeders from Star Wars, UK-based maker John Dingley came up with his Electric Beach Luge.
Foot pegs straddling a single go-kart tire in the front are used for steering the vehicle, while power is transferred to the sand by a pair of wheels in the back. A potentiometer is wired into an Arduino Uno for speed input, which uses this information to signal a 500W, 24V golf cart motor via a robot combat controller, capable of producing 160 amps continuously.