[robin] has a Red Camera (lucky!), an absurdly expensive digital video camera. As you would expect the batteries are also absurdly expensive. What’s the solution? Battery packs from cordless drills.
Cordless drills are interesting pieces of tech that can be easily repurposed; there are huge battery packs in them, big, beefy motors, and enough hardware to build an Automatic Cat Feeder or a motorized bicycle.
What if those old Makita batteries don’t charge? That usually means only one or two cells are dead, not the whole pack. Free LiIon cells, but you need to charge them. Here’s a single cell charger/boost converter that will do the trick.
A problem faced by amateur radio operators around the world is the lack of commercial power. Plugging a portable shack into a wall will work, but for uninterrupted power car batteries are everywhere. How do you combine wall power and car batteries for the best of both worlds? With an In-line battery backup module.
All of the projects above rely on charging a battery through wall power, and sometimes even that is impossible. Solar is where we’re headed, with solar LiPo chargers, and solar LiFe chargers. That’s more than enough to keep a smartphone charged, but if you want to go completely off the grid, you’re going to need something bigger.
[Michel] has been off the power grid 80% of the time since he installed his home PV system a few years ago. How’s he doing it? A literal ton of batteries, huge chargers, and a 5kW inverter.
Filed under: Hackaday Columns
The Midwest RepRap Festival is over – forever. This was the last one. Apparently enough people complained that Goshen, Indiana wasn’t in the midwest. The number of Dairy Queens I passed contradicts this, but whatever. Next year, there’s going to be a different con in Goshen. Same content, different name. If you have a suggestion, you know where to put it.
I promised the world’s largest 3D printed trash can, and I gave you the world’s largest 3D printed trash can. This gigantic orange vase was printed on the PartDaddy, SeeMeCNC’s 18-foot tall delta printer a few months ago at the NYC Maker Faire. I have been using this as a trash can in my basement since then, making me one of the only people who have their trash can on Wikipedia.A failed print on Saturday morning
Speaking of the PartDaddy, this is what a fail looks like. The first PartDaddy print was a Groot, a 13-hour long print job. It was left running overnight, but it ran out of PLA pellets sometime around 4 in the morning. If you’re wondering what the black band is around the Groot’s face is, here’s the breakdown:
The PartDaddy sucks PLA pellets up from a trash can (that’s not 3D printed), and dispenses it into a hopper above the print head. This hopper was 3D printed on the PartDaddy, and there is still a little bit of colarant dust in there. When the PLA pellets run out, that dust is embedded in the extrusion. When you realize that masterbatch is only about 5% of the finished plastic, it doesn’t take much black dust to discolor a print.
Yes, this is a print fail that could have been fixed by having an all-night bash. A few other people left their printers running overnight including [The Great Fredini] and his Scan-A-Rama. This was a Rostock Max that had something wonky happen with the Bowden. There was filament everywhere.
How about some Star Wars droids? An R2 from the Droid Builder’s Club was there, but there was also the beginnings of a completely 3D printed Roger. While we’re on the subject of plastic robots that will fall apart at a moment’s notice, there was a K’NEX 3D printer. Yes, it’s made almost entirely out of K’NEX, and it did work at one time. Those orange parts sitting next to it? Those came out of the K’NEX printer. If you’re looking for the definitive RepStrap, there ‘ya go.
For the last few months, metal filaments – PLA with tiny particles of copper, brass, bronze, iron, or aluminum have been available. MRRF was the first place where you could see them all together. A few things of note: these filaments are heavy – the printed objects actually feel like they’re made out of metal. They’re actually metal, too: the iron-based filaments had a tiny bit of red corrosion, and the Lincoln death mask above was treated with acetic acid. These filaments are also expensive, around $100 for 1kg. Still, if you want to print something that will be around in 100 years, this is what you should get.The most beautiful printer ever
MRRF should have had a contest for the best looking 3D printer at the show. A beautiful delta from Detroit Rock City would have won:
That white hexagon in the center is a ceramic PCB that I’m told cost an ungodly amount of money. Underneath the ceramic build plate, there’s a few Peltiers between the bed and the large copper heat sink. The heat sink is connected to the three risers by heat pipes, making the entire printer one gigantic heat sink. Why would anyone make such an amazing art deco printer? For this.
Because you can use Peltiers to heat and cool a bed, a little bit of GCode at the end of a print will cool the bed to below room temperature. If you do your design right, this means the print will just fall over when it’s done. When the print bed is cooling, you can actually hear the bond between the bed and print cracking. It’s beautiful, it’s cool, and I’m told this printer will make its way to hackaday.io soon.
There you go, the best and coolest from the last Midwest RepRap Festival ever. There will never be another one. It only needs a better name, and [John] at SeeMeCNC is great at coming up with names. Just ask what VIP is a backronym of.
