Low-resolution toaster prints on slices of bread

low-resolution-bread-toaster

Why toast your bread evenly when you can burn low-resolution images instead? Meet the Super Mega Mega Toaster, a University project created by [Scott van Haastrecht] for his Creative Technology course.

Now you may be thinking that this has been done before. And indeed, a bit of searching will lead you to a post about toasting Jesus.  But that is a one-shot toaster hack which simply used a stencil to block heat to create a certain pattern. This is a mechanical overhaul for the toaster concept. It uses one row of six heating elements. Each is connected to a servo motor which moves the element next to the bread or away from it based on the pattering being printed. A stepper motor then moves the bread up so that the next row can be printed. All of this is mounted in a laser-cut wood frame which makes us just a bit nervous because the purpose of the elements is to burn stuff.

See a demo of the toaster, as well as its internal components in the clip after the jump.

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Handwriting suck? Build a machine to do it for you

calligraphy-machine

Children of the information age are doomed to have the worst handwriting just for lack of use if nothing more. But some students at Olin College harnessed technology to find a solution to that problem. Meet Herald, a CNC machine that can produce beautiful calligraphy.

The machine uses a gantry to move the writing tip along the X and Y axes. The flexible-nib calligraphy pen is mounted on a sprocket which rotates the tip onto the writing surface, taking care of the third axis. The rig was beautifully rendered from their CAD drawings, then tweaked to ensure the smoothest motion possible before the quintet of Sophomores began the physical build.

The drive hardware is very simple yet it produces great results. It uses an Arduino along with three stepper motor drivers. There are also limiting switches to protect the hardware from runaway code. The software interface designed by the team lets the user cut and paste their text, and select a font, font size, alignment, etc. It then converts the text to G-code and pushes it to the Arduino where the GRBL package takes care of business.

Don’t miss the device in action, writing out a [Langston Hughes] work in the clip after the break.

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Modifying a printer for PCB fabbing

ohgodmyeyes

The migraine-inducing image above is the product of [Rupert Hirst]‘s attempts at home PCB fabrication. He’s using the toner transfer method – printing a circuit on a piece of transparency sheet with a laser printer, setting it on a piece of copper clad board, and sending the whole assembly through a laminator. It’s a fairly straightforward process, but if you can’t run a transparency sheet through a printer multiple times your etch resist won’t hold up too well. Of course the transparency sheet must be aligned each time it goes through the printer, so [Rupert] came up with a modification that ensures laser toner goes only where it’s supposed to.

[Rupert] picked up a Samsung ML-2165W laser printer for his PCB fab shop, but printing the same image multiple times on the same transparency sheet would result in unusable masks. This problem was fixed with a few plastic shims used to hang door frames and a card stock tray that ensures the transparency sheet goes through the printer the same way every time.

We saw [Rupert]‘s homebrew PCB fabrication process a few weeks ago when he sent in his six channel floppy drive MIDI synth. In his build video, [Rupert] demonstrated what is possibly the cleanest toner transfer PCB we’ve seen to date. You can check out his etching process in the video after the break.

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SCARA arm 3D printer

scara-3d-printer

[Quentin Harley] must really have wanted to test his snuff when it comes to mechanical engineering. He’s been hard at work for a couple of years now designing his own SCARA arm 3D printer. That link leads to a recent summary article in which he shows off the build as seen above. It’s not fully functional yet, but he’s at the point where it’s time to develop the driver circuitry and firmware so he’s close. His blog is dedicated to this single project so click around and see what he went through along the journey.

The SCARA arm is seen in blue, using a couple of stepper motors to move the extruder mount along the x and y axes. The bed itself moves along the Z axis via two precision rods with a threaded rod in the center. As you can see, some of the parts are made of wood, and he used PVC for the cross supports between the upper and lower base platforms. But the majority of the build uses 3D printed parts, including the arms, drive gears, and mounting brackets.

[Thanks Peter]

Build a bioprinter from very old inkjet cartridges

bioprinting

This column of messages was printed with Escherichia coli. That’s the bacteria better known as E. coli which can cause so many problems if it makes its way into our food. But the relative size and the fact that this strain was engineered to glow in the dark makes it a perfect candidate for Bio Printing. We find it even more interesting that it was printed using hacked inkjet and computer parts.

There are legitimate uses for this type of technology. But this project is aimed more at getting the word out about the method and how easy it can be. For us, it’s the close look at modern inkjet print heads that was the most interesting. It turns out that common cartridges have an overly high-resolution for this to work well. In order to get so many dots in such a small area the nozzle openings end up being too small for most biological material to fit through. There is also an issue with a filter built into the silicone technology inside.

The solution was to use the InkShield to drive cartridges from very old printers. This lets the team command the cartridge with an Arduino, making it dead simple to tweak the way the material is deposited. They mounted the cartridge holder (using decades-old technology in the form of HP Deskjet 500 cartridges) on the sled of an optical drive and went from there.

Take a glance at the printer in action in the clip after the break.

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An even more useless machine

Useless

Here’s the most useless machine we’ve seen so far. It comes from the workshop of [forn4x] and happily turns itself off whenever any one of its eight switches are flicked to the on position.

The build began when [forn]‘s Canon 850i printer gave up the ghost because of a broken print head. All the other electronics and mechanics were still salvageable, so it was decided to turn this printer into something a little more useless.

The printer used a regular DC motor with an optical encoder to move the print head. [forn] easily found the schematics for this optical sensor, because of the TTL output was able to read out the position of the slider. The rest of the build is an ATMega8, a servo, and an octet of toggle switches. [forn] has been able to get the accuracy of the servo-controlled arm down to about 0.1 mm, more than enough to accurately turn all its switches off.

You can see [forn]‘s most useless machine in action after the break.

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Party photo printer built around a Raspberry Pi

We think [Brian Delacruz] latched on to a good idea with this photo printer project. Instead of building a big photo booth for his party he developed a Raspberry Pi based WiFi photo printer. Right now it’s a prototype that lacks the kind of polish necessary to make a true user-friendly device. But the idea is solid and just waiting for you to improve upon it.

In addition to the RPi he’s using a quality photo printer and a small wireless router. The router simply provides WiFi capabilities for the RPi which is running a web server, mySQL, and FTP. This provides a wide range of upload options which he can work with. Watch the video after the break to see him print a smart phone photo wirelessly.

This can be simplified by using a package like hostapd to use a USB WiFi dongle as an access point. Or if the venue already has Internet access a server could be set up with a QR code to guide people to it. The party starts off with an empty bulletin board and guests would be invited to print and hang their own photos which will go into the host’s guest book/scrap book to remember the event.

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