Hackaday Prize Entry: Orchestral Invention Defies Convention

Like many of us, [Laurens] likes video game music and bending hardware to his will. Armed with a Printrbot, a couple of floppy drives, and some old HDDs, he built the Unconventional Instrument Orchestra. This 2015 Hackaday Prize contender takes any MIDI file and plays it on stepper and solenoid-based hardware through a Java program.

A while back, [Laurens] won a Fubarino in our contest by using a MIDI keyboard and an Arduino to control the Minecraft environment with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time songs. The Unconventional Instrument Orchestra uses that Fubarino of victory to control the steppers of two floppy drives. He only needed three pins to control the drives—one to enable, one to set the head’s direction, and one to make it step once per pulse.

If ever you’ve been around a 3D printer, you know they make music as a natural side effect. The problem is getting the printer to obey the rests in a piece of music. In order to do this, [Laurens] used his software to control the printer, essentially withholding the next command until the appropriate time in the song.

The percussive elements of this orchestra are provided by a hard drive beating its head against the wall. Since it’s basically impossible to get an HDD to do this as designed (thankfully), [Laurens] replaced the control board with a single transistor to drive the coil that moves the head.

[Laurens] has made several videos of the orchestra in concert, which are a joy all their own. Most of the visual real estate of each video is taken up with a real-time visualization of the music produced by the software. There’s still plenty of room to show the orchestra itself, song-specific gameplay, and a textual commentary crawl in 16-segment displays. Check out the playlist we’ve embedded after the break.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: Orchestral Invention Defies Convention”

Long Board Takes a Brake

Long boards are awesome. They feel like your surfing on concrete — amazing for hilly areas where you can coast around forever. The weird thing is, none of them come with brakes standard… Even though when you’re going down a hill you can easily hit 30-40mph! [Marius] decided to fix this, so he built his own 3D printed brake system for his Onda long board.

He designed the system in 3Ds Max and 3D printed the parts in PLA using his Printrbot Metal Simple (check out our review here). It uses an off the shelf bicycle brake pad, and brake cable as well as a few elastic bands. Currently only one wheel brakes, but it seems to be enough to slow you down — though he might mirror the system on the other side to obtain more braking power.

The long board he’s using does have slightly larger wheels than normal, but the system could be modified to use on a more standard sized long board.  Stick around after the break to see it in action.

Continue reading “Long Board Takes a Brake”

3D Printed Muscle is Inflated During Printing

Just when you think you’ve seen it all… [Fergal Coulter] over on the RepRap forums just came up with a method of 3D printing on inflatable structures — wait what?

The process uses a custom 3D printer with a paste extrusion head, and a 4th axis — with a pneumatic air supply. Using a spray deposition method, a silicone tube is formed, and then each layer is cured using a infrared light, which is also built into the system. Once the silicone is thick enough, it is then pressurized to inflate through the air-permeable mandrel. A laser then scans the shape of the inflated silicone to allow the computer to generate tool paths for the surface. Then you hit print. Simple right?

Continue reading “3D Printed Muscle is Inflated During Printing”

Hackaday Prize Entry: Weaving Carbon Fiber With Industrial Robots

Oh to have a 6-axis robot arm to play with… For [Basia Dzaman’s] final graduation project for School of Form, she designed and 3D printed an end effect tool for an industrial KUKA robot — for weaving carbon fiber.

Through an iterative design process, she developed many prototypes of the tool until the one you see above. It’s capable of holding a Dremel multi tool which can be used to drill into a work surface for installing pegs which make up the custom weaving jig. The pegs (nails) are then installed by hand so that the robot can thread carbon fiber — fed through an epoxy bath as it is dispensed — onto the jig. In the example, she shows a traditional Polish handcraft called Snutki (a type of stitching), wrapping the carbon fiber in patterns around the pegs. Once the epoxy cures, a strong structure can be removed.

Remember the 6-axis robot that can 3D print in metal, and is currently working on 3D printing a bridge? [Basia’s] design could do similar things, for a completely different industry. You can check out [Basia]’s video for the project below.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: Weaving Carbon Fiber With Industrial Robots”

FREE 3D Printing in New York?