I told you there would be a T-shirt cannon. That’s 300 PSI shop air.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
We’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to chemically etching circuit boards for years. The problem has been that we don’t particularly want to devote months of or lives learning how to build precision CNC mills. Off in the distance there may be an answer for that quandary if you don’t mind parting with twenty-two Benjamins. Sure, it’s a heck of a lot more expensive than toner transfer and cupric chloride, but the Othermill can be purchased right now (in your hands a few months later) and after reading this in-depth review we are a bit less hesitant about opening our wallets for it.
It’s a tome of a review, but that means there’s something for everybody. We especially enjoyed seeing the 10 mil board shown here which took about 1-hour to mill. Considering it has also been through-hole drilled we’d put that on part with the time it takes to etch a board. There are obvious places where the traces are not perfectly smooth (not sure if that’s burring or over-milling) but they are not broken and the board’s ready to be populated.
Alignment is something of an issue, but the Othermill isn’t limited to PCBs so we’d recommend designing and milling your own alignment bracket system as an early project.
Who isn’t envious of custom-builds that can get down to 10-mils, like this beauty from 2013. Our hopes had been sparked when Carbide 3D came onto the scene. We’re still optimistic that they will make a big splash when they start shipping preorders in a few months.
As this review proves, Othermill is already out in the wild with a 6-8 week wait before shipping. We saw it in action milling multiple materials at the Hackaday Omnibus Lauch Party and were duly impressed. Price or waiting-period aside we’re going to hold off until the software options expand beyond Mac-only; either Othermill will add support or someone will come up with a hack to use traditional CNC software. But if you count yourself as a subscriber to the cult of Apple the software, called Otherplan, does get a favorable prognosis along with the hardware.
Already have an Othermill sitting on your bench? Let us know your what you think about it in the comments below.
Bonus content: [Mike Estee], CTO of Othermill just gave a talk last night about how he got into making mills and the challenges of building something with super-high-precision. Sound isn’t good but the talk is solid. Hackaday’s [Joshua Vasquez] also gives a talk on the video about building an SPI core for FPGA. These talks are one of the Hardware Developer’s Didactic Galactic series which you really should check out if you’re ever in the San Francisco area.
Filed under: cnc hacks, reviews, tool hacks
The Raspberry Pi is a great machine to learn the ins and outs of blinking pins, but for doing anything that requires blinking pins fast, you’re better off going with a BeagleBone. This has been the conventional wisdom for years now, and now that the updated Raspberry Pi 2 is out, there’s the expectation that you’ll be able to blink a pin faster. The data are here, and yes, you can.
The method of testing was connecting a PicoScope 5444B to a pin on the GPIO pin and toggling between zero and one as fast as possible. The original test wasn’t very encouraging; Python maxed out at around 70 kHz, Ruby was terrible, and only C with the native library was useful for interesting stuff – 22MHz.
Using the same experimental setup, the Raspberry Pi 2 is about 2 to three times faster. The fastest is still the C native library, topping out at just under 42 MHz. Other languages and libraries are much slower, but the RPi.GPIO Python library stukk sees a 2.5x increase.
Filed under: Raspberry Pi
Few things have managed to capture the imagination of hackers and engineers around the world the way Synthetic Biology did over the last couple of years. The promise of “applying engineering principles to designing new biological devices and systems” just seemed way too sci-fi to missed out on, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. All of a sudden, the field which used to be restricted to traditional research organizations and startups found itself crowded with all sorts of enthusiasts, biohackers, and weirdos alike. Competitions such as the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) paved the way, and the emergence of community spaces like GenSpace and BioCurious finally made DNA experimentation accessible to anyone who dares to try. As it often happens, the Sci-Fi itself did not go untouched, and a whole new genre called “Biopunk” emerged, further fueling people’s imagination and extrapolating worlds to come.
That’s where the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group comes in – somewhere in between the real world of DNA experimentation in research labs and “design fiction,” exploring concepts and ideas at the very edge of what’s possible. Led by [Prof. Neri Oxman], this amazing group deals with research “at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science and synthetic biology”. In the true Media Lab spirit, the group goes beyond pure research and engages in designing and fabricating incredible structures at both micro and architectural scale, demonstrating potential uses of new materials and design concepts. Probably the most famous piece showcasing the sheer awesomeness happening in the Mediated Matter group is the Silk Pavilion — a large-scale structure created with the combination of “digital” and “biological” fabrication. For this piece, primary structure was created with CNC-deposited silk fiber, whereas the rest was completed by deploying 6,500 live silkworms.
