Hackit: Laser Cut Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle

If you have a laser printer, you’ve got your Christmas presents sorted out. At least if your family likes jigsaw puzzles. The idea is very simple, laminate a photograph onto some laser-cuttable board, and then run the laser over the outline of the pieces. Bam! Instant puzzle.

The trick is generating the puzzle outline, and of course there’s an online application for that. It’s got options that let you customize the piece count and shapes, and then download the result as an SVG image.

Unfortunately, it’s closed-source and makes the pieces a little bit too uniform for our liking — many of the pieces have exactly the same shape as each other. Are you up to the challenge of writing a better one? We’d love to see it, because the idea of a simple puzzle overlay for laser cutters is too good. Help us get started with some brainstorming in the comments below. How do you go about generating meaningfully unique jigsaw edges algorithmically?

Once you’ve got the puzzle cut out, you can seal up the surface nicely, toss it in a box, and then you’ve got a personalized present. To put it together, we suggest an accompanying DIY pick-and-place tool. (And kudos to [Kristina] for the best headline of 2015 on that one!)

Thanks to Hackaday alum [George Graves] for the tip!

Personal Compass Points To Your Spawn Point

A conventional compass points north (well, to magnetic north, anyway). [Videoschmideo]  wanted to make a compass that pointed somewhere specific. In particular, the compass — a wedding gift — was to point to a park where the newlywed couple got engaged. Like waking up in a fresh new Minecraft world, this is their spawn point and now they can always find their way back from the wilderness.

The device uses an Arduino, a GPS module, a compass, and a servo motor. Being a wedding gift, it also needs to meet certain aesthetic sensibilities. The device is in an attractive wooden box and uses stylish brass gears. The gears allow the servo motor to turn more than 360 degrees (and the software limits the rotation to 360 degrees). You can see a video of the device in operation, below.

Continue reading “Personal Compass Points To Your Spawn Point”

Ultra Simple Magnetic Levitator

Want to build a magnetic levitator in under two hours? With a total of 7 parts, including the coil, it just cannot get simpler than what [How-ToDo] shows here! It is not only an extremely simple circuit, it also has the advantage of using only discrete components: a MOSFET, hall effect sensor, diode and two resistors, that’s it.

The circuit works by sensing the position of the levitating magnet, using the hall effect sensor , then turns the coil on and off in response via the MOSFET. The magnet moves upwards when the coil is energized and falls down when it is not. This adjustment is made hundreds of times a second, and the result is that the magnets stays floating in mid air.

This is the kind of project that can make a kid get interested in science: it combines easy construction with visually amazing behavior, and can teach you basic concepts (electromagnetism and basic electronics in this case). Excellent for a school project.

For the more advanced enthusiast, more sophisticated levitator design based on an Atmega8 micro-controller will be of interest.

Continue reading “Ultra Simple Magnetic Levitator”