Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Techy Tuesday - Candidate for Dad of the Year 2015

Last March I saw an article on the simulated moon launch console a dad made for his kid.  Most impressive Dad of 2014.

It's a new year, though (and mostly gone, too) but I think I have found 2015's Dad of the Year.  Check out what he built for his 1 year old Princess:
If you remember the last of the original Star Wars trilogy, the one with the Ewoks, formally known as Return of the Jedi, you'll recognize the speeder bike instantly.

A young dad named Tez Gelmir designed and built this and posted instructions on Instructables.  Through a combination of plywood, hardware store supplies, 3D printing, woodworking and electronics hardware, he brought it to life.  
I see the overall design as three main parts, firstly the speeder bike its self (the hull etc); secondly the rocker arms/frame and thirdly the electronics.
  • My first consideration was strength and stability for the safety of the little ones, as though this project is for my 1y/o, I also have a 5y/o who no doubt will want a turn. The need to be strong enough to handle a beating led me to the first part of my design, a rigid backbone with a solid plywood top for the seat platform. This gave me a good foundation for things like the handles and outrigger to mount from, and somewhere to fix the 3D printed hull shell.
  • The rocker arms were the source of great deliberation (as you can tell by the multiple sketches above) as the effects of the weight of the speeder bike and a toddler over a guessed center of gravity was quite a challenge. My solution was to use the two center rocker arms to clamp either side of the speeder bike's timber backbone but still have clearance to slide the rockers back and forth 50mm or so to find the center of balance. This design also has scope to easily replace the rocker arms with maybe a (motorized?) rolling mobile base..... I'm just thinking out load.... stay tuned....
  • In terms of the electronics I am not going to go into too much detail as I feel it is a little out of the scope of this instructable and I would recommend doing an Arduino setup (where as I used bits and pieces I had laying around).I wanted to end up with an LED blaster canon with the sound of the blaster and another button on the control panel that spun the turbine on the power cell. My initial idea was to use the guts from a toy blaster but it turned out the circuitry in the toy blasters were very fragile and I managed to damage the sound chip while assembling. So I ended up using a simple 555 timer flashing LED for the blaster and a sound recording/playback module I had laying around from another project. The power cell turbine is a simple circuit and I just used a small DC motor I found from a car windscreen washer pump.
To the hardcore techies out there: I realize this is a little low/old tech for these weekly rambles into whatever cool tech industry news crosses my desk, but (1) it's a good example of combining lots of home-level tech into something useful and (2) it's cool.  "Straight up Maker" in my mind.

Go check out his Instructables page.  He's got a video, too.

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