Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26th: The Snow Cone Monster!

I was sitting at my desk tonight, trying to shake off some mental crud when I got the call for homework help. This typically only happens in extreme circumstances - and usually when something needs to be built.

Sure enough, the 7 year old needed to create a three dimensional monster and bring it to school tomorrow. I was tempted to hit the scrap metal pile & have him build something REALLY cool, but given one evening, that wasn't practical.

He then explains that he wants to build a "Snow Cone Monster". Now I've had some scary desserts, but I've never particularly found Snow Cones threatening. I guess they could give you a cold headache, or stain your face, but not really sure how to make one menacing.

After searching the house for lightweight cone-shaped donor objects and striking out, I went low tech...DUCT TAPE.

In the end, we used Duct Tape, a coat hanger, construction paper, vinyl gloves, newspaper, more duct tape, popsicle sticks, wire ties, even more duct tape, and a little more duct tape.

I present to you, the scariest snow cone alive...and a happy 7 year old :>)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 24th - Plasma Cutting + Welding + Arduino = Halloween FUN!

I'd planned to use the plasma cutter to turn a pumpkin into a Jack O' Lantern, and then I saw this video...

So I thought - Plasma Cutting + Welding + Arduino = Halloween FUN!

The old satellite dish provided some great scrap for a bottom plate. I did it freehand since I don't have the circle cutting attachment yet. It came out great - a little grinding and it was almost round :)

The "arms" and "spine" are thin wall tubing from a bakers rack I bought at a garage sale for $10 so I could practice welding small tubing. REALLY easy to blow holes in it with the welder...

I have the Arduino circuit built as per the video above, using the ultrasonic distance sensor from a prior project and one of the Rugged Circuits Gator+ boards. I'm using 2 amber and 2 red LEDs, but it still doesn't seem bright enough. The buzzer seemed pretty anticlimactic in person, so I ditched that part of the circuit for now. The Gator+ board's circuit protection limits the current on output pins, which I suspect is impacting both the brightness AND the buzzer sound level. I didn't want to have to have my standard Arduino floating around in a metal (conductive!) shell, so I stuck with the Gator+ and just used more LEDs.  I might grab a cheap + loud Halloween scare toy this week and then have the Arduino trigger the sound... 

I have velcro on the bottom of the Gator+ boards for mounting them, so I put a companion piece on the inside top of the bucket to hold it in place. I need to do the same for the battery and find a way to mount the ultrasonic sensor so that it can "see" out the eyes or nose.