Hackaday Links: April 5, 2015

[Dino] found something pretty cool at Walmart. It’s a USB Lighter; basically a car cigarette lighter that’s powered by a battery and charged via USB. A few bucks will buy you a battery, charge controller, and USB plug that will deliver over 2 amps at 3.7 Volts.

Speaking of battery chargers, here’s something from [Thomas]. He works in a hospital, and the IV pumps have a terrible charging circuit. After a few dozen chargers, they’ll give a battery error on the screen. They’re not bad, only unbalanced. [Thomas] made a simple rig with a Tenergy battery charger to rebalance the packs. No link, but here’s a pic. It beats paying $34 for a new battery pack.

Those Silhouette Cameo blade cutters don’t get enough respect. You can make vinyl stickers or an Arduino-themed pop up card.

Retroreflective spraypaint. Volvo has developed something called Lifepaint. It’s for bicycles and bicycle riders. Apparently, it’s clear when you spray it on, but if you shine a light on it – from a car’s headlight – it will reflect back. Any cool ideas here?

The Art of Electronics, 3rd edition, is finally out. Didn’t we hear about this a few months ago? Yes, we did. It’s shipping now, though, and there’s a sample. It’s chapter nine, voltage regulation and power conversion.

Ah, April Fool’s. I’m still proud of the Prince post, but there were some great ones this year. RS Components had Henry the Hover Drone, but we really like the protoboard with ground planes.

The market wasn’t always flooded with ARM dev boards. For a while the LeafLabs Maple was the big kid on the block. Now it’s reached end of life. If only there were a tree whose name ended in ~ino…

Paper Cutter Becomes A Laser Engraver

Small and powerful laser diodes are getting cheaper and cheaper, and there are a few commercial products that give anyone the ability to cut paper and vinyl with a computer-controlled cutting machine. What happens when you combine the two? The beginnings of a hacked together laser engraver.

For this build, [Peter] is using a Silhouette Portrait, a desktop CNC cutting machine that’s usually used for vinyl decals and intricately cut paper crafts. This machine isn’t limited to mere decorative crafts – it’s been used for cutting PCB stencils and other pseudo-industrial tasks.

Because the Silhouette Portrait has an interface that allows just about any CAM software to control it, the only thing [Peter] needed to make for his experiments in laser engraving was a mount to hold the laser diode. Luckily, the laser had a similar form factor to the cutting blades for the machine, and a bit of tape held everything together.

Focusing the laser was done by unscrewing the lens, and with a bit of trial and error, [Peter] was able to make a few marks in the material of his choice. This isn’t a laser cutter, but with a little more work it will make a fantastic laser engraver.

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An elegant timepiece from paper and a fistful of servos


Segments rise from a sheer white surface to reveal the time in this papercraft digital / analog clock build by [Jacky Mok].

New York-based designer [Alvin Aronson] is responsible for the original, titled “D/A Clock,” which he built as a student at RISD using Corian instead of paper. [Aronson]’s design is also massive in comparison. It measures one meter wide by a half meter tall. Without access to either a 3D printer or to a laser cutter, [Jacky] instead reduces the scale of his interpretation and relies on cardstock as the primary construction material. His experience with papercraft typography leads to a design that anyone with an Exacto knife and a slice of patience should find manageable. [Jacky] ignores the Exacto option, however, and cuts his pieces with a tool we saw earlier this year: the Silhouette Portrait.

The clock’s electronics include an Arduino Uno, a servo motor controller, twenty-eight servos and an RTC breakout board that handles timekeeping. Each servo drives its own segment by sliding a paperclip forward or backward inside a small, hollow aluminum rod. Though we’re still holding out for a video of the finished papercraft build, you can watch a video of Aronson’s original clock after the break and see what inspired [Jacky’s] design.

Need another clock to envy? Last month’s build by [ebrithil] uses twenty-two servos to individually spin the segments. If you prefer that your clocks light up, [Aaron’s] o-scope transformation has you covered.

Continue reading “An elegant timepiece from paper and a fistful of servos”