DIY Optical Sensor Breakout Board makes DIY Optical Mouse

Wanting to experiment with using optical mouse sensors but a bit frustrated with the lack of options, [Tom Wiggins] rolled his own breakout board for the ADNS 3050 optical mouse sensor and in the process of developing it used it to make his own 3D-printed optical mouse. Optical mouse sensors are essentially self-contained cameras that track movement and make it available to a host. To work properly, the sensor needs a lens assembly and appropriate illumination, both of which mate to a specialized bracket along with the sensor. [Tom] found a replacement for the original ADNS LED but still couldn’t find the sensor bracket anywhere, so he designed his own.

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The Potowitzer: A Rapid Fire Potato Cannon

If you’ve ever fired a potato cannon, you’ll know that they are a raucous good time, but are somewhat clumsy to reload after each shot. Seeing an opportunity to improve on the design and minimize the delay between launches, [Danger First] have concocted a fast reloading potato cannon — or should I say — Potowitzer.

The key here is that they’ve gone through the extra effort of designing and building honest-to-goodness artillery rounds for their Potowitzer’s manual breech-loading mechanism. Foregoing the inconsistency of potatoes, they’ve 3D printed a bevy of bullets and sealed them with propane gas into PVC pipe cartridges. Metal contacts around the base to carry current from a BBQ lighter to the inside of the cartridge to ignite the propellant. Seeing it fire at about 18 rounds per minute is something special.

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Easy UFO Lights on your Drone for Halloween

Sometimes it’s not so much what you put together, it’s how you use it. The folks at Adafruit have put up a project on how to dress up your drone with ‘UFO lights’ just in time for Halloween. The project is a ring of RGB LEDs and a small microcontroller to give any quadcopter a spinning ‘tractor beam light’ effect. A 3D printed fixture handles attachment. If you’re using a DJI Phantom 4 like they are, you can power everything directly from the drone using a short USB cable, which means hardly any wiring work at all, and no permanent changes of any kind to the aircraft. Otherwise, you’re on your own for providing power but that’s probably well within the capabilities of anyone who messes with add-ons to hobby aircraft.

One thing this project demonstrates is how far things have come with regards to accessibility of parts and tools. A 3D printed fixture, an off-the-shelf RGB LED ring, and a drop-in software library for a small microcontroller makes this an afternoon project. The video (embedded below) also demonstrates how some unfamiliar lights and some darkness goes a long way toward turning the otherwise familiar Phantom quadcopter into a literal Unidentified Flying Object.

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Monstrous Suit of Power Armor 3D Printed over 140 Days

fallout-armour-3d-printed-no-helmet[hirocreations] printed an entire suit of enormous Fallout power armor on his Monoprice Maker Select 3D printer, which took some 140 days and over 120 pounds of IC3D PLA filament. Happily, [hirocreations] was able to arrange a sponsorship with IC3D for the build – who would be crazy enough to use so much filament over so long for an entire 7+ foot tall suit, right? Over those 140 days, the belts on the printer needed to be replaced twice but it otherwise chugged right along.

Most of the parts were printed at 0.46 mm layer height. Individual parts were welded (melted) together using what is essentially a soldering iron with a flat tip; many parts were too thin for any kind of joints or fixtures to be practical. Parts were smoothed with drywall spackle, lots of filler primer, and painted. Some of the parts – like the chest armor – are mounted on a frame made from PVC tubing. [hirocreations] may have gone through 120 pounds of filament, but the end result doesn’t weigh that much; the suit itself weighs in at 85-90 lbs, the rest of it went to support material, skirts, and print failures.

It was known from the start that weight could become a serious issue, so [hirocreations] went for a very light infill (10%) and 3-4 perimeter layers; he also extruded at a high temperature (~230C) which he said seemed to provide a very strong layer bond with the settings and filament he was using. So far, he says it’s taken some very hard knocks and nothing has broken or cracked. He has a short video series documenting the assembly, and you can see some of the raw armor parts before any finishing in one of the videos, embedded below.

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3D Printed Nozzles Turbocharge Microsphere Production

Researchers at MIT have used 3D printing to open the door to low-cost, scalable, and consistent generation of microencapsulated particles, at a fraction of the time and cost usually required. Microencapsulation is the process of encasing particles of one material (a core) within another material (a shell) and has applications in pharmaceuticals, self-healing materials, and dye-based solar cells, among others. But the main problem with the process was that it was that it was slow and didn’t scale, and it was therefore expensive and limited to high-value applications only. With some smart design and stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing, that changed. The researchers are not 3D printing these just because they can; they are printing the arrays because it’s the only way they can be made.

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LED Bulb-shade Cityscapes

Cost-effective LED lighting for your home has opened up many doors for more efficient living, but also some more creative illumination for your living space. If you want to bring the dazzle of city lights right into your home, [David Grass] has two projects to sate this desire in perhaps the most literal way possible: Huddle and Stalaclights.

These clever, 3D printed bulbshades are possible since LEDs emit very little heat, and can be printed in a variety of designs. Huddle is named for — and illustrates — humanity’s coalescing into cities as the centre of modern life from which most of our information and technology emits. Stalaclights offers an inverted perspective on the straining heights of skyscrapers and is inspired by the Art Deco era and the expansion of cities like New York and Chicago.

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3D Print Your Garden

How would you go about sculpting a garden in the 21st century? One answer, perhaps predictably, is with a 3D printer. Gone are the days of the Chia pet. Thanks to a team of students out of University of Maribor in Slovenia, today we can 3D print living sculptures of our own design.

PrintGREEN traces its roots to an art project undertaken by Maja Petek, Tina Zidanšek, Urška Skaza, Danica Rženičnik, and Simon Tržan — an engineering student who worked on the project’s 3D printer — all mentored by professor Dušan Zidar. It uses a modified CNC machine to print layers of clay soil, water, and grass seeds that germinate and sprout in short order.

The goal of the project was to meld art, technology, and nature. Hard to argue with the results. With the rising necessity of  environmentally-conscious technologies in all areas, even gardening it seems, is not lacking for innovation.

If you’re looking to implement some more tech into your gardening, check out this homemade watering controller, as well as some space-saving solutions for urban gardening.