At this year’s SXSW Interactive, we had an opportunity to talk with [Sunanda Sharma], a graduate student in the Mediated Matter group. One of the projects [Sunanda] is working on is digital fabrication using the hydrogel called chitosan, made by deacetylating crushed shrimp shells. The team that [Sunanda] is a part of has developed a custom 3D Printing technique based on extruding chitosan at different concentrations and viscosities, allowing them to fabricate large architectural structures solely based on this amazing new bioplastic. While the kind of “living” pavilions that the group fabricates primarily reside in the domain of “what could happen in the future,” they also serve a great purpose of initiating the conversation about the many potential real-world applications of biomaterials like this. Not the least of which is replacing plastic with something completely biodegradable.
For more info, check out the interview that Hackaday’s “mythical creature” [Sophi Kravitz] did with [Sunanda] at this year’s SXSW:
Filed under: cons, Featured, Interviews
I2C has a seven-bit address space, and you’re thinking “when do I ever need more than 127 devices on a pair of wires?” So you order up some parts only to find that they have one, two, or three user-configurable address pins for any given device type. And you need a bunch more than four or eight capacitive sensor buttons on your project. What do you do?
If you’re reader [Marv G], you think outside the box and realize that you can change the addresses on the fly by toggling address pins high and low with your microcontroller. That is, you can use a single I2C address pin for each device as a chip select signal just like you would have with SPI.
That’s it, really. [Marv G] goes through all of the other possible options in his writeup, and they’re all unsavory: multiple I2C busses, a multiplexer, buying different sensors, or changing micros. None of these are as straightforward as just running some more wires and toggling these with your micro.
We’d even go so far as to suggest that you could fan these chip select lines out with a shift register or one of those 1-of-N decoder chips, depending on how many I2C devices you need to chip-selectify. (We’re thinking 74HC595 or 74HC154.)
Along the way, we found this nice list of the number of address pins for a bunch of common peripherals provided by [LadyAda], in case you don’t believe us about how ubiquitous this problem is. How many devices on that list have one (1!!) address pin?
At the end of his post, [Marv G] asks if anyone else has thought of this chip select trick before. We hadn’t. Here’s your chance to play the smart-ass in the comments.
Filed under: hardware, Microcontrollers, misc hacks, peripherals hacks
We love seeing how things work. Exploded views are like mechanical eye-candy to most engineers, so when [Chris’] Kindle Touch died, he decided to give it new life… on his wall.
Inspired by others, he decided to mount all the components of his Kindle onto a piece of plastic that he could hang up on his wall. As an electronics design engineer, he’s always looking for new ideas and ways to design and build circuits — what better way to inspire creativity than to see a real product blown apart? Does anyone remember reading [Stephen Biesty’s] Incredible Cross Sections or Incredible Explosions as a child?
The construction is quite simple, relying on mounting holes where possible to screw parts directly to the board, or by using heavy duty double-sided tape. After finishing the Kindle, [Chris] found an old iPod of his and decided to give it the same ritual.
For some more in-depth exploded physical models, take a look Bolt.io’s office art we covered last year!
Filed under: misc hacks
We’ve featured quite a few aquarium and fish feeder hacks on our blog. [RoboPandaPDX] thought of taking it up a notch and make an interactive fish feeder. He built a Fish feeder that train’s them to feed themselves.
A copper bar hangs from the middle of a metal cylinder – much like a bell. The end of the bar has a fish lure. When a fish pushes the lure, the copper bar touches the metal cylinder and closes the circuit. This signal goes to an Arduino. To catch the attention of the fishes and to “teach” them, an RGB LED is used. The fish need to figure out that the feeder will dispense food only when the LED is ON and the Lure is pushed. If the fish figure that out, and push the lure when the LED is on, a servo is activated which pushes the feeder to deliver 1 unit of fish food. While at it, he added a couple of bells and whistles. A buzzer to indicate when the Lure switch is closed and a 2 line LCD shows how many times the switch has been activated and how long the program has been running.
A Sparkfun open logger stores the hit count and the minutes and seconds of the hit for data analysis later on. The good news is that it seems to be working. The current code activates the feeder for 30 to 60 minutes every day, which is indicated by the LED. At the end of 9 days, [RoboPandaPDX] found that the goldfish would hit the Lure when the LED turned on, and then turn around to face where the feeder would dispense food in to the tank. His next plan is to put up some obstacles along the path to see if the fish learn some new tricks. His schematic looks a little iffy (the Lure switch is connected to the RST pin of the Arduino), and it seems he cannot remember why he ever did that. He’s happy that it works though, but we’re sure that’s not the right way to wire it up.
[RoboPandaPDX] is looking for suggestions on improving his interactive feeder, so if you have any, do add them in the comments below.
Filed under: home hacks
It used to be that desktop computers reigned king in the world of powerful computing, and to some extent, they still do. But laptops are pretty powerful these days, and in our experience, a lot of engineering companies have actually swapped over to them for resource hungry 3D CAD applications — But what if you still need a bit more power?
