Posts with «robots hacks» label

Sisyphean Ball Race Robot Toils Gracefully, Magnetically

Aren’t ball races and marble runs fun? Wouldn’t they be so much more enjoyable if you didn’t have to climb back up the ladder each time, as it were, and reset the thing? [Johannes] wrote in to tell us about a wee robot with the Sisyphean task of setting a ball bearing on a simple but fun course, collecting it from the end, and airlifting it back to the start of the track.

[Johannes] built this ‘bot to test small-scale resin printing strength as well as the longevity of some tiny linear actuators from Ali that may or may not be available at a moment’s notice. The point was to see how these little guys fared when connected directly to an Arduino or other microcontroller, rather than going the safer route with a motor driver of some kind.

Some things worked well, like the c-clips that keep the axles together, and using quick pulses to release the magnetically-linked ball from the gripper. Other aspects didn’t work out so well. Tiny resin parts do not respond well to force, for starters. And then there’s the actuators themselves. The connections are fragile and the motors are weak, but they vary wildly in quality from piece to piece, so YMMV. Some lose steps, and others occasionally seize. But you wouldn’t know any of that from the graceful movement capture in the video below. Although it appears to be automated, the bot is under remote control because of the motor issues.

Not into ball runs? There are other Sisyphean tasks available, such as moving sand around in the name of meditation.

2022 Sci-Fi Contest: A Hand-Following Robot, Powered by Arduino

If there’s one thing audiences love in sci-fi, it’s a cute robot companion that follows the heroes around. If you want one of your own, starting with this build from [mircemk] could be just the ticket.

The build relies on the classic Arduino Uno microcontroller, which talks to a HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor module and two infrared sensors in order to track a human target and follow it around. Drive is thanks to four DC gear motors, driven by a L293D motor driver, with a two-cell lithium battery providing power for everything onboard.

The robot works in a simple manner, following a hand placed in front of the robot’s sensors. First, the robot checks for the presence of an object in front using the ultrasonic sensor. If something is detected, the twin infrared sensors mounted left and right are used to guide the robot, following the hand.

It’s not a sophisticated algorithm, and it won’t really let your robot follow you down a crowded street. However, it’s a great project to learn on for beginners and could serve as a great entry into more advanced projects using face tracking or other techniques. Video after the break.


Hack a Day 13 Apr 21:00

Robotic Xylophone Makes Music with MIDI Magic

The MIDI format has long been used to create some banging electronic music, so it’s refreshing to see how [John P. Miller] applied the standard in his decidedly analog self-playing robotic xylophone.

Framed inside a fetching Red Oak enclosure, the 25-key instrument uses individual solenoids for each key, meaning that it has no problem striking multiple bars simultaneously. This extra fidelity really helps in reproducing the familiar melodies via the MIDI format. The tracks themselves can be loaded onto the device via SD card, and selected for playback with character LCD and rotary knob.

The software transposes the full MIDI music spectrum of a particular track into a 25-note version compatible with the xylophone. Considering that a piano typically has 88 keys, some musical concessions are needed to produce a recognizable playback, but overall it’s an enjoyable musical experience.

Perhaps most remarkable about this project is the documentation. If you want to build your own, everything you need to know is available online, and the no-solder approach makes this project very accessible. Most of the write-up happened some years ago, and we’re really interested to see what improvements have been made since.

The robotic xylophone is reminiscent of these automatic tubular bells from some time ago. These musical hacks can be particularly inspiring, and we can’t wait to see more.

[Thanks Assad Ebrahim for the great tip.]

Quit Hunching Over Your Screen With A Little Robotic Help

[Norbert Zare] has identified a problem many of us suffer from – chronically bad posture. Its very common to see computer users hunched forwards over a screen, which eventually will lead to back problems. He mentions that most posture correction devices are pretty boring, so the obvious solution to [Norbert] was to build a simple robot to give you a friendly nudge into the correct position.

This simple Arduino-based build uses the ubiquitous MPU-6050 which provides 3-axis acceleration and 3-axis gyro data all processed on-chip, so it can measure where you’re going, which way you are orientated and how fast you are rotating. This is communicated via the I2C bus, so hooking into an Arduino or Raspberry Pi is a simple affair. There are plenty of Open Source libraries to work with this very common device, which helps reduce the learning curve for those unfamiliar with programming a fairly complex device.

