HHH: Sniffing Proprietary CNC to Hack in G-Code Support

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Here’s a beautiful desktop CNC mill which had one big drawback: it used a proprietary interface for driving it. To increase the flexibility of the tool it was hacked to work with G-Code.

The project is a Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen submission from rLab, the Reading Hackspace in the UK. [Barnaby] explains the entire project after the break. The machine itself wasn’t altered, but a translator script was written in Python after capturing a bunch of packets and working out the protocol. This script listens for G-Code and does the translation into the type of commands the machine is expecting to receive.

If you know of a CNC hack from your own hackerspace send us the story for a chance to win some loot.

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Learn Wireless Sensor Networks With Nanode

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Getting a device on the internet is great – but what if you want to monitor multiple wireless sensors? The [WickedDevice] crew have been publishing a tutorial series focusing on just that. Their weapon of choice is the Nanode, an Arduino based wireless sensor system we’ve seen a few times in the past. So far the first and second parts have been posted up. Part one starts with an explanation of the Arduino and Nanode platform, and takes us through connecting the Nanode to a wireless temperature sensor. Part two walks through the hardware and code changes to add multiple wireless sensors to the system. Part three will focus on getting the entire network up on the internet, and piping data onto the Xively data hosting site.

This tutorial does begin a bit on the basic side, covering the installation of the Arduino software environment. This may seem a bit simplistic for some of our readers, but we think this type of tutorial is necessary. It helps ‘newbies’ get started down what could otherwise be a difficult path. For more advanced readers, it’s easier to skip past steps you already know than it is to try to hunt down information that isn’t there.

Making 128MB SIMMs From Junk

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Working for a tech repair/recycling center, [Jax] has access to a ton of cool hardware. Most of it is junk, but that’s just the way he likes it. Among his better finds in the depths of a tech treasure trove is a huge antistatic bag of 64 MB 72 pin SIMMs. These were the standard RAM form factor for just about everything in the 90s, and while 64 MB is a huge amount of RAM for the time, they’re still a bit away from the 72 pin max of 128 MB.

After inspecting these sticks, [Jax] noticed something odd. Each side had pads for memory chips, but only one side was populated. Given the rarity of 128 MB sticks of RAM, [Jax] decided he would have a go at adding 64 Megs of RAM to these chips by desoldering one stick and sticking it on the back of another.

These new 128 MB SIMMs made their way into a Macintosh Quadra 605 for testing. While the 64 MB chips worked fine, the new 128 MB chips threw a chime of death. Something was terribly wrong.

While investigating, [Jax] couldn’t find any bridged solder joints, and everything looked okay. Heat is a wonderful test of what went wrong, and with the SIMM connected to a power source, he found all of the newly transplanted chips were hot. Because the chips on back side of the SIMMs were meant to be installed upside down, [Jax] had inadvertently connected the ground to power and power to ground.

Fixing his mistake on a new SIMM, [Jax] popped it in his old Mac and tried booting with these SIMMs again. There wasn’t a chime of death, but booting with these chips took a very long time. This was actually just the Mac checking all the RAM, which was successfully addressed once [Jax] finally booted his OS.

UK Cops Fear Gun; Pointlessly Seize 3D Printer

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Above, according to the greater Manchester Police force, is a 3D printed gun. Well, the rozzers say it’s merely a trigger for a gun. In part they’re actually correct; it is a trigger. For a spring-loaded extruder for the Makerbot Replicator.

For the past few days, the media has been abuzz about the first seizure of a 3D printer (a Makerbot Replicator 2) in Manchester, UK during a raid on suspected gang members. Despite numerous complaints and comments by makers across the UK (thanks, guys), Assistant Chief Constable [Steve Heywood] says, “We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun.” The seized 3D printer parts are being sent to ballistics experts to determine if a random piece of plastic can be used in the manufacture of handguns.

