THP Semifinalist: Theta Printer

thetaThe early 3D printers of the 80s and 90s started off as cartesian bots, and this is what the RepRap project took a cue from for the earliest open source 3D printer designs. A bit later, the delta bot came on the scene, but this was merely a different way to move a toolhead around build plate. We haven’t really seen a true polar coordinate 3D printer, except for [Tyler Anderson]‘s incredible Theta printer.

[Tyler]‘s theta printer is designed to print in as many different materials as possible, without the reduction in build volume that comes with multiple toolheads on more traditional printers. It will be able to lay down different colors of plastic in a huge build volume, and even some of the weirder filaments out there, all in a single print.

The theta printer is based on a polar coordinate system, meaning instead of moving a hot end around in the X and Y axes, the build plate rotates in a circle, and the extruders move along the radius of the circle. This spinning, polar coordinate printer is the best way we’ve seen to put multiple extruders on a printer, and has the added bonus of being a great platform for a 3D scanner as well.

With four extruders, four motors to control the position of each extruder, a rotation motor, and the Z axis (that’s 10 steppers if you’re counting), this is very likely the greatest number of motors ever put in a 3D printer. Most electronics boards don’t support that many stepper drivers, and the one that will won’t be ready for the end of The Hackaday Prize. Right now, [Tyler] is running a fairly standard RAMPS board, running two extruders and R axes in parallel. Still, it’s good enough for a proof of concept.

One interesting aspect of [Tyler]‘s design is something even he might not have realized yet: with a single bed and four extruders, he’s effectively made a 3D printer geared for high-volume production; simply by printing the same part with all the extruders, he’s able to quadruple the output of a 3D printer with the same floor space as a normal one. This may not sound like much, but when you realize Lulzbot has a bot farm producing all their parts, the Theta printer starts to look like a very, very good idea.

Videos of [Tyler]‘s Theta below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

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THP Semifinalst: Laser Solder Paste


A relative latecomer to The Hackaday Prize, [AltMarcxs] has nevertheless come up with a very interesting tool for fabrication, the likes of which no one has ever seen before. It’s a rotating laser soldering paste applicator, meant to be an add-on to a CNC machine. What does it do? RIght now it looks extremely cool while being an immense time sink for [AltMarcxs], but the potential is there for being much more than that, ranging from a pick and place machine that also dispenses solder paste, to the closest thing you’ll ever get to a carbon fiber printer.

[AltMarcxs]‘s build consists of two 3W laser diodes focused just beyond the tip of the syringe. The syringe dispenses solder paste, and rotating the diodes around, [Alt] is able to put a melted solder blob anywhere on a piece of perfboard. He put up a reasonably well focused video demonstrating this.

With a few homebrew pick and place machines making the semifinalist cut for The Hackaday Prize, it’s easy to see the utility of something like this: Putting a board in a machine, pressing a button, and waiting a bit for a completely populated and soldered board is a dream of the electronic hobbyist rivaled only by a cheap and easy way to make PCBs at home. [AltMarxcs]‘s machine could be one step on the way to this, but there are a few other ideas he’d like to explore first.

The build also has wire feeders that allow a bit of copper wire to be soldered to the newly formed metal blob. There are plans to replace this with a composite fiber, replace the paste in the syringe with a UV resin, cut the fiber and cure the resin with the laser, and build something much better than other carbon fiber 3D printers we’ve seen before.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize. 

50 Semifinalists Selected for Next Stage of The Hackaday Prize


Who cares about Open Design and building the next generation of Connected Devices? It turns out a lot of people do!

The Hackaday Prize put out the call for Open, Connected design ideas and around 800 projects were posted over the last few months to answer that call. The cutoff for documenting your concept and making entry to the contest was just before midnight last Wednesday. Since then our crew has been going through the entries to select 50 to move on as Semifinalists. Here’s who made the cut:

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The Hackaday Prize: Unofficial Statistics

Hackaday Prize entries over time. You people really know how to procrastinate. Click to embiggen.

