A Perfect San Francisco for Hackaday Prize Worldwide

Whew, that was a perfect day. Seriously. A few weeks back, on Saturday June 13th PCH International opened their doors for the Hackaday Zero to Product workshop. I don’t live in California, so having two huge glass garage doors making up one entire wall of your office is odd to me. But on a perfect day like this one it was something miraculous.

We opened the Workshop at 9:30am and those lucky enough to get a free ticket before the event was full streamed in. The topic at hand was a transfer of knowledge on professional level PCB design and once again [Matt Berggren] didn’t disappoint. A former Altium veteran, experienced hardware start-up-er-er, and all around circuit design guru, [Matt] has a natural and satisfying way of working with the many questions that arise while also following his epic talk framework. There must be around a hundred slides in his presentation that covers the bases from component selection, to signal routing, to material selection (substrate, copper density, solder mask material) and a lot more.

The day ran in segments…. sign-in followed by coffee and bakery goods and a talk on Open Hardware from [Ryan Vinyard]. He is the Engineering Lead at Highway1, the well-known hardware startup accelerator which provided a space for the event in the PCH Innovation Hub building. From there we dropped into the first segment of Zero to Product and started riffing on all things PCB design.

A break for salad and pizza three hours later lead into the final two sessions that are broken up by a social pause. Thanks to our Hackaday Prize Sponsors (Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, Mouser, and Texas Instruments) we had plenty of time to discuss the builds each person is planning and to connect them with sponsor-supplied dev boards to help with the prototyping.

We have an album up so that you can check out all the pictures from this event. We’ve held the Zero to Product workshop in Los Angeles, and Shenzhen as well in the recent weeks. Keep watching Hackaday to learn of future opportunities to take part in events in your area!

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Laser Engraving in Color?

Here’s a fantastic way to add a new dynamic to your laser cut and engraved parts. Did you know it is possible to color your engravings on acrylic? It’s kind of one of those moments where you go “Why didn’t I think of that?”

[Frankie Flood] works at the Digital Craft Research Lab (DCRL for short), which is kind of like a hackerspace for the University of Wisconsin — complete with CNC routers, lasers, 3D printers, and all your basic manufacturing tools.  [Lionel Rocheleau], one of his lab technicians at DCRL was interested in doing some experiments with the laser cutter, so they came up with this experiment…

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World’s Greatest Bubble Machine born of Space Program

[GordonKirkwood] needs soap bubbles. Big soap bubbles. Why does he need soap bubbles? Because – soap bubbles!

Actually, [Gordon] is a photographer, and he wants to capture candid moments and fleeting expressions. What better way to inspire wonder and amazement than to be able to produce a giant soap bubble on demand? And what better way to do it than with an intricate, computer controlled giant bubble machine?

[Gordon’s] inspiration for the bubble producing mechanism comes from the end effector of the Canadarm robotic Space Shuttle arm, which used a cable-grapple design to snare and secure payloads. [Gordon] uses a similar principle to interweave bubble juice-soaked strings and pull them apart in a plane to form a soap film. A puff of wind or a quick shot from a fan inflates and launches the bubble, which the mechanism can pinch off for precise control of size.

The amount of work [Gordon] put into the machine is impressive. His Instructables post is incredibly detailed and goes into not only his build but also his design process and prototyping, the science of soap bubble instruments, and even a nod to the work of other pioneering bubble enthusiasts. And he thoughtfully includes a recipe for professional-grade bubble juice, with a secret ingredient that may surprise you.

You say your bubble-producing needs run more toward quantity than quality? Try using the juice in this homemade bubble robot.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: DIY Eye Tracking

Deep in the dark recesses of Internet advertisers and production studios, there’s a very, very strange device. It fits on a user’s head, has a camera pointing out, but also a camera pointing back at the user. That extra camera is aimed right at the eye. This is a gaze tracking system, a wearable robot that looks you in the eye and can tell you exactly what you were looking at. It’s exactly what you need to tell if people are actually looking at ads.

