SketchUp adds dynamic components

Google just announced the release of SketchUp 7. SketchUp is a 3D modeling program with a fairly robust free version. They’ve added quite a few features and the one that caught our eye in particular was dynamic components. Dynamic components have behavior specific to the object. The example in the video above shows a staircase changing the number of steps as its height is increased instead of distorting the overall staircase shape. The new version also allows for interaction, so model properties change based on user actions.

Google has always encouraged sharing of objects created in SketchUp. Thingiverse launched today with a similar emphasis. The site is built to encourage the exchange of plans for physical objects. It supports many different file types from plain images, AutoCAD dxfs to Eagle schematics. Many of the designs already posted are made to be cut out by a laser cutter or built by a 3D printer.

[via Make]

Dean Kamen’s Stirling engine car

kamen_car

[Dean Kamen]‘s company, the people behind the Segway, have created a hybrid car that uses a Stirling engine instead of a standard internal combustion engine. Stirling engines are closed cycle, meaning heat is applied to the outside of the cylinder walls. They are generally more efficient than standard car engines, but haven’t been used much outside of industrial applications. We suspect that the drivetrain arrangement is similar to the Chevy Volt where the engine is used to charge batteries which are in turn driving an electric motor. This is different from modern hybrids that can have either electric motor or gas engine driving the wheels. The article is unfortunately full of classic [Kamen] hyperbole and minimal detail. He calls the Stirling engine “an insurance policy” for the electric car since it can recharge the battery. That’s right, folks. If you run out of juice, you can put gas in the car. I doubt many Prius owners will fall out of their chair over that. Being a Stirling engine, we’d be more impressed if you could charge the thing by rubbing warm toast on it.

[via Make]

A very power suit Halloween


We spent our Halloween dressed as an irate traveler as we flew cross country, but it looks like a lot of people were having much more fun. [flaming_pele!]‘s Aliens power loader is one of the best costumes we’ve seen yet. He built it by referencing a 1/12th model kit and a lot of photos. The final costume is about 80% full size which gets it under their 8 foot ceilings. There’s a video of the suit embedded below. Our love of power suits was documented fairly well in our roundup post this summer. Make found two other related costumes: a Star Wars AT-ST and a generic mech constructed from packing foam. Did any of you dress as something truly nerdy for Halloween? [Read more...]

Maker Faire Austin is this weekend

Maker Faire Austin is happening this weekend, October 18 & 19, 2008 at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin, TX. Maker Faire is a showcase of all things DIY. You’ll see robots, sculptures, live performances, and other wonders including many of the projects we cover here every day. We enjoyed our time in San Mateo earlier this year and the show keeps getting better and better. You can see photos from previous events on Flickr. If you’ve got a chance to go, take it.

NES controller connectors for sale

If you weren’t looking forward to trying to find a NES Four Score just to rip connectors out of it or were reluctant to cut the ends off your NES controllers and use different connectors for your NES hack, you’re in luck. Parallax has released an NES controller connector (7-pin, male) that is compatible with the Nintendo controller. They also provide the socket pinout. It’s interesting to see a product like this come out so long after the original console, a testament to the popularity.

[via Make]

Peek email reader teardown

[morcheeba], who you should remember from CVS camera hacking, picked up a Peek and took some pictures while tearing it down. The Peek is a $100 QWERTY device with a simple OS designed only to check email. The device is being sold by T-Mobile with a $19.95/mo data plan. There’s nothing too spectacular to see other than 16MB of flash memory and a TI OMAP processor.

[via Make]

SparkFun Arduino Pro


SparkFun’s new Arduino Pro is an updated version of their Skinny. The board comes populated with the running gear of an Arduino, but without all of the connectors in place. It’s targeted at people building integrated systems around the Arduino and not just prototyping. The board is 3.3V with an 8MHz bootloader just like the LilyPads and is fully certified by Arduino. It has a small side mounted power switch, but you have to supply your own DC jack (if you need it). There is no USB hardware on board and you’re expected to program it via an FTDI breakout board or cable. We definitely like the stripped down approach, but it would have been nice if the price had dropped more.

[via Make]