Well, [Kamueone] wasn’t satisfied with the performance of his Razer Blade GTX870m laptop, so he decided to hack it and give it its own external graphics card.
Now unfortunately this really isn’t quite a simple as running some PCIE extender cables — nope. You’ll have to modify the BIOS first, which according to [Kamueone], isn’t that bad. But after that’s done you’ll also need a way to mount your graphics card outside of the laptop. He’s using an EXP GDC Beast V6 which uses a mini PCIE cable that can be connected directly to the laptop motherboard. You’re also going to need an external power supply.
[Kamueone] ran some benchmarks and upgrading from the stock onboard GTX870m to an external GTX 780ti resulted in over three times the frame rate capability — 40fps stock, 130fps upgraded!
Filed under: computer hacks, laptops hacks, video hacks
In case you missed it, SparkFun recently held the Actobotics Stair Climber Challenge competition, where you could build a robot capable of ascending stairs and win some sweet SparkFun cash!
The contest is over now and the winners have just been announced — and some of the bots the contestants came up with are just plain awesome!
First prize went to the [Jaeger Family] who built a wheeled robot that can roll right up stairs without even batting an eyelash — it’s pretty cool to see. Check that out and more below.
We really like the second place winner though — it’s terribly slow, but a very ingenious design. We think you’ll agree.
[Chad Giddings] robot didn’t quite make it up the stairs, but nonetheless is a pretty cool robotics platform he’s been developing. Tank tread drive with an on board tool-gripper, video camera, and a set of wheels behind it to (theoretically) let it climb stairs while balancing itself.
Finally we have [Robert Paradiso’s] design which only got an honorable mention by SparkFun, but we think his robot is probably the cutest… well, uh, maybe clumsiest of the bunch.
Filed under: robots hacks
The Caption CERN Contest has been going great guns thanks to the community of users over on Hackaday.io. The contest just finished up its seventh week of finding funny captions for images which CERN has in their archives. CERN has decades of great photo documentation of their projects. Unfortunately they don’t know which project each image goes with, or who exactly is in the image. We’re helping them out where we can, by letting CERN know any information we can find on their photos. We’re also having some fun along the way, by giving out a T-Shirt for the best caption each week.
Here are some of the best quotes from week 7The Funnies:
“Are Socks and Sandals acceptable safety equipment for the Demolition Pit? Yes, because these are Kelvar socks and Zylon sandals being testing. Quite uncomfortable, but these feet will survive a close proximity blast.” – [controlmypad]
“Check it out! One tube for each Ninja Turtle” – [OzQube]
“Before the LHC, hunting for the Higgs was much less glamorous.” – [Tachyon]
The winner of course is [Tim] with the featured image at the top of this article.
If [Tachyon] sounds familiar, that’s because he came up with the best caption back in week 6. Runners up for week 6 were:
“Damn Mario Brothers ….. ‘gotta save the princess’ How about watching where you’re going for once. – [Scott Galvin]
“Here at CERN, you don’t get shafted. You get tubed.” – [Rollyn01]
“Thank god the separator caught him. Another 50 meters, and he’d be nothing but quarks.” – [Curtis Carlsen]
Click past the break to check out this week’s image!
With tens of thousands of captioned images in CERN’s library, we have a lot of work ahead of us! This week’s image features a CERN scientist and a piece of equipment which looks like it is rather special to him. Do you know what is going on in this image?
Add your humorous caption as a comment to the project log. Make sure you’re commenting on the log, not on the project itself.
As always, if you actually have information about the image or the people in it, let CERN know on the original image discussion page.
Filed under: contests, news
[Ken Shirriff] is apparently very cool, and when he found out the Computer History Museum had a working IBM 1401 mainframe, he decided to write a program. Not just any program, mind you; one that would generate a Mandelbrot fractal on a line printer.
The IBM 1401 is an odd beast. Even though it’s a fully transistorized computer, these transistors are germanium. These transistors are stuffed onto tiny cards with resistors, caps, and diodes, than then stuck in a pull-out card cage that, in IBM parlance, is called a ‘gate’. The computer used decimal arithmetic, and things like ‘bytes’ wouldn’t be standard for 20 years after this computer was designed – 4,000 characters of memory are stored in a 6-bit binary coded decimal format.
To the modern eye, the 1401 appears to be a very odd machine, but thanks to the ROPE compiler, [Ken] was able to develop his code and run it before committing it to punched cards. An IBM 029 keypunch was used to send the code from a PC to cards with the help of some USB-controlled relays.
With the deck of cards properly sorted, the 1401 was powered up, the cards loaded, and the impressive ‘Load’ button pressed. After 12 minutes of a line printer hammering out characters one at a time, a Mandelbrot fractal appears from a line printer. Interestingly, the first image of the Mandelbrot set was printed off a line printer in 1978. The IBM 1401 was introduced nearly 20 years before that.
