Making Flexible Wood Using a Laser Cutter

laser cut curved wood

If you’re one of the lucky ones who has access to a laser cutter, you’re definitely going to want to check out [Aaron Porterfield's] latest work. He’s been experimenting with making flexible wood.

We’ve all probably seen wood cut with slots added to allow flexibility in a single direction, but did you know with the use of lattice hinges you can do so much more? [Aaron's] been playing around with parametric patterns and has made some really cool examples — the best part is, he’s sharing them all for free (both .DXF and vector files)!

His main goal was to create a pattern that is in flexible in multiple directions, which he almost achieved — but the really cool thing he figured out was creating a pre-formed curved surface by mapping the bend in Photoshop first…

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Hackaday Reddit AMA (ask me anything) Happening Right Now

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Today we’re interacting on an “Ask Me Anything” over at Reddit.

Now’s the time to ask your question about all-things-Hackaday. No topic is off limits. Wonder how the Blog operates? What’s the deal with Hackaday Projects? Need an answer to questions about The Hackaday Prize? Just ask!

[Mike Szczys] started the thread and I’ve provided proof as seen here, but most of the writing staff are Reddit regulars so questions for specific writers are welcome as well. What’s on your mind?

Congress Destroys A Hobby, FAA Gets The Blame

As ordered by the US Congress, the FAA is gearing up to set forth a standard for commercial UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and commercial drones operating in America’s airspace. While they’ve been dragging their feet, and the laws and rules for these commercial drones probably won’t be ready by 2015, that doesn’t mean the FAA can’t figure out what the rules are for model aircraft in the meantime.

This week, the FAA released its interpretation (PDF) of what model aircraft operators can and can’t do, and the news isn’t good: FPV flights with quadcopters and model airplanes are now effectively banned, an entire industry centered around manufacturing and selling FPV equipment and autopilots will be highly regulated, and a great YouTube channel could soon be breaking the law.

The FAA’s interpretation of what model aircraft can and cannot do, and to a larger extent, what model aircraft are comes from the FAA Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 (PDF). While this law states the, “…Federal Aviation Administration may
not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…” it defines model aircraft as, “an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” The FAA has concluded that anything not meeting this definition, for example, a remote controlled airplane with an FPV setup, or a camera, video Tx and Rx, and video goggles, is therefore not a model aircraft, and falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA.

In addition, the FAA spent a great deal of verbiage defining what, “hobby or recreational purposes” in regards to model aircraft are. A cited example of a realtor using a model aircraft to take videos of a property they are selling is listed as not a hobby or recreation, as is a farmer using a model aircraft to see if crops need water. Interestingly, receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft is also not allowed under the proposed FAA guidelines, a rule that when broadly interpreted could mean uploading a video of yourself flying a model plane, uploading that to YouTube, and clicking the ‘monetize’ button could soon be against the law. This means the awesome folks at Flite Test could soon be out of a job.

The AMA, the Academy Of Model Aeronautics, and traditionally the organization that sets the ‘community-based set of safety guidelines’ referred to in every law dealing with model aircraft, are not happy with the FAA’s proposed rules (PDF). However, their objection is a breathless emotional appeal calls the proposed rules a, “a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of our youth and elderly members.” Other than offering comments per the FAA rulemaking process there are, unfortunately, no possible legal objections to the proposed FAA rules, simply because the FAA is doing exactly what congress told them to do.

The FAA is simply interpreting the Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 as any person would: FPV goggles interfere with the line of sight of an aircraft, thus anyone flying something via FPV goggles falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA. Flying over the horizon is obviously not line of sight, and therefore not a model aircraft. Flying a model aircraft for money is not a hobby or recreation, and if you’re surprised about this, you simply aren’t familiar with FAA rules about money, work, and person-sized aircraft.

While the proposed FAA rules are not yet in effect, and the FAA is seeking public comment on these rules, if passed there will, unfortunately, exactly two ways to fix this. The first is with a change in federal law to redefine what a model aircraft is. Here’s how to find your congresscritter, with the usual rules applying: campaign donations are better than in-person visits which are better than letters which are better than phone calls which are better than emails. They’ll also look up if you have voted in the last few elections.

If passed, the only other way these rules will align with the privileges model aircraft enthusiasts have enjoyed for decades is through a court ruling. The lawsuit objecting to these rules will most likely be filed by the AMA, and if these rules pass, a donation or membership wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Pimp My Cutting Fluid Pot

oil pot

Think about the simple tools you use every day. From writing implements to wire spoolers, there is arguably nothing that deserves to be hot rodded more than the things you depend on and might even take for granted.

For mad machinist [Chris], one of those everyday tools is his cutting fluid pot. Of course he already had one. A heavy one. A manly one. But it wasn’t completely ideal, and it wasn’t plated with gold that he prospected, refined, and processed himself. More on that in a minute.

[Chris] had obtained some neodymium ring magnets a while back. He was playing around with them in his shop when he noticed that his cutting fluid applicator brush fit nicely through the center and, being metal, was contained nicely through the wonders of magnetism. It was then that he decided to build a cutting fluid pot that would keep his brush in place and remain upright. Better living through magnetism.

