Custom 3D printed designs with Makerbot’s Customizer


Although having a 3D printer means you can create custom object of your own design, that doesn’t change the fact that most object printed on Makerbots and RepRaps are copies, or slight derivations, of already existing object. If you need a gear, just go grab an OpenSCAD file for a gear, and a custom smart phone case can be easily made by modifying an already existing one. The problem with this approach, though, is you’ll need to learn OpenSCAD or another 3D design tool. Enter the Makerbot Customizer, a web app that allows you to create custom versions of other people’s work right in your browser.

The idea behind Customizer is simple: someone creates an OpenSCAD file with a few variables like the number of teeth on a gear or the number of turns on a screw. Customizer takes this OpenSCAD file, puts sliders and radio buttons on a web page, and allows you to create custom objects based on user-created templates.

Already we’ve seen a lot of Hackaday readers send in some pretty cool customizable things, like [Bryan]‘s coil form for DIY inductors and [Greg]‘s customizable PVC pipe couplers. If you already know OpenSCAD, it’s easy to create your own objects that are customizable by anyone on the Internet.

R2D2 collects Valentine’s cards like a boss


Think back to your school days when each student would make a box which would receive Valentine’s cards from their friends. We have fond memories of buying cards with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them. We guess this tradition is still going strong. Instead of making a receptacle out of a shoe box  [Dr Franken Storer] helped his seven-year-old build this remote control R2D2 with sounds and lights. Yeah, it’s totally cheating. But who can begrudge a hacker dad a little fun?

The bot started as a desktop trash can. It features a domed top which looks just like the droid, but also has a hinged opening where the cards can be placed. To the lid he attached a tilt switch that triggers a Radio Shack sound player to provide the sounds. These sound modules are popular in a lot of projects like this doorbell hack. The final touch (aside from the droid decor on the outside) was to add a remote control car that lets his son drive R2 around.

We asked for more details and he delivered. You’ll find his lengthy description of the project after the jump.

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Turning an $8 RFID reader into something useful


[Fabien] ran across a very, very inexpensive RFID reader on Deal Extreme a while ago and with money to burn, added it to his cart. When the USB RFID reader arrived, he noticed something fairly odd about it (French, Traduction). The RFID reader presented itself to his computer as a USB HID device that spit out characters into a text editor whenever an RFID card was waved above the coil. The only problem was these characters weren’t the hex values recorded on the RFID card. So what’s going on here?

As it turns out (Anglais), this random piece of Chinese electronica sends 10 bytes of data to the computer, just like this well-documented RFID reader. Apparently, both these RFID readers take the hex value of an RFID card, convert those bytes to base 10, and pass each digit through a lookup table. Exactly why it does this is anyone’s guess, but since [Fabien] figured out how it worked, he could also figure out how to reverse the process.

Unfortunately, the RFID reader in question is currently out of stock at Deal Extreme. Seeing as how most of the electronics available there are remarkably similar and differ only in the name printed on the enclosure, though, we wouldn’t be surprised if a nearly identical RFID reader was available elsewhere.

Playing with the Minecraft API and a Raspberry Pi


It hasn’t been a week since Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi has been released, and already we’re seeing some cool builds that bridge our analog world with Minecraft voxel land. [Martin] got his hands on the Raspi version of Minecraft and decided to take advantage of the API Mojang threw into the build by making a huge analog block clock that keeps real world time in the Minecraft universe.

Basically, [Martin] created a small Python script that draws the face and hands of a clock in a Minecraft world. The Minecraft API comes with neat functions such as drawCircle, and drawLine, so making a real clock face is as simple as getting the system time and doing a bit of trig.

After the break you can check out [Martin]‘s Minecraft clock in action. If you’re running the Pi version of Minecraft, you can also get this running on your machine with the code on [Martin]‘s git.

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