CNC wood router


[GlacialWanderer] has published the first pictures from his CNC machine build. It’s a three axis gantry style machine that he intends to route and engrave wood with. He’s posted a detailed cost breakdown: $1800. He estimates spending 30 hours researching on sites like CNCzone. The build time for the mechanical side was around 50 hours. The electrical system hasn’t been hoooked up yet, so look for that in a future post. It looks like an incredible machine already, so we can’t wait to see what’s next.

New from SparkFun


SparkFun is rolling out interesting things to play with every week. They’ve added a NanoMuscle actuator that uses a shape memory alloy to lift nearly 70 times its own weight. Their LilyPad collection has expanded to include small momentary switches and a thermistor type temperature sensor. Lastly, they’ve got an FM receiver module. It just needs an antenna and uses I2C or SPI for control.

About:config hacks for Firefox 3

Blogs DNA has some great suggestions for tweaking the Firefox 3 about:config file. Customize Firefox 3 to your particular preferences with hacks to reduce the number of auto-complete list in your URL bar, extend spell check to forms, and disable blinking text. All it takes is a few simple modifications to the about:config file. By editing the about:config file, you can have a Firefox 3 that is faster, less bloated, and more tailored to your browsing habits. Do you have any suggestions for tweaks to Firefox 3?

[via Digg]

Apple Newton dev kit?


[phooky] picked up this bizarre bit of dev hardware three years ago and isn’t really sure what it is. It has lots of general purpose switches, LEDs, and audio jacks. The processor is a StrongARM chip in a ZIF socket. It has two serial ports, a CF, and PCMCIA slot too. Commenter [Glen Raphael] says it looks a lot like the early prototype development boards for the Apple Newton which also used a StrongARM chip. It’s definitely an interesting piece of history. Make sure you check out the full item on NYC Resistor.

Getting around the Great Firewall of China

[Zach Honig] is a photographer in Beijing covering the Olympics. In light of recent allegations of the Chinese government installing monitoring software and hardware in foreign-owned hotels, the necessity of protecting one’s information has become vital and urgent, especially for journalists and photographers. [Honig] provides some suggestions for circumventing the infamous Great Firewall of China; surfing the internet through a secure VPN connection and using a proxy such as PHProxy will allow users to visit websites that have been banned within China. Such simple tricks could mean the difference between not being able to find necessary information, and the ability to surf the internet freely and openly.

[via Digg]

Laser etching printed circuit boards


While we hope you enjoyed our How-To: Etch a printed circuit board, toner transfer certainly isn’t the only way to get the job done. [Garrett] from macetech has recently been playing around with using an Epilog laser to etch PCBs. He started by applying a thin even coat of flat black spray paint to the copper board. The laser is used to remove paint in areas that you want the copper removed. Once that’s done, you proceed with etching as usual. He eventually removed the paint mask using acetone. The result has very fine, sharp traces, but most people that have tried this agree that using spray paint is less than ideal.

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