1951 Mechanix Illustrated found in antique store.

While on vacation traveling through Vermont, I found an old Mechanix Illustrated from 1951 in an antique store. It was in a box along with other old issues but this one stood out because of the how-to projects that were inside. I paid $4 for it and had a nice talk with the shop keeper about how we both loved looking through these old magazines. As a kid I would look through them and stare at the project plans for hours. I knew I could never really build most of the stuff due to a lack of materials but they sparked my imagination and I would sometimes try to make my own version of the project with what I had on hand. These magazines were very influential in developing the inventor mind set I now have.

Since I’m away from the workbench this week I thought it would be fun to shoot a video about this particular issue while on the road. As we were rolling along through Maine headed south, Lisa took over the driver’s seat and I shot this video in the passenger seat. I even did the editing there and later uploaded it to YouTube!

Next week I’ll be back home at the ol’ workbench so til then, enjoy the video and…

keep on hackin!

Rustic Adirondack Sign

There’s a long standing tradition of rustic sign and furniture making in the Adirondacks. I grew up here and saw many examples of this in my youth. There’s an intersection near my old house called Crystal Dale Corners and when I was here in 1998 I was very moved by the beauty of this area in a way that I hadn’t been as a boy, and so I decided to make a sign to mark this location.

This short video shot on location tells the tale…

Keep on hackin!

Roomba 4000 Series Teardown

The iRobot Roomba is a great robotic device for hardware hackers and robot builders.
They can be found on Ebay for as little as $20 with and without batteries. The battery pack seems to be the main reason they get sold because most users just don’t want to bother replacing the battery, which costs about $45 on Ebay. Other items that cause problems are dirty wheel sensors, a siezed cleaning brush motor and an occasional broken drive belt. Most of these problems aren’t a concern to hardware hackers.

The The Roomba contains a variety of sensors, motors and raw hardware that can be disassembled and used to build other roving robot devices. I’ve used parts from Roomba in several hacks and I’d say that my favorite part are the motors. They have a belt driven planetary gear reduction transmission that provides very high torque and they can be driven directly from the H-bridge that is already on the Roomba main board. Each assembly has a wheel sensor but it tends to drift in it’s accuracy due to the belt drive slipping slightly.

Follow along with the video now and learn how to do a tear down on a Roomba vacuum robot. This video will guide you through all the steps to disassemble the Roombe for repairs or to simply salvage parts. There’s a few blooper moments at the beginning of this one that I left in for laughs! Enjoy!

Keep on hackin!

Emic 2 – Zero and Betty Talk!

They can speak to each other! Well, random phrases anyway but it’s interesting to see what pops up next as they babble to each other. This is part four of this project, which will remain ongoing and revisited from time to time. In fact, I’d like to develop these further with sensors and action based on sensor input. I might end up with these at Bay Area Maker Faire in 2013.
This module is a lot of fun to mess with and I ended up learning a little more about programming in C which always great. I would say spend the $60 and add some speech to just about anything electronic!

This video pretty much explains everything you need to know to get an Emic 2 up and running with an Arduino. The schematic is posted below and the code can be found here.

Til next time…
keep on hackin!