This SMD Reflow Hot Air Gun Hangs Around Your Workbench

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Has reflowing surface mount components got you down? [Giorgos] is currently working on a project that will lift your spirits…. well at least your hot air gun. Tired of manually holding his heat gun in one hand and IR thermometer in the other, [Giorgos] set out to create a device to alleviate just that. Although not completed yet, it appears the machine’s intent is to hold the heat gun at an appropriate height above the work piece in order to achieve the correct reflow temperature. He doesn’t say how the height of the hot air gun will be controlled. We’d like to see a microcontroller adjust the height of the hot air gun depending on the temperature of the component to be reflowed. [Giorgos] gives an extremely detailed account of his build process. Make sure to check out all four pages of the project post!

We’ve seen a lot of interesting work from [Giorgos] over the years like this capacitive touch-pad entry system.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Toner Transfer PCBs, Double Sided, With Color Silkscreen

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Making a few PCBs with the toner transfer method is a well-known technique in the hacker and maker circles. Double-sided PCBs are a little rarer, but still use the same process as their single-sided cousins. [Necromancer] is taking things up a notch and doing something we’ve never seen before – double-sided PCBs made at home, with color silkscreens, all make with a laser printer.

For laying down an etch mask, [Necro] is using a Samsung ML-2167 laser printer and the usual toner transfer process; print out the board art and laminate it to some copper board.

The soldermasks use a similar process that’s head-slappingly similar and produces great results: once the board is etched, he prints out the solder mask layer of his board, laminates it, and peels off the paper. It’s so simple the only thing we’re left wondering is why no one thought of it before.

Apart from the potential alignment issues for multiple layers, the only thing missing from this fabrication technique is the ability to do plated through holes. Still, with a laser printer, a laminator, and a little bit of ferric or copper chloride you too can make some very nice boards at home.

Three Axis Position Indicator with Digital Calipers

[Malte] just finished a little project for his Wabeco F1200 milling machine: a compact external display for three digital sliding calipers (Translated from German). As you may have already guessed, [Malte] was lucky enough to be able to fit disassembled calipers onto the machine and use them for positioning. Before embarking on this adventure, he noticed that there were similar projects present on the internet, but all of the calipers used had different data interfaces and protocols. The calipers that [Malte] bought have a mini USB connector, even though the interface itself isn’t USB. As he couldn’t find any information on that interface, he turned to his oscilloscope to decode the protocol.

[Malte] then built an AVR-based platform that reads out the three calipers and shows the position data on the dot matrix LCD shown above. The AVR firmware is written in a mixture of Basic and assembler language. The source code, schematics, and other resources can be downloaded from the project’s web page. We are impressed on the professional aspect of the final result.

[Read more...]

Hydro: The Low Cost Waterjet Cutter

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Waterjet cutters are generally huge machines, with equally large price tags. But what if there was a hobbyist level waterjet cutter that was actually affordable? Well, for their Senior Design Project at the University of Pennsylvania, [Adam Libert] and his team made one that could retail for less than $5000.

[Adam] was the lead mechanical designer on this amazing project, and he designed the fully waterproof XY gantry, capable of withstanding the water and abrasive from the cutter. The entire machine is only 2′ x 2′ by about 5′ tall, making it extremely portable and easy to move through doorways — and it runs off of plain old 120VAC and shop air. It is capable of cutting through up to 1/4″ aluminum and 1/8″ steel with a working area of 12″ x 14″ at a tolerance of 0.005″.

Not surprising, the project won the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design competition in 2012 with accolades for outstanding creativity. We weren’t able to find any information on the future plans for this project, but we hope they make it open-source, or even run a crowd-funding campaign for it.

The goal was to create the first ever low-cost, small scale, and easy to use waterjet cutter, and judging by the video, it looks like they did it — stick around after the break to see for yourself.   

[Read more...]

Printer Up-cycled CNC Machine Uses More Than Just the Stepper Motors

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Sometimes you just know from the photo that this is going to be a really cool project. When most people salvage parts from an old printer, they usually chuck the rest. In this case [Shane] made use of the entire printer to build his CNC machine.

He started with an old HP 2500C A3 printer, which he had planned to salvage for parts only. While he was taking it apart he realized the chassis would make a great frame for his actual CNC machine! With that in mind he quickly changed his game plan to making each axis inside of the printer.

He’s using regular ball bearing drawer runners for both the X and Z axes, covered with a clever design of aluminum angle to keep any possible chips from jamming them. The Y axis on the other hand makes use of the original shaft runners from the print head carriage. Each axis is driven by threaded rod using recycled stepper motors from the printer.

An Arduino UNO sits at the heart of the project with a Protoneer CNC shield to control the stepper drivers. He’s also included an emergency stop, hold, resume, and cancel buttons for manual control.

It’s a great project, and an amazing example of using what is on hand for a project. Stick around after the break to see a demonstration of it printing!

[Read more...]

The Art of Box Making

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[Darcy] has a bit of a love affair with cardboard. What started out as a simple way to mail things cheaper by making custom sized boxes has turned into the full-blown art of box making.

He originally started by making the boxes by hand, but after he got suitably adept at it, he quickly refined his craft by adding in some technology. He now designs the boxes in SketchUp and then uses a home-made CNC router to cut and score the cardboard into even fancier styles. His blog has a whole slew of his cardboard box designs and it’s actually pretty cool to see what he’s come up with. He also has a bunch of tips for making your own, so if you’re one of those lucky hackers who can sell the things they make, it’s definitely worth a look! If you’re not selling anything perhaps a cardboard lamp shade is more for you?

To see a video example of one of his CNC cut boxes, stick around after the break. Now all he needs to do is design an automatic box folding machine!

[Read more...]

Spherebot: Decorating Xmas Baubles

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The Spherebot is an open source machine capable of printing designs onto spherical objects, such as Xmas baubles!

The design is based on the ever-popular Egg-Bot, which we have seen derived into many other useful printers such as the Mug Plotter, and the Ping Pong Printer.

The Spherebot features two stepper motors, one servo motor for marker actuation, some cheap mounting hardware, and a whole bunch of 3D printed parts—all of which are available on Thingiverse. In this design they used a 3D printer controller board called the 3Drag by Open-Electronics, which is based on the ATmega2560 (the same microcontroller as the Arduino MEGA). The Spherebot doesn’t require all three axes or an extruder, so they only installed 2 out of the 4 stepper drivers on the board to save cost.

Once you have it all built, it’s a simple matter of uploading your design into the free Spherebot-Host-GUI provided on GitHub. Stick around after the break to see just what it is capable of!

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