Dye Mac Dye!

Fabric dye is one of those products where it keeps popping up for unintended uses, we have seen it coloring printed circuit boards, and now a Macintosh computer? [The Brain]’s project to add a little color to his Macbook has been done before, but he chooses to do it in a different way, which comes down to a little bit of sandpaper.

You could go ahead and dye the Macbook plastics as is, but that thick layer of glossy plastic is going to take much more time to penetrate and its going to resist taking the color, so it might end up splotchy. The simple solution to this is to just sand off the gloss, that way the color has much less of a barrier to dye the plastic. Once the protective gloss shell is sanded away and cleaned throughly, Rit brand fabric dye is added to a pan of water and set on the stove to boil.

While most of the case plastics are thick and tough enough to withstand some heat, care does need to be taken when dealing with thin soft parts like the display bezel. After about 45 min the parts are dyed and popping with super bright orange color in record time.

Get Tons Of MIDI Knobs And Buttons With The Chomp

Although MIDI was originally designed for 1 MHz computers with 64 kB of RAM, it’s still an industry standard almost 30 years after its introduction. Even for electronic artists armed with a microcontroller, MIDI is old hat if you want to connect a few buttons up to a music workstation. What if you wanted to connect dozens of buttons and knobs to a bunch of MIDI hardware, though? Enter Chomp, the Configurable Hardware Open-source MIDI Platform.

[Max Justicz], an awesome pseudonym if we’ve ever heard one, built a MIDI controller that allows for 48 inputs for buttons, knobs, and any other electrical connection imaginable. The board is powered by an Arduino-fied ATMega328 and connects to your sensors through 2×5 ribbon cables.

If you’ve ever thought about building a monome MIDI controller, [Max Justicz] has started a Kickstarter campaign to put a few hundred Chomps out into the wild. It seems like a great way to build some controllers or simply to send stuff to MaxMSP. Either way, the Chomp is sure to be useful.

Create PCBs In Just Minutes With This Awesome Spray Etching Machine


If you have ever produced your own PCBs at home, you know that it can be somewhat of a time consuming process. Spending 20 or so minutes manually agitating a board is a drag, and while aquarium bubbler setups improve the process, they are far from ideal. [Christian Reed] knew that if he really wanted to streamline his PCB production he had to emulate the big boys and build a PCB sprayer of his own.

His spray etcher is contained in a custom acrylic case built mostly of scraps from previous projects. It contains two compartments – one for spraying etchant on the PCBs, and another for rinsing the finished work. The system is impressive to say the least, featuring a maze of tubes and piping which allow him to etch boards and manage his chemicals with ease.

[Christian] says that although the parts list might seem daunting at first, it really is pretty easy to assemble the device. Seeing as he can etch and wash a board in about two minutes flat, we think that any amount of effort would be worth the results.

[Christian] points out that he was unable to find a guide for building this type of PCB sprayer anywhere online, so he documented the process in painstaking detail in order to make it as easy as possible to replicate his work. Be sure to check out the video below to see his etch tank in action – we’re pretty sure it will have you itching to build one this weekend.

Continue reading “Create PCBs In Just Minutes With This Awesome Spray Etching Machine”

CNC Light Painting

Light painting is a technique where a shape is drawn with a light source while a camera is taking a very long exposure shot of it. To do this well by hand would take a lot of skill, so I naturally decided to make my “light art” with a CNC router.

Using this technique, the LED light is treated just like an engraving bit would be under normal circumstances. The difference is that the Y axis is swapped with the Z axis allowing for easy movement in the plane that you see displayed in the picture above. This allows the old Y axis to switch the light on and off in the same way that an engraving bit is lifted to stop engraving and lowered to start (explained here). Instead of a bit though, it’s a switch.

Be sure to check out the video of the router in action (with the lights on) after the break: Continue reading “CNC Light Painting”

Plotting Pictures With Light

Flashing LEDs for a persistence of vision display are on bicycle wheels, alarm clocks, and even light painting sticks to draw images in the air. What if you wanted to plot an image in the air (translation) with a single LED? That’s what [acorv] did after taking a cue from a polar plotter.

Like the polar plotter and Drawbot, [acorv]’s build began with a pair of stepper motors and fishing line (translation). [acorv]’s brother upped the stakes a bit and suggested replacing the marker with an LED and taking long exposure photographs. Armed with a DSLR and a lot of patience, a few experimental pics were taken. To plot the image, the Lightbot flashes its LED as it goes across the plot area. The process of building an image pixel by pixel takes a while – eight minutes for this image – but the brothers were encouraged enough to take their rig outside.

After setting up the polar plotter between two tripods, [acorv] and his brother made this image in the dead of night. It’s an interesting spin on the POV LED builds we’ve seen before. Check out [acorv]’s Lightbot slowly drawing something after the break.

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Weekly Roundup 2/11/12

In case you have been on vacation, here is the best that we have had on our blog in the past week:

In first place is a post about [the University of Pennsylvania’s] quadcopter team. This time they have a group of twenty quadcopters flying in formation.

In second place is a post about a nice project by [Joel] where he converted an overhead projector into a TV projector by projecting through a LCD TV. He went all-out on this one by using a CNC machine to cut out a special holder for the LCD and the fans necessary to cool it.

Next up we have a post about a project where a 55 gallon plastic barrel is turned into a wind turbine. We’re not sure about how much power this would produce but it would probably be fun to play around with.

Following that is a follow up post about Printrbot, an inexpensive 3D printer which we previously posted about. It was a successful Kickstarter project a couple of months ago and now the design files have been released into the wild. Check it out!

Finally we finish off with a post about how to build a solid-state Tesla coil. It’s presented in an Instructable with 12 easy steps so that you too can feed your high-voltage addiction.