Caramelizing Sugar With a Laser

If you happen to have access to a laser cutter, you’re bound to try cutting or engraving something it wasn’t designed for. We know we have. [Bonnie] and her friend [Brenda] decided to try something new — caramelizing sugar with a laser.

Laser SugarAt their local hackerspace, NYC Resistor, they brought in some chocolate squares and colored sugar and started tinkering with the laser. It’s a 60W CO2 laser by Epilog. After testing a few different options they ended up with the following setting for optimum sugar caramelizing with only one pass:

Speed 100
Power 30
DPI 300

By spreading a thin layer of sugar over top of the chocolate, you can effectively melt and bond the sugar to the chocolate — we suspect playing with the laser focus will also help you fine tune the process for your own confections.

You could just etch the chocolate with the laser as well — but that’s not quite as cool. Perhaps try to up your sushi game, why not laser engrave seaweed before rolling? Or make the perfect laser-cut gingerbread house thanks to designing it in CAD?

The story of Mr. Stabby

Mr. Stabby was once a broken down bum, sitting on the curb, waiting for an eternity in the city dump. Luckily, someone found him and brought him to the NYC Resistor hacker group. They promptly performed some modifications and brought him back to life.

He’s now a happy go lucky stab-bot with a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step. His repitoir includes gouging, slashing, and of course stabbing. He can be controlled via a cell phone and has a nifty voice interface.

The video above is from when Mr. Stabby was runner up at the tech crunch hackday.

Wearable XBee Morse code keyer


NYC Resistor hosted a wearable wireless workshop today. It was taught by [Rob Faludi] and [Kate Hartman]. They brought along their recently released LilyPad XBee breakout boards. The goal of the class was to use the digital radios to build wireless communication gloves. Above, you can see the conductive thread sewn into the fingertips to key the device. The signal is transmitted to the other glove, which flashes an indicator LED so you can communicate using Morse code.

NYC Soldering Championships tonight

The NYC Soldering Championships are happening tonight at Ignite in M1-5. It looks like there might still be some slots open if you want to compete. You can bring your own iron, it’s all through-hole, but you can’t use helping hands. Good luck, and we can’t wait to see how this inaugural event turns out!

[photo: Nick Bilton]

RGB LED cylinder

[Dave Clausen] from NYC Resistor sent in his open source RGB LED cylinder. We have seen many cubes in the past (even one that display low-res 3D video) so a cylinder is certainly a new concept and the RGB LEDs are a nice upgrade. The LEDs are wired in a 5-way multiplexed grid using four TLC5940NTs (16 channel LED drivers with internal PWM hardware) so each light is individually addressable. The best thing about this project, of course, is that he has source and EAGLE schematics availbale for download and both are licensed under Creative Commons.

[via NYC Resistor]

Dancing Wall-E and Rhythmic Synth

Whether you loved, hated, or didn’t see Wall-E, it’s hard not to fall in love with the iDance Wall-E toy. Connect him to an audio source and Wall-E will dance around like an epileptic Billy Bass.

[Gian Pablo Villamil] at NYC Resistor wondered whether it would work with his custom made Rhythmic Synth, and to his and our delight, it does! The Rhythmic Synth is an older project of his; it is a simple rhythm generator with 4 pitch knobs, 4 modulation knobs, and 4 phase switches. The case was taken from an old external Iomega CD-ROM drive.

Getting the Wall-E to dance isn’t much of a feat, but something about the dancing combined with a synth with embedded lights just screams robot dance party, and that can never be wrong. We’d love to see the Wall-E dancing to a cleaner, more complete synth: maybe this one. Check out Wall-E busting a move after the break.

Continue reading “Dancing Wall-E and Rhythmic Synth”