Miscellaneous Sunspot Stuff
For several years, the Sun Labs
team exhibited stuff at the
winning an Editor's choice award,
in the Java One SunSpot pavilion.
Here are some of the
Maker Faire SunSpot contraptions I have built.
Maker Faire Calliope
This is A sun-spot powered "calliope" I was building during
the Maker Faire.
The sunspot has a "midi in" jack connected to a keyboard,
and interprets the Midi commands and
controls two slide whistles with four
servos to play "music". Although the software supports multiple
slide whistle calliopes - the MIDI data gets broadcast over the Spot Radio
network - thankfully, I only built one.
What you don't see is the industrial air compressor under
the table providing the air supply.
Here is the finished version.
along with a
short youtube video.
Never underestimate the value of shiny
black plastic in science fair projects.
Spots with power tools
Roger (my boss) wrote a nifty application for SunSpots called
"air-text". You wag a sunspot back and forth, and it displays
"words" in the air using the 8 on-board LED's.
Dave was "air texting" a lot, and his arm was getting tired
short air-text video
so he bought an industrial sawz-all to
automate the wagging aspect.
After nearly being decapitated by a Sunspot being hurled across the
room by an angry sawz-all, I decided to make my own version, using
a "hand saw" instead.
Well, you kind of have to be there, or take a look at the
The Accelerometer built in to the Spot controls a servo attached to
the saw, swinging a counter-weighted arm back and forth in a manner
analogous to pushing a child on a swing.
Spot based language translation
It was early on in Spotsville, and Late one Friday, Dave, Roger and I
were trying to come up with a compelling demo for an education conference
Roger was attending that Monday. I thought real time language translation
would be a cool demo, but the "other guys" were worried it would take
too long to implement, and we wouldn't be able to finish it in time
for Roger's flight.
I felt it would be doable, as long as we chose the proper source
and destination languages. So, scaling back our translator
English => Swahili
Morse Code => Semaphore
We ended up with the "semaphore Bot".
You enter Morse code with a keyer connected to one spot, which
transmits it over the Spot Radio to the Semaphore Bot, which proceeds
to translate the Morse code into semaphore. This is especially useful
in an educational setting considering how few people know Morse code
Spots meet R2D2
Before the now famous "eSpot", our current production version, we had
a prototype version called the "bSpot". Unlike the "eSpot" demo board,
with a programmable controller on board, it was fixed-function only.
Having spent plenty of time with "basic stamp" computers, wishing
they had a "real" programming language, I really wanted "basic stamp"
like capabilities "out of the box" on the new Spots. So I took an
Atmel Tiny/13, taped it onto the Bspot, and made a robot out of it.
I like to think it made a compelling enough demo to sway the argument
in favor of a programmable demo board (of course I got to write all
the code for it).
Here is a canonical Spot Robot sitting under and controlled by
an E-spot (short video).
After using SunSpots for a while, you end up using them in lots of stuff,
simply because they make it easier to do. So when we got tired of crawling
under the table to plug and unplug our various demos, it was a no-brainer
to build a spot controlled outlet strip.
The strip has been slightly modified, a solid state relay wired to each
outlet is controlled by an I/O pin of the locally connected Sunspot, which
received on/off commands over the radio from a remote Spot.
The Spot has since
wandered off in search of something more exciting to do.