Filed under: classic hacks
Hackaday, we have a problem. The electricity in your house is on. It’s always on. How fast are those kilowatt-hours ticking by and what is causing it? For most people the only measurement they have of this is the meter itself (which nobody looks at), and the electric bill (which few people actually analyze). Is it silly that people pay far more attention to the battery usage on their phone than the electricity consumption in their abode? I think it is, and so appears another great seed idea for Hackaday Prize entries.A Better Way to Measure
The tough part of the problem here is getting at reliable data. Just yesterday we saw an incredible resource monitoring project that uses an optical sensor to measure the turning or the wheel in an electric meter. We’ve seen similar projects for meters that have a blinking LED, and a few other methods. But in many cases the electrical meter is outdoors which makes cheap, easily installed sensors a difficult goal to achieve. Even if we did, this still provides just one stream of data, the entire house.
Alternatively you could tap into the breaker box. We’ve seen [Bill Porter] do just that and there are some commercially available kits that include an octopus of clamp-style current sensors. This is a bit of an improvement, but still requires the user to open the electrical panel (don’t scoff at that statement, you know most people shouldn’t be doing that) to install them. I’m sure there are other methods that I’m missing and would love to hear about them in the comments below.The Point
To sum up what I’m getting at here, think about the Kill-A-Watt which proved to be a very interesting hack. People liked not just seeing how much power something uses but extending where that data can be accessed. We don’t remember seeing any successful efforts to move the concept ahead a few generations. But if someone can crack that nut it could yield a wave of energy savings as people are able to be better connected with what is using a lot of electricity in their homes.Your Turn (and Lessons from Last Week)
As with last week, now it’s your turn to come up with some ideas… wild, fantastic, good, bad, outlandish, let’s hear them. Better yet, document your idea on Hackaday.io and tag it with “2015HackadayPrize“. You can win prizes just for a well presented idea!
Speaking of last week, I shared the idea of adding some feedback to how long you’ve been in the shower. There were many opinions about the value and worthiness of that idea so I thought I’d close by covering some of them. Yes, there are much bigger wastes of water (and electricity in this case) in the world but why limit our solutions to only the largest offenders? The low-hanging fruit tends to be stuff a lot of people can understand and relate to. If we only talked about large-scale fixes (I dunno; reducing mercury emissions from power plants?) there is little momentum to crank-start a movement. If you found yourself thinking the ideas from this week and last are far too simple to win The Hackaday Prize that means you better get your project going. The world is hacked together by those who show up.
I’d love to hear suggestions for future installments of We have a problem. Leave those ideas in the comments and we’ll see you here next week!The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:
Filed under: Hackaday Columns, The Hackaday Prize
[Oscar] really likes the PDP-8s, with the extremely old school PDP-8/I being his favorite. If you haven’t checked the price on these recently, getting a real PDP-8/I is nigh impossible. However, after assembling a KIM-1 clone kit, an idea struck: what about building a modern PDP-8/I replica that looks like the real thing, but is powered by modern hardware. This would be fairly cheap to build, and has the added bonus of not weighing several hundred pounds.
The PiDP-8 is [Oscar]’s project to replicate the hardware of the 8/I in a modern format. Instead of hundreds of Flip Chips, this PDP-8 is powered by a Raspberry Pi running the SIMH emulator. The 40-pin GPIO connector on the Pi is broken out to 92 LEDs and 26 toggle switches on a large PCB. This setup gets [Oscar] a reasonable facsimile of the PDP-8/I, but he’s also going for looks too. He created an acrylic panel with artwork copied from an original 8/I that mounts to the PCB and gives the entire project that beautiful late 60s / early 70s brown with harvest gold accent color scheme.
Since this emulated PDP-8/I is running on entirely new hardware, it doesn’t make much sense to haul out disk drives as big as a small child, tape drives, and paper tape readers. Instead, [Oscar] is putting everything on USB sticks. It’s a great solution to the problem of moving around files that are a few kilowords in size.
[Oscar] says he’ll be bringing his PiDP to the Vintage Computer Festival East X in Wall, NJ, April 17-19. We’ll be there, and I’ve already offered [Oscar] the use of a VT-100 terminal. If you’re in the area, you should come to this event. It’s guaranteed to be an awesome event and you’re sure to have a great time. Since this is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the PDP-8, there will be a half-dozen original PDP-8s set up, including a newly refurbished Straight-8 that came out of the RESISTORS.
Oh, if anyone knows how to connect a Pi to a VT100 (technically a 103), leave a note in the comments. Does it need the RTS/CTS?
Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Raspberry Pi
A year and a half ago we ran a post about a SNES controller modified into a pair of headphones. They were certainly nice looking and creative headphones but the buttons, although present, were not functional. The title of the original post was (maybe antagonistically) called: ‘SNES Headphones Scream Out For Bluetooth Control‘.