At the moment, he is mounting the sensor on his body, and hard-wiring it, so there’s already some scope for improvement there. The operating premise is simple, if the body angle is more than 55 degrees off vertical, move the servos and shove the body back in to the correct position.

The project GitHub has the code needed, and the project page over on shows the wiring diagram.

We have seen quite a few projects on this subject over the years, like this one that sends you mobile notifications, an ultrasonic rangefinder-based device, and one that even uses a webcam to keep an eye on you. This one has the silliness-factor, and we like that round these parts. Keep an eye on [Norbert] we’re sure there more good stuff to come!

Hack a Day 21 Oct 00:00

Smooth Servo Motion For Lifelike Animatronics

Building an animatronic robot is one thing, but animating it in a lifelike fashion is a completely different challenge. Hobby servos are cheap and popular for animatronics, but just letting it move at max speed isn’t particularly lifelike. In the video after the break, [James Bruton] demonstrates how to achieve natural motion with a simple animatronic head and a few extra lines of code.

Very little natural body movement happens at a constant speed, it’s always accelerating or decelerating. When we move our heads to look at something around us, our neck muscles accelerate our head sharply in the chosen direction and then slows down gradually as it reaches its endpoint. To do this in Arduino/C code, a new intermediate position for the servo is specified for each main loop until it reaches the final position. The intermediate value is the sum of 95% of the current position, and 5% of the target position. This gives the effect of the natural motion described above. The ratios can be changed to suit the desired speed.

The delay function is usually one of the first timing mechanisms that new Arduino programmers learn about, but it’s not suited for this application, especially when you’re controlling multiple servos simultaneously. Instead, the millis function is used to keep track of the system clock in the main loop, which fires the position update commands at the specified intervals. Adafruit wrote an excellent tutorial on this method of multitasking, which [James] based his code on. Of course, this should be old news to anyone who has been doing embedded programming for a while, but it’s an excellent introduction for newcomers.

Like most of [James]’s projects, all the code and CAD files are open source and available on GitHub. His projects make regular appearances here on Hackaday, like his mono-wheel balancing robot and mechanically multiplexed flip-dot display.

Hack a Day 04 Sep 03:00

Little Quadruped Uses Many Servos

Walking robots were once the purview of major corporations spending huge dollars on research programs. Now, they’re something you can experiment with at home. [Technovation] has been doing just that with his micro quadruped build.

The build runs twelve servos – three per leg – to enable for a great range of movement for each limb. The servos are all controlled by an Arduino Uno fitted with an Arduino Sensor Shield. Everything is fitted together with a 3D printed chassis and limb segments that bolt directly on to the servo output shafts. This is a common way of building quick, easy, lightweight assemblies with servos, and it works great here. Inverse kinematics is used to calculate the required motions of each joint, and the robot can take steps from 1 to 4cm long in a variety of gaits.

We’d love to see a few sensors and a battery pack added on to allow the ‘bot to explore further in an untethered fashion. [Technovation] has left some provision to mount extra hardware, so we look forward to seeing what comes next.

We’ve seen bigger quadrupeds do great things, too. Video after the break.

Hack a Day 26 Jul 19:30

Why Make Coffee When You’re Tired? Let a Robot Do It for You

Like us, [Alberto] doesn’t compromise when it comes to a good cup of coffee. We figure that if he went to an office in the Before Times, he was the type of coworker to bring in their own coffee equipment so as not to suffer the office brew. Or perhaps he volunteered to order the office supplies and therefore got to decide for everyone else. Yep, that’s definitely one way to do it.

But like many of us, he is now operating out of a home office. Even so, he’s got better things to do than stand around pouring the perfect cup of coffee every morning. See, that’s where we differ, [Alberto]. But we do love Cafeino, your automated pour-over machine. It’s so sleek and lovely, and we’re sure it does a much better job than we do by hand — although we enjoy doing the pouring ourselves.

Cafeino is designed to mimic the movements of a trained barista’s hand, because evidently you’re supposed to pour the water in slow, deliberate swirls to evenly cover the grounds. (Our kettle has a chunky spout, so we just sort of wing it.) Cafeino does this by pumping water from an electric kettle and pouring a thin stream of it in circles with the help of two servos.