Alright kiddos, editorial time. We’re quite aware that the UK is a little…. different… than the US when it comes to firearms regulation. Nevertheless, we feel the need to defend anyone with a 3D printer, in a handy Q&A format:

What this has also done is open up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose.

No, it doesn’t. I don’t know what the British equivalent of a Home Depot is, but I could go to that store, buy some stuff, and build a zip gun. Of course I wouldn’t, because that’s not safe. I could also use a mill and lathe to make a proper gun.

But it’s made of plastic and thus undetectable

Bullets aren’t. Also, I could machine some Delrin. You should really watch In the Line of Fire.

But plans for 3D printed guns are available, making it easy for anyone to fabricate their own gun

Yeah, and Hackaday made one. There were a lot of problems with those 3D printer files. The spring wouldn’t slice, the hammer wouldn’t print, every part was out of scale, and you’d need a lot of experience in 3D modeling and design to turn those ‘plans available on the Internet’ into something you can send to a printer.

Your posting this article further sensationalizes the role of 3D printers in gun control.

You’re right. Here’s what you do: every time someone mentions 3D printed guns, say, “You can build an even better gun with a combo mill/lathe that costs the same as a 3D printer. Equal skill is required to operate both machines. Do you intend to ban the sale or use of machine tools?”

But UK gun laws are weird.

Then print a knife.

via reddit

Converting a Mill to CNC

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Have a mill that you’d like to automate? Perhaps you can gets some ideas from the work [James] recently finished. Using familiar NEMA 23 stepper motors (the same motors used in the RepRap), he hacked his Proxxon MF-70 mill for CNC control. Adding a Sanguino and the stepper controllers from other projects, [James] got a working machine for minimal investment. You can tell that [James] is a fan of Polymorph, because he uses it liberally for most of the project, even using it to create some Oldham couplings (Google cache).

After completing the build initially, he managed to burn out the spindle motor by milling steel too quickly. We found it interesting that he was able to use a TURNIGY 2217 860kv 22A Outrunner (for R/C airplanes) as a new spindle motor. Not only is it a low-cost solution, but pairing it with a traditional brushless ESC can give your CNC software direct control over the motor speed.

The image above is an example of what [James'] machine is capable of. Overall, it’s a very accessible project for most of us. Not every mill needs to be capable of 10 mil traces. If you’ve got the urge, you can probably put one together yourself. Of course, if you do, please let us know!

Weightless, the Internet of Things Chip, Becomes Less Vaporware

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Several months ago, we caught wind of Weightless, a $2 chip that will run for 10 years on a AA battery and communicate to a Weightless base station 10 Km away. Yes, this is the fabled Internet of Things chip that will allow sensors of every type to communicate with servers around the world. It looks like Weightless is becoming less and less vaporware, as evidenced by the Weightless SIG hardware roadmap; Weightless modules might be in the hands of makers and designers in just a few short months.

Weightless is an extremely low-cost wireless module that operates in the radio spectrum previously occupied by analog broadcast television. This is a great place for the Internet of Things, as signals in this spectrum have a lot of range and the ability to go through walls. These signals are sent to a Weightless base station where they are then sent over the Internet to servers around the world.

The Weightless SIG has been hard at work producing new silicon, with the third generation of chips heading for volume production next month. The only thing this chip requires is a battery and an antenna, making Weightless integration for new designs and projects a snap.

There’s one thing Weightless is not, and that’s a free, high-speed connection to the Internet with a $2 adapter. Weightless is designed for sensors that only transmit a kilobyte or so a day – medical sensors, irrigation control, and other relatively boring things. There’s a summary video from the recent 2013 Weightless SIG Summit going over all this information below.

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Hackerspacing in Europe: Void Warranties in Antwerp

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Welcome to Void Warranties in Antwerp, Belgium!

I think this quote from their site really sums up the space nicely:

Whatever code we hack, be it programming language, poetic language, art, math or music, curves or colourings, nuons or electrons we create the possibility of new things entering our world.

That’s a cool way of putting it!

[Read more...]

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