We were again pleased to find another person who attended Maker Faire just to show off the awesome and not to hawk some goods. In our mind [Ben Krasnow] represents the highest echelon of hardware hacking (apparently Google[x] agrees because they just snatched him up) . But [Ben] always makes a point to explain how he does what he does so that others may learn and someday achieve a similar type of greatness. This time around it’s a functional ruby laser which is backed by a capacitor bank that stores a whopping 8 kilojoules of energy. This is what allows the laser to cut through steel plate. He sure has come a long way since he first showed off the project in January.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to [Ben’s] booth until late on Sunday. His previous demonstrations burned through some seals and left him with a non-functional laser. But he’s a trustworthy guy so we believe him and look forward to him posting a video about the laser and hopefully about the failure. He also mentions that he may make an attempt at lunar laser ranging with this device; bouncing the laser off of reflectors on the moon and measuring the delay. This can then be used to calculate the distance to the moon.
By the way, it was super difficult not to crack a joke when he says the words “Ruby Rod“.
We love hacks that make a difference in people’s lives. Service dogs can make a huge difference in a physically disabled person’s life, and while they can do a lot of things, dogs aren’t the greatest at flipping light switches. So a team of industrial design students from Ghent, Belgium decided to try finding a solution.
Their case study was for a young woman named [Heleen Bartsoen]. She has a very smart white golden retriever named [Gyproc] who is very good at picking up commands, and is a very careful and cautious service dog. She has an IKEA lamp with a foot switch that neither she or her dog can press.
The team quickly got to work and decided to design a lever to give the dog (or Heleen!) some mechanical advantage to actuate the switch. Having access to a laser cutter, they designed the lever to be cut out of plywood for easy assembly. It pivots around a wooden dowel, and they’ve filled a compartment of the base with cement to keep it stationary when being used.
Continue reading “A Levered Light Switch Even Fido Can Operate”
[Evan] was perusing his local thrift store when he found a beautiful IBM Model M 122-key keyboard made in 1987.
“This is my keyboard, there are many like it, but this one is mine.”
~The Typist’s Creed
In [Evan’s] case, this might actually be the only one like it still in use today. An idea formed in his head. What if he took this ancient keyboard, gave it a USB driver, and customized the keys on a hardware level to do exactly what he wanted.
The first step was converting it to USB. He’s using a Teensy 2.0 mostly because it is super inexpensive, and its able to act as a USB HID device. In addition to wiring up the keyboard to the Teensy he’s also added foot pedals that connect via 1/8″ stereo plugs — these kind of act like extra mouse buttons, allowing him to scroll through galleries left to right, add page breaks, and other macros to increase efficiency.
Continue reading “Laser Etching Brings New Life To An IBM Keyboard”
Laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC routers — they’re all great technology in the right hands, but unfortunately the learning curve sometimes puts would-be makers at a distance. [Anirudh] from MIT’s Media Lab is attempting to break down at least one of those barriers with his augmented laser cutter system called, Clearcut.
The system consists of a webcam, a projector, and a semi transparent work space on top of the laser cutter. By placing objects on the surface, the webcam can identify them, duplicate them with the projector, and then laser engrave them. In addition to the “copy and paste” idea of this, you can also use infrared emitting pens to physically draw your design on the work surface to be engraved. It starts to bridge the gap between complex CAD and pencil and paper, something anyone is capable of.
Continue reading “Augmented Laser Cutter Removes Design Technology Barriers”
Over on the Projects site, [ThunderSqueak] is pushing the bounds of what anyone would call reasonable and is building a CO2 laser from parts that can be found in any home improvement store.
Despite being able to cut wood, paper, and a bunch of other everyday materials, a carbon dioxide laser is actually surprisingly simple. All you need to do is fill a tube with CO2, put some mirrors and lenses on each end, and run an electric current through the gas. In practice, though, there’s a lot of extra bits and bobs required for a working laser.
[ThunderSqueak] will need some sort of cooling for his laser, and for that he’s constructed a watercooling jacket out of 2″ PVC. In the end caps, a pair of brass pipe fittings are JB Welded in place, allowing a place for the mirror assembly and lenses.
The mirror mounts are the key component of this build, but the construction method is surprisingly simple. [ThunderSqueak] is using a few brass barbed hose fittings, with washers stuck on one end. The washers are drilled to accept a trio of bolts that will allow the mirrors to be perfectly parallel; anything less and the CO2 won’t lase.
The build isn’t complete yet, but having already built a few lasers, there’s little doubt [ThunderSqueak] will be able to pull this one off as well.
As technology continues to advance, make-believe props and technology from movies are coming closer and closer to reality. [Patrick Priebe] has managed to put together a working Spiderman Webshooter with the help of electromagnets!
He’s built a tiny coil gun that puts out 100 Joules of energy using a 350V capacitor bank, which straps cleanly to his wrist over top of a Spiderman costume glove. It makes the classic high-pitched hum as it charges, and launches a small barbed brass arrow capable of skewering Styrofoam.
He didn’t stop there though! He’s created a handy little winch using a small high-powered brushless motor with an ESC. A weighted disk acts as a flywheel to increase the pulling power of the fishing line, and he’s built it on a pivot so when you launch it, the fishing line just slips off the end without resistance. To engage, you flip it back perpendicular to the line and turn on the motor.
Continue reading “Electromagnetic Spiderman Webshooter Railgun / Grappling Hook”
If you have access to a laser cutter you’re going to want to take a look at this brilliant tutorial. [Steven Smethurst] has figured out how to extract public map data and turn it into a file ready to be laser cut onto your choice of material.
In his example he’s using Vancouver’s Open Data Catalog to build his map using the coastal and public street data. To do this he’s using a program called TileMill which you can get for free from MapBox — it’s a great piece of software for designing your own interactive maps — and the best part is, you can import data from a wide variety of sources, such as Vancouver’s Open Data!
You can import the shape (.SHP) files from the Open Data Catalog and add them as layers into TileMill. From there you can manipulate your map, adjust the detail, and then import as a .SVG or .DXF file ready for laser cutting.
In addition to the Instructable on how to do this, he’s also recorded an in-depth video tutorial which you can check out after the break.
Continue reading “Using Public Data to Make Laser Cut Maps”