Blog Posts

Self-Balancing Blue Hedgehog-Inspired Robot

YouTuber James Bruton has made a self-balancing robot with motorized active suspension, inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog and Boston Dynamics. Bruton has published a three part video series about the project on his Youtube channel.

One of most interesting things about this build is the construction of the robot body, which has two mechanical “knees” that bend using ball screws. These knees operate independently of each other, giving the robot active suspension and allowing the robot to lean sideways when turning corners.

Bruton uses brushless motors and ODrive to control the robot, partnered with a Teensy 3.6 and an MPU6050 for processing and stability. You can read an article with more details about this self-balancing robot on or if you’re inspired to have a go at making something similar, the CAD files and code for Bruton’s projects are published on his GitHub. You can support his work on Patreon or by subscribing to his YouTube channel.

Midi Controller Based on Kush Hammer EQ

Paul Hesketh used a Teensy 3.2 to make a physical MIDI controller that controls a software audio plugin called Kush Hammer EQ.

A VST plugin is a virtual synthesis add-on format used by Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software on PCs. DAWs such as Ableton Live, Logic Pro or Audacity are used to edit audio files for music, podcast and so on. VSTs have lots of complex controls and Hesketh thought it would be much more fun to adjust sounds with a physical controller rather than repetitively pointing and clicking with a mouse.

Hesketh designed his hardware to work with a VST plugin called Kush Hammer EQ, which is based around two channels with three frequency ranges each. As well as the Teensy 3.2, Hesketh used an EEPROM module, a PS2 keyboard driver module, an LCD display and an assortment of buttons, switches, dials and rotary encoders to complete his project. He even got a custom metal enclosure made, which adds to the sleekness of the finished controller.

If you want to have a go at making your own version of this project, Hesketh has released a detailed write up (PDF) of this project including his design process, build instructions, components used and an excellent breakdown of his code.

Lifetime Countdown Clock

Lifeclocc is a Teensy-based electronic clock for your desk that counts down the seconds you (probably) have left to live.

If you live to the age of 80 you live for 2.52 billion seconds, or 29,000 days. This Teensy-based clock reminds you of your looming mortality by displaying two counters: the full days you have to live and the seconds remaining in the current day. If this is something you need in your life, you’re in luck! Chai Jia Xun is currently selling the Lifeclocc on Kickstarter.

Chai Jia Xun has published a detailed build log with schematics and progress pictures over on his blog. You can also read a write up of the project and Kickstarter campaign on the Hackaday blog.


Animated LED Vest

FinnBot has made an LED fake fur vest that uses a Teensy 3.0 and 470 LEDs to play beautiful animations.

FinnBot combined a fake fur vest, over 15 meters of individually addressable LEDs and a Teensy to make this mesmerising wearable. The fur creates a very attractive diffusion effect for FinnBot’s Processing animations, including the colorful ball example seen in the video above and this gorgeous flame effect. As well as the animations, the vest also plays video rendered in C# and saved onto an SD card at a pretty impressive frame rate of 25fps.

FinnBot has more detailed instructions up on their page for the project, and you can also look at some more of their LED work on their YouTube channel.

Analytical Chemistry Remote Controlled Vehicle

Claudimir Lucio do Lago Ph.D. was part of a team at the University of São Paulo in Brazil that have made an unmanned remote control all-terrain vehicle that analyses volatile air compounds.

The team at the University of São Paulo made a remote control vehicle designed for Analytical Chemistry. The vehicle is designed to enter areas that could be dangerous for humans, then use the onboard sensors to separate and detect formic, acetic, and propionic acids. The team used three Teensy 2.0 modules to control the subsystem’s head and driver, the electrophoresis module, and the detection system.

The image below shows the configuration of the remote control vehicle. For detailed information on this impressive academic project, you can read this special issue of Electrophoresis, which has the vehicle as its cover star!


Balloon Avionics Sensor Boards

Kirill Safin has designed a series of High Altitude Balloon Avionics sensor boards as part of the Stanford Student Space Initiative.

Student rocketry and avionics societies at colleges all around the world give students a chance to get some hands-on engineering experience. The Stanford Student Space Initiative is a brilliant example, encouraging students from Computer Science, Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and many more disciplines to work together on cool projects, including high altitude balloon avionics.

High altitude balloon avionics involves sending a balloon, typically a large weather balloon filled with helium or hydrogen, into the stratosphere. From this vantage point you can choose to do a number of things from taking sensor readings, to streaming video, sending images or delivering messages.

Each of these tasks needs different hardware. While Kirill Safin was an undergraduate at Stanford, he designed a series of boards to achieve his balloon avionic team’s objectives. The first of these boards, pictured above, was Oscar, a PCB that included a Teensy 3.2, five pressure and temperature sensors, an SD card for datalogging, a GPS breakout and a satellite communications module. Safin kept working on other boards after Oscar, releasing revisions called Cookie Monster and Elmo. He also made a modular version called Medusa with slots for the addition of mission-specific sensor boards.

Kirill Safin is now an Avionic Engineer at ABL Space Systems, working on satellite-launching rockets. You can look over his other undergraduate projects on his portfolio website.



Kinetic Artwork Reads and Writes Iron and Silica

Berlin-based Brazilian artist and technologist Luiz Zanotello has made a kinetic artwork called A Habitat of Recognition, which reads and writes an ore made of iron and silica particles.

Luiz Zanotello is a Brazilian artist and designer based in Berlin. For his master degree in Digital Media at the University of the Arts Bremen, Zanatello created a work called A Habitat of Recognition. The artist explains that the work “enacts an infrastructural imaginary where an ore of granule particles (silica and iron) is written and read as a granular record”.

The reading of the ore and writing of the record is realised by the sensing, sorting and separating of an ore made of a mixture silica (non-magnetic) and iron (magnetic). Zanatello says that this sorting mechanism “resembles the processes that occur on the sorting of vast landscapes into mineral ores.”

A Habitat of Recognition is controlled with a pair of Teensy 3.1 boards, plus a number stepper and servo motors controlled with a Theremino driver board. The hardware and code used to create this artwork have been documented over on the Arduino website, and you can see more images, videos and read more about the concepts on Zanatello’s site.

Image and video above from Ferreira Zanotello, L. G. (2017) A Habitat of Recognition. Full thesis available on his website.

Rover with Mavlink Messaging

Forum user MJS513 wanted their rover to send information to a base station while on the move, so they used a Teensy 3.5 to set up Mavlink messaging.

MJS513 upgraded their DIY rover communications with MAVLink, a Teensy 3.5 and APM Planner. MAVLink is a way for unmanned vehicles such as rovers and drones to talk with a base station. By using this protocol in with a Teensy 3.5, MJS513 was able to to send data from their rover to APM Planner, an open source ground station.

Instead of having to send data to the serial monitor and process it all later, this project allows MJS513 to view live data and issue commands to their rover. Check out the YouTube video to see it in action. The source code has also been released on MJS513’s GitHub.