Hackaday At MakeDC

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Last Wednesday, our Hackaday travels took us to the Washington, DC area for a visit to NOVA Labs near Dulles and a yet-to-be opened Metro stop. Also on our itinerary was a visit to MakeDC, an informal get together for people around the nation’s capitol to show off their latest projects and builds.

The highlight of the evening was a pair of talks from [Julian] and [Taylor] on a project they did for work: a social cooler, or a locked box holding cool drinks that will only open when enough people send a text to a certain number. We’ve got [Julian]‘s talk on video, but despite our fancy new camera gear for this sorta thing, [Taylor]‘s demo of what an Electric Imp can do was lost to the digital wastes.

Aside from [Julian]‘s talk on APIs and [Taylor]‘s talk on the Electric Imp, there were a few impromptu presentations from the attendees. One of the most thorough was the duo from Shiny & Jackal Cosplay, crafters of EVA foam and LEDs. Truth be told, Hackaday doesn’t see many of these ‘softer’, cosplay and prop making builds in the tip line, and that’s a shame; the amount of skill that goes into these costumes is at least as equal as a woodsmith that can build fine furniture using only hand tools.

Perhaps a little premature, but TechShop is opening a new location in Arlington, VA at the end of the month. The GM [Addam Hall] was there scoping out the hacks and letting the attendees know there’s going to be a huge, awesome shop that’s down town in Crystal City. Close enough to public transportation, anyway, because anyone who drives in DC is certifiable.

The last item of note isn’t a build yet, but it’s shaping up to be pretty cool. It’s BRWRY – pronounced, ‘brewery’ – and will be a semi-automated beer making machine. Robots and beer, what can’t you love?

We’d like to thank [Zach], [Julian], [Taylor], and all the other guys from iStrategyLabs for putting together a nice evening of hanging out, drinking beer, eating pizza, and talking about what you’ve built. We had a great time, and we’re looking forward to the next one, as well as any other similar get together in other cities.

Home Made Resin Based 3D Printer is Incredible

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Resin based 3D printers (SLA) are the next big thing, and while they may seem daunting at first, in some ways they are actually simpler than FDM machines with less moving parts! Loosely following an Instructable, [Dan Beaven] has just finished putting together his own home-made 3D DLP Printer, and it’s bloody brilliant.

He owes a lot of thanks to [Tristram Budel] and his incredibly detailed Instructables guide on building  a 3D DLP printer, but [Dan] has also added quite a bit of his own flair to the build. Most notably is his method of separating layers from the vat of resin — most designs tilt the bed slightly to counter the suction forces, but his slides the vat back and forth along the Y-axis, which seems to work extremely well.

The printer is built out of 1″ T-slot aluminum and has a NEMA 17 motor that provides the Y-axis movement along two linear rods for the vat. The Z-axis stage uses a NEMA 23 motor and has a whopping 14″ of travel. Combined with a 104mm x 204mm build plate, this thing can print some decently sized parts!

[Read more...]

Bitbanging USB On Low Power ARMs

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With the Adafruit Trinket, the Digispark, and some very clever work with the smallest microcontroller Atmel offers, it looks like the ‘in’ thing to do for embedded software developers is to bitbang the USB protocol on hardware that shouldn’t support it. There are a lot of very small ARM chips out there without USB support, so it was only a matter of time before someone was able to bitbang USB on the ARM Cortex M0+.

The board above is based on an Energy Micro EFM32ZG, a very small 24-pin QFN device with up to 32 kB of Flash and 17 GPIOs. As with all the bitbanged USB hacks, the differential data lines are attached directly to the microcontroller. A 24 MHz crystal is needed, but the team behind the project is working on using the internal RC oscillator instead.

The code is portable with minimal changes between other manufacturer’s Cortex M0+ chips, and with a little work, this could become a very, very cheap USB-programmable ARM dev board, something the community could certainly use.

Drilling Into a Laptop: Extreme Hinge Repair

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What is it with laptop companies spending millions on design and aesthetics… and then using a cheap hinge design that is almost guaranteed to break? After [Peter Zotov] spent hours trying to find a replacement online, he decided to take matters into his own hands with this slightly unorthodox hinge repair.

