Fabricating your own backpack straps for unorthodox uses

Back in the 1980′s there was a movie cliché that the person with the largest boombox on their shoulder was always the coolest. It’s obvious to us that [Tim Gremalm] thinks that’s silly. Why be uncomfortable carrying something like that on your shoulder when you can strap a much larger object to your back? He’s working on a mammoth speaker enclosure which can be carried around, but he needed a set of backpack straps to make it happen.

This thing is going to be adding some serious weight to his body, so he also whipped up the padded waist belt seen above. For fabric he reused an Ikea couch cover. The material is made to survive a lot of pulling and stretching. For padding he used what he calls ‘floor mop’. It looks like it might be microfiber mop cloth be we can’t really be sure. With ten layers of the mop encased in the couch cover he finish off each strap by sewing it to some nylon webbing.

After the break you can see a picture of [Tim] modelling the huge polycarbonate speaker enclosure for which these backpack and waist straps were made. This project has many posts associated with it so if you’re interested in seeing more you can use this project tag link.

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3D printing with Nylon for a more useful objects

[taulman] over on Instructables has been working on his own version of a 3D printer. Unlike the usual PLA or ABS filament all the RepRaps and Makerbots use, this printer uses nylon to make parts with very interesting properties.

Most extrusion printers are designed to print with ABS (a very hard plastic that melts around 220-230° C) or PLA (a somewhat softer plastic that melts at about 180° C). [taulman] is using Nylon 6, a very slippery and bendable plastic that melts around 320° C (about 600 degrees Fahrenheit). He’s doing this with a hot end of his own design and a ‘spiky’ extruder bolt that allows high-temperature thermoplastics to be extruded into any shape imaginable.

For the longest time, the 3D printer community has been using low-temperature thermoplastics such as PLA and ABS. There are obvious benefits to these materials: it’s pretty easy to source a spool of filament, and the low melting point of these plastics makes building a printer easier and safer. Now that [taulman] has the high-temperature plastic nut cracked, he’s moving on to easily-machiniable Delrin and transparent Polycarbonate. Very cool, and hopefully in a year’s time we’ll have a choice of what material to run in our printers.

After the break, there are a few videos [taulman] put up showing his printer at work and the properties of his 3D printed objects. It looks like [taulman] can print objects that are impossible on any other 3D printer we’ve seen; the flexible iPhone case probably couldn’t be made on any other DIY machine.

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Share a light-up LED heart with your valentine

It’s not roses or jewelry, but we hope [Erik]‘s light-up USB heart will be appreciated by his significant other. When the two heart pieces come in contact with each other, each side lights up.

[Erik] started his build by cutting two half-heart shaped pieces out of polycarbonate. After drilling a few holes for LEDs and wires, magnets and reed switches were installed along the ‘broken’ side of the heart. Whenever the hearts come in contact with each other, the magnets trip the reed switches and light up both sides of the heart.

There is USB flash drive embedded in each heart half is loaded with a portable Dropbox. When the USB drive is plugged into a computer, the dropbox steps into action and synchronizes the photo album stored in each heart half. No matter how far apart they are, [Erik] and his SO can share pictures through their glowing LED hearts. Not to come off as a hopeless romantic, but this sounds like something we’d like for Valentine’s day. We’re hoping [Erik]‘s SO thinks that as well.

Printing with clear polycarbonate

Those of us with 3D printers have had two major choices when selecting a material to print with – ABS, a very hard plastic, and PLA, a more brittle plastic with a lower melting point. [Alex] and [Luke] have been experimenting with printing polycarbonate and creating clear crystalline objects on a standard 3D printer.

The first foray into printing polycarbonate didn’t go so well for [Luke]. Objects came out looking very milky and there was a bit of popping during filament extrusion. The guys solved this problem by putting the polycarbonate filament in a food dehydrator overnight to get rid of the moisture. Polycarbonate has a higher melting temperature than other plastics – around 260 degrees Celsius – which can cause some problems with Teflon insulators in the hot ends of extruders. The guys didn’t have any problems with fumes, though.

If you’ve ever wanted to print something clear, it looks like it’s now possible. Check out the video after the break to see a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic printing with clear polycarbonate.

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Using polycarbonate filament with a RepRap

[Rich] couldn’t find any instances where RepRap owners had used polycarbonate as a 3D printing source material. He’s filled that knowledge gap by running multiple polycarbonate printing tests. Polycarbonate is a plastic that is highly resistant to shattering yet it’s still rather soft. With enough effort it can be bent and stretched, but it’s fairly difficult to break the material.

The test spool of polycarbonate was special ordered for this project. [Rich] sourced 1.6mm filament since 3mm material would have been difficult to spool. It melts at a temperature range of 280-300 degrees Celsius, which he reaches with a hot-end extruder design. The printed material comes out a bit cloudy, which may be due to the heating process itself, or due to extruder reversals (he’s not quite sure what’s causing it). But as you can see above and in the video after the break, it’s certainly a viable printing medium.

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Blade Runner umbrella saber

Here’s a Blade Runner umbrella build that is done just a little bit too right. It delivers a double-dose of geekery with its lightsaber-gone-rain-protector look but where we think it crosses the line is at the built-in audio system. When you turn it on it plays recordings of popular lines from Blade Runner, something that might not fly in public. But the quality is in a different galaxy compared to the dollar store illuminated umbrella that we looked at last year.

[Erv' Plecter] replaced the central support rod for the umbrella with a clear polycarbonate tube. An optic cable snakes through the hollow tube, illuminated by a Luxeon LED in the handle. The custom PCB and 900 mAh battery are both housed there as well. Take a look at (and listen to) the demo after the break. We’ll need to add this to our future projects list right after that Lightsaber movie replica build.

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Polycarbonate fish uses three servos to swim

polycarbonate-fish

[Amnon] is learning the hard way that water and electronics don’t always like to play nicely together. He’s been working on creating a swimming fish that uses three servos to flex a sheet of fish-shaped polycarbonate. This photo doesn’t really do the project justice but you can get a better idea of what he’s accomplished by watching the videos after the break.

The three servos along with some distance sensors for obstacle avoidance are all controlled by a PIC 16F877A microcontroller. [Amnon] tried out three different waterproofing methods; coating the device in varnish, dipping it in hot glue, and dipping it in epoxy. The first two resulted in water damage to the electronics, but the third managed to work. It kept the water out, but also prevents reprogramming of the controller.

Although not successful, we would have loved to see the process of dipping the fish in a churning vat of molten glue. Once perfected, this may be the perfect platform for carrying our weapons of doom.

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