Shoot Video in 26 Different Directions

[Mark Mullins] is working on a project called Quamera: a camera that takes video in every direction simultaneously, creating realtime 3D environments on the fly.

[Mark] is using 26 Arducams, arranging them in a rhombicuboctahedron configuration, which consists of three rings of 8 cameras with each ring controlled by a Beaglebone; the top and bottom rings are angled at 45 degrees, while the center ring looks straight out. The top and bottom cameras are controlled by a fourth Beaglebone, which also serves to communicate with the Nvidia Jetson TX1 that runs everything. Together, these cameras can see in all directions at once, with enough overlap for provide a seamless display for viewers.

In the image to the right, [Mark] is testing out his software for getting the various cameras to work together. The banks of circles and the dots and lines connecting to them represent the computer’s best guess on how to seamlessly merge the images.

If you want to check out the project in person, [Mark] will be showing off the Quamera at the Dover Mini Maker Faire this August. In the meantime, to learn more about the Jetson check out our thorough overview of the board.

ZeroBot is as Simple as it Gets

Usually at Hackaday we like to post projects that are of interest because of their complexity. That’s especially true for robots — the more motors and sensors the better. But, occasionally we come across a project that’s beautiful because of its simplicity. That’s the case with [Max.K’s] ZeroBot, recently posted over on Hackaday.io.

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A Water Jet Cutter From A Cheap Pressure Washer

We’ve become used to CNC mills and 3D printers becoming staples of our workshops, and thanks to the wonders of international trade even a modest laser cutter is not beyond the reach of most experimenters. But there is one tool that has so far evaded all but either commercial operations or the extremely well-heeled, the water cutter. These machines use a high-pressure water jet, usually carrying a stream of abrasive particles, to cut through the material placed beneath them. From our perspective they are interesting in that they can cut metal, something not normally possible with the laser cutters within our reach.

A water cutter is something you might think would be impossible for an experimenter to make for themself, but [Applied Science] is on hand to disprove that notion. He’s taken a cheap pressure washer, and modified it to produce a much higher water pressure for a water cutting head.

His very detailed description of the modifications makes for an extremely interesting watch, and we’ve placed the video below the break. The higher pressure is achieved by modifying the washer’s pressure on-off switch with a newly-machined sleeve and a stronger spring. The description of how the washer switch works is interesting in itself. Then we are treated to a complete teardown of a water cutting head, with abrasive feed, tungsten carbide tube, and ruby nozzle. This last component is surprisingly cheap. He then gives us a run-down of its design, particularly with respect to choosing the size of the orifices to match the pump. Finally we take a look at his abrasive feed system, and the plastic funnel he uses to keep water flow back out of his hopper.

For now the cutter is static, but his obvious next step is to bring it to some form of CNC table. If this project brings water cutting one step closer to the masses, we can’t wait!

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Hijacking the Sonoff OTA Mechanism

ITEAD’s Sonoff line is a range of Internet-of-Things devices based around the ESP8266. This makes them popular for hacking due to their accessibility. Past projects have figured out how to reflash the Sonoff devices, but for [mirko], that wasn’t enough – it was time to reverse engineer the Sonoff Over-The-Air update protocol.

[mirko]’s motivation is simple enough – a desire for IoT devices that don’t need to phone home to the corporate mothership, combined with wanting to avoid the labor of cracking open every Sonoff device to reflash it with wires like a Neanderthal. The first step involved connecting the Sonoff device to WiFi and capturing the traffic. This quickly turned up an SSL connection to a remote URL. This was easily intercepted as the device doesn’t do any certificate validation – but a lack of security is sadly never a surprise on the Internet of Things.

After capturing the network traffic, [mirko] set about piecing together the protocol used to execute the OTA updates. After a basic handshake between client and server, the server can ask the client to take various actions – such as downloading an updated firmware image.  After determining the messaging format, [mirko] sought to create a webserver in Python to replicate this behaviour.

