3D Printed Instrument Roundup

3d printed instruments

We just stumbled upon a great repository of all musical things that are 3D printed. It’s a wiki dedicated to sharing and recording these 3D printed instruments to help encourage further ideas and projects.

The people maintaining the site find different projects and share them, adding descriptions which would go great into a database search. They explain the type of instrument, it’s history, a picture or video of it and the method of manufacture used to create, whether it be traditional 3D printing, laser cutting, or another process.

Some of our favorites include the 3D printed guitar bodies, the strange looking multi-horn trumpet (that’s the weird one, bottom right) by the MIT Media Lab, and of course the humongous bass recorder (top right).

Stick around after the break for a few videos of these different unconventional, unorthodox instruments!

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Frankenstein, The Open Source Engine Control Unit

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The Engine Control Unit is a vital part of every car made in the last 40 years or so, but unlike just about every other electronic device, open source solutions just don’t exist. [Andrey] is trying to change that with rusEfi, a project that hopes to bring together hardware, software, and engines in one easy to use package. He’s even designed Frankenstein, a full ECU ‘shield’ for the STM32F4 Discovery dev board.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen [Andrey]‘s adventures in building an ECU. An earlier board was also powered by the STM32F4 Discovery, and he actually drove his 96 Ford Aspire around using this homebrew ECU. It was only firing on two cylinders, but that was only a loose solder connection.

Of course building an ECU from scratch is worthless without the proper firmware that balances and engine’s fuel economy and performance. This sort of testing must be done empirically and [Andrey] has a Kickstarter going for the development of this firmware and some dyno time. No rewards, but it’s worth chipping in a buck or two. I did.

Videos below.

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2-Axis Solar Tracker Always Gets a Tan

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Let’s face it — solar panels still aren’t that efficient. So why not pump as much juice out of them as possible? Building a 2-axis solar tracking unit can increase daily power output by around 30%!

[Jay Doscher] had his power go out back in 2011, and even though it was only for 12 hours, they realized how ill-prepared they were to deal with a power outage. Food was spoiled, flashlights were dead, candles were sparse… they needed to be prepared better for the next time this happened. This spawned one of [Jay's] longest running projects on his blog Polyideas.

His goal was to build a fully automated solar tracking unit that could be setup anywhere, and automatically track the sun to ensure optimum ray catching. It makes use of a 12V gear reduced motor to provide panning, and a linear actuator with positional tracking to control the tilt. To track the sun he’s got a digital compass and an Adafruit Ultimate GPS breakout board. To control it all he’s using is an Arduino UNO, but he has been through multiple iterations including his first with a BeagleBone. It’s a very slick and well engineered system and [Jay's] hoping to spread it around the world — the entire thing is open source. What a guy!

It’s not quite complete yet, but he’s got an amazing build log and a GitHub repository  filled with info — plus the following video showing it off in its current state!

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Hacking A Laser Tape Measure In 3 Easy Steps

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[Andrew] got a little help from his friends to hack a laser distance meter. Using laser distance meters as sensors is one of the great quests of hackers – with good reason. Accurate distance readings are invaluable for applications including robots, printers, and manufacturing. We’ve seen people try and fail to hack similar units before, while others built their own from scratch. [Andrew] started experimenting with the UNI-T 390B, a relatively cheap ($60 USD) device from China. He found the 390B has a serial port accessible through its battery compartment. Even better, the serial port is still enabled and outputs distance data. While data could be read, [Andrew] couldn’t command the 390B to start a measurement. The only option seemed to be using the Arduino to simulate button presses on the 390B’s front panel.

In an update to his original blog,  he described an Arduino sketch which would decode the distance measurements. That’s when [speleomaniac] jumped in with the discovery that the Uni-T would respond to commands in the form “*xxxxx#”. Armed with this information, [Andrew] posted a second update with a basic command breakdown. Command *00004# will take a single measurement and output the data via serial. Command *00002# will take 3 measurements, outputting them in a C style array format. There are several other commands which output debug information and what appear to be stored measurement dumps. Although he didn’t explore every nuance of the data output,  [Andrew] now has enough information to initiate a measurement and read the result. Nice work!

[Thanks James!]

Arduino Day is Today

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Did you know today is Arduino day? A day to pull that little teal board out of the bin and blink some LEDs or dive deeper to challenge your skills. There’s a map of local events, but unless you’re near Italy (the birthplace of the movement) events are a bit hard to find.

There can be a lot of hate for Arduino around here, but we consider it the gateway drug to learning hardware design so why not support wide-adoption of the platform? We’ve even seen Hackaday-associated projects adopting compatibility. Both the Mooltipass and the FPGA shield projects have the platform in mind. Break down the assumption that electronics require mythical-levels-of-wizardry to toy with and we’ll be on our way to a world filled with hardware hackers. If you do want to get some really cheap boards to hand out Sparkfun has Pro Mini’s for $3 today, as well as some other deals [Thanks Jeff].

Are you still unconvinced and ready to rage in the comments? Before you do head on over to our Arduino anger management site to exercise some of that aggression.

Cheap Tire Sale Sparks Creative Contraption

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[Greg] and his kids were killing time at their (his?) favorite store — Harbor Freight. They noticed a sale on 10″ rubber tires for only $5/each… and it was all down hill from there.

He started sketching up a general idea for a three-wheeled go-kart. Once he had a reasonable idea of what it would look like, he went down to the hardware store and picked up a whole lot of 1″ PVC pipe, tees, elbows, crosses, epoxy and fasteners.

It’s a simple cart featuring a bit of a roll cage. Currently it’s just designed for being pushed around or riding down hills. It still looks like a lot of fun for the kids. We can’t help but wonder when he’s going to strap some electric motors on it to make it really fun for the kids. Maybe build a second, put some pool noodles around the frame, and bam, you’ve got a set of bumper-cars! If he needs any inspiration for the electronics, [Greg] could check out this Wireless Wii-Cart, or this over-powered-built-in-a-day-cart.

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Recycling Plastic With Liquid Nitrogen

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Recycling 3D printer filament isn’t a new idea, and in fact there are quite a few devices out there that will take chunks ABS, PLA, or just about any other thermoplastic and turn them into printer filament. The problem comes when someone mentions recycling plastic parts and turning them into filament ready to be used again. Plastics can only be recycled so many times, and there’s also the problem of grinding up your octopodes and companion cubes into something a filament extruder will accept.

The solution, it appears, is to freeze the plastic parts to be recycled before grinding them up. Chopping up plastic parts at room temperature imparts a lot of energy into the plastic before breaking. Freezing the parts to below their brittle transition temperature means the resulting chips will have clean cuts, something much more amenable to the mechanics of filament extruders.

The setup for this experiment consisted of cooling PLA plastic with liquid nitrogen and putting the frozen parts in a cheap, As Seen On TV blender. The resulting chips were smaller than the plastic pellets found in injection molding manufacturing plants, but will feed into the extruder well enough.

Liquid nitrogen might be overkill in this case; the goal is to cool the plastic down below its brittle transition temperature, which for most plastics is about -40° (420° R). Dry ice will do the job just as well, and is also available at most Walmarts.



		
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