What Would You Put In A Shipping Container Makerspace?


Imagine that you have been asked to construct a portable shipping container workshop that will be sent to the other side of the globe, where the power grid is sketchy and the resources tight. If you had $20,000 to outfit this 20’ container, what components and tools would you include?

This was the question recently posed to us by [Luke Iseman], CTO at re:char. He and his partners are in the midst of putting together a mobile makerspace that will eventually be shipped over to Western Kenya in order to help the locals fertilize their land using biochar. The primary function of this workshop will be to build biochar chambers, so plenty of durable tools and machines are a must. They already have a pretty solid list of items put together, but they wanted input the from makers and hackers out there, who may have worked under similar conditions.

Have any suggestions? Share them in the forum, we’re sure [Luke] and co. will appreciate it!

LEGO Mill Produces Sculpted Models With Fantastic Resolution

[Arthur Sacek] has really got something with the 3D Mill he built entirely from LEGO pieces. As you can see, it uses NXT parts to control the cutter head along three axes. The drill bit that acts as the mill’s cutting head is not a LEGO part, but that’s [Arthur’s] only transgression.

The demo sculpture seen above was cut into a block of floral foam. The model was processed by Autodesk Softimage before being fed into the mill, where it took about two and half hours to complete the job. The foam comes out still in block form looking like a piece of outdoor carpeting. That’s because there’s no debris removal during the milling process. But hit it with the shopvac and you’ll reveal a physical model with surprising detail. We don’t think it comes close to the light-cured resin printing we’ve seen, but it would be a great asset if you’re doing some mold making.

Don’t miss [Arthur’s] video of the milling process after the break.

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Glowing Eyes Project Keeps It Simple This Halloween

Halloween’s on its way and we want to remind you to get started early so you can show us what you’ve got in store for the little ones this year. [Pete] already finished a simple project to spice up the bushes in front of his house. His trio of glowing and blinking eyes will make a nice addition to the bushes in front of his house. Each is made from a pair of over-sized LEDs mounted on popsicle sticks. After passing the leads through holes in the wood, they are soldered to some resistors and cat-5 cable. The conductors are covered in hot glue to help protect from moisture, and then they’re ready to be driven by the ATtiny2313 which uses random numbers to help ensure the blinking doesn’t look timed. Check out the video after the break to see how he did.

This is a great example that you don’t have to take on the most complicated project in the world to be appreciated. But if you’re looking to be remembered for years to come you might want to aim high by building something like the trash-can jack-in-the-box, or a puking pirate.

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Weekly Roundup 8/20/2011

In case you missed them, here are our biggest posts from the past week.

The post that drew the most attention this week was our own [Kevin Dady]’s post about how to install Linux on a 386. In this post, he talks about the process that he used to put a functional copy of Linux on an old 386 laptop.

Next up is a post about a robot dog that was found in an antique dealer’s shop in Paris. This post has a very active comment thread.

Following that is a post about a LED cuboid consisting of 2048 bi-color LEDs, which are all hand-soldered. This is definitely a testament to steady hands and a lot of patience.

Next is a hackaday-original video where [Jack] shows how to kill weeds using the transformer from a microwave oven. This one was controversial but like it or hate it, it was popular.

Last, we had a post about a very interesting hexapod. This robot adds a new spin on the hexapod theme by adding the ability to have all of the legs mechanically extend farther out from the center of the body. It also adds spherical shell pieces to the legs that allow it to transform from a walking to a rolling robot.

One final thought: If you are working on an interesting project, why not post your progress on our forums? Have a problem with something that you are working on? We have sections for that as well. Our forums aren’t too active at the moment but we have nearly 90,000 unique visitors at hackaday each and every day so all it may take to whip them into shape is for just a few of you to be early adopters. We would like to start featuring projects and interesting topics from our forums so this may be a way that your project could find its way onto our main page.

Homebrew Weather Station Plus A Pan And Tilt Camera Rig

[Sebastian] wrote in to share his web site, where he has a bunch of different electronics projects. After looking through them, we found a pair that we thought you might find interesting.

The first project is a homebrew weather monitoring station that [Sebastian] put together. He designed a weather shield, incorporating humidity, pressure and light sensors, along with digital I/O ports for monitoring an anemometer. The entire setup is powered using solar panels, and data is relayed to his computer via an Xbee.

The second item that caught our eye was a digital camera pan and tilt rig. The system was built using a Lynxmotion pan and tilt kit, which is controlled by an Arduino. The code he provides allows him to capture very large composite images without having to spend too much time “sewing” them together. While this second project mostly consists of schematics for a base plate and pan/tilt code, it struck us as something that could be very useful for any budding photographers looking to take panoramic shots.

All of the schematics and code for his projects are available on his site, so be sure to look around – you might find something interesting!

High Voltage Hacks: Shrinking Coins

The anthem for the Great Recession might be something along the lines of, “That we’re gonna do it anyway, even if doesn’t pay.” Some men just want to watch the world burn, so Hackerbot Labs posted a great walkthrough about shrinking coins and in the process making our pocket change worth just a little bit more.

Their build pushes 15,000 Joules (from a 10kV 300μF cap) through a coil of wire wrapped around a coin. This creates a magnetic field in the coil and the coin. These two fields repel each other, and there’s only one way that it can end: the coin shrinks and the coil of wire explodes. The team at Hackerbot Labs linked to a great theory of operations that does a great job explaining the physics has some awesome pictures.

During our research, we saw a few questions about the legality of altering currency. According to the U.S. Code, shrinking coins only illegal if it’s done fraudulently, like shrinking a penny down to the size of a dime to fool a pay phone or vending machine. Check out a video of the Hackerbot Labs setup putting as much energy as 100 heart defibrillators into a coin after the break.

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