[Ramin assadollahi] has been busy rebuilding and improving an Omnibot 5402, and the last piece of hardware he wanted to upgrade was some LED matrix eyes and a high quality Raspberry Pi camera for computer vision. An Omnibot was something most technical-minded youngsters remember drooling over in the 80s, and when [ramin] bought a couple of used units online, he went straight to the workbench to give the vintage machines some upgrades. After all, the Omnibot 5402 was pretty remarkable for its time, but is capable of much more with some modern hardware. One area that needed improvement was the eyes.

The eyes on the original Omnibot could light up, but that’s about all they were capable of. The first upgrade was installing two 8×8 LED matrix displays to form what [ramin] calls Minimal Expressive Eyes (MEE), powered by a Raspberry Pi. With the help of a 3D-printed adapter and some clever layout, the LED matrix displays fit behind the eye plate, maintaining the original look while opening loads of new output possibilities.

Adding a high quality Raspberry Pi camera with wide-angle lens was a bit more challenging and required and extra long camera ribbon connector, but with the lens nestled just below the eyes, the camera has a good view and isn’t particularly noticeable when the eyes are lit up. Having already upgraded the rest of the hardware, all that remains now is software work and we can’t wait to see the results.

Two short videos of the hardware are embedded below, be sure to give them a peek. And when you’re ready for more 80s-robot-upgrading-action, check out the Hero Jr.

Continue reading “Omnibot From The 80s Gets LED Matrix Eyes, Camera”

Digital filters are always an interesting topic, and they are especially attractive with FPGAs. [Pabolo] has been working with them in a series of blog posts. The latest covers an 8th order FIR filter in Verilog.  He covers some math, which you can find in many places, but he also shows how an implementation maps to DSP slices in a device. Then to reduce the number of slices, he illustrates folding which trades delay time for slice usage.

Folding takes a multi-stage parallel multiplication and breaks it into fewer multiplications done over a longer period of time. This reuses slices to reduce the number required for high-order filters.

Continue reading “FIR Filters For Xilinx”

When it comes to toolchanging 3D printers, idle nozzles tend to drool. Cleaning out that nozzle goo, though, is critical before switching them into use. And since switching nozzles can happen hundreds of times per print, having a rock-solid cleaning solution is key to making crisp clean parts. [Kevin Mardirossian] wasn’t too thrilled with the existing solutions for cleaning, so he developed the Pebble Wiper, a production worthy nozzle wicking widget that’s wicked away nozzles thousands of times flawlessly.

With a little inspiration from [BigBrain3D’s] retractable purge mechanism, [Kevin] is first purging tools onto a brass brad. Rather than have filament extrude into free space, it collects into a small bloblike “pebble” that cools quickly into a controlled shape. From here, after one quick flick with a servo arm and a small wipe with a silicone basting brush, the nozzle is ready to use. The setup might sound simple, but it’s the result of thousands and thousands of tests with the goal of letting no residual ooze attach itself to the actual part being printed. And that’s after [Kevin] put the time into scratch-building his own toolchanging 3D printer to test it on first. Finally, he’s kindly made the files available online on Github for other hackers’ tinkering and mischief.

So how well does it work? Judging by the results he’s shared, we think spectacularly. Since adopting it, he’s dropped any sacrificial printing artefacts on the bed entirely and been able to consistently pull off stunning multimaterial prints flawlessly with no signs of residual nozzle drool. While toolchanging systems have been great platforms for hacking and exploration, [Kevin’s] Pebble Wiper takes these machines one step closer at hitting “production-level” of reliability that minimizes waste. And who knows? Maybe all those pebbles can be sized to be ground up, remade into filament, and respooled back into usable filament?

Continue reading “Toolchanging Printers Get A Nozzle Hanky Like No Other”

In a world of always-connected devices and 24/7 access to email and various social media and messaging platforms, it’s sometimes a good idea to take a step away from the hustle and bustle for peace of mind. But not too big of a step. After all, we sometimes need some limited contact with other humans, so that’s what [EverestX] set out to do with his modern, pocket-sized communication device based on pager technology from days of yore.

The device uses the POCSAG communications protocol, a current standard for pager communications that allows for an SMS-like experience for those still who still need (or want) to use pagers. [EverestX] was able to adapt some preexisting code and port it to an Atmel 32u4 microcontroller. With a custom PCB, small battery, an antenna, and some incredibly refined soldering skills, he was able to put together this build with an incredibly small footprint, slightly larger than a bottle cap.

