Everything you need to know to make a Laser engraver from scrap

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Check out the Einstein head which [Sebastian Müller] etched on the cover of his calculator using a laser engraver he made from scratch. We think he did a great job with the build, but we’re even more impressed with the work he put into sharing the techniques he used to salvage and repurpose all the components. It’s a perfect resource that should be pretty easy to adapt to different model/manufacturer source hardware.

He used an old scanner and an old printer for the bulk of the parts. These both originally included stepper-motor actuated gantries, which pull together to form the x and y axes in his Frankenstein Laser Engraver. As the parts came together he started in on the control electronics which include a couple of EasyDriver stepper motor boards and an Arduino.

At this point he took the machine for a test-run, attaching a marker to the carriage to use it as a pen plotter. After putting in a solid performance at this [Sebastian] moved on to adding in the laser diode. He covers how to drive the diode, as well as focal point alignment in great detail. It seems like his webpage post has the same content as the Instructable linked above but we wanted to leave the link just in case.

Scratch-built 3D printer shows rock-solid performance

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These days it’s super-easy (not super-cheap) to go out and buy a 3D printer. But if you’ve got the mad skills like [Mario Lukas] maybe you can build a 3D print using a bunch of scavenged parts (translated). He’s published six posts on the build, and put together an overview video which you can watch after the break.

A pile of salvaged parts were found in a scanner and four different printers. He’s also powering the thing with an old PC PSU. The hot bed and extruder are brand new, which is a wise investment. We’re not sure about the threaded rod and bearings but we’d bet those are new as well. When it came time to work on the electronics he chose an Arduino board as the go-between for the printer and computer. It uses four stepper motor driver boards to drive the axes. Connections can be a bit complicated and he actually ‘smoked’ one of the boards during the development phase.

One of the mechanical build posts shows a belt routed in a T-shape. We wonder if it’s function is similar to what this H-bot style printer uses?

[Read more...]

SDR as a Police and Fire radio scanner

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If you’ve lost interest in that DVB dongle you bought to give software defined radio a try you should bust it back out. [Harrison Sand] just finished a guide on how to use SDR to listen in on Police and Fire radio bands.

The project, which results in the crystal clear audio reception heard after the break, uses a whole lists of packages on a Windows box to access the emergency bands. SDRSharp, which has been popular with other DVB dongle hacks, handles the hardware work. In this case the dongle is a Newsky TV28T v2 module that he picked up for a few bucks. He’s also using some support programs including the Digital Speech Decoder which turns the data into audio.

We wonder how many areas this will work for. It was our understanding that law enforcement was moving to encrypted communications systems. But all we really know about it is that you can jam the system with a children’s toy.

[Read more...]

Makerbot shows off 3D scanner

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We’ve said our piece over Makerbot and their interpretation of what Open Source means, but the fact remains if you’re sourcing a 3D printer for a high school shop class or a hackerspace, you really can’t do much better than a Makerbot Replicator. Apparently Makerbot is looking to expand their 3D design and fabrication portfolio; they just announced an upcoming 3D scanner at SXSW. It’s called the Makerbot Digitizer, and it takes real, 3D objects and turns them into CAD files.

Since Makerbot and [Bre Pettis] didn’t give out much information about the 3D scanner they’re working on, the best information comes from Techcrunch. The Makerbot Digitizer uses two lasers to scan real objects and turns them into 3D CAD files. The hardware isn’t finalized, and the prototype is made of a few pieces of laser cut plywood. No details are available on how much the Digitizer will cost, when it will be available, or what its resolution is.

Of course 3D scanning of real objects to translate them into CAD files is nothing new for Hackaday readers. We’ve seen our fair share of desktop 3D scanners, including one that was built in a day out of junk. Even the Kickstarter crew has gotten into the action with a few desktop 3D scanners, some of which scan in full color.

One-button scan to email using Raspberry Pi

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We’ve come across extremely expensive photocopiers that also fax, scan to email, and generally have too many features to list. [Eduardo Luis] figured out how to implement some of this type office magic using very inexpensive components. Specifically, he can press one button to scan a document and send it to an email address.

The user controls patch into the RPi GPIO header. There’s the button we already mentioned, a red LED for “System Busy”, and a green one for “System Status”. A set of scripts montor the button and drive the LEDs. When it’s time to scan, the RPi uses the scanimage package to capture a .PNM file, then converts it to .JPG before sending it via email using the mutt package.

We’d love to see a character LCD and a few more buttons added to the setup. This way you could select between different recipients (or even send via fax). And there’s always the possibility of connecting a printer to the other USB port on the RPi to make it work as a photocopier too.

You can catch a demo video after the jump.

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Camera dollies hacked together by stop motion filmmakers

A little bit of technology goes a long way when it comes to stop motion animation. In this case it’s a trio of simple camera dollies built during production of a short film called The Maker.

A Dolly is a method of mounting the camera so that it can be moved smoothly during a shot. Of course with stop motion the movement actually happens between the shots so it’s even more important that the camera be moved accurately. The video after the break shows off how they added CNC control for the camera. The first dolly was built from a pair of PVC pipes with a sled that moves along them. A motor moves a loop of 35mm film which is attached to the dolly. This is a great choice of materials since it doesn’t stretch and it’s free (one of the filmmakers is a projectionist). The next dolly is made from a flatbed scanner, and the final offering is seen above. Built from a bicycle wheel it provides a stationary platform above the hub for the models, while the camera rotates on an arm attached to the wheel. You can watch the complete film here.

If you’re looking for more inspiration check out this dual-axis PVC dolly project.

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Scanning turntable digitizes objects as 3D models

This turntable can automatically digitize objects for use in 3D rendering software like Blender3D. [James Dalby] built it using a high-quality DSLR, and some bits and pieces out of his junk box. The turntable itself is a Lazy Susan turned on its head. The base for the spinning model is normally what sits on the table, but this way it gives him an area to rest the model, and the larger portion acts as a mounting surface for the drive mechanism.

He used the stepper motor from a scanner, as well as the belt and tension hardware from a printer to motorize the platform. This is driven by a transistor array (a ULN2003 chip) connected to an Arduino. The microcontroller also controls the shutter of the camera. We’ve included his code after the break; you’ll find his demo video embedded there as well.

The concept is the same as other turntable builds we’ve seen, But [James] takes the post-processing one step further. Rather than just make a rotating gif he is using Autodesk 123D to create a digital model from the set of images.

[Read more...]

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