Disney Research

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I’m thrilled to announce my new position as a Producer at Disney Research! Starting in December, I’ll be working to share the research scientists’ innovations in areas including robotics, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and computational materials with the other divisions of Disney. It’ll draw upon both my maker and CG animation experiences. Should this somehow lead to airborne swarms of tiny Imagineering spider drones assisting us all with our luggage at Shanghai Disneyland, my dreams will have been realized.

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Automatic Nerf Sentry Gun

I built this Nerf Sentry Gun by grafting a couple of Arduinos, a power supply, a motor, and an ultrasonic distance sensor onto a Nerf Vulcan machine gun. I posted these build notes on Make: online. I’ve never compiled them all in one place, however, so this post serves to tie the whole project together in one place.

Part 1: Wiring the trigger

The first step was to add wiring and a two-wire connector to control the trigger circuit. I opened up the Nerf Vulcan (about 30 screws) and soldered an 1/8″ female jack to the fire selection mode switch. This way, I can retain all the regular functions of the gun when it’s unplugged from the Arduino. To control it from the Arduino, I’ll flip the orange switch on top to “off” and then wire the trigger into the “pulled” position (done here with a classy twist tie). Whenever the Arduino’s trigger circuit closes (bypassing that orange “off” switch) the gun will start firing.

To add the connector, I drilled a 1/4″ hole in the gun’s hand grip, fed the sleeve through, and secured it with a couple of zip ties inside for strain relief.

Next, I’m planning to build the Arduino’s trigger circuit using a MOSFET transistor wired to a male 1/8″ jack I can plug into the gun.

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Imperial Melody Discharger – Stormtrooper helmet art build notes

I built the Imperial Melody Discharger, an articulated Stormtrooper helmet music box, for the Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you”) vinyl Stormtrooper helmet art show . For the event, artists across the Walt Disney Company, including DisneyToon Studios where I work, were invited to participate by using a blank 6″ helmet as the canvas for their work. What follows are my build notes and work in progress images.

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My intention for the piece was to provide a view behind the mask of the anonymous Stormtrooper, while creating a fun, interactive moment for the person experiencing it. I wasn’t sure exactly how to get there, but I was certain I’d need to cut the vinyl helmet open. You only have one shot at that, so I decided to first cut apart a CG model inside Maya, and rig it with pivot points that could be used in the real world for the facial articulation.

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Mostly satisfied that I knew where to separate the parts of the helmet, I grabbed an X-acto knife, took a breath, and began the incision. (Note: It smelled really foul in there. Also note: I have no way to compare the smell to that of the insides of a tauntaun.)

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Once splayed out I wasn’t too surprised to see that the “pelt” of the helmet was darned floppy. I needed to build an armature to keep the structure solid, and to support the articulation of the two halves of the face mask.

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With very little time to get fancy building parts from scratch, I rummaged around my workshop, closets, and shamefully disorganized garage, until I came upon an old spider Babyface homage to Toy Story I’d build back in ’95 out of Erector sets. Sorry, Spider Baby, I needed your body parts.

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Jack Conte Video Featuring Awesome Robots

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I really enjoy Jack Conte‘s music, creative video editing, and now, his behind-the-scenes look at the making of his latest video, Pedals. Please check out the video itself, and then enjoy his enthusiastic making-of video. Jack has maker skills!

Jack Conte Hexapod

The hexapod, Dmitiri, in the video was built and programmed by Matt Bunting and the face robot is by Kevin Felstead. Great work, guys.

via BoingBoing