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    Wacky Automation Devices

    Congratulations to the Wacky Automation Devices Winners! You Win a $100 Shopping Cart for an element14 store!

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    Congratulations to dougw  for Purple Panic Buttoncarmelito for Automated Tea Dunker , and Workshopshed  for Voice activated torch using a Rube Goldberg Machine .


    You are the winners of the Wacky Automation Devices  project competition from  Project14!


    Happy Thanksgiving to our community members in the US!  One of the movies which always ends up popping up on some channel or another is The Goonies. When I arrived at a family members' home last night the first thing I found was the Goonies on television and it reminded me that we need to get this Winners Announcement out!   So my apologies for the delay, we had three outstanding entries for Wacky Automation Devices and those three entries are your winners!


    The Wacky Automation Devices theme came from dougw. The idea was to come up with an automation device similar to a Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a complex contraption in which a series of devices perform simple tasks and are linked together to produce a domino effect whereby activation of one device triggers the next device in the sequence.   As you may have guessed this contraption was named after the inventor who was an American cartoonist as well as a degreed (Berkeley) Engineer.  Rube Goldberg appeared in print to describe elaborate contraptions in 1928 before finally making its appearance in Random House Dictionary of the English Language in 1966.


    Wacky Automation in The Goonies:



    Wacky Automation in Back to the Future:



    Wacky Automation in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark:



    If you're like me and will be watching a lot of movies this weekend, see if you can spot a Rube Goldberg inspired device and let us know in the comments below!


    Now, without further ado here are your Wacky Automation Device Winners....


    The Winners


    Purple Panic Button


    A lot of people that work in tech or engineering environments are accustomed to dealing with an intense, fast-paced work environment that often require a stress ball or a fidget cubes to remind people to relax.  The story of the Purple Panic Button by dougw goes back several decades when a co-worker of his gave him a little plastic button that would pop up a little flag when the button was pushed.  The flag said "Be Calm" and looked somewhat like the image pictured below. This popular novelty was "a cute surprise" and got dougw thinking about a way to "keep the surprise fresh by making the response programmable, and not only display some cute text, but also play some iconic audio track." The project uses a PSoC4 circuit board from his Henrietta's Daughter - Smart Thermostat  project and parts from a A Flying Purple People Eater project he did for our Halloween contest.


    Awesome project ! the first thing that hit me, was lines from the movie - Ace Ventura - Pet detective, which I just watch last week for the umpteen time..  - carmelito






    A great project. Nothing else but a great project - balearicdynamics




    The concept is for the panic button to cause some slightly unexpected response both by displaying some clever comment and playing some catchy sound bite. The demo above shows some of the quips and sound bites to give you an idea of how it works, but dougw got more than a few clever suggestions from the community on other material.  So visit  Purple Panic Button and leave "any wiseacre, smart ass, one-liner quip or sound bite or ditty that might surprise and delight purple panic-ers" for him to add to this clever way to have fun and release stress at the same time!



    Automated Tea Dunker


    The Automated Tea Dunker from carmelito was a hit with our friends in our Leeds, UK office where your very own e14phil succinctly described the sentiment from across the pond as making his "English heart fill with glee."  It's one of my favorite projects because its so darn cute and the name is perfect!   The prototype uses an Arduino pro mini, two hobby 9G micro servos and a thumb joystick.  carmelito provides an attachment to download and 3D print the STL files if you want to build on this awesome project that even includes Project14  branding! There are 4 STL files in total attached in the zip file below, which are going to be used as part of the servo mechanism. You can print this using PLA or ABS filament on your 3D printer.


    It took some good skills to come up with a two axis mechanical device to dunk the tea bag. - DAB



    Well done. have automated something and I can imagine that some people that have a disability may find the concept useful. - mcb1




    Visit the Automated Tea Dunker for additional details on putting the circuit together and for Arduino code to get started on your own automated tea dunker. He suggests that as soon as you've uploaded the code, "put in the hours of practice" and once you are "confident, dip the tea bag in a cup of hot water and enjoy!!"


    Voice activated torch using a Rube Goldberg Machine


    Workshopshed wanted a device that would turn on the torch on his phone when his finger was feeling tired so he and his daughter made a Voice activated torch using a Rube Goldberg Machine ! This project marks the debut of "Megan TV" and as many of us make arrangements for more family time over the holidays it demonstrates how to do this using a family project.  It goes from Google AIY - Voice activations to Marty the Robot who flips the switch.  A switch triggers a sweeping servo using a Raspberry Pi Zero and a toy train runs down a slope and triggers microswitch.  The microswitch engages two relays, one which latches and the other which starts a motor.  It also involves a touch pen and a mobile torch app.


    Nice setup and presentation Andy and Megan. No one who hasn't tried to setup one of these sequence machines really understands how difficult they are. You did a great job. - jw0752


    Great project,


    You and Megan brought a smile to my face on a cold rainy afternoon. - DAB




    His daughter been a YouTube fan since she was young and from what I've been told even has her own Ben Heck impression!   Don't be surprised if she has a Ben Heckesque program on the element14 community some day!


    Rube Goldberg Wacky Facts


    Finally,  in honor of Rube Goldberg,  here are some tid bits about the man whose name has become synonymous with Wacky Automation Devices:


    • Rube Goldberg has a Degree in Engineering from Berkley - Rube Goldberg revealed that he got his degree in engineering because his "father thought that all cartoonists were, you know, good-for-nothing, Bohemians, and couldn't make a living drawing pictures.
    • He Quit his Engineering Job After 6 months - It took him 6 months to discover engineering wasn't right for him.  He became a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle before moving to New York City to be a cartoonist for The New York Evening Mail. One of his comics was called "Lala Palooza" which bears a striking resemblance to Lollapalooza the yearly music festival here in Chicago.   (It was a touring music festival featuring the likes of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Ministry, and Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was in high school.)
    • Rube Goldberg was making a salary equivalent to a million dollars by 1916 - According to a short profile published in 1963 he was making a salary of $50,000 for his cartoons which is the equivalent of 1 million dollars today.
    • He Won a Pulitzer Prize for a political cartoon called "Peace Today" -  He won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for cartoon where he made a statement about the precarious balance between world control and destruction due to the atomic bomb.  In a separate cartoon he critiqued FDR's strategy to fix the government by creating multiple agencies...
    • Only Last Name Used as an Adjective in the Dictionary - In 1931,  the term Goldberg was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary as an adjective meaning to do "something simple in a very complicated way that is not necessary."
    • Became a Sculptor at 80 - He viewed this as an extenuation of his work in engineering and cartooning.  He put on shows in New York and California and even got paid for his work.
    • The Reuben Award for Best Cartoonist is Named after him - Since 1954 the National Cartoonists Society has handed out awards to the Top Cartoonist in his honor.   It took Rube Goldberg 22 years to win the award that bares his name.
    • He Got his Own Stamp in the 90s - In 1995 a US Stamp of man using a self operating napkin was made in his honor by the United States Postal Service.
    • Rube Goldberg Machine Contests began at Purdue - The contests originated at Purdue in 1949, as a competition between the Theta Tau and Triangle fraternities, and was held every year until 1956. In 1983, it was revived by the Phi Chapter of Theta Tau and opened up to the entire university. It became a national contest in 1989 and contest winners have been featured on Johnny Carson, the Today Show, and Good Morning America.


    You can find out more about Rube Goldberg here and here


    That's all for now.


    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


    Be sure to congratulate the winners in the comments below!