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admin 31.03.2015

While most people spent their holiday playing with toys, Irish maker Conor O'Neill was busy daisy-chaining a Raspberry Pi, MaKey MaKey invention kit, and slices of cheese — yes, cheese — to create a uniquely controlled RC car. The project began with O'Neill, an engineer by training, looking for a Christmas gift for his children, ages six and seven. The MaKey MaKey breakout board allows everything from bananas to pails of water to become inputs for a computing device. In the end, the car worked like butter, shredded on the hardwood floor and looked sharp at the same time.
After trying cheese, grapes and a Barbie doll as control mechanisms, the O'Neills are now looking to hack the Nintendo WiiMote to control their car. While this project might seem like a cross between a Rube Goldberg contraption and a Wallace and Gromit invention, the project incorporates professional-grade applications. Photo: SugruO'Neill would like to see a well-designed car template for an app like Foldify that would allow kids to make their own custom skins for modded RC cars out of cardstock. I watch my grandkids before and after school and this will give them something new and different to do.


It had to be interesting enough that it wouldn't be tossed aside before the new year and cheap enough to stay off his credit card balance in 2013.
Paired with a $2 Bluetooth dongle and Raspberry Pi board, the toy race car could potentially be controlled with anything in a pantry. Presented with a familiar interface, it becomes easier for kids to imagine new possibilities.
O'Neill says that future project ideas include hacking an electronic drum set so each beat moves the car along. He's considering some combination of Lego, Kinex, and Sugru, a versatile modeling putty invented by a fellow Irish maker. Foldify is a new iPad application that lets users easily design a variety of 3-D objects, then print out them out as paper templates that can be cut and folded together to create the finished item.
O'Neill took on the grating task of connecting and debugging the various components, sharing his recipe in a very detailed blog post.
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The car is supposed to be controlled with an Android phone, but O'Neill figured that with a little MaKey MaKey hacking it could be steered with something more unique.
Last year I learned the basics of Node.js whilst scratching a similar itch on a Twitter project. Whilst I'm not a full-time programmer (I used to be), I manage programmers and make all the major technical decisions in our company. These little side projects can be a fun and effective way for me to check out interesting technologies for potential use in the company.



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