Once added to a custom case, [EverestX] has an excellent platform for sending pager messages to all of his friends and can avoid any dreaded voice conversations. Pager hacks have been a favorite around these parts for years, and are still a viable option for modern communications needs despite also being a nostalgic relic of decades past. As an added bonus, the 32u4 microcontroller has some interesting non-pager features that you might want to check out as well.

Thanks to [ch0l0man] for the tip!

Step sequencers are fantastic instruments, but they can be a little, well, repetitive. At it’s core, the step sequencer is a pretty simple device: it loops through a series of notes or phrases that are, well, sequentially ordered into steps. The operator can change the steps while the sequencer is looping, but it generally has a repetitive feel, as the musician isn’t likely to erase all of the steps and enter in an entirely new set between phrases.

Enter our old friend machine learning. If we introduce a certain variability on each step of the loop, the instrument can help the musician out a bit here, making the final product a bit more interesting. Such an instrument is exactly what [Charis Cat] set out to make when she created the After Eight Step Sequencer.

The After Eight is an eight-step sequencer that allows the artist to set each note with a series of potentiometers (which are, of course, housed in an After Eight mint tin). The potentiometers are read by an Arduino, which passes MIDI information to a computer running the popular music-oriented visual programming language Max MSP. The software uses a series of Markov Chains to augment the musician’s inputted series of notes, effectively working with the artist to create music. The result is a fantastic piece of music that’s different every time it’s performed. Make sure to check out the video at the end for a fantastic overview of the project (and to hear the After Eight in action, of course)!

[Charis Cat]’s wonderful creation reminds us of some the work [Sara Adkins] has done, blending human performance with complex algorithms. It’s exactly the kind of thing we love to see at Hackaday- the fusion of a musician’s artistic intent with the stochastic unpredictability of a machine learning system to produce something unique.

Thanks to [Chris] for the tip!

Continue reading “Making Minty Fresh Music With Markov Chains: The After Eight Step Sequencer”

If you ride a motorcycle, you may have noticed that the cost of airbag vests has dropped. In one case, something very different is going on here. As reported by Motherboard, you can pick up a KLIM Ai-1 for $400 but the airbag built into it will not function until unlocked with an additional purchase, and a big one at that. So do you really own the vest for $400?

Given the nature of the electronics and computer business lately, we spend a good bit of time thinking of what it means to own a piece of technology. Do you own your cable modem or cell phone if you aren’t allowed to open it up? Do you own a piece of software that wants to call home periodically and won’t let you stop it?  Sometimes it makes sense that you are paying for a service. But there have been times where, for example, a speaker company essentially bricks devices that could work fine on their own even though you — in theory — own the device.

Continue reading “Do You Really Own It? Motorcycle Airbag Requires Additional Purchase To Inflate”

Join us on Wednesday, May 19 at noon Pacific for the 2021 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat with Majenta Strongheart!

At this point last year, we probably all felt like we’d been put through a wringer, and that things would get back to normal any day now. Little did we know how much more was in store for us, and how many more challenges would be heaped on our plates. Everything that we thought would be temporary seems to be more or less permanent now, and we’ve all had to adapt to the new facts of life as best we can.

But we’re hackers, and adapting to new situations more often than not means making the world fit our vision. And that’s why the 2021 Hackaday Prize has adopted the theme of “Rethink, Refresh, Rebuild.” We want you to rethink and refresh familiar concepts across the hardware universe, and create the kind of innovation this community is famous for.

The 2021 Hackaday Prize will have it all. As in previous years, the Prize will have several specific challenges, where we set you to work on a creative problem. There will also be mentoring sessions available, $500 cash prizes for 50 finalists along the way, with $25,000 and a Supplyframe Design Lab residency awarded to the Grand Prize winner.

We know you’re going to want to step up to the challenge, so to help get you started, Majenta Strongheart, Head of Design and Partnerships at Supplyframe, will drop by the Hack Chat with all the details on the 2021 Hackaday Prize. Come prepared to pick her brain on how the Prize is going to work this year, find out about the mentoring opportunities, and learn everything there is to know about this year’s competition. It’s the Greatest Hardware Design Challenge on Earth, so make sure you get in on the action.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, May 19 at 12: 00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.


Continue reading “2021 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat; Join Us Live On Wednesday”