Well, headphone modder [lyberty5] is back with a vengeance. He has heeded the call by building revision 2 of his SNES headphones… and guess what, they are indeed Bluetooth! Not only that, the A, B, X and Y buttons are functional this time around and have been wired up to the controls on the donor Bluetooth module.
To get this project started, the SNES controller was taken apart and the plastic housing was cut up to separate the two rounded sides. A cardboard form was glued in place so that epoxy putty could be roughly formed in order to make each part completely round. Once cured, the putty was sanded and imperfections filled with auto body filler. Holes were drilled for mounting to the headband and a slot was made for the Bluetooth modules’ USB port so the headphone can be charged. The headphones were then reassembled after a quick coat of paint in Nintendo Grey. We must say that these things look great.
If you’d like to make your own set of SNES Bluetooth Headphones, check out the build video after the break.
Filed under: digital audio hacks, nintendo hacks
Reddit user [eyelandarts] has produced a rather unique 3D printing project. A 3D printed Zoetrope.
You see, a zoetrope was a device that created an animation effect that pre-dates film technology. It would create the illusion of motion much like a flip book does, but with a spinning cylindrical wall with slots cut into it. As the cylinder spins, you catch a glimpse of the animation through the slots. But, it’s just a 2-dimensional animation — what if you replaced it with an ever changing 3D model?
It’s actually been done before. A long time ago in fact. In 1887, [Etienne-Jules Marey] created a large zoetrope to animate plaster models of a bird in flight. Fast forward to today, and [eyelandarts] has 3D printed something similar — but ditched the cylindrical wall. Instead, a strobe light is used to see the animation!
The end result is quite awesome if we do say so our-selves. For another fun take on Zoetropes — how about a digital one made out of tiny LCD screens?
Siezure-warning… there’s a very flash-tastic demo gif embedded after the break if you’re brave enough to view such a thing.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Texas Instruments’ MSP430 series of microcontrollers has been the standard extremely low power microcontroller for several years now. It’s not an ARM, though, so while there are fans of the ‘430, there aren’t a lot of people who would want to port their work in ARM to a completely different architecture. Here is TI’s answer to that. It’s called the MSP432, and it combines the low power tech of the ‘430 with a 32-bit ARM Cortex M4F running at 48MHz.
This is not the first ARM Cortex M4F platform TI has developed; the Tiva C series is based on the Cortex M4F core and was released a few years ago. The MSP432 is a little bit different, leveraging the entire development system of the MSP430 and adding a DSP engine and a FPU. If you’re looking for something that’s low power but still powerful, there you go. You can find the official press release here.
If you’d like to try out the MSP432, there’s a LaunchPad available. $13 to TI gets you in the door. The most capable MSP432 with 256 kB of Flash, 64 kB of SRAM, and 24 ADC channels hasn’t hit distributors yet, but you can sample it here.
Filed under: ARM, Hackaday Columns
Electricity, Gas and Water – three resources that are vital in our daily lives. Monitoring them using modern technology helps with conservation, but the real impact comes when we use the available data to reduce wasteful usage over time. [Sébastien] was rather embarrassed when a problem was detected in his boiler only during its annual inspection. Investigations showed that the problem occurred 4 months earlier, resulting in a net loss of more than 450 cubic meters, equivalent to 3750 liters per day (about 25 baths every day!). Being a self professed geek, living in a modern “connected” home, it rankled him to the core. What resulted was S-Energy – an energy resource monitoring solution (translated) that checks on electricity, gas and water consumption using a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino, some other bits of hardware and some smart software.
[Sébastien] wanted a system that would warn of abnormal consumption and encourage his household folks to consume less. His first hurdle was the meters themselves. All three utilities used pretty old technology, and the meters did not have pulse data output that is commonplace in modern metering. He could have replaced the old meters, but that was going to cost him a lot of money. So he figured out a way to extract data from the existing meters. For the Electricity meter, he thought of using current clamps, but punted that idea considering them to be suited more for instantaneous readings and prone for significant drift when measuring cumulative consumption. Eventually, he hit upon a pretty neat hack. He took a slot type opto coupler, cut it in half, and used it as a retro-reflective sensor that detected the black band on the spinning disk of the old electro-mechanical meter. Each turn of the disk corresponds to 4 Watt-hours. A little computation, and he’s able to deduce Watt-hours and Amps used. The sensor is hooked up to an Arduino Pro-mini which then sends the data via a nRF24L01+ module to the main circuit located inside his house. The electronics are housed in a small enclosure, and the opto-sensor looks just taped to the meter. He has a nice tip on aligning the infra-red opto-sensor – use a camera to check it (a phone camera can work well).
