Hackaday Links: October 12, 2014


Remember in the late 90s and early 2000s when everything had blue LEDs in them? Blinding blue LEDs that lit up a dark room like a Christmas tree? Nobel prize. There’s a good /r/askscience thread on why this is so important. The TL;DR is that it’s tough to put a p-type layer on gallium nitride.

Have a Segway and you’re a member of the 501st? Here’s your Halloween costume. It’s a model of the Aratech 74-Z speeder bike, most famously seen careening into the side of trees on the forest moon of Endor.

[Andrew] needed something to do and machined an iPhone 5 out of a block of aluminum. Here’s the video of icon labels being engraved. The machine is a Denford Triac with a six station auto tool changer. He’s running Mach3, and according to him everything – including the correct tooling – cost far too much money.

Another [Andrew] was working the LEGO booth at Maker Faire New York and has finally gotten his LEGO Mindstorms Minecraft Creeper build written up. Yes, it’s probably smarter than your average Minecraft Creeper, and this one also blows up. He also had a physical version of the classic video game from 1979, Lunar Lander. Both are extremely awesome builds, and a great way to attract kids of all ages to a booth.

titanium[Wilfred] was testing a titanium 3D printer at work and was looking for something to print. The skull ‘n wrenches was a suitable candidate, and the results are fantastic. From [Wilfred]: “Just out of the printer the logo looks amazing because it isn’t oxidized yet (inside the printer is an Argon atmosphere) Then the logo moves to an oven to anneal the stress made by the laser. But then it gets brown and ugly. After sandblasting we get a lovely bluish color as you can see in the last picture.”

The folks at Lulzbot/Aleph Objects are experimenting with their yet-to-be-released printer, codenamed ‘Begonia’. They’re 2D printing, strangely enough, and for only using a standard Bic pen, the results look great.

Everyone is going crazy over the ESP8266 UART to WiFi module. There’s another module that came up on Seeed recently, the EMW3162. It’s an ARM Cortex M3 with plenty of Flash, has 802.11 b/g/n, and it’s $8.50 USD. Out of stock, of course.

Lulzbot & Lime Green Begonias

Lulzbot, or more specifically Aleph Objects, had a booth at Maker Faire this year, and unlike a lot of other 3D printer manufacturers they’re not afraid to show off what they currently have in development. The latest is code-named Begonia, although when it makes it to production it will probably be called the Lulzbot Mini. It’s a smaller version of their huge Taz 3D printer that trades build volume for a lower price.

The Lulzbot Mini will have a 6x6x6 inch build volume, heated bed, and all the other features you would expect in its larger counterpart. One interesting feature is automated nozzle cleaning and bed leveling. At the start of every print run, the nozzle runs over a small felt pad at the back of the build plate, touches off four metal washers at each corner, and recalculates the GCode for a level print. You can check out a demo of that in the video above.

Also in the works in the Lulzbot labs is a controller panel with an SD card, display, and (I think) a touch interface. Lulzbot didn’t have a demo of this, but rest assured, we’ll post something on that when it’s released. The last time we saw Lulzbot we heard of a 3D scanner project they’re working on that will turn any physical object into an .STL file, without having to mess about in Meshlab. Development on this project is stalled, but that is a very difficult problem. Can’t fault them for that.

Oh, the price for the unannounced Lulzbot Mini? Somewhere around $1300-1400.

A 3D Printed Peristaltic Pump

A 3D printed peristaltic pump with tubing


After getting access to a Lulzbot 3D printer, [Tim] designed a 3D printable peristaltic pump. The design was done in OpenSCAD, which makes it parametric and easy to modify.

Peristaltic pumps work by squeezing a length of tubing to push fluids. This mechanism is similar to how your intestines work. The pump provides an isolated fluid path, which is why they’re commonly used in medical and food grade applications. Like many products in the medical space, these pumps tend to be rather expensive. Being able to print one for your own projects could save quite a bit of cost.

The pump is based on [emmett]‘s gear bearing design. One nice thing about this design is that it is printed preassembled. Pop it out of the printer, add some tubing, and you’re ready to pump fluids.

On top of the isolated fluid path, this pump gives accurate volume measurement. For that reason, we can imagine it moving booze for a robotic bartender build. After the break, a video of the pump moving some fluid.