Hackaday Prize entries over time. You people really know how to procrastinate. Click to embiggen.

What is the Hackaday crew doing this weekend? Judging Hackaday Prize entries, of course! We need to pare down the hundreds of entries we received to 50 primo entries for the quarterfinals round. We’re going to be slammed the entire weekend, so don’t expect any news on who’s in and who’s out of the competition until Monday.

Each of us has about 15 hours of video to go through (multiply the number of entries by two minutes. It’s a lot), and of course we need to read each entry and rate them. We’re literally looking at more than a man-month of work here, and yes, we’ve all read the book.

Until then, here’s some totally unofficial statistics, courtesy of [Greg Kennedy] and his web scraping skills. The graph above shows the number of Hackday Prize entries over time, from the first announcement of the contest to the cutoff time. You people really, really like to procrastinate. The day with the most entries was August 20th, the deadline to get your project in. The day with the most validated entries (i.e. meeting the requirements of a video and four project logs) was August 19th. Needless to say, it’s been a busy week on

As a side note, the rules for THP say you must upload a video to qualify for the quarterfinals. This video may be uploaded to YouTube or Youku. Only one project uploaded a video to Youku. Now you know what to do next time to get some free publicity.

It’s highly unlikely we’re going to publish this many official stats, especially now that [Greg] has it pretty much covered. We’ll get the list of all the quarterfinalists out on Monday. Until then you can entertain yourself by watching nearly 15 hours of Hackaday Prize entry videos, all embedded below.

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12 Hours of Hacking

arrow-down-rightIf you’re better working under a deadline you should be at your best RIGHT NOW. That timer is counting down the last 12 hours to enter The Hackaday Prize.

The ChipWhisperer At Defcon

We’ve seen [Colin]‘s entry to The Hackaday Prize before. After seeing his lightning talk at Defcon, we had to get an interview with him going over the intricacies of this very impressive piece of hardware.

The ChipWhisperer is a security and research platform for embedded devices that exploits the fact that all security measures must run on real hardware. If you glitch a clock when a microcontroller is processing an instruction, there’s a good probability something will go wrong. If you’re very good at what you do, you can simply route around the code that makes up the important bits of a security system. Power analysis is another trick up the ChipWhisperer’s sleeve, analyzing the power consumption of a microcontroller when it’s running a bit of code to glean a little information on the keys required to access the system. It’s black magic and dark arts, but it does work, and it’s a real threat to embedded security that hasn’t had an open source toolset before now.

Before our interview, [Colin] did a few short and sweet demos of the ChipWhisperer. They were extraordinarily simple demos; glitching the clock when a microcontroller was iterating through nested loops resulted in what can only be described as ‘counter weirdness’. More advanced applications of the ChipWhisperer can supposedly break perfectly implemented security, something we’re sure [Colin] is saving for a followup video.

You can check out [Colin]‘s 2-minute video for his Hackaday Prize entry below.

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The Remaining Hours Are More than Enough to Get in the Game

thp-time-leftWhether you’re just finding out now or are a procrastination ninja, it is not too late to give yourself a shot at winning that trip to space. The Hackaday Prize is really just getting started. At 11:50pm Wednesday night ( that’s PDT on 8/20/14, or 06:50 GMT on Aug 21) we close the entry window and the build phases will begin. That’s right, you don’t actually need to have any hardware done, you only need to document your idea and how you’re going to get there.

Close your eyes and assemble your vision of a connected device. Now open them and start typing. You need to share your overall idea and how you’re going to get there. Draw out a basic system design, and film a video of 2 minutes or less that explains it all. Think this sounds like a lot? You’re wrong… I did it in only a few minutes.

When will you have such a great opportunity to win something awesome and secure the adoration of the hacking masses? Enter now and have no regrets!


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