Making 3D printing easy at the Staples copy center


Mcor Technologies and Staples are teaming up to provide 3D printing services via the online Staples Office Center service.

This announcement comes from Mcor, the company behind the Iris 3D printer. Unlike just about every other 3D printer, the Iris doesn’t squirt plastic onto a bed or glue powder together – it makes its models out of sheets of paper. You probably won’t be ordering working steam engines or other heavy-duty engineering models from the Staples copy center, but this system does allow for high-quality full-color models to be created very, very easily. You can see a few examples of what the Mcor Iris can print after the break.

Unfortunately, unless you live in Belgium or The Netherlands, your local Staples won’t be installing a 3D printer in their copy center anytime soon. For those of us outside these countries, we’ll have to wait until services like Shapeways and Ponoko figure out how to make their business model include a brick and mortar presence.

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Man tracks children using a quadcopter


Instead of walking his kid to the bus stop like he used to, [Paul Wallich] lets this quadcopter watch his son so he doesn’t have to. It is quite literally an automated system for tracking children — how wild is that?

The idea came to him when wishing there was a way to stay inside the house during the winter months while still making sure his kid got to the bus stop okay. [Paul] picked up a quadcopter kit and started looking at ways to add monitoring. He found the easiest technique was to include a cellphone and watch via a video chat app. But that is only part of the build as he would still have to fly the thing. After searching around he found a beacon that can be placed in the backpack. It has a GPS module, an RF modem, and runs a stripped down Python scripting shell. Whenever the GPS data changes (signaling his son is on the move) it uplinks with the quadcopter and gives it the new coordinates.

This goes a long way to making your family a police state. May we also recommend forcing the children to punch a time clock?

[via: theGrue]

Raspberry Pi Model A coming soon


[Liz] over at the Raspberry Pi foundation took a trip over to the manufacturing facility in Wales and found some of the very first Model A Raspi samples. They’re just samples, but this means we should be seeing a few Model A Raspberry Pis pop up on Element 14 sometime very soon.

As the lower-cost model of the Raspberry Pi, the Model A lacks a few features of the more complete Model B. For starters, there is no Ethernet port or controller, and only one USB port, This greatly reduces the power requirements for the Model A, measured by the Raspi Foundation at about 1/3rd of the power draw of the Model B.

To save costs, the Model A is using the same PCB as the Model B – the Ethernet controller and port simply aren’t populated. It may seem like a downgrade, but if you’re planning on building a Raspi-powered autonomous drone, high-altitude balloon, or other robotics project, the reduced power draw will be a great feature.

Hiding an inductive charging station inside furniture


[Tony] wanted to clean up his bedside table by getting rid of the cables used for charging his devices. He accomplished his goal by integrating an inductive charging station inside his furniture.

He chose to go with a product called Powermat. The base station for the device includes two inductive charging areas. [Tony] started by using a router to make a pocket in the underside of this shelf. He mentions that the remaining wood is only 2mm thick to allow for proper transmission. Before gluing the PCB in place he relocated the power jack so that it is still easy to get to. As you can see in the clip after the break, the system works just fine this way.

One note on the forums hosting this content. We must have loaded the thread three or four times when writing the feature and ended up locked out unless we registered. You can get around this by loading the link in a private/incognito browser.

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Retrotechtacular: Similarities of Wave Behavior


This installment of Retrotechtacular looks at a video lecture that is much more substantive than the usual fare. [Dr. J.N. Shive] was a researcher at Bell Labs at a time when just about every technological breakthrough was coming from that singular collection of minds.

This video, called Similarities of Wave Behavior, was made to help bring students up to speed on the principles of waves. To aid in the experience he invented the apparatus seen in front of him. It’s called a Shive Wave Machine (in the prelude to the video they call it the Shive Wave Generator). Having not taken any physics classes at University we hadn’t seen one of these devices before. It uses a series of horizontal rods connected to each other with torsion wire. When you upset the balance of one of the rods the wire conducts that energy to its neighbors as an energy wave. This turns out to be a perfect representation of wave action whether it be mechanical, electrical, or acoustic. The 28-minute video after the break makes extensive use of the device, and explains concepts in a way that is easy to understand for just about anyone.

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Pixar-style lamp project is a huge animatronics win


Even with the added hardware that lamp still looks relatively normal. But its behavior is more than remarkable. The lamp interacts with people in an incredibly lifelike way. This is of course inspired by the lamp from Pixar’s Luxo Jr. short film. But there’s a little bit of most useless machine added just for fun. If you try to shut it off the lamp shade is used to flip that switch on the base back on.

[Shanshan Zhou], [Adam Ben-Dror], and [Joss Doggett] developed the little robot as a class project at the Victoria University of Wellington. It uses six servo motors driven by an Arduino to give the inanimate object the ability to move as if it’s alive. There is no light in the lamp as the bulb has been replaced by a webcam. The image is monitored using OpenCV to include face tracking as one of the behaviors. All of the animations are procedural, making use of Processing to convey movement instructions to the Arduino board.

Do not miss seeing the video embedded after the break.

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