The Almost Useless Machine

We all know, we should use more renewable energy. Here is my contribution. Use solar power if you want to cut 20mm wooden rods. And plan ahead because it may take a while.

This little machine uses a so called solar engine to drive the motor. This solar engine is able to collect tiny amounts of energy over time and stores it in large capacitors. When the voltage reaches a certain level, it opens up and uses all the stored energy at once to drive a motor. These engines were used to drive tiny BEAM-bots and were quite popular a while ago. A lot of information can be found at beam-wiki.org on how to build them and how they work.

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Home Sweet Home

In July Jeremy Abbett of Makers and Company came over and we discussed, what would be a cool project for Google’s Creative Sandbox event in Berlin. Finally we settled with “Home Sweet Home”, a Google Latitude Arduino driven Lamp.
The idea is, that your kids at home have a hanging lamp that tells them how far away dad is and in which direction he is heading. The closer he comes home, the lower the lamp would go. So it’s kind of an ambient tracking thing, but only for your family.

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Battery Adapter for Canon Powershot SX200

Last year I bought a Canon PowerShot SX200 on ebay. I wanted to play a bit with CHDK, the Canon Hack Development Kit to make some timelapse things. Problem was, the battery would hold only up for 2 hours or so. Even worse, the camera has no power jack to attach a power supply. The solution is to buy a battery dummy that has a jack on its back. That costs like 30 euros!

3D printing to the rescue!

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The Indestructible Billboard

[vimeo 39831585 w=700 h=393]

In March Marcus of Interactive Matter and I helped Publicis to build an interactive billboard for Evoc.

Evoc makes backpacks with protectors, called LITESHIELD. The protector is used to absorb a good portion of an impact in case of an accident. So we were asked to build a billboard with an included backpack and a sensor, that measures an impact. The impact and the absorbed portion would be displayed on a screen, also integrated into the billboard. A webcam should take a picture of a candidate, while he tries to hit the backpack as hard as he could. The picture would then be uploaded to Facebook, if the candidate agrees.

Our part was all the electronics and programming. Rest of the innards was made by the great guys of Create and More. As sensor we used an Arduino and a accelerometer with +/-250g range. Whenever a punch is detected, the maximum value gets sent to an Processing sketch, that takes a picture, updates the display and sends the picture to Facebook. No open source here, it’s simply too ugly and we are embarrassed.

Presentation took place in Berlin at the end of March. Everything worked out really well. Only problem was a slightly flaky internet uplink. Next time we will have at least two 3G USB sticks as fallback. Despite that everyone had a lot of fun, especially the kids and some young guys, giving the billboard and the backpack a hard time. But it withstood. Of course.

The 2 Euros Machine

In January Kolle Rebbe, a german agency, asked if I could help them with their project. The idea was to have an interactive ad poster to collect money for Misereor, a german relief organization. The campaign is named “Mit 2€ viel bewegen”, which means something like “getting things moving with 2€”. You would donate a 2 Euro coin and the coin would travel through the poster, a bit like a marble in a marble machine. On the way to the bottom, the coin would trigger all kind of animations to show, what the money would be used for. Very cool idea!

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Audi Fan Messenger

Testing the Audi Fan Messenger

Almost a year ago Martin came to me and asked me, if would like to join him on a cool project. His idea was to put a LED POV into a real race car. Of course I wanted!

Concept

Every race event attracts a lot of fans. Martin’s idea was to integrate the fans into the race. The race cars should carry fan messages around the track and print them into the night.
The technique used for that is called POV (Persistence of vision). It is somehow related to Light Painting. For that you take a long exposure picture and move the LEDs through it. If the LEDs are switched on and off in the right pattern, it prints a readable message on the picture.

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Soldering is Easy

Soldering is easy. It realy is. If you are still in doubt, head over to mightyohm.com, where you can find a really nice comic on how to solder, done by my good friends Jeff Keyzer and Mitch Altman.

Best of all, it’s totally open source!

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