Rendering OpenSCAD in the browser

If you haven’t heard of it, OpenSCAD is a really wonderful tool for 3D modeling.  While it doesn’t have the traditional graphical interface of AutoCAD – it’s basically a programming language for 3D models – OpenSCAD is able to create very complex parts with only a few lines of code.

That’s all well and good, but what if you wanted to edit OpenSCAD parts in your browser? Enter OpenJsCAD, an OpenSCAD interpreter written entirely in Javascript and able to be embedded in a web page.

OpenSCAD allows for two types of modeling – constructive solid geometry, or taking 3D primitives and stretching, scaling, and intersecting them to create a 3D shape, or extrusion from a 2D outline. Quite a few RepRap parts were designed in OpenSCAD, and the lightweight interface and open source nature means it’s perfect for designing stuff to print on your Makerbot.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Gordon] for sending this one in, and we really have to commend him for writing his own online scriptable CAD exporter before finding out about OpenJsCAD. He may be a little late to the online OpenSCAD party, but we have to agree with him that an online 3D solid editor would be an awesome feature for Thingiverse to roll out.

New and improved old hackaday store!

I am going to start off by saying our zazzle store was pretty sad. The prices were just way too high. I put that store into place because frankly, the one I was running was a pain in the butt.

The good news is that I’ve got a new system in place. It is bright and shiny and looks much easier to use. Not only that, but since we’re not using someone like zazzle, we’re keeping the cost down! Or standard shirts are $18. We have stickers too, and this time, we have both standard stickers as well as the custom cut vinyl decals everyone loved before.

Several products have not yet arrived. Since this is the grand opening and I feel a little bad about how expensive the zazzle store was, I’m running a special. $16 for shirts if they’re ordered before August 31st. 

I’m talking to other people about offering some products besides shirts and stickers in the store. Stay tuned to see what we’ve got going on!

Reliving the BBS days with a Propeller

Back before the world wide web, self-proclaimed geeks would get our compute on by dialing in to bulletin board systems. In their heyday, these BBSes were filled with interesting people and warez to fill the most capacious 10 Megabyte hard drive. In an attempt to relive the days of the Internet before the Eternal September, [Jeff Ledger] whipped up a tutorial for dialing up BBSes with an updated classic computer.

Instead of doing this tutorial with a C64 or an Apple II, [Jeff] used the Propeller powered Pocket Mini Computer he designed. This computer features 32Kb of RAM inside an eight-core Parallax Propeller along with a BASIC interpreter to run your own programs.

This Mini Computer can connect to BBS systems, but seeing as how acoustically coupled modems are rare as hen’s teeth these days, [Jeff] thought it would be a good idea to log in to the many Internet connected BBS servers using his desktop as a bridge between the Propeller and the Internet.

After [Jeff] got his Propeller computer up and running on a BBS, he was free to play Trade Wars or slay grues in one of the many MUDs still running. Not bad for a demonstration of the Internet of old, and made even better by the use of a Propeller.

Toorcamp: Nibble Node.js Widget

The hardware hacking village at Toorcamp provided space and tools to work on hardware. It was interesting to see what hardware hacks people had brought to work on. One example is [Owen]‘s Nibble Node.js Widget. The widget combines the popular node.js platform and custom hardware to create a node for the “internet of things.” The hardware consists of a Arduino Pro Micro, a bluetooth module, a LCD display, and a speaker in a laser cut box.

By using a custom package in node.js, the Nibble becomes an object which can be controlled by its methods. This allows for the developer to push messages to the display and control the device without worrying about the details of the hardware. Since node.js is designed for web applications, it’s simple to make the device controllable from the web.

[Owen] also wrote an emulator for the DCPU from the upcoming game, 0x10c. DCPU assembly is passed in from node.js, which compiles it and sends it to the Nibble. The device can then run the application using the DCPU emulation, which also allows for control of the display and the speaker.

There’s a lot of neat things that can be done with this minuscule cube, and [Owen] plans to release an NPM package for the node.js code.

Toorcamp: The Church of Robotron

“Only 72 years until the Robotrons conclude that the human race is inefficient and must be destroyed. Only the mutant produced by a genetic engineering accident can save us now!” –Church of Robotron Doctrine

Based on the 1982 arcade game Robotron: 2084, Dorkbot PDX’s Church of Robotron was an impressive installation at Toorcamp. Located in a large dome, the Chruch features an altar where the the player kneels and finds out if they are the saviour.

Many things in the Church are triggered by game events. Lasers fired in time with the game, a bright LED flashes at the player when they die, and the LCD display above the altar shows high scores. There’s a webcam that takes a player’s picture when they die so that it can be added to the high score list. There was also a Jacob’s Ladder and a fog machine to add to the eerie feel of the Church.

A side room in the dome has a TV displaying list of high scores, handouts of their doctrine and documentation, and stickers of the Church’s logo. Aside from the electronics, the group also created lore around the installation. There was a sermon that played on a constant loop at night, and the doctrine handouts explained the story of the Church. This is all documented on their website, and the build details and source are also available.

The combination of art, lore, and electronics made this installation one of my favourites at Toorcamp, even though I’m awful at the game. I’ll need to practice my Robotron for next time the group sets up the Church.

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