3d printing, the new frontier of piracy?

We’ve all heard the countless arguments about piracy in digital media. However, it appears that 3d printing or other rapid prototyping systems are bringing legal issues to a more physical world. The story goes like this: [Thomas]  bought a 3d printer. He’s a big fan of warhammer figurines. He spends tons of time creating some custom warhammer figures, and uploads them to thingaverse. Games Workshop, the owners of Warhammer, unleashed the lawyers and had the items removed.

There are so many angles to this story, the mind boggles. If I were an artist, and someone else was uploading copies of my work, essentially stopping my revenue, it would suck. Then again, if I were lucky enough to have a fanatical fan base that spread the love for my product with excitement and zeal, I might want to encourage them. Neither of those thoughts however, cover the legal issue at the base here. We don’t have an answer for you. Sorry. You’ll probably be seeing this issue pop up more and more often in the future.

We encourage you to make our logo. Though we haven’t bothered to ask our lawyers.

Dot matrix printer spits out any tweet mentioning @KWF

Earlier this month, [Kenneth] picked up an old dot matrix printer at the Silicon Valley Flea Market and subsequently found two cases of tractor feed printer paper. It’s a marriage made in heaven for a dot matrix twitter printer.

[Kenneth] used a BeagleBone – a tiny single board computer running Linux – to connect to the Internet and fetch any new tweets mentioning KWF every minute or so. The BeagleBone spits out these tweets over the USB port which is connected to the ancient printer by means of a cheap adapter cable.

Interestingly, [Kenneth] wrote the code for this project as a shell script. A lot of effort went into scrubbing the input of any escape characters, but he still implores his admirers to not attempt to break his project.

In case you’re wondering, at couple Twitter accounts announced this post’s headline to the Twitterverse when this story was published. This should have immediately sent [Kenneth]‘s printer into motion, recording that harsh mistress that is sending a build log of a Twitter connected device into Hackaday.

After the break you can see [Kenneth]‘s demo. Be sure to share this post on Twitter!

The biggest CNC machine can build a house

If it’s true that those with the biggest toys win, a few lucky engineers over at EEW Maschinenbau in Germany just earned a gold medal; they have access to a gigantic CNC machine that is large enough to machine a house.

This machine was originally built to manufacture molds for fiberglass wind turbines that are over 50 meters in length. Because building a 50-meter-long CNC machine wasn’t overkill enough, engineers at EEW Maschinenbau settled on a design that is 151 meters long, or almost 500 feet. Of course the HSM-Modal, as this machine is called, can only make parts 151 meters long in the x dimension. The y-axis has a span of 9 meters while the z-axis goes from 0 to 4.25 meters off the ground. Large enough to build cars, ship hulls, and even houses out of a single block of material.

There’s a bunch of technical documentation on the EEW website and a PDF going over the specs. Not only can this gigantic mill machine molds much like an embiggened desktop CNC router, this thing can do drilling, sawing, grinding, plasma cutting, and even extrusion just like a Makerbot.

If you’ve got the cash, EEW Maschinenbau will build you one of these gigantic machines. We can’t imagine how much that would cost, though.

via the Adafruit blog

Data logging directly to Google Docs (Google Drive)

[Emanuele] is using Google Docs to log his temperature sensor data automatically (translated). We can see a few benefits gained by using this system. One is that you don’t have to visit the site of the logging hardware to harvest the data, another is that Google will automatically graph the data for you. Of course this means you need some way to connect your logger to the Internet, but we’ve seen buckets of different techniques for doing so. In this case, [Emanuele] is using PIC hardware that has a NIC on the board. But the technique could be used from a computer just as easily as from a microcontroller.

The meat and potatoes of the hack is sniffing out the HTTP header and syntax for writing to cells on a Google Docs (soon to be Google Drive) spreadsheet. After making a new spreadsheet and copying the URL and key from the address bar, he loads up the page using a header-viewer web service. With all the pertinent info in hand he crafts about a dozen lines of code to assemble the HTTP packet, and rolls the timestamp and temperature reading into it dynamically. See the system in action after the break.

[Read more...]

Triangle-grid LED display

[Dearmash] put together this RGB LED display using triangles for each pixel. It’s an interesting deviation from the traditional grid layout. There are two video demos after the break. The first is a plasma-style pattern generated in Processing. The second is a spinning color wheel which would be perfect if synchronized with your Photoshop color spinner.

So the physical build is done, and now [Dearmash] is looking for a purpose for the device (isn’t that always the way it happens?). He mentions that the triangular layout looks cool, but makes text display almost impossible. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this work? Right off the bat we could see side-scrolling a font similar to the Metallica logo’s M and A. Bu there must be some way to group these pixels together into readable characters. If you always use an upward and downward pointed triangle on the same row as a pixel it makes a parallelogram which would be used to display italicization characters.

[Read more...]

LED bicycle hack makes sure you’re seen at night

The bicycle tail and head lights that we’re accustomed to are small add-on modules. This take on the idea uses strips of LEDs to protect you from behind. They’re very bright, matching the pair of LED headlights that are attache to the handlebars.

Apparently [A.Davis12] had some LED strips laying around. There’s not what we’re used to seeing, but they have a similar footprint so you should be able to substitute the kind that come on a spool and may be cut to length. The majority of the build time was spent integrating the lights and their control wires with the frame of the bike. The frame already has holes in it for feeding the control wires for brakes and gear shifting inside the tubing. It sounds like it was a pain, but eventually he managed to get all of the routing done. Two red strips are zip-tied to the back of the seat stays. They are powered by a lithium battery inside the project box which mounts under the back of the saddle. A flip switch on the case lets you turn them on without stopping.

[Thanks Arpad]

Dollar store arc reactor build

Some people have a real knack for sourcing parts at the dollar store. [James] is one of those people, having built this Arc Reactor replica using mostly dollar store goods.

The light source is an LED disk light that was removed from its enclosure. A sink strainer, the plastic holder from a package of sewing pins, and some wire mesh go together to make the first layer of the bezel. The push-pin holder is what has the ring of narrow rectangles around the bright center. It was painted black and attached to the sink strainer which provides the concentric holes in the center of the device.

For the detail around the outside [James] went with some clear-plastic drinking cups. By cutting off the top centimeter of each and stacking three together he gets the clear base he was after. The rest of the parts were gathered from his electronics supplies. DIP sockets straddle the drinking glass rims, and are wound with copper wire for the look seen here.

We put this near the top of the dollar store builds along with this Blade Runner umbrella.

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