For their Hackaday Prize entry, Makeroni Labs is building an open source eye tracking system. It’s exactly what you want if you want to test how ‘sticky’ a webpage is, or – since we’d like to see people do something useful with their Hackaday Prize projects – for handicapped people that can not control their surroundings.

There are really only a few things you need to build an eye tracking camera – a pair of cameras and a bit of software. The cameras are just webcams, with the IR filters removed and a few IR LEDs aimed at the eye so the eye-facing camera can see the pupil. The second camera is pointed directly ahead, and with a bit of tricky math, the software can figure out where the user is looking.

The electronics are rather interesting, with all the processing running on a VoCore It’s Linux, though, and hopefully it’ll be fast enough to capture two video streams, calculate where the pupil is looking, and send another video stream out. As far as the rest of the build goes, the team is 3D printing everything and plans to make the design available to everyone. That’s great for experimentations in gaze tracking, and an awesome technology for the people who really need it.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Hackaday Links: July 5, 2015

It’s the fifth of July. What should that mean? Videos on YouTube of quadcopters flying into fireworks displays. Surprisingly, there are none. If you find one, put it up in the comments.

The original PlayStation was a Nintendo/Sony collaboration. This week, some random dude found a prototype in his attic. People were offering him tens of thousands of dollars on the reddit thread, while smarter people said he should lend it to MAME and homebrewer/reverse engineer groups. This was called out as a fake by [Vadu Amka], one of the Internet’s highly skilled console modders. This statement was sort of semi retracted. There’s a lot of bromide staining on that Nintendo PlayStation, though, and if it’s a fake, the faker deserves thousands of dollars. Now just dump the ROMs and reverse engineer the thing.

Remember BattleBots? It’s back. These are my impressions of the first two episodes: Flamethrowers are relatively common now, ‘parasitic bots’ – small, auxilliary bots fighting alongside the ‘main’ bot are now allowed. KOs only count for the ‘main’ bot. Give it a few more seasons and every bot will be a wedge. One of the hosts is an UFC fighter, which is weird, but not as weird as actually knowing some of the people competing.

Ceci n’est pas un Arduino, which means it’s from the SRL camp. No, wait. It’s a crowdfunding campaign for AS200 Industries in Providence, RI.

Wanna look incredibly sketchy? Weld (or braze, or solder) your keys to a screwdriver.

The UK’s National Museum of Computing  is looking for some people to help maintain 80 BBC Micros. The museum has a ‘classroom’ of BBC micro computers still in operation. Caps dry out, switching power supplies fail, and over the years these computers start to die. If you have the skills and want to volunteer, give it a shot.

USA-made Arduinos are now shipping. That’s the Massimo Arduino, by the way.

Win $1000 for pressing a buttonWe’re gauranteed to give away a thousand dollar gift card for the Hackaday store next Wednesday to someone who has participated in the latest round of community voting for the Hackaday Prize.

The Nicest Home Made Spot Welder We’ve Ever Seen

By golly, look at the build quality of this homemade spot welder.

Just about everyone on here knows it’s quite possible to build one of these things using a re-wrapped microwave transformer, but they’re usually made of wood like the one we swap on Friday, and we often wonder how much real use they get other than “hey look I built a spot welder!”. I myself made one, but then ended up buying a professional one because it works better. Not [Matthew Borgatti] though, his looks better and has more features than even the one I bought!

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-3.09.59-PM

Why? Because he put some serious thought into his design. He even 3D modeled the whole thing in SolidWorks.

Beyond the excellent laser cut enclosure (complete with ratcheting work piece clamping), [Matt’s] also added an Arduino to create a timing circuit. Most times you just squeeze the clamp, press the button, and watch the metal heat up — “I think that’s good…”

But with an actual timing circuit you can calculate how much time you need versus current and electrode size to produce a good quality weld.

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