Hope it’s real: 3D Printing Houses with Bricks

You’ve just got to go with the hype on this one, because it’s obviously not ready for prime time yet. But a few days ago murmurs started circling the net that an Australian inventor had developed a robot capable of building complicated structure from brick all by itself.

bricklaying-robotBefore you go off your rocker… we’re definitely not calling this real. It’s a proof of concept at best, but that doesn’t prevent us from getting excited. How long have you been waiting for robots that can build entire structures on our behalf? We were excited at the prospect of extruding walls of concrete. But this is more like LEGO buildings in the real world. The beast cuts brick to length, conveys each brick along the telescoping arm, and butters them as it lays them in place. At least that’s what the rendered video after the break shows.

We’re hearing about this now because FastBrick Robotics, the company [Mark Pivac] founded and has spent ten years developing the Hadrian project at, was just sold to a company called DMY Capital Limited. Of course they’re going to want to get some press out of the sale.

There is an image of the brick feeder on an existing excavator that frankly looks photoshopped. And some real images like the one seen here and another of the “print head” holding some bricks. But it’s enough to think there’s potential here.

The idea is that the base of the robot is fixed with the arm long enough to reach any part of the structure being built. Precise positioning is achieved by a fixed marker in a different position from the robot. The head triangulates its position using laser range-finding with the marker (having said that we now assume there needs to be more than one marker).

So what do you think? Are we ever going to see this incredibly complicated bucket of awesome producing structures in our neighborhood which the Big Bad Wolf simply cannot blow down?

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Building Things with Lean Pipe

Sometimes you just want to build something quickly and easily. Maybe you just need a basic structure for your actual project, or perhaps you want to be able to easily modify the design. Maybe you don’t have access to many fancy tools to build a solid, lightweight structure. Another possibility is that you want to be able to break down your structure and move it at a later date. In cases like these, you might want to consider using lean pipe.

Lean pipe is kind of like K’NEX for adults. It’s made up of metal pipe and specialized fittings. If you’ve ever worked with PVC pipe before then this may sound familiar. The difference is lean pipe is stronger and designed specifically for building sturdy structures. The fixtures designed for use with lean pipe are much easier to work with than PVC pipe. With PVC pipe, it seems like you never have the exact right fitting and you have to build your own adapters, quickly increasing the cost of the design.

A typical lean pipe fitting will either slide over the end of a section of pipe, or wrap around it somewhere in the middle. An adjustment screw can then be tightened to clamp the fitting in place around the sections of pipe. The video below does a good job demonstrating the different possibilities with fittings. The primary issue with this material is that you might not be able to find it at your local hardware store. Luckily, a quick Internet search will turn up a number of online purchasing options.

So what can you build with this stuff? Cody has been building himself computer desks with an industrial look. He first starts out with the frame design. This is the part that’s made from the lean pipe. Once the frame is completed he just needs to work on the wood surfaces. All he really needs to do is cut the wood to shape and then finish it to look nice. It then lays in place and can be bolted down for extra security. Continue reading “Building Things with Lean Pipe”

Giant Space Invaders with road barriers and no moving parts

This is space invaders on the large-scale. To give you an idea of just how big this is, that’s a street lamp to the left. It’s being played on the side of a building, but it’s not really done the easy way. We’ve seen gaming on the sides of buildings by using projectors, but this one is more like a classic LCD handheld game… just really really big.

Each of the game pieces is hung in place on a black backdrop. The invaders themselves are molded-plastic road construction barricades. The shield area on the bottom is made op of center-lane dividers. All of the pieces are wired with lights that can be addressed by a central controller. As you can see after the break, just one button gets the action under way.

This is along the same line as the Christmas Light game we saw several years back. If you’ve got some extra strings of lights and don’t mind building a controller we think you should add a little fun to the neighborhood with your own giant installation. Just don’t forget to send in some pictures.

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[Aaron] shows us what life would be like if [Bob Vila] started hacking headphones

construction-headphones

[Aaron Horeth] had a pair of headphones that had seen better days, and before he tossed them out, he realized that he could use them to build a set of custom cans. He had always wanted a pair of headphones with a detachable cord to prevent damage when tripped over, and thought that his old set would be the perfect donor.

He swung by his local hardware store to peruse their collection of construction earmuffs, eventually finding a set that looked decent and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Using construction earmuffs as the framework for his headphones gave him the durability he was looking for with the added bonus of being designed to deaden extraneous noise. Once he got them home he pulled the drivers from his old set of headphones installing them into the earmuffs, but not before he wired them up to support a breakaway input cable.

There’s no doubt that the modifications are simple, but we imagine they come in pretty handy when tinkering around the shop.

BAMF2011: Bloxes, a building kit with a nifty pedigree

Not every cool hack needs to involve microcontrollers, LEDs or other bling. We were initially drawn to the Bloxes display simply because we love a good multipurpose construction set, whether it be Lego, 80/20 aluminum, or in this case, a system of interlocking cubes formed from six identical pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut and scored in such a manner as to form a surprisingly sturdy little building block. They can become simple furniture, groovy Logan’s Run-style room decor, or the all-important kids’ forts…then later dismantled and made into something else.

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Humble Homes, Simple Shacks

[Derek] puts the “hack” into the word shack.  We really enjoyed his “little yellow house” videos and shared them with you. After that, we discovered that he has published a book. No, he didn’t have it published, he published it. This guy is DIY through and through. “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts (And Whatever The Heck Else We Could Squeeze In Here)” was hand produced by [Derek] himself.  It includes plans for a number of different shacks, ranging in size from too tiny for an adult to large enough to house a family. Not all of them are completely practical, but there are several that would make perfect workshops.

We got a copy of the book and have been getting lost in the seemingly endless illustrations. We highly recommend that you do so as well, if you have any interest in building from scrap, or unique structures. Even if you aren’t that interested in construction, the eclectic style and humorous rants about waste might just be enough to keep this book around.