Make Hack One: Cams, drone power and retro gaming gear

Posted on October 18, 2014


Laser camera triggers, drones guided by Oculus Rift and haptic gaming vests are just a few of the incredible projects cooked up by skilful and enthusiastic makers then shared with the world. Welcome to the favourites list of made and hacked devices.

This is our rundown of the best maker projects doing the rounds: the ingenious, the creative and the downright useful. We begin with a couple of camera hacks. First up is Matt Kane’s low cost laser camera trigger for shooting high speed objects. Kane’s idea is to reinvent the high speed flash, so he has come up with a laser trigger that costs around £1.25 ($2) and his website Vela Labs contains detailed information on how to put it together using a few simple components and a circuit breadboard.

The set up includes a visible light laser, the circuit board and a laser wired up to a flash trigger. Shots of a BB pellet gun destroying various coloured crayons illustrate the effectivity of the build – it allows the camera to capture objects travelling at 400 feet per second (with some motion blur). There is a minimalist sound trigger on the way and Vela will be posting video, photo and blog updates throughout the year on how to build your own.

GoPro and Cardboard viewer
GoPro meets VR
Alexander Osika, a student in industrial design and engineering, and the Swedish design collective Creatables have come up with a cool way to access virtual reality using an alternative to Google’s Cardboard (a cheap version of the Oculus Rift VR goggles) and a series of GoPro cameras arranged on a circular mount. Osika wanted to make a plastic version of Cardboard after first experimenting with open source designs from a Durovis headset called Dive so he asked to use Creatables’ prototyping facilities. Creatables helped with the concept and looked at putting it together with film from six GoPro cameras arranged in a circle, eventually giving alternative viewpoints from a ‘virtual VIP’ experience.

Osika’s ambitions for the project are to build on the Dive’s capabilities – it is a hands free smartphone headset that allows the user to get into a VR-type experience – by making it a foldable plastic head gear like Cardboard that can fit easily inside a backpack for VR and augmented reality experiences anywhere. Makezine interviewed Creatables bod Erik Thorstensson at the recent Trondheim Maker Faire about the project and the resultant video (below) gives more details about how the project came together.


First person flight
What do you get when you put the Oculus Rift VR headset and a camera drone in flight? One of the most authentic flight experiences around and potentially a game-changing way to use drones in oculus-rift-quadeverything from crop management to disaster recovery, digital journalism to exploration. Parrot, maker of the upcoming BeBop drone, has put together a blog and short video presentation (below) of how the BeBop will operate using Oculus Rift and head-tracking technology that allows the UAV pilot to look around while the drone is in flight and get a better all round view without having to worry about manoeuvring the UAV itself.

Hackaday has details of several projects marrying these technologies together, including this excellent short piece on a group of Norwegian students whose term project was to set up and test head-tracking capabilities. Just look at this short GIF embedded above for an idea of how it could work in practice.


Flite Test: drones within drones
Remember that Amazon video about delivery by drone? Well Youtubers and aerial specialists Flite Test have put together a sort of spoof video of a drone that delivers a drone that delivers a drone… and so on until it delivers a stick of fresh mint chewing gum to one of the crew to combat his bad breath. Take a look at the video below.


Gamers Paradise
Rounding off this post are a few of the best digital gaming hacks and posts from around the web. Check out the gallery below for pictures. First is the Tetris bracelet put together from Arduino chip controllers and featured in the Arduboy – a credit card sized Gameboy simulator. Play Tetris on your wrist for up to 10 hours with this rechargeable wonder. Or if you want something with more punch then check out this haptic gamer vest at Hackaday, chosen as a project in the website’s regular competitions for best hack. It contains 48 individually controllable motors and can be used to help the visually impaired avoid objects.

If you yearn for the golden days of coin-op arcade games then why not take it to another level and construct your own cabinet. Makezine has this wonderful article on 10 DIY arcade projects featuring a coffee table Pacman player, mini Raspberry Pi cabinets and full-on large display boxes with subwoofers built in for extra oomph. This and other projects is powered by MAME, or Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, designed to preserve legacy arcade games (MAME currently supports more than 7,000 coin-op titles). Hackaday details how the coin-op arcade games are preserved and links to the efforts of one gamer who circumvented the security around a type of sound chip called the NMK004 to access music and sound FX from a range of lost games.

If that is a little too much of an engineering project for you, here’s something a little more aesthetic, first person shooter art. Aram Bartholl, a German artist, was inspired by Duke Nukem 3D and issues around net neutrality and personal privacy to produce a series of large scale prints, sculptures and multimedia works for the DAM Gallery in Berlin. The exhibition is called ‘Hurt Me Plenty’.