The Water Meter was more difficult. It has a mechanical counter with a set of 8 digits that increment as water is used. His solution was to use the Raspberry-Pi and its associated camera module. The Pi camera is fixed focus to infinity, so he had to adjust the lens to make it in to “macro” mode. And he needed some LED’s for illumination since the meter is in a dark area.
The Gas meter was the easiest since it could be retro-fitted with a pulse counter. The Raspberry-Pi receives the camera pictures, the pulse data from the gas meter (via a LAN cable hack), and a nRF24L01+ module to receive data from the electric meter. He then goes on to describe his “Constellation” software – a project that he hopes to open source soon. There’s some interesting bit about using OpenCV to decode the water meter digits – especially when the digits are in transition. If there is an error in decoding, he receives an email with the relevant snap shot. All this culminates in a nice HTML page that shows the data graphically. He also does a lot of other data processing to generate graphs and tables.
The system keeps him well informed about usage, especially when he moves out of the house. Like the Washing machine turning on, for example. He also did some Audio integration (using another of his software projects called S-Sound), which now announces the amount of water used while showering, for example. This is useful feedback in helping slowly cut down on consumption.
Filed under: green hacks, home hacks
As far as locations for the Midwest RepRap Festival go, it’s not exactly ideal. This is a feature, not a bug, and it means only the cool people come out to the event. There were a few people travelling thousands of miles across an ocean, just to show off some cool things they built.Two Colors, One Nozzle
[Sanjay] and [Josh] from E3D came all the way from merry olde England to show off a few of their wares. The star of their show was the Cyclops extruder, a dual-extrusion hot end that’s two input, one output. Yes, two colors can come out of one nozzle.
If you see a printer advertised as being dual extrusion, what you’re going to get is two extruders and two hot ends. This is the kludgy way to do things – the elegant solution is to make two colors come out of one nozzle.
The guys from E3D were showing off a few prints from their Cyclops nozzle that does just that, including a black and red poison dart frog, and a blue and white octopus. The prints looked amazing, and exactly what you would expect from a two-color print.
Rumor has it the development of the Cyclops involved extruding two colors, freezing the nozzle, and putting it in the mill just to see how the colors mixed. I didn’t see those pictures, but there’s a lot of work that went into this hot end.The Power of Two Extruders
The extruder uses a normal stepper motor, but instead of the usual knurled or threaded feed wheel and bearing to push filament though, he’s using two counter-rotating feed wheels attached to a planetary gear system. That’s a lot of torque that doesn’t distort or strip the filament. When you consider all the weird filaments that are coming out – ninjaflex, and even 3D printable machinable wax filament, this is extremely interesting.
Even if your filament isn’t exactly 1.75 or 3mm in diameter, this setup will still reliably push plastic; there is a bolt that will move one of the feed wheels in and out 0.4mm.
[Martin] had a pair of his extruders hooked up to a strain gauge, and it’s strong enough to lift your printer off the table without stripping the filament. Here’s a video of that demo from the bondtech page.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, cons
Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others want to spread peace, joy and mustaches. [Joe Grand] falls into the latter group this time around. His latest creation is Mustache Mayhem, a hack, video game, and art project all rolled into one. This is a bit of a change from deconstructing circuit boards or designing electronic badges, but not completely new for [Joe], who wrote SCSIcide and Ultra SCSIcide for the Atari 2600 back in the early 2000’s.
Mustache Mayhem is built into a Nintendo Virtual Boy housing. The Virtual Boy itself was broken, and unfortunately was beyond repair. [Joe] removed most of the stock electronics and added a BeagleBone Black, Logitech C920 webcam, an LCD screen and some custom electronics. He kept the original audio amplifier, speakers, and controller connector. Angstrom Linux boots into [Joe’s] software, which uses OpenCV to detect faces and overlay mustaches. Gameplay is simple: Point the console at one or more faces. If you see a mustache, press the A button on the controller! The more faces and mustaches on-screen at once, the more points, or “mojo” the player gets. The code is up on Github, and can be built with Xcode targeted to the Mac, or directly on the BeagleBone Black.
[Joe’s] goal for the project was to make a ridiculous game that looks like it could have come out in the 90’s. He also used Mustache Mayhem as a fun way to learn some new skills which will come in handy for more serious projects in the future.
We caught up with [Joe] for a quick interview about his new creation.
How did you come up with the idea for Mustache Mayhem?
I was selling a bunch of my video game collection at PRGE (Portland Retro Gaming Expo) a few years ago and had a broken Virtual Boy that no one bought. A friend of mine was at the table and said I had to do something with it. I thought “People wear cosplay and walk around at conventions, so what if I could do something with the Virtual Boy that you could walk around with?” That was the seed.
