Tuesday, December 1, 2009

H.G. Wells Time Machine Model - Work in Progress

Work in Progress:
This is a photo of my H.G. Wells Time Machine Model that I am in the process of building.
The Chair:
The chair is made of balsa word, dowel rods, beads and tooth picks. I finished it with some walnut stain and a couple coats of polyurethane. The cushions are foam covered in red velvet material.
The Base:
I cut the base out of some craft plywood with a coping saw.
The Railings:
5/32" Brass tubing is the material I am using for the railings. It is a real challenge trying to bend it because it springs back rather than holding its shape. I used a trick of filling the tubing with salt to prevent kinks during the bending process.

Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Halloween Project: "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" aka "Jan in the Pan"

See "Jan In The Pan" in action:

This Halloween project was inspired by the B Horror Movie "The Brain that Wouldn't Die". In the movie, there is a severed head (aka "Jan in the Pan") that talks.

My Project consists of the "Head" apparatus and the "Talking" apparatus.

The "Head" apparatus is made up of a mannequin head wrapped in bandages and placed in a tray of water dyed with red food coloring, a fountain pump, tubing, etc. The "Talking" apparatus consists of a BASIC STAMP2 microcontroller, a PIR sensor (this sensor is compatible with the BASIC STAMP2), Voice recorder kit, an 8 ohm speaker, and a box to house the components. The voice recorder is triggered by the motion sensor to play sound files recorded from the movie. This includes the most famous one from the opening title where the head cries, "Let Me Die".

I. Parts List
The "Head" Apparatus:
-A bandaged Head
-Tray to hold the water
-Red food coloring
-Small fountain pump
-Tubing to carry the water
-Plastic soda bottle and holder
-Silicon sealant
The "Talking" Apparatus:
-BASIC STAMP 2 microcontroller (9 volt battery)
-PIR sensor that is compatible with BASIC STAMP 2
-Voice Recorder circuit (4 AA batteries)
-Mp3 sound sample files recorded from the movie for voice recorder
-Box to house components
-8 ohm Speaker
II. Assembly
The "Head Apparatus":
- Mix Red food coloring with water
-Put the Bandaged head on a stand in the water in the tray
-Attach the plastic hose to pump and to the plastic soda bottle
-Plug the pump in and adjust the flow rate
The "Talking" Apparatus:
-Assemble the voice recorder kit and record the sound samples
-Program the BASIC STAMP 2
-Need a program for the PIR sensor
-Need a program to trigger the Voice recorder
-Need to find the pins for the Voice recorder (solder or clip into pins)
-Need to assign pins for the PIR sensor
-Need to assign pins for the switches and LEDs
-Attach the PIR sensor and Voice Recorder to BASIC STAMP 2
-Attach the 8 ohm speaker to the Voice Recorder
-Put assembly in Box, decorate as desired adding power on/off switches and LEDS

Contact me if you want a copy of the BASIC STAMP code or the sound samples I used.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Mame Arcade Project

Check out the Design and Build on YouTube, here's the link:


Tips to Building a Table Top Arcade

Acquire a Laptop and load Mame and game ROMS on it
Design (or get plans online) and build a cabinet around the laptop
Build the control panel (or buy one), connect it to the Laptop
Design the artwork (side art, marquee, etc)

The book I used as my major reference was "Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine" by John St. Clair

Things that may have made it easier:

Step I. – I could have used a newer laptop with Windows XP, but I had a free, older, Gateway laptop given to me with Windows 98. So, I used what I had to save some money.

Step II. – It probably would’ve been easier if I used plans to work from (tons of sources online), but I designed the cabinet as I went along. That worked really well for me because I partially mocked it up in cardboard first. If you don’t feel confident in working this way and have problems with lining things up, I would suggest getting a good set of plans to work from.

Step III. – Buy a control panel (X-Gaming has some great ones, they even have ones with a built in roller ball). I built my own panel with parts purchased from X-Gamming, the Arcade Bundle: 2 joysticks and 20 push buttons: http://www.xgaming.com/arcade_bundle.shtml
I used a keyboard hack to connect the joysticks and push buttons to the laptop. Basically, I took an old IBM keyboard circuit board soldered wires to each of its connectors, mapped out its X and Y matrix to see what keyboard keys I needed for a majority of the games. I wired those to the joysticks and push buttons, and plugged in the PS/2 connector from the IBM keyboard circuit board into the PS/2 port of the laptop. There are some drawbacks to this, response time might be a little slower than if you were to use a control panel that was purchased, and I did not use/build a roller ball or a spinner (that limits the number of games you’ll be able to play). On the other hand, the keyboard hack saves some money, so it’s a trade off.

