MIT Tube Hacks (Videos inside!)

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I have been fortunate to be one of those who received an MIT Admissions Tube, and decided to honor the “tradition” and hack it! Or put in another way, forcefully make it be something it shouldn’t  be and do things it probably only dreamt doing. That is, of course, if tubes dream.

The talked about tube is one of MIT’s ways of notifying its admitted students of their acceptance to study at the institute. It usually arrives in the mail (the old kind of mail) a few weeks after the actual decisions are published because most postal services around the world are not designed to convey cylindrical objects.

As Hacking is somewhat encouraged by the MIT community (see, hacking tubes, and asking to specifically hack tubes, are not extraordinary things.

So for my part, I decided to make my tube move and be controlled remotely in two ways: to add Theo Jansen’s linkage to the tube, and to use it as R2D2’s body[(!!) I wanted to make an R2 for too long!].


So let’s start from the end. The Astromech droid took much longer to make than I anticipated. I had to overcome many seemingly easy challenges along the process. Some of which were to properly hack 9g Servo motors to rotate continuously, use two separated power sources to power the motors and the micro-controller (when I used only one battery the voltage drops caused the Arduino to reset itself frequently), and to remember to add break; after every switch argument in the program.
ANYWAY, it is working now! The small robot is fully self contained (so no dangling cables) and is controlled via Bluetooth through an MIT app inventor app running on my phone.


The other thing that I made the tube do is grow eight legs and walk. This creation is heavily based on my RC Strandbeest, which uses the same linkage and mechanism. The only real difference between the two models is that for the tube-walker I designed new adapters that attach the legs to the tube. You can see everything here:


I just want to add that it is still a bit hard for me to understand that I was actually admitted to MIT. I am extremely humbled and grateful for being given this kind of opportunity and am full of hope that it will help me to showcase more sophisticated and silly creations on this platform :).

Note to self: do not leave active robots on a shelf, overnight, again.
Apparently I forgot to switch off R2D2 a few nights ago and it drove off the shelf. It survived the fall the same way people can fly – with little success.


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