Hackaday Links: October 8, 2017

On the top of the popcorn pile for this weekend is an ambiguous tweet from Adafruit that was offered without comment or commentary. [Lady Ada] is holding some sort of fancy incorporation papers for Radio Shack. The smart money is that Adafruit just bought these at the Radio Shack auction a month or so ago. The speculation is that Adafruit just bought Radio Shack, or at least the trademarks and other legal ephemera. Either one is cool, but holy crap please bring back the retro 80s branding.

A Rubik’s Cube is a fantastic mechanical puzzle, and if you’ve never taken one apart, oh boy are you in for a treat. Here’s an RGB LED Rubick’s Cube with not enough detail as to how each square is getting powered. Here’s an open challenge for anyone: build an RGB LED Rubick’s Cube, and Open Source the design.

Last weekend, the front fell off the engine of an Air France A380 flying over Greenland. As with all aircraft incidents, someone has to find the missing bits. It only took a week to find a mangled cowling on an ice sheet. This is incredibly impressive; if you want a comparison to another accident, it took three months to find the fan disk for UA 232 in an Iowa cornfield.

Poorly thought out Kickstarters don’t grab our attention like they used to, but this is an exception. The Aire is a mashup of one of those voice-activated home assistants (Alexa, whatever the Google one is named…) and a drone. The drone half of the build is marginally interesting as a ducted fan coaxial thingy, and building your own home assistant isn’t that hard with the right mics and a Raspberry Pi. The idea is actually solid — manufacturing is another story, though. It appears no one thought about how annoying it would be to have a helicopter following them around their house, or if the mics would actually be able to hear anyone over beating props. Here’s the kicker: this project was successfully funded. People want to buy this. A fool and his or her money…

Processing is cool, although we’re old skool and still reppin’ Max/MSP. It looks like the first annual Processing Community Day is coming up soon. The Processing Community Day will be at the MIT Media Lab on October 21st, with talks from the headliners of the Processing community.

Maker Faire NYC was two weekends ago, the TCT show in Birmingham was last week, and Open Hardware Summit was in Denver this weekend. Poor [Prusa] was at all of them, racking up the miles. He did, however, get to ride [James from XRobots.co.uk]’s electric longboard. There’s some great videos from [James] right here and here.

Speaking of Open Hardware Summit, there was a field trip to Sparkfun and Lulzbot this Friday. The highlight? The biggest botfarm in the states, and probably the second largest in the world. That’s 155 printers, all in their own enclosures, in a room that’s kept at 80° F. They’re printing ABS. Control of the printers is through a BeagleBone running Octoprint. These ‘Bones and Octoprint only control one printer each, and there is no software layer ‘above’ the Octoprint instances for managing multiple printers simultaneously. That probably means the software to manage a botfarm doesn’t exist. There have been attempts, though, but nothing in production. A glove thrown down?

40 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 8, 2017

    1. I am sort of making a hardware emulation with an original Z80 etc (pending a sea change and a health improvement).

      Try and emulator on your PC. The first thing it will remind you of is how painfully slow the TRS-80 in BASIC. No wonder we all learnt assembly back then!

  1. “Examples. Short, prototypical programs exploring the basics of programming with Processing.”

    Computer languages are like standards; if you don’t like the existing one’s just wait awhile, something new will come along.

    Anyway, how about the steps above programming? The parts that aren’t cool, or sexy, and sometimes aggravating. Like documentation, and just as necessary.

  2. “These ‘Bones and Octoprint only control one printer each, and there is no software layer ‘above’ the Octoprint instances for managing multiple printers simultaneously.”

    A quick google search says they’re running BotQueue. Christ, Brian. Do your job.

    1. You mean like asking somebody who works there? Or actually looking at the repo for BotQueue and noticing it hasn’t been touched in years? Or realizing the only reference to Lulzbot using Botqueue in your ‘quick Google search’ was an off the cuff statement from three years ago? Or looking at the Lulzbot codebase and noticing the Botqueue folder is pretty much empty?

      What would ‘doing my job’ be for you? Is it mindlessly googling shit without understanding anything? Sorry I can’t live up to the nigh-unattainable standards you have already set.

        1. He does kinda remind me of Kent lol. Jerry too though.
          Actually, William Atherton should play Benchoff in his biopic. Janeane Garofalo should be the voice of his sweater. I would have to recast his car as a worn-out Corolla voiced by Seth Rogen, ya know, just to put meat in the seats.
          I would also imagine a Furby movie with one voiced by Benchoff would do pretty awful in the box office but be fun to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon on TBS or the CW lol.

    2. Hmm. I tried to comment on this last night and it didn’t seem to go through. Let me try again:

      (Author/maintainer of BotQueue here, so I’m a bit biased)

      So there’s a couple of things here that made me a wee bit upset. I took some time to calm down, and I would like to address them.

      The first thing that bothered me about this article was that it was called BotQueue an attempt and that there was nothing in production. Lulzbot isn’t the only group in the world that runs printer farms, nor were they my only client when I was consulting with them. To say that it’s not in production when the website is up and people use it (albeit, I agree that it has some bugs I’m working on in the new version) is quite honestly… agitating? I would even call it a simple mistake if I wasn’t sponsoring the very summit that this post is referring to on behalf of BotQueue. Even then, I interacted with Brian and I’m pretty sure I gave him a business card. I’m not sure if I pissed him off or what. In either case, the post comes off as aggressive and dismissive to me. Due to my bias, it’s hard to tell if that’s just my personal emotions or something others see as well.

      As far as Lulzbot, that’s a bit more complicated. I don’t really want to drag the company through the mud, and I sent an email to understand if this is still the situation, but here’s where it stands as far as I’ve been made aware. I’m not allowed on any Lulzbot premises, my phone number is immediately dropped if I try to call them, and I am to only email the CEO if I need to email them. From what I’ve been told and put together from the inside (read: may be wrong, hard to tell), they’re not allowed to talk about me, definitely not allowed to talk to me, and they don’t really mention BotQueue, submit issues, pull requests, or interact with the project in any way. They used BotQueue for a bare minimum of at least 2 years. As far as whether they’re still using it or not, I can’t tell. I asked in my email to the current CEO. The way I see it, there’s two possibilities here: 1) They switched back to the setup before they used BotQueue. 2) They’re still using BotQueue and lying. I’m more likely to believe the first case, in which case that’s not really my issue. It stings a bit, but what can I do?

      Btw, I’m working on a non-master branch and it’s going to have a lot of changes. You’ll see activity on the master branch at some point. Point is, you’re missing half of the story. I stopped working on BotQueue for a while due to my interactions with Lulzbot, because it made me depressed to work on the project. I’m guessing ‘doing your job’ here (although that feels a bit harsh too) would have included talking to me about the project as well as Lulzbot. For example, I could tell you the information I did above, or that they never really used the Phabricator project for BotQueue.

  3. Corn (maize – Jenny) can grow up to 7 feet high in Iowa, an adult human could walk through a cornfield and not be seen and not see more than 10 feet in any direction. Farmers were not willing to have their crops molested by “treasure hunters”, so the it wasn’t until harvest that the fan was found.

    1. :) “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”

      As someone who grew up on a farm, I winced when I heard that story about the turbine part in the field. The last thing you want is for your combine to start trying to harvest large pieces of metal.

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