Fabricate Your Own Tabletop Gaming Props

Delve into the mysterious world of tabletop roleplaying games. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Shadowrun, Pathfinder, Ars Magica, Vampire, whatever gets your dice rollin’ — metaphorically in the case of a diceless system. This might very well be your daddy’s D&D. If you’re not a gamer, you’re certainly familiar with the concept. People sit around a table pretending to have an epic adventure, often adding a random element with the help of dice. A map is often displayed on the table, sized for figures that show the various heroes and villains.

As a person with access to a variety of CNC machines I find myself wanting to create things to make gameplay more fun. I want to build a scale castle and have a siege. I want to conduct a ship-to-ship battle with wooden ships built to scale. But I also think smaller. What is something I could make that would help us every day? Say, a box for dice. Not every project needs to be the dragon’s lair.

It turns out a lot of other folks have been thinking about the same thing.

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Bearing-in-Bearing Fidget Spinner Taken to the Max

People who know about bearings go through a phase of bemusement with regards to fidget spinners. We say something like, “man, I got a whole box of bearings in the basement.” Then we go through a “OK, I’ll make one” phase and print one out of PLA.

[fishpepper] took that sentiment a step further. After being forced to print spinners for his kids, he got jealous and decided to make his own—but his spinner would be a version for engineers. [fishpepper]’s ginormous spinner consists of five bearings superglued inside each other, with the grease cleaned out of the insides to make them spin faster. The inner two sets are doubled up bearings, 6 mm x 17 mm x 6 mm and 17 mm x 30 mm x 7 mm. The middle bearing measures 30 mm x 55 mm x 13 mm, and the fourth bearing 55 mm x 90 mm x 18 mm.

If you want to stop here, it’s a good size, around two inches across. However, [fishpepper] took it a step further, adding a fifth bearing, a 90 mm x 140 mm x 24 mm monster weighing in at 1 kg by itself. The total weight comes to 1.588 kg with the 3D-printed hub included. If you want to make one yourself, check out [fishpepper’s] bearing-in-bearing spinner tutorial which guides you through the various steps.

Hackaday likes fidget spinners so much you’d think we were in 6th grade: we’ve published posts on the three-magnet spinner hack, a fidget-spinning robot, and teaching STEAM with fidget spinners.

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Mindstorms Morse Key Writes to Drawbot

[Jason Allemann] built a Mindstorms Telegraph Machine that packs so many cool details that HaD is about to have a fit.

First off, It’s a drawbot able to write letters, a difficult feat given a lack of native stepper motors and the limited gear options for Mindstorms.  Trying to draw letters with servos typically makes for some ugly letters. And how does the drawbot know what to write? You code them in with Morse code. The second video after the break shows [Jason]’s setup. He has a Mindstorms touch sensor with a LEGO Morse key attached to it. He simply taps on the key and the EV3 Intelligent Brick interprets his dots and dashes and translates them into letters.

Next off, [Jason]’s printer is built using one EV3 set. It’s one thing to build a cool Mindstorms robot with whatever you have in your parts bin, but the gold standard is to make a project that can be built with only one EV3 set. That way, anyone with the set can build the project. Precious few really cool projects can be built with just one set–[David Gilday]’s MindCub3r Rubik’s cube solver comes to mind. Dude, this is another one.

Last off, [Jason] breaks down how to build it, providing full LDraw building steps and EV3 code on his site. Even better, he shows how to supersize the project by adding a second EV3 brick, which can connect to the drawbot’s EV3 brick via bluetooth and serve as a standalone CW key. He shows off this part in the second video.

Icing on the cake, [Jason] even built a Morse reference book, done appropriately in 100% LEGO.

Hackaday loves innovative LEGO projects, like this game-playing robot and this LEGO exoskeleton.

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ESP8266 Dev Board Sports Flying Squirrel PCB Art

[Jarrett] has a box of Nokia phone batteries and decided to use them in a project. He designed and built WiFi throwies— these consist of ESP8266 WiFi chips attached to custom PCBs and powered by Nokia phone batteries. The board charges LiPoly/Li-Ion batteries over USB with the help of a MCP73831 charger chip and has USB-serial on-board. It’s much more of a powered ESP8266 dev board than a throwie, but we’ll give [Jarrett] the benefit of the doubt.

The PCB ended up larger than [Jarrett] would have liked, because of the size requirements of the phone battery connected to it. However, this gave him the canvas to create some fun PCB art. After designing the board he imported the Gerbers into Adobe Photoshop and converted each layer into a monocolor image based on the material of that layer—purple for OSHPark’s stencil mask, beige for DirtyPCB’s FR4, and so on. One challenge [Jarrett] encountered was how to get the art back into Altium Circuit Maker, his layout program of choice. After playing around with different methods for a few days, he wrote a tutorial sharing what he found out.

HaD has covered WiFi throwies before. We also appreciate a beautiful circuit board. Check out our posts on turning PCBs into art and making lapel pins out of circuit board fiberglass.

Making Synths out of Audio Cassettes

8bit Mixtapes are simple Arduino-based sound and beat generators based on ATtiny 84s and 85s and designed fit inside old audio cassettes, or at least be about that size. Founded by [Dusjagr], [Ucok] and [Lyok], and including participants from around the globe, 8bit Mixtapes are small synthesizers that play one-line algorithmic symphonies, simple sound generators that work off of a single line of code.

The project has been going on for a number of years, with several different iterations released over the years–the most recent is the Mixtape NEO, released about a month ago that features audio bootloading and a row of NeoPixel LEDs. It’s well documented and fully open source, with a code repository and wiki. The arty PCBs look great as well!

8bit Mixtapes are a natural project for electronics students to tackle. An ATtiny85 with two pots and two buttons? Pretty simple, and the musical payoff makes it a cinch for one-day workshops. The code simplicity makes it easy to modify the software as well.

Quirky synths are Hackaday’s bag, including one we published previously that controls a hexagonal matrix of LEDs.

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Automating Plant Care

[Daniyal]’s goal is to build an automated garden that allows him to grow plants in any environment he chooses. He’s got a good start with this rig, which is controlled by a Pi Zero connected via serial to an Arduino Mega clone, which  in turn controls a bank of relays and sensors.

Monitoring the environment is a temperature and humidity sensor as well as a series of  six soil moisture sensor spikes. The relays control the water pump(s?) and lights, allowing [Daniyal] to maintain specific conditions depending on what he’s growing.

[Daniyal] has ambitious goals for the project. The Pi has a camera on it, and he hopes to not only maintain the greenhouse from the Internet, but also figure out how to monitor plant growth automatically, so that the Pi can measure plant growth and adjust the conditions without his input.

We’ve covered a lot of very cool horticulture projects here on HaD, including radio-connected soil sensors, using G-cal to create an internet of lawns, and the Garden of Eden watering kit.