Step IV. – There is really nothing I would do differently for this step except maybe add some side art. I designed the Marquee in Photoshop and took it to a print shop to be printed on back lit material. I used some long tube type LEDs to back light the marquee, and it worked out really well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Harry Potter Style Wand Project

View Video Instructions via this link:
Parts List:
Plastic M&Ms mini candy container tube
3/8" X 12" wood dowel rod
18 gauge speaker wire
Radio Shack switch [part number 275-1571] http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062546
Ultra bright LED
(2) 1.5 volt LR44 button type batteries (or equivalent)
hot glue
heat shrink tubing
gold leafing

Step 1: Drill a small, centered, hole (large enough for the metal leads of the LED to fit through) at one end of the dowel rod. Drill another small hole at an angle from the side of the dowel rod that meets up with the first drilled hole. This allows the LED to fit into the end of the dowel rod and the leads to slide out the side of the dowel rod. These leads are then connected to the speaker wire. [Important Note: make sure the two LED leads are insulated from one another so they don't short across - use some small heat shrink tubing]

Step 2: Cut the speaker wire so that it wraps in a spiral around the length of dowel rod and add some extra length so that it will fit into the M&Ms candy container. The M&Ms container is going to be the handle of the wand that contains the switch and the batteries so allow enough wire for the switch and battery hook up.

Step 3: Solder the end leads (long lead is the positive, short lead is the negative) of the LED coming out from the side of the dowel to the speaker wire. Insulate any exposed area of the wire/leads with heat shrink and test with the batteries to insure a good connection. [Important Note: only use (2) 1.5 Volt batteries for a total voltage of 3 Volts. If the voltage is too great, the LED will fry - unless a resistor is used] LED Note: Current only flows in one direction, so if it doesn't light, reverse the wires to the battery - for more information about LEDs: http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/components/led.htm

Step 4: Prepare the handle (the candy container) for the switch, batteries, and dowel rod. Turn the M&Ms candy container upside down (don't drill the hole through the end with the lid), and carefully drill a centered hole (roughly larger than 3/8") large enough for the dowel rod and the speaker wire to fit through. With the M&Ms container still facing upside down, drill another hole roughly 5/8" down on the side, with a diameter (approximately 13/64") large enough for the switch to fit through.

Step 5: This step adds the normally open, push button switch (Radio Shack part #275-1571) into the circuit. Test once again to make sure the LED still lights before the switch is wired into the circuit. Don't solder yet, test wire the switch between the positive battery end and the speaker wire connected to the anode (positive lead- long end) of the LED. Connect the speaker wire connected the cathode (negative lead) LED to the negative battery end. Test the switch in the circuit to make sure the LED lights up when it's pressed and off when it's not. Adjust the length of wire needed to fit into the candy container handle and trim the wire as necessary (allow a little extra - because it needs some slack as it gets pushed up into the handle) test again before soldering and test again after soldering. Battery Note: I just taped the 2 button batteries together with some electrical tape to make a battery pack and slid them into a plastic ball point pen cap that I cut down to size and attached the wires through it to either side of the battery pack.

Step 6: Now comes the tricky part, the installation of the switch and the dowel rod with the speaker wire into the handle. Take the nut off of the top of the switch. Open the lid of the candy container and feed the switch up inside the handle tube until it reaches the pre-drilled hole (from Step 4). When it's fitted through (it's tough, but you can do it), reattach the nut to secure the switch in the handle. Feed the rest of the wire and battery pack so that it is tucked away in the handle, and close the lid. Take the dowel rod with the speaker wire and feed it through the other hole drilled in the end of the handle in Step 4. Secure the dowel rod to the handle with hot glue. Check to make sure everything is still working and then proceed to the final step.

Step 7: Chose the color of paint for the wand. Paint it and when the paint is dry, use the gold leafing to highlight the speaker wire that spirals around the dowel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The OWI Robotic Arm Project

I purchased the OWI Robotic Arm Trainer Kit on Sunday, August 9th, 2009.

The Wrist Assembly was finished on Monday, August 10th.

Tuesday, August 11th, both the Fore Arm and the Upper Arm Assemblies were completed.

On Wednesday, August 12th, the project was finished by completing the Arm Base, Battery Box, and the Control Box Assemblies.