Hackaday Links: May 15, 2016

The Hackaday Overlords (or Hackaday family) are running a series of AMAs on SupplyFX. What is SupplyFX? It’s a social network for EEs. Who’s in the first AMA? [Brady Forrest], the guy who runs Highway1, a Bay Area hardware accelerator. They’re the accelerator responsible for the lustworthy Keyboardio, and the startup that is purely mechanical and has shipped zero lines of code, CoolChip. If you want to talk about hardware startups, [Brady] is your man. The AMA is tomorrow, May 16th, at 13:00 Pacific.

Makerbot is dead, or at least they will be soon. Whatever. Nothing of value was lost. Lulzbot, on the other hand, is going gangbusters. They saw eight hundred percent growth over the last two years. and $15M in revenue in 2015. They did this all with open source hardware and software, and using 3D printing in a manufacturing context. They’re the jewel of the Open Hardware movement, and a shining example of what Free Software can do.

The current generation of software defined radios started with the ubiquitous TV tuner dongles, and quickly graduated to the HackRF. You can only get so much bandwidth out of a USB 2.0 socket, and the newest and bestest SDR is the LimeSDR. They’re about halfway through their crowdfunding campaign (and halfway funded), and have finally changed out the USB A connector to a USB micro B connector. Good choice.

The ESP8266 is quickly becoming the go-to device for when you want a cheap way to put a sensor on the Internet. The only problem is programming it. No problem – here’s a bunch of Lua scripts that do 90% of everything. Need to read a PIR sensor? Light up a few LEDs? Put the data from a temperature and humidity on the Internet? There you have it.

The Vintage Computer Festival West is back on this year. We’ve gone to VCF East in New Jersey for a few years now, and had a few occasional outings to the southeast and midwest Vintage Computer Festivals over the years. This is the first time the west coast has had a Vintage Computer Festival in several years. It’s in Mountain View, on August 6th and 7th. Yes, that’s the same weekend as DEF CON.

E3D, makers of fine hot ends and 3D printer paraphernalia, have released a new kind of filament. It’s called Edge, it’s based on PET, and it prints as easily as PLA, with better mechanical properties than ABS. A few sample prints made from Edge were at this year’s Midwest RepRap Festival, and the Edge’s bridging ability is crazy. You need a heated bed for Edge and it’s sensitive to moisture, but it has some very interesting properties that can be cleverly exploited.

In other filament news, Colorfabb released a filament to print clear parts. Yes, that’s very weird. Clear parts require 100% infill, meaning it will use a lot of filament. It’s still very advanced wizardry, and I’m very interested in seeing the first print of a sanded and polished convex lens.

Holy Crap it’s the 3D printing edition of the links post. [Prusa] just released the latest version of the i3. It’s now bigger: 250x210x200mm build volume. The heated bed – [Prusa] was one of the first to experiment with PCB heated beds – is now vastly improved when looking at it through a FLIR. The Mk. 42 heated bed doesn’t have a hot center or cool corners. PEI sheet removes the need for blue painters tape, glass, aqua net, or glue sticks. The printer has self-test capabilities. The mechanics of the printer, especially the Z axis, are improved. [Prusa] will be selling this as a kit for ~19000 Czech Crowns or $699 USD, but he’s RepRap to the core. Buy a spool and start printing your next printer.


9 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: May 15, 2016

  1. I have been waiting for a LUA to ESP8266 cross-compiler. An this ESP8266 based LUA interpreter is probably just as good.

    This will make it so so much easier for beginners and at the same time represent a very power efficient platform.

    LUA is fast, so fast that it is often used as the *benchmark* for speed.
    LUA is close to bare metal so it is very energy efficient for an abstracted language.
    LUA is very very readable and doesn’t have the – WTF is that elements of anything starting with C.
    LUA is extensible.
    LUA has a healthy set of powerful primitives.
    Abstractions is LUA look like *LUA* – their readable and don’t look out of place.
    No need for a second power hungry micro-controller.
    Bye Bye AT command set.

    This is the Arduino of the ESP8266.

    Excellent !!!!

    1. Huh? The linked to scripts make use of NodeMCU’s Lua interpreter, which has been around on ESP8266 since fall of 2014.

      And as other’s have noted, there is Arduino support, and MicroPython for ESP8266 has recently seen a lot of progress after a very successful kickstarter.

  2. OSHW works for Lulzbot in the same way OSHW works for plastic model kit cars.

    i.e. There’s no innovation to protect and since both products are designed down to a price, that documentation is required to get them working so it’s a selling point.

    Although freely releasing documentation helped, Lulzbot’s success was largely due to other companies creating a market for them, then collapsing under their own unfulfilled marketing claims.

    Basically right place right time.

    It also helped that their management is shrewd enough to incorporate large profit margins and reinvest a healthy portion back into marketing (e.g. Hackaday). All the $300 printer companies didn’t understand how important branding and large profit margins are when competing in a commodity market without monopolized distribution channels.

    I think Lulzbot will be around for a while…. although that’s less impressive than if they created this space.

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