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MRRF: Stuff From Lulzbot


A lot of the big names in 3D printers were at the Midwest RepRap festival showing off their wares, and one of the biggest was Lulzbot with their fabulous Taz 3 printer. This year, they were showing off a new filament, a new extruder, and tipping us off to a very cool project they’re working on.

The new products Lulzbot is carrying are Ninjaflex filament and the extruder to go with it. Ninjaflex is the stretchiest filament we’ve ever seen, with the feel of a slightly hard silicone rubber. Straight off the spool, the filament will stretch to a little less than twice its original length, and in solid, printed form its a hard yet squishy material that would be perfect for remote control tank treads, toys, and 3D printed resin molds. With all the abuse the sample parts received over the weekend, we’re going to call Ninjaflex effectively indestructible, so long as you don’t try to pull the layers apart.

Also from Lulzbot is word on the new 3D scanner they’re working on. The hardware isn’t finalized yet, but the future device will use a webcam, laser, and turntable to scan an object and turn it directly into an .STL file. Yes, that means there won’t be any point clouds or messing about with Meshlab. Lulzperson [Aeva] is working on the software that subtracts an object from its background and turns it into voxels. The scanner will be low-cost and open source, meaning no matter what the volume of the scanner will be, someone will eventually build a person-sized 3D scanner with the same software.

Videos of [Aeva] below showing off the new stuff and talking about the scanner.

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Get Your Hackerspace A 3D Printer


LulzBot is yet again giving away a few of their very fancy and well-reviewed 3D printers away to a few hackerspaces.

This isn’t the first time LulzBot has given away a few of their printers; a year and a half ago, they gave away eight AO-100 printers and they also donated one to our ‘ol buddy [Caleb] for TheControllerProject, a forum to connect disabled gamers to people who have the means and ability to make custom gaming controllers.

The rules for this giveaway are simple: Be a hackerspace, and display, “creativity and contributions to the free software and open hardware community.” It’s as simple as that. If you’re a hackerspace without a 3D printer – which would be somewhat astounding at this point – here’s your chance to get one of the best 3D printers around.

The contest will be open starting March 1 and ends on March 14, with entry requiring a hackerspace fill out a form somewhere on the LulzBot servers.

3D Printing With Metal… At Home!

3d printing metal

[Bam] from the LulzBot forums  has successfully printed metal using his 3D printer and a Budaschnozzle 1.1 hot end. Well, solder to be specific — but it’s still pretty awesome!

He’s making use of 3mm solder purchased from McMaster (76805a61), which has a blend of 95.8% tin, 4% copper and 0.2% silver. It took quite a few tries to get it extruding properly, and even now it seems to only be able to print about 15mm before jamming up — a more specific hot end with a larger thermal mass might help. He plans on trying a thinner filament (1.75mm) as it might help to keep it at the proper extrusion temperature, which in this case is around 235C.

During our research we found another user from the RepRap blog who has also been experimenting with printing low-melt point alloys — and he’s even successfully created an Arduino compatible Sanguino board using the printer!

If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need a nozzle you don’t care about, bored out to about 1mm — any smaller and it won’t extrude at all. Be warned though, the solder will corrode brass and aluminum, and [Bam] notes that after going through 1lb of solder, the nozzle was closer to 2mm in diameter when he was done! Oh and for the love of hacking — use ventilation!

Stick around after the break to watch a video on a professional version of this system — which is essentially a repurposed welding robot, using electron beam direct manufacturing. These technologies can’t make nicely finished parts, but they excel when considering they can make near net-weight parts, requiring only a small amount of machining to finish.

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3D printing some sweet music


If you don’t mind ending up with oddly shaped 3D printed parts you can get your printer to sing to you. The exhibit shown above is doing just that. The Lulzbot is being driven specifically to produce a certain frequency of sound with its stepper motors. The results of a few different songs are what’s hanging on the wall to the right. You can hear it printing Bizet’s Carmen in the clip after the break.

[Rickard Dahlstrand] hacked together a Python script capable of parsing a MIDI file and outputting a G-code equivalent that will produce the frequencies and durations necessary to hear the audio on a stepper motor. As we mentioned, he uses a Lulzbot but the script appears to include setting for Cupcake, Thingomatic, Shapercube, and Ultimaker. The parser script as well as the example G-code files for a library of classical music can be downloaded from his repository.

Now if you’re looking for some other crazy CNC music ideas you can’t beat this wineglass music hack.

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