The problems lies in the design of the hinge mounting to the lid. First, they’re using a non-standard screw sizes, slightly larger than an M2. Second, it’s threaded into cast aluminum — and to make matters worse, it doesn’t even look like there is sufficient thread engagement! A good rule of thumb is about 2 times thread diameter for aluminum — 1-1.5 times for steel. And it’s not just ASUS doing this, we’ve seen numerous laptops of different brands where the hinge goes after a year or two — what happened to cyclic stress tests?

Anyway, [Peter] decided to drill out the existing threads to allow for larger bolts. He threw his precious laptop up onto his CNC mill (a drill press would do just fine), and popped larger holes straight through the lid. This allowed him to put three standard M2 screws in place with a nut and washer. We admit it’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s saved him from getting a new laptop just because of planned corporate obsolescence.

Build Your Own Radio Clock Transmitter

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Deep in the Colorado foothills, there are two radio transmitters that control the time on millions of clocks all across North America. It’s WWVB, the NIST time signal radio station that sends the time from several atomic clocks over the airwaves to radio controlled clocks across the continent. You might think replicating a 70 kW, multi-million dollar radio transmitter to set your own clock might be out of reach, but with a single ATtiny45, just about everything is possible.

Even though WWVB has enough power to set clocks in LA, New York, and the far reaches of Canada, even a pitifully underpowered transmitter – such as a microcontroller with a long wire attached to a pin PWMing at 60kHz – will be more than enough to overpower the official signal and set a custom time on a WWVB-controlled clock. This signal must be modulated, of course, and the most common radio controlled clocks use an extremely simple amplitude modulation that can be easily replicated by changing the duty cycle of the carrier. After that, it’s a simple matter of encoding the time signal.

The end result of this build is an extremely small one-chip device that can change the time of any remote-controlled clock. We can guess this would be useful if your radio controlled clock isn’t receiving a signal for some reason, but the fact that April 1st is just a few days away gives us a much, much better idea.

Hackerspace Tour: Xerocraft In Tucson, Arizona

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While we try to get out to as many hackerspaces as possible, we can’t be everywhere. Not wanting to wait for a Hackaday compatriot to roll through their dusty town, the folks over at Xerocraft in Tucson, Arizona sent in their own video tour of their space.

We’ve seen the Xerocraft space before when [Caleb] rolled through town on his south-west tour a few years ago. Since then, a lot has changed; they have a new, larger, and cleaner space a few miles north of the old one. There’s also a huge increase in the number of tools. While the old space had all the usual metalworking tools, the new space has a much improved wood shop and more 3D printers than anyone can shake a stick at.

From the video, it looks like a great space, and from their blog it looks like they’ve got some really cool projects under their belt. If you’re a member of a hackerspace, we’re always looking for some tour videos. Be sure to send them in so you can share your space with the rest of the Hackaday readership.

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It’s Not 2015 Yet But Marty and His Hoverboard Are Already Here!

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Okay now this is seriously awesome. [Rodger Cleye] has made a real working Hoverboard.

You guys might remember the recent [Tony Hawk] and [Christopher Lloyd] viral Hoverboard hoax video… Well, this isn’t that. Nope, not even close. It’s real.

The Hoverboard is a quadrotor on steroids — it features four 1200W brushless motors driving 12″ props, a massive 13.4Ah 5S Li-Po battery, and a [Marty McFly] mannequin wearing the classic red vest. He’s counter-balanced [Marty] and the battery around the rotors which makes for a surprisingly smooth flight. It even has a run-time of over 5 minutes, thanks to a whopping 83% efficiency using the 12″ props.

[Rodger] designed and simulated the entire system in eCalc before construction — He had first attempted a bi-copter design, but opted for the tried and true quad-rotor instead. The frame is made of 1/2″ PVC pipe to conserve the mass budget, but altogether it still weighs an unbelievable 20lbs! How close are we to being able to give toddlers the ability to fly?

Just take a look at the following video — we’re seriously impressed.

[Read more...]

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