There are some pitfalls – firmware images need to be formatted slightly differently for OTA updates versus the usual serial upload method, as this process leaves the stock bootloader intact. There’s also the split-partition flash storage system to deal with, which [mirko] is still working on.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see hackers doing what they do best – taking control over hardware and software to serve their own purposes. To learn more, why not check out how to flash your Sonoff devices over serial? They’re just an ESP8266 inside, after all.

Hackaday Prize Entry: 3D Printed Mini-Lathe

Lathes can be big, powerful, dangerous machines. But sometimes there’s a call for making very small parts out of soft materials, like plastic and wood. For jobs like this, you could use something like this 3D printed mini-lathe.

The benefits of 3D printing a tool like this are plentiful. The design can be customized and refined by the end user; [castvee8] notes that the machine can be made longer simply by increasing the length of the lead screw and guide rails. The machine does rely on some metal parts and a motor; but the real power here is that if you can’t source the exact components, you can always customize the files to suit what you have on hand.

[castvee8] aimed to make the entire build as easy as possible for the novice – even the motor and speed controller are off-the-shelf modules. It’s a testament to the golden age we live in that an entire lathe can be built out of modules and 3D printed parts. The project makes up another member of the family of 3D printed tools [castvee8] is showing off on Hackaday.io.

Interview: Francesco de Comité Makes Math Visually Awesome

Francesco de Comité is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Sciences in Lille, France, where he researches the 2D and 3D representation of mathematical concepts and objects. He’s presented papers on a variety of topics including anamorphoses, experiments in circle packing, and Dupin cyclides. His current project involves modeling and 3D printing sea shells. He’ll be presenting a paper on the topic at Bridges Conference in July. You can find his projects on Flickr as well as on Shapeways.

Hackaday: One of your recent projects involves creating fractal patterns and warping them into biologically-correct sea shell shapes, which you then print.

FdC: Modeling seashell shapes is an old topic–Moseley, 1838, D’Arcy Thompson beginning of 20th century. A seashell can be defined as a curve turning around an axis, while translating in the direction of this axis (i.e. on a helicoidal trajectory), and growing in size at the same time. This was modeled for computers in the ’60s by David Raup.

Drawing patterns on seashells was described by Hans Meinhardt using a model of chemical reactions (activator-inhibitor), in the same spirit as Turing’s work on morphogenesis. Combining these two works, and using 3D printers instead of 2D renderers, we can build realistic seashells, either by copying existing shells, or inventing new ones. A 3D model is not just a juxtaposition of a huge number of 2D views: manipulating 3D models can help you understand the object, find details, and so on.

I was curious to see if making a 3D seashell was possible. Moreover, I show that this can be done with simple tools — well, except the 3D printer.
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Friday Hack Chat: Audio Systems

Join us this Friday for a Hack Chat on Audio Systems. It’s going down June 2 at noon PDT (handy time zone converter thing).

Every Friday, we gather round the campfire with the best in the business to tease out whatever secrets are stored in their mind. This is the Hack Chat, and this week, we’re going to be talking about audio systems with [Dafydd Roche]. Bring your low-distortion volume knobs and porcelain speaker cable risers, this is going to be a good one.

[Dafydd] got his start in electronics in an application for a music degree. He mentioned he’d built a few guitar pedals, which landed him a call from the electronics department at York University. They told him he was a terrible musician, but that he might excel at electronics.

Many years later he’s still going strong with audio applications with Expat Audio, manufacturers of fine preamps. [Dafydd] is also the Audio Strategic Marketing Manager at Dialog, and spends his days arguing with engineers and doing his best to solve customer problems. [Dafydd] has been on The Amp Hour, and has published articles on audio systems.

For this Hack Chat, we’re going to be running the gamut of audio, electronics, and small business. The questions on audio mythbusting are sure to entertain, and we’ll also be discussing audio signal chains and small business production. Bring your questions and put them on the sheet to guide the discussion.

Here’s How To Take Part:

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events on the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging.

Log into Hackaday.io, visit that page, and look for the ‘Join this Project’ Button. Once you’re part of the project, the button will change to ‘Team Messaging’, which takes you directly to the Hack Chat.

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about