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What robotic PC add-on would instructables users most want to build? Answered

 I'm interested in building a PC add-on, and posting it on instructables. Now, the type of thing that I'm talking about would be like a simple robotic arm to automatically reload the DVD-writer for mass production, or a customized USB game controller, or a wriggling USB squid-monster that quotes you Shakespeare in a computer voice, or something. But, none of the above, since they've all been done.

What does your computer need to do for you, that it can't do now?


I've always felt that the USB Webcam Missile Launcher was a great toy, but it could use a bit of tweaking. Like automated target acquisition, motion tracking, night vision, body-heat detection. And more missiles. And of course it needs to be bigger. MUCH bigger.

 How about a crossbow and webcam, on a pan-and-tilt mount, bolted on the side of your house, that you can control from your PC?

That would totally rock. Especially if there was a recocking/reloading mechanism.

Night Vision would require cracking the case on the webcam, and adding an I/R light source, and normal webcam's can't see body heat, but -simple- targeting and motion tracking can work, with some Machine Vision software, like RoboRealm.

Aiming, Cocking and firing would require some serious hardware, though.

Not to mention the enormous likelihood that mounting such a device on your house would have to be illegal.... Still, there would be a major cool factor involved..

 Yeah, but.... legal status is so restrictive, as a requirement when planning a project... I say it's fine, if it's on the back of the house :)

 Well, we do have some annoying Stellars Jays that love to squawk at each other at 5AM. Maybe OpenCV can recognize the jays from a picture... I don't know if they should get impaled, though. My wife would be really mad about a pile of dead Jays in the back yard... but the neighbor's cats would like it.

Maybe a high-powered water cannon is best, for non-lethality. You could use a sprinkler control valve to turn a hose on and off, with a nozzle on it. Then, you could also water your plants.

Bonus feature: no one dies when SkyNet infects your PC, they just get sprayed with water.

That's the beauty of the concept. The important part is the aiming, tracking & target recognition. What the thing shoots is kind of secondary, so the device becomes very versatile.

That said, a semi-automatic crossbow would be pretty epic in its own right, with or without the rest of the features. Might have to look into that....

> a semi-automatic crossbow ...
. Some type of Gatling Gun- or revolver-style mechanism comes to mind. Probably not a good model, but it's the first thing that comes to mind. Would probably be more compact with a coil spring instead of a leaf spring (bow).

Yeah, but without the leaf spring, it just wouldn't be a crossbow. Wonder if you could use an internal coil to run a mechanism to recock the bow, but still fire the bolt the traditional way....

Either: USB R2D2 that talks to you in beeps and moves around.

Or: USB robot that when plugged into the computer will display the status of various programs and sites, and show you where you have new email or comments.

These may be too difficult, but they would both be highly interesting.

Well you could take one, remove the bunny cover, and replace the voice with something less annoying.  You could also increase it's functionality.  But anyway, there are some other good ideas here, and it's obviously up to you.

If I knew the answer to that, I'd already have designed it. I've got a MIDI instrument designed on paper that I need to find time to build...

 Yeah... I was just hoping some people had an idea they didn't know how to implement, and I could take a shot at it for 'em.

 a USB automatic screen cleaner.  something that quickly passes over the screen to clean it but doesn't obstruct your view of the screen (like wiper blades)

Screw top beer bottle opener, pourer and bottle recycler.

That would be cool, but I don't think a computer would need to be part of the design. Something like that could just as easily be a stand-alone appliance, like a modified can opener, with a wire catch for the overturned bottle, to pour through a funnel into your beer mug, and then drop the bottle in a trash can. That's more Rube-Goldberg territory than a PC add-on, but, it still sounds fun.

Add a keg chiller and a pint glass filler, and I think you're onto a winner.