Hedley – The Steampunk Robotic Skull

Meet Hedley, the Steampunk robotic skull. Seeing through a JeVois smart machine vision sensor, in the right eye socket, Hedley can follow me as I walk around in front of his field of view. His on-board (in-head) brain is an early Arduino Duemilanove, managing the pan servo, with instructions from the smart vision sensor. The left eye socket has a 3-color LED eyeball, that’s controlled by Python programs on the Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi 3 is mounted on the base and gets a USB feed from the smart vision sensor. You can monitor what Hedley sees when the Pi is hooked up to an HDMI monitor, using guvcview. Hedley will soon be able to rise up out of his cool Steampunk storage box, using a feedback-controlled power screw mechanism. Eventually, he’ll also have a tilt servo, text-to-speech audio output and maybe even Alexa-like voice commands. I’m anxious to get Hedley in front of audiences at my conference tech talks.


Generation 5 Conference Personality Identification Device

The latest in the long series of physical computing conference badges, the Gen-5 showcases a Raspberry Pi 2 teamed up with a 3.5″ color touch-screen LCD display. There’s also an ultrasonic range finder, coordinated by an Arduino Pro-Mini, that sends it’s data to the Pi via the serial connection. Ambient temperatures are measured by a Dallas DS18B20 digital thermometer. Processing and Python are used to construct on-screen gauges and automate data capture functions. Badge generated data is accessed over the network through the on-board MQTT broker. The badge can also display full-featured .MP4 videos and can transform into a slide presentation machine with LibreOffice Impress. People like the look and feel of the badge.


Desktop MQTT Broker – “Mosquitto Under Glass”

This desktop MQTT broker features a CHIP computer, 3-color LED visual feedback device and is housed in a decorative “ticker-tape” glass enclosure. The machine acts as a stand-alone WiFi access point and can connect to nearby LANs, as needed. It can easily handle multiple pub-sub transactions simultaneously.


Steampunk Eyeball

The Steampunk Eyeball is a table-top device, that “watches” me as I walk around during a presentation. It uses the color-object tracking capability of the CMU Pixy camera to activate servos, causing the eye to follow a brightly colored piece of clothing I’m wearing. Here’s a demo.


Generation 4 Conference Badge

The Generation 4 badge features a two-piece design, with a display unit and the compute unit, that attaches to the user’s belt. An external battery pack provides power through a USB cable. The Gen 4 badge uses a Raspberry Pi model B and ran Raspbian Linux. There is also a 1.8″ color TFT display and is able to play .MP4 movies. At the bottom is a 3-color LED “ozone tube”, that is controlled by a Python script.


Dynamic Conference Audience Visualization and Presentation Apparatus

The Steampunk presentation machine allowed me to run my slides using LibreOffice and display small micro-controller boards up on the projector screen. It connected to the projector over HDMI and used a heavily modified Logitech web cam (known as the “dynamic conference audience visualization and presentation apparatus camera”, along with guvcview to give close up views of the boards. I used the rig back when I did a lot of hardware demos with small parts. It was one of my early Steampunk themed gadgets. I remember one attendee said that when he saw me carrying the rig around, before my session, he just had to go to my presentation. The rig worked along with a 2-button “wired” slide clicker.


Dynamic Conference Audience Visualization and Presentation Apparatus Camera

Heavily modded Steampunk Logitech Web cam

This is the Logitech C310 Web cam, modded into a brass Steampunk-styled frame. The contraption attaches to a Raspberry Pi and is used to project small micro-controller boards up onto large presentation screens. I use the apparatus during my tech presentations. The device works great on the Pi, along with my LibreOffice slides. It’s easy to switch between the camera and slides, via the wireless keyboard/mouse pad.


Generation 1 Conference Badge

The Generation 1 Steampunk badge was revolutionary in 2015. The device used a 1.8″ color TFT display driven by an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller. It cycled through JPEG images on it’s micro-SD card. There was also a red LED that highlighted the Arduino board. It was wrapped in a Steampunk theme and ran on 4 AAA lead-acid batteries. After a few events, I realized that the design vaguely resembled an old cartoon explosive device, so it was subsequently retired and the parts re-purposed into new projects. Read my article here.


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