Hedley, the Steampunk robotic skull lives. He’s able to track me as I walk around in front of him, using the JeVois smart machine vision sensor. He also has a glowing eye and streams data with an on-board MQTT broker.
The CHIP/MQTT Broker features an early CHIP computer module, uses a tri-color LED as a user interface and is wrapped in a decorative Steampunk-inspired ticker-tape glass dome and base. The CHIP has on-board WiFI/Bluetooth, lots of GPIO pins and Linux in flash-memory. It’s set up as a local WiFi access point and runs the Mosquitto MQTT broker. The LED responds to MQTT messages from the network and other WiFi devices through Python programs and regular Linux scripts.
The 5th-generation conference badge sports a 3.5″ color TFT touchscreen and a Raspberry Pi 3, wrapped in a decorative brass and leather Steampunk-themed package. An additional Arduino Pro Mini manages the ultrasonic range finder, with an “ozone tube”, photocell and digital temperature sensors, in the works. The device plays promotional .mp4 movies using mplayer, on the display and runs for about 2 hours on a 2200 Ah cell battery. There were a lot of “Wow, what’s thats?” when I wore it to a recent conference in Santa Clara.
Since the Eye Ball project, I’ve reviewed the Pine64 and Artik single board computers. We’ve also covered my friend Rob C’s. CNC manufacturing operation in New Orleans. I’ve also been experimenting with the CHIP computer and a few more ESP8266 projects. Most recently I’m writing a little series on digital sensors.
It features a copper lightning-rod ball, pan and tilt servos, a decorative brass frame and base, along with a Pixy image processing camera inside. You simply sit it on a table, plug in a cell phone power pack and the device will track you as you walk around…if you are wearing a blue shirt. You can train it to recognize other colors using the PixyMon application on a Linux notebook. Be sure to check out the entire build series, “Off-The-Shelf Hacker Steampunk Eye Ball (parts 1 through 5) over at thenewstack.io.
The response has been amazing for the Generation 4.0 Steampunk Conference Badge. People stopped me and asked what it was and if I made it. I showed them how it worked and how the display hooked up to the Raspberry Pi. A few attendees took selfies with yours truly and the badge. It was inspiring and fun for everybody.
Found a few challenges. I’ll likely mod the alligator clip attachment system. The clips bend and are hard to get lined up correctly. The thumb screws loosened over time, as well, so those will have to be changed a bit.
Looking forward to demonstrating the “Steampunk Conference Presentation and Manipulation Apparatus” at FETC in January. It sports a Raspberry Pi 2, hacked Web cam for showing small parts and a Steampunk-inspired theme. Slides will be handled with LibreOffice Impress and parts viewing will be via guvcview.
I recently started a brand new column on TheNewStack.io about hardware hacking. The series walks through tips, techniques and projects for the physical computing hardware hacker.
The first edition, Off-The-Shelf-Hacker: The Physical Computing Stack, introduced the reader to the exciting new world of off-the-shelf microcontrollers, sensors, actuators, Linux/Free software, NanoLinux systems and companion topics like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266, and other tools and designs of the DIY (do-it-yourself) and Maker movement.
Future stories will take readers through hands-on fabrication tutorials, using various programming tools/frameworks and discussions on using sensors, micro-controllers, nano-Linux systems and interfacing to various electronic/mechanical devices.
The articles will appear weekly, typically over the weekend.
If you want to get into hacking hardware and building physical computing projects, be sure to check it out.