If you want to get better at billiards, the conventional wisdom is to practice. However, if you’re YouTuber Shane Wighton, you build a robotic cue to play the game for you.
His device looks like a cross between a pool stick, a sci-fi robot, and a heavily-modified weed wacker. Instead of precisely manipulating the cue, you just put it roughly in place, hit the trigger, and let it sink the shot.
The setup employs a servo/linkage-controlled platform for precise aiming, and a pneumatic actuator that pushes the tip into the selected ball when ready. An Arduino board is implemented to fire the actuator via a solenoid valve, and it can increase or decrease pressure with two other valves based on gauge input. Computer vision is used to sense ball and cue position, and the system even projects alignment guides and predicted trajectories on the table itself.
Often you might see a recycling bin next to a trash can, and notice that someone else has thrown their waste into the wrong container. To help with this conundrum, the team of Shalin Jain, Viraj Singh, Edward Chen, and Joshua Kim created a double-sided container that sorts things automatically.
Their device, dubbed “Splash,” takes a webcam image of the item presented to it, analyzes this with a Python script and the Azure Custom Vision API, and reports back to an Arduino Uno controller with its findings. Depending on the results, the Arduino then uses a driver board and motor to properly position a flap, directing refuse into in the correct bin.
When you read a book, or… other website, you may find your mind wandering from time to time. This isn’t always a big deal, but if you want to ensure that you’re getting every last bit of information on a page, YouTuber “I made this” may have the perfect solution.
His “program that could tell if you are paying attention” employs eye tracking to see where on the page you’re looking, and correlates this with input from a brainwave sensor. Conveniently, the particular unit used here (salvaged from a NeuroSky toy) outputs an attention value from 0-100. An Arduino board reads the EEG directly and passes data along to the computer, which then highlights text green for “paid attention,” and red for “not paying attention.”
Geodesic domes, approximately spherical structures made from an arrangement of triangular faces, are fascinating in and of themselves. Add light and sound, as was done here by students at the University of Málaga in Spain, and you have something truly magical.
Their device is a derivation Jon Bumstead’s larger dome project, shrinking his 120-triangle design down to a more manageable 40. The frame was constructed out of wood and 3D-printed PLA, with triangle measurements calculated using this Desert Domes tool.
An Arduino Uno controls the system’s programmable LED and sound output, while IR sensors with 74LS151 multiplexers allow for interaction. The dome features several modes, which include creating colorful patterns at the touch of each triangle, producing music, and even playing the classic game of Simon. You can see it in action below!
Do you need a hug? Are friends and family not around? As seen here, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) and ETH Zürich may have just the solution in the form of HuggieBot 2.0.
Based on a previous robot created by one of the paper’s co-authors Alexis E. Block, HuggieBot 2.0 uses computer vision to detect when a participant is approaching for an embrace, and wraps its 6-DOF JACO arms around them when in position.
An LCD screen allows HuggieBot to output facial expressions, which along with overall robot functions, are controlled by an onboard computer. To determine when to end the hug, it employs an inflatable “HuggieChest” microphone and pressure sensor setup, read with the help of an Arduino Uno. When a person releases the hug, the robot can do the same, averting any robo-human awkwardness.
The Coanda effect, as you may or may not know, is what causes flowing air to follow a convex surface. In his latest video, James Bruton shows how the concept can used as a sort of inverted ping pong ball waterfall or staircase.
His 3D-printed rig pushes balls up from one fan stage to another, employing curved ducts to guide the lightweight orbs on their journey.
The fan speeds are regulated with an Arduino Uno and motor driver, and the Arduino also dictates how fast a feeder mechanism inputs balls via a second driver module. While the setup doesn’t work every time, it’s still an interesting demonstration of this natural phenomenon, and could likely be perfected with a bit more tinkering.