A few months later, Texas Instruments sent me the original production release of the BeagleBone Black (rev. A5A). Eighteen months after that I actually started the project. The catalyst was to do something for an upcoming Portland, OR art show (Byte Me 4.0), which is an annual event that shows off interactive technology-based artwork. I wrote up a little description and got accepted. I had less than 2 months to actually get things working and it ended up taking about a month of full-time work. It was much more work than I expected for such a silly project. I originally was going to do something along the lines of walking around in a Doom-like perspective and shooting people when their faces were detected.
That would be pretty darn cool. How did you get from Doom to Mustaches?
I saw a TI BeagleBoard demo called “boothstache” which drew mustaches on faces and tweeted the pictures. I thought that doing something non-violent with mustaches would be more suitable (and funny) to actually show my kids. I also secretly wanted to use this project as a way to experiment with Linux, write some code, and learn about face detection and image processing with OpenCV, which I plan to use for some actual computer security research in the future. Mustache Mayhem turned out to be a super cool project and I’m really happy with it. I sort of feel guilty spending so much time on it, since it’s basically just a one-off prototype, but I just got so obsessed with making it exactly as I wanted.
You mentioned on your website that Mustache was “designed to challenge the paradigms of personal privacy and entertainment.” What exactly did you mean there?
Many people post images (and all sort of other personally identifiable information) of themselves online without thinking about the ramifications. I noticed that players willingly put their faces in front of the camera to see what they’d look like with a “virtual mustache.” I can’t really blame them, because mustaches are pretty cool, but if I can use a single-board Linux machine to detect faces, think about what cities, states, and nation-states can do/are doing on a much larger scale. The statement is sort of an underlying theme for people to think more carefully about their personal privacy and how it is or isn’t okay to sacrifice it in the name of having fun.
What was your favorite part of the project?
I loved the freedom of being able to create whatever I wanted to just for the hell of it. I have a real affinity for retro/classic gaming, so it was fun to try to make the game look like it could have belonged in the 90s (when the Virtual Boy was originally released). Being able to use the stock Virtual Boy controller was another highlight, since it made the game look more complete and less of hack (from outside appearance).
Did you have to figure the protocol out from scratch?
Nope, and that saved me a lot of time. I found a document online about the Virtual Boy controller pinout and interface, so I used that as a starting point. It didn’t take long to write the code to communicate with the controller (which uses a synchronous serial interface and basically just shifts out a bunch of bits with each one corresponding to a button on the controller).
Did your run into any unexpected challenges?
This was my first time really working in-depth with Linux. I ran into all sorts of trouble with configuring the system, compiling various packages, and generally just forcing it to do what I wanted it to do. This was purely a limitation of my own skills. Without the huge amount of open source tools and resources for both Linux and the BeagleBone Black, I would have been completely screwed. I’m a hardware guy, so this was truly a trial by fire.
A more significant unexpected challenge was realizing that the batteries I selected (Energizer L91 Lithium AA primary cells) couldn’t handle the power requirements (~7W) of the system. This was a major oversight on my part and I didn’t notice the problem until opening night of the art show when I started getting seemingly random shutdowns of the unit. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like a bad dream and reminded me of the stress while filming Prototype This when the cameras were rolling and everyone was looking at you.
How did you get around it for the show?
I thought that the batteries were just running low (and, technically, they were), so I switched over to using the stock Virtual Boy wall wart. Unbeknownst to me, that was also underpowered for my design. The system shutdown twice that night, but luckily attendees still got to experience the wonder of Mustache Mayhem.
After the show, I figured out the root cause of the problem: When running on batteries (the Virtual Boy controller uses six AAs in series), the system voltage was already sagging down to 7V (from a nominal 10.2V) before the game even started. As soon I started the game (which enabled the webcam), the voltage dropped below the 7V minimum limit of my DC/DC converter, causing the system to shutdown. With the wall wart (10V, 850mA), its output under load was actually a triangle (!) wave. On occasion, this would also cause the DC/DC converter to shutdown. It’s amazing nothing got damaged in the process. For most of my development, I had the USB connection plugged in (for network access to the BeagleBone Black from my computer), which supplements the main power, so I never noticed the poor performance of both the wall wart and batteries.
I ultimately hacked the Virtual Boy AC adapter pack (that connects to the back of the Virtual Boy controller) to fit a standard 2.1mm barrel jack and used a high-quality CUI 12V, 2.5A supply. The output under load is totally clean and stable with no noise whatsoever. I wasn’t able to find any battery chemistry in a AA package (or a pack that can fit into the space of the Virtual Boy battery holder) that will handle the high-current drain of the system while staying above 7V and don’t want to change my DC/DC converter to one with a lower minimum input voltage. So, for now, I’m stuck with wall power. I’m OK with that, though.
We want to thank [Joe] for taking the time to talk with us. We don’t know what he’ll be working on next, but we’re sure it will be a [Grand] Idea!
Filed under: Featured, nintendo hacks, slider