Successful 3D Printed Cranium Implant

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What an age we live in. If the image above looks like the entire top of a skull — it’s because it is. Surgeons successfully replaced a 22 year old woman’s cranium with this plastic copy.

We’ve seen small 3D printed transplants before, but nothing as big as this. A 22 year old woman suffered from a very rare disorder in which her skull never stopped growing. While normal skulls are about 1.5cm thick, hers was almost 5cm thick by the time of the surgery. If they left it any longer, the continued bone growth would have eventually killed her.

Until now this surgery has required a hand-made concrete-like implant to replace the removed bone. As you can imagine, it’s hardly an ideal solution. Thanks to continually advancing 3D printing technology, surgeons at the University of Utrecht UMC were able to create an exact copy in a durable and lightweight clear plastic, which also has a better rate of brain function recovery than the old way of doing it.

The 23 hour surgery took place last December and was a huge success with the patient making a full recovery — if you’re not too squeamish around exposed brains, check out the following video. Wow.

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The Amazing Ping-Pong Robot was Fake

Well — you guys were right. As it turns out, it was actually a pair of animators who fooled the internet.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Last month, the [Kuka Robot Group] put out a highly polished video showing an industrial robot playing table tennis against the apparent world champion of the sport — it was extremely well done and entertaining to watch, but unfortunately… also fake. Weeks after the first [Kuka] video came out, someone named [Ulf Hoffmann] released another video, a small table tennis playing robot that looked almost feasible.

As some of our readers pointed out:

The movements seemed unnatural for the size of the servos and arm structure. ~ James

CGI. As others have pointed out, the shadow of the arm disappears when the robot is show from the side, even though they were added in the other shots. ~ Brandon

My cgi tip off was the cable under the table. It stretches instead of sliding around. ~ Aj

Notice it’s running Outlook Express and Internet Explorer – no self respecting hacker/maker would run those apps – lol. ~ vonskippy

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Rock Out With Your Ribbon Controller Bass

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[Brendan Byrne] stripped this instrument down to basics and built himself a ribbon controller bass guitar. Details are still a bit sparse  on his website, but there are plenty of detailed pictures on his flickr stream. [Brendan] built his bass as part the Future of Guitar Design Course at Parsons the New School for Design. His goal was to create an experience in which playing the instrument and altering parameters of effects are triggered by the same gestures. He’s definitely succeeded in that effort.

Basically, the bass is a four channel ribbon controller. The frets were removed to make way for four graphite strips. [Brendan] followed [Iain’s] excellent tutorial to create his own graphite strips using soft artist’s pencils. The ribbons essentially become potentiometers, which are then read by a teensy. [Brendan] expanded the instrument’s sonic palette by adding several buttons and potentiometers mapped to MIDI control codes. He even included a triple axis accelerometer so every movement of the bass can be mapped. The MIDI data is sent to a PC running commercial music software. Analog sound comes from a piezo pickup placed under the bridge of the bass.

The results are pretty awesome. While we can’t say [Brendan’s] demo was music to our ears, we definitely see the musical possibilities of this kind of instrument.

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Sci-Fi Contest Prize Acquisition Issues — Oh Noes!

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We spent quite a bit of time picking out prizes for the Sci-Fi contest. But wouldn’t you know it, literally the day after announcing the contest we cued up The Amp Hour and heard about a worldwide stock shortage (34:00) of BeagleBone Black boards. About a week later Adafruit ran an explanation of the issues. It became clear why we were having issues sources a quintet of boards so that we could deliver on our prize offer.

To further compound problems we a somewhat smaller issue sourcing Spark Core boards. We put in an order for a quintet of them when we posted the contest; at the time they were supposed to be shipping in late March, but now shipping estimates have been delayed to mid-April. Assuming no more delays these should be available by the time the contest ends at the end of April so keep your fingers crossed.

We have a good relationship with the folks over at Spark Core and can probably ask them to help us out if we do get in a bind. But we don’t think anyone is going to be able to deliver the BeagleBone Black boards (which we have on backorder) in time for the end of the contest. So here’s the deal: if you win and really want these exact boards in the prize package you select, we’re going to do what needs to be done to get it for you, eventually. If you don’t want to wait and there is a suitable alternative we’ll make that happen.

We wondered what people are doing if they don’t want to wait out these shortages. Are there any other open-hardware projects that are similar in price and functionality? Our gut says no (that’s why they’re in such high demand). But we’d love to hear about some alternatives. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

High Tech Convertible Desk Takes it Up a Notch

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Standing desks seem to be all the rage today — but do you really want to commit fully to always standing? [Jeff Minton] didn’t, and when he found out how much convertible standing desks cost… he decided to make his own.

While brainstorming ways of accomplishing this he started browsing around eBay and found 18″ linear actuators for sale. They were $45 each, ran at 24V and could lift 600lbs each. Bingo. Actually, that’s kinda overkill…

He picked up a 24V power supply, an Arduino, and a 8-channel relay board.  The actuators are attached to the desk’s original legs using U-bolts which keep the legs straight and take the load of the desk. The untreated wood supports are there to reinforce the original desk, because they weren’t that sturdy in the first place.

It takes about a minute to fully actuate the legs, so while it’s not the prettiest nor the quickest solution — it does the trick and allows you to easily switch between standing and sitting.

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Hackaday’s Guide to Shanghai

We happened to be in Shanghai for Electronica trade fair this year and had a great time exploring heavy industrial gear and fantasizing about all the things we could do with it. However, we simply couldn’t ignore the fact that there was a whole city out there that we’re completely missing out on. So after less than a day of being surrounded by businesspeople and Miss Universe-dressed promoters, we decided to pack our bags and hit the streets.

The question was, where should we go? Finding interesting things in a city that keeps shapeshifting (the whole Shanghai skyline did not exist 20 years ago) can be a challenge. Fortunately, our friend [David Li] gave us a list:

  1. Xin Che Jian
  2. Jiu Xing market
  3. Beijing Lu electronic market
  4. Qiujiang Lu CNC/lasercut market
  5. DFRobot.com

…and off we were.

 

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The Auto Parking Mecanum Robot

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A while back, Hackaday visited the Clark Magnet School in Glendale, California to sneak a peek on their STEM-focused curriculum, FIRST robotics club, awesome A/V classroom, and a shop that puts most hackerspaces to shame. We saw a few builds while we were there, but [Jack]’s auto parking mecanum robot was in a class by itself. It deserves its own Hackaday post, and now that [Jack] is on Hackaday Projects, he’s sharing all the details.

The most impressive aspect of [Jack]’s build is the mecanum wheels; the side plates for the wheels were designed by [Jack] himself and machined on his school’s Haas mill. When the plates came out of the mill they were flat, and each of the fifteen little tabs on the plates needed to be bent at a 45 degree angle. With a CNC jig and a lot of time on his hands, [Jack] bent the tabs for all eight plates.

In addition to the plates, the rollers were custom made from non-expandable polyurethane poured into a CNC milled mold. That’s a one-part mold; [Jack] needed to make sixty of these little parts, one at a time.

The electronics are built around an Arduino Mega communicating with a joystick via an XBee. [Jack] found the relays in the off-the-shelf motor board couldn’t handle the current, so he replaced them with much, much larger ones in a hack job we’d be proud to call our own handiwork. There’s also a little bit of code that allows this motorized cart to pull off the best parallel parking job anyone could ever wish for. You can see that and a few videos of the construction below.

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