Looking to prototype some of your designs for the Hackaday Prize? Miss the Shapeways Gift Card Giveaway we did? Well if you happen to live in NYC, [John Tirelli] just wrote in to tell us about a FREE 3D printing lab!

That’s right — free. They don’t even charge for materials.

And we aren’t talking about a bunch of community rickety RepRaps falling apart in someone’s college dorm, nope, this place has CAD workstations with SolidWorks licenses, industrial Stratasys printers (Fortus 250mic, SST 1200 es, and a uPrint SE Plus) — not to mention a Roland LPX-1200 DS 3D laser scanner! Oh, and they’re getting a Fortus 400 and Connex 3 Objet soon!

It’s all thanks to a grant for Haverstraw Rockland Community College, which allowed them to open up this Smart Lab.

RCC’s 3D Printing Smart Lab offers manufacturers a proof-of-concept center where they can evaluate, customize, and expedite prototypes in a sandbox environment. The Smart Lab’s services are available to New York companies free of charge. Assistance is provided by RCC staff and CAD (Computer Assisted Design) students.

How awesome is that? Sounds like you do have to be a New York Company… but you filed that LLC paperwork, right?

Continue reading “FREE 3D Printing in New York?”

Wood & Glue RepStrap Works Surprisingly Well

Even with the cost of 3D Printers continually falling, entering the hobby still requires a significant investment. [Skeat] had some typical 3D Printer components available but didn’t have access to a printer for making the ever-so-common frame parts of typical RepRap designs.

glue rep strap [Skeat’s] plan was to cobble together a printer just good enough to print out parts for another, more robust one. The frame is made from wood, a very inexpensive and available material. The frame is not screwed together and doesn’t have any alignment tabs, it’s just hand cut pieces glued together. Each portion of the frame is laid out, aligned with a carpenter’s square and then glued together. This design and assembly method was intentional as [Skeat] didn’t have access to any precision tools. He stated that the only parts of the frame that had to be somewhat precise were the motor mount holes. The assembly process is well documented to aid anyone else looking to make something similar.

In addition to the wooden frame, all of the components are glued in place. That includes the bearings, rods, limit switches and even the Z axis motor! After seeing the photos of this printer, it would be easy to dismiss it as a poor performer. The below video shows that this printer’s print quality can keep up with any hobby level machine available. We wonder if [Skeat] is rethinking making another since this one works so well.

Continue reading “Wood & Glue RepStrap Works Surprisingly Well”

Semi-Automatic Bed Leveling Your 3D Printer

Two of the most important prerequisites for successful 3D printing is making sure the bed is level and correctly setting the Z=0 height. Getting both of these right almost guarantees great adhesion since the first print layer is not only at the right distance from the build platform but also at a consistent distance for the entire bottom surface of the part.

Manual bed leveling is tedious, requiring the user to move the print nozzle to different points around the build platform, adjust some screws and make sure the nozzle is a piece-of-paper’s thickness higher than the platform. If you want to get complicated, there is an automatic option that probes the build platform and makes height corrections in the software. The probes come in several flavors, two common methods being a deployed mechanical switch (usually mounted to a servo) or force sensors under the build platform that sense when the nozzle touches the build platform. This method also requires some fancy firmware finesse to get working correctly.

[Jonas] posted a video showing the semi-automatic bed leveling capability of his printer. The build platform is held a bit high by springs that surround each of the 3 screws that support the bed assembly. The nozzle is moved directly over one of the 3 screws and then moved down until it noticeably presses on the build platform, compressing the support spring. A thumb wheel is then tightened at that location, locking the bed in place. The same process is performed for the other 2 support points. The result is a perfectly level build surface. Check the video out after the break to see just how quick this procedure is!

We’ve seen a somewhat similar concept that uses a clever gimbal and lock system under the bed.

Continue reading “Semi-Automatic Bed Leveling Your 3D Printer”