He drilled and chamfered the brush hole out of a #20 JIC hydraulic cap and used the matching plug for the base. In case your catalog is out of reach, those are a 1¼” pair. [Chris] bored tiny pockets in the base for tiny magnets. After bathing both parts in delicious brake cleaner, he adhered all the magnets with LOCTITE®.

Okay, so, he’s done, right? No. Of course not. It did not surprise us to learn that [Chris] is also a miner, and not the 8-bit kind that hates creepers. Over the last two years, he prospected, refined, and other gold-related verbs using equipment he made himself. Just make the jump and watch the video before we give it all away. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be compelled to watch his other videos.

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DIY Foot Pedal Controller For Guitar Rig 5

DIY Modeling Software Control Pedal

Back in the old days, it took external guitar effects pedals to modify a guitar’s sound. As computer processing power has been growing at an exponential rate, software-based effects modelers have been becoming more common. [Matthew]‘s dad is running Guitar Rig 5 modeling software on his Lenovo tablet. Although it works well, it is a hassle to change effects and amp models while playing. That’s where [Matthew] comes in. He’s built a foot pedal controller so his old man can change up those sweet sounds on the fly.

Guitar Rig 5 has the ability to change presets with key presses. Even so, it would still be a hassle tapping a keyboard while playing, whether it be physical or on-screen. Since an Arduino-compatible board with an ATMEGA32U4 chip can be used to simulate an HID device, [Matthew] decided to use one as the basis for his project. Standard push buttons mounted in a project box indicate to the microcontroller which keyboard commands to send to the tablet. There are 4 buttons for 4 presets on this build but any number can be used. When a button is pushed, the associated keyboard command is sent to the tablet via a USB cable and Guitar Rig 5 responds to that command by changing the preset. And just so you know where you are, an indicator light adjacent to each button shows which preset is current.

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Here Come the RGB LED Clones

ws2812 and clones timing

It seems like every third project on Hackaday uses WS2812 RGB LEDs in some way. We all love our blinkenlights, and bright, cheap, serial controlled RGB LEDs are the bees knees.

As with all products these days, competing manufacturers have discovered the huge market for these things, and clones are now available. [Tim] recently took a look at the PD9823, as well as three versions of the WS2812. [Tim] is considered something of a WS2812 guru here at Hackaday. You might remember him from his WS2812 driver optimization article, which should be required reading for any WS2812 hacker.

As many of us know, the timing characteristics for these LEDs can be a pain to work with. The values also differ between the WS2812S and WS2812B. [Tim] discovered that the new through hole WS2812D parts are different yet again, though rather close to the B parts. The PD9823′s designers must have studied the WS2812′s closely, as their 190ns time base falls directly between WS2812S 166ns time and the 208ns time of the WS2812B. The PD9823 also requires a slightly longer reset pulse.

The takeaway is that well written drivers such as [Tim's] should have no problem with the new parts, but compatibility is something to keep in mind as more clones hit the market.

DIY Hydroponic System Grows Herbs on the Wall

Wall-Mounted Hydroponic Garden

Everyone knows that you should eat healthy, but it’s not always easy. Fresh and healthy foods are often more expensive than processed foods. When money is tight, sometimes it’s best to just grow your own produce. What if you don’t have room for a garden, though?

When [Matthew] returned home from the 2014 San Mateo Maker Faire, he found himself in a similar situation to many other faire attendees. He saw something awesome and was inspired to build it himself. In this case, it was a wall-mounted hydroponic garden. [Matthew] started out with some basic requirements for his project. He knew which wall he wanted to cover with plants, so that gave him the maximum possible dimensions. He also knew that they may have to remove the garden temporarily to perform maintenance on the wall in the future. And as for what to grow, [Matthew] loves lots of flavor in his foods. He chose to grow herbs and spices.

[Matthew] purchased most of the main components from Amazon and had them shipped to his doorstep. Everything else was found at the local hardware store. The base of the build is an off-the-shelf planter box. The drainage hole in the bottom was plugged up to prevent water from leaking out. A different hole was drilled in the side of the box to allow a garden hose to be mounted to the box. The hose is connected through a float valve, keeping the water level inside the box just right.

[Matthew] then built a frame out of dimensional lumber. The frame ended up being about 4.33 feet wide by 8 feet tall. The boards were fastened together with metal braces and mounting plates. A full sheet of plywood was then nailed to the front of the frame. Thick plastic sheet was then wrapped around the frame and stapled in place.

[Matthew] purchased giant planter pockets to actually hold the plants. He tried stapling them to the front of the frame, but discovered that staples were not strong enough to hold the weight of the plants, soil, and water. He instead used screws and washers.

Next, a submersible pump was mounted inside the bottom planter box. This pump is used to circulate the water and nutrients up to the plants above. Two hoses were connected to the pump and run up the sides of the upper frame. These hoses evenly distribute the water to the plants.

The final step was to mount the unit in place against the wall. [Matthew] didn’t want to screw into the wall and cause any damage. Instead, he placed a couple of bricks inside of the planter box and rested the bottom of the frame on top of those. The top of the frame is essentially hung from a railing up above with some thin steel wire.

The whole unit looks very slick and takes up little space. With some more ingenuity, one could likely build something similar with even more DIY components to save some more money.