Open source pick-and-place

This is a vacuum tweezers head for an open source pick-and-place. Those are the machines that professional printed circuit board manufacturers use to populate a circuit board with components before heading to the reflow oven. [Drmn4ea] built it with at-home rapid manufacturing in mind. The black orb on the left is a webcam for optical placement. The needle in the middle is an interchangeable vacuum-tool head. The motor on the right allows for different attachments to be swapped in automatically to suit a variety of parts.

This interfaces with a 3-axis CNC machine and should be easily compatible with a RepRap, Makerbot, or similar device. We wonder how he plans to handle reels of components, but this is a well-executed first step in the journey to a complete solution.

Want to see a professional pick-and-place at work? Check out one of SparkFun’s machines busy build a board after the break.

[Read more...]

Disco drumming with piezo sensitive lighting

[Wilfred's] brother outfitted a snare drum with LEDs for Dutch Carnival. They faded through different colors randomly and were a nice addition to the normal looking instrument, but [Wilfred] suggested that the LEDs change color with each drum stroke. He set out to design a controller circuit to provide the functionality and ended with a small package based around an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. A piezo buzzer is used to detect the vibrations inside the drum, each hit triggering a different color combination. The LEDs fade to off after each impact as if dying along with the sound, and when not struck for 30 seconds the system defaults to a red heartbeat pattern. See for yourself after the break.

We’d love to see this feature added to each drum in one of those robotic drumsets. [Read more...]

Next generation Arduino manufacturing problems?

[The Moogle] just got his new Arduino Uno; wow, that was fast. What should have been a happy unboxing turned sour when he took a close look at the board. It seems that it exhibits several examples of sloppy fabrication. The the lower-left image shows unclean board routing, a discolored edge, and a sharp tooth sticking out from the corner. The shield header shown in the upper left is not flush with the board, resulting in a weaker physical union and a crooked connection. There are vias that look like they’re not be centered in the solder mask, and areas where raw copper is exposed.

It saddens us to see this because the original Arduino boards were so well manufactured. Keep in mind that this may be an isolated case, and as of yet the company hasn’t been given the chance to swap out the board for one that has passed a more rigorous quality control inspection. But if you’ve already ordered one of your own, take a close look and make sure you’re satisfied with it upon arrival.

Not sure what we mean by next generation Arduino? Take a look at the new hardware that was recently unveiled.

Update: Here’s a direct response from the Arduino blog.

Update #2: [Massimo Banzi], one of the founders of Arduino, took the time to comment on this post. It details the organization’s willingness to remedy situations like [The Moogle] encountered and also links to the recent Arduino blog post.

You’re stealing it wrong: a speech by Jason Scott

slipped disk in all of his glory

[Jason Scott], data historian extraordinaire gave this fantastic speech at Defcon 18 about the history of inter-pirate piracy. At an hour long, it is an enthralling journey through computer history, especially pertaining to piracy. Take a seat, no matter how much you know about security and piracy, you are likely to learn a few things. We find the lesser discussed issues like pirates stealing other pirates work interesting, as well as the part where pirates have to crack really boring software to have a release when there’s nothing better out there. Also worth noting, according to [Jason], the demoscene evolved from the little opening sequences from cracks. There are just too many interesting aspects to note here, even some porn related stories during the BBS days.

This is a great lesson from someone who is both knowledgeable and entertaining. [Jason] teaches this stuff without ever sounding stuffy, boring, or overly technical. Catch the video after the break.

[Read more...]

GameBoy Advance Rapid Fire Hack

Ever find yourself in the middle of a Game Boy game and your hand cramps up?  Save that sore wrist for something else because now you can hack the Game Boy Advance to add Rapid Fire for the B button.  [William] has developed a way to do this by creating a simple circuit that generates a square wave on the B button when it is pressed.  To do this hack all that was needed was a short shopping list of:

  • A Couple NAND Gate ICs
  • 2n2222 NPN Transistor
  • 0.1uF ceramic capacitor
  • A Switch
  • 1M ohm resistor
  • Some Thin Wire

After that you’re off to the races as [William] documents how he goes about transforming the Game Boy Advance and includes a ton of great pictures and a schematic.  This operation ends with [William] placing the switch for Rapid Fire excellence next to the Right Bumper where it is inconspicuous and yet easy enough to access.

Via [HackedGadgets]

Mac tablet keeps the look of the donor-Macbook

[Enigma-penguin] built a tablet computer out of a Core2Duo Macbook circa 2007. The battery exploded, damaging the case and a few components inside. But there was hope for a new life as a tablet computer. He removed the screen and tested to make sure the computer would still function without it by using the video out port.

Putting the whole thing back together as a tablet proved to have some headaches. He worked through problems caused by the addition of a touchscreen between the LCD and the bezel and made the connections work with the screen flipped. The finished product looks so good because the bezel has not been turned around like on other tablet builds. Instead, a viewing window was cut in what would have been the case behind the screen.

There’s a little more to be done yet. The black USB cable seen above is the connector for the touchscreen which he plans to internalize. The magnetic sleep sensor has been relocated to the headphone jack. Inserting a plug (no cord necessary) puts it to sleep for transport. There’s also an on screen keyboard and the ability to change the screen orientation from landscape to portrait. After the break we’ve embedded one of [Enigma-penguin's] demonstrations. [Read more...]

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