The three buttons each represent a different recipe setting, which specifies the amount of water, the hand pouring pattern, and the resting times between blooming the grounds and actually pouring the bulk of the water. These recipes are set using the accompanying web app via an ESP32, although the main brain barista is an Arduino Nano. Grab a cup and check out the demo after the break.

Got an old but modern coffee robot lying around? You could turn it into a planter with automated watering.

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Ultrasonic Sonar Detects Hidden Objects

While early scientists and inventors famously underestimated the value of radar, through the lens of history we can see how useful it became. Even though radar uses electromagnetic waves to detect objects, the same principle has been used with other propagating waves, most often sound waves. While a well-known use of this is sonar, ultrasonic sensors can also be put to use to make a radar-like system.

This ultrasonic radar project is from [mircemk] who uses a small ultrasonic distance sensor attached to a rotating platform. A motor rotates it around a 180-degree field-of-view and an Arduino takes and records measurements during its trip. It interfaces with an application running on a computer which shows the data in real-time and maps out the location of all of the objects around the sensor. With some upgrades to the code, [mircemk] is also able to extrapolate objects hidden behind other objects as well.

While the ultrasonic sensor used in this project has a range of about a meter, there’s no reason that this principle couldn’t be used for other range-finding devices to extend its working distance. The project is similar to others we’ve seen occasionally before, but the upgrade to the software to allow it to “see” around solid objects is an equally solid upgrade.

3D Printed Gesture-Controlled Robot Arm is a Ton of Tutorials

Ever wanted your own gesture-controlled robot arm? [EbenKouao]’s DIY Arduino Robot Arm project covers all the bases involved, but even if a robot arm isn’t your jam, his project has plenty to learn from. Every part is carefully explained, complete with source code and a list of required hardware. This approach to documenting a project is great because it not only makes it easy to replicate the results, but it makes it simple to remix, modify, and reuse separate pieces as a reference for other work.

[EbenKouao] uses a 3D-printable robotic gripper, base, and arm design as the foundation of his build. Hobby servos and a single NEMA 17 stepper take care of the moving, and the wiring and motor driving is all carefully explained. Gesture control is done by wearing an articulated glove upon which is mounted flex sensors and MPU6050 accelerometers. These sensors detect the wearer’s movements and turn them into motion commands, which in turn get sent wirelessly from the glove to the robotic arm with HC-05 Bluetooth modules. We really dig [EbenKouao]’s idea of mounting the glove sensors to this slick 3D-printed articulated gauntlet frame, but using a regular glove would work, too. The latest version of the Arduino code can be found on the project’s GitHub repository.

Most of the parts can be 3D printed, how every part works together is carefully explained, and all of the hardware is easily sourced online, making this a very accessible project. Check out the full tutorial video and demonstration, embedded below.

3D printing has been a boon for many projects, especially those involving robotic arms. All kinds of robotic arm projects benefit from the advantages of 3D printing, from designs that focus on utility and function, to clever mechanical designs that reduce part count in unexpected ways.

Nightmare Robot Only Moves When You Look Away

What could be more terrifying than ghosts, goblins, or clowns? How about a shapeless pile of fright on your bedroom floor that only moves when you’re not looking at it? That’s the idea behind [Sciencish]’s nightmare robot, which is lurking after the break. The Minecraft spider outfit is just a Halloween costume.

In this case, “looking at it” equates to you shining a flashlight on it, trying to figure out what’s under the pile of clothes. But here’s the thing — it never moves when light is shining on it. It quickly figures out the direction of the light source and lies in wait. After you give up and turn out the flashlight, it spins around to where the light was and starts moving in that direction.

The brains of this operation is an Arduino Uno, four light-dependent resistors, and a little bit of trigonometry to find the direction of the light source. The robot itself uses two steppers and printed herringbone gears for locomotion. Its chassis has holes in it that accept filament or wire to make a cage that serves two purposes — it makes the robot into more of an amorphous blob under the clothes, and it helps keep clothes from getting twisted up in the wheels. Check out the demo and build video after the break, because this thing is freaky fast and completely creepy.

While we usually see a candy-dispensing machine or two every Halloween, this year has been more about remote delivery systems. Don’t just leave sandwich bags full of fun size candy bars all over your porch, build a candy cannon or a spooky slide instead.

Via r/duino