Get Your Smarties or M&Ms From A Vending Machine

There are some debates that split the world down the middle. Serious stuff: M&Ms, or Smarties*? Yes, the two chocolate beans may bear a superficial resemblance to each other, but you’re either a Smartie lover, or an M&M lover. No compromises.

[Maximusvo] has sensibly dodged all questions of brand loyalty in his text if not in his images even though it’s obvious what kind of confectionery he’s working with in his candy vending machine. The hard-shell chocolates are loaded into a hopper, from which a colourful cascade is released onto a scale. When the desired weight has been accumulated, it is tipped into a drawer for the hungry recipient.

Behind it all is an Arduino with a motor to release the beans, a load cell to weigh them, and an LCD display to give a status report. A motor vibrates the chute to ensure they move down it, but as can be seen in the video demo below the break it’s not doing an entirely successful job. There is an external buzzer to indicate delivery, and aside from the wooden construction of the machine there are 3D printed parts in the scale.

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It’s A Wall-Mounted Dremel Workstation!

We’ve all seen Dremel drill presses, but [Tuomas Soikkeli] has created a full-fledged (albeit miniature) workstation using his Dremel as the motor. He has a gnome-sized belt sander with what appear to be skateboard wheels turning the belt, with the Dremel’s toolhead tensioning the belt and turning it as well. There’s a wee table saw, petite lathe, cute router, etc.

The Dremel attaches to the base via the 3/4-to-1/2 threaded end upon which specialized tool ends may be connected, and which DIY add-ons (like this light ring that we published previously) typical connect. Though in truth the threaded end varies in tensile strength from model to model — even the knockoffs have the same end, but is it strong enough to attach to the rig?

We like how [Tuomas] has his rig mounted to the wall. It looks like he has a couple of flexible shaft extenders nearby, allowing the rig to almost serve same role as a shop’s air tools.

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CNC Robot Makes a Move

Another day, another Kickstarter. While we aren’t often keen on touting products, we are keen on seeing robotics and unusual mechanisms put to use. The Goliath CNC has long since surpassed its $90,000 goal in an effort to put routing robots in workshops everywhere.

Due to their cost and complexity, you often only find omni-wheels on robots scurrying around universities or the benches of robotics hobbyists, but the Goliath makes use of nine wheels configured as three sets in a triangular pattern. This is important as any CNC needs to make compound paths, and for wheeled robots an omni-wheel base is often the best bet for compound 2D translation.

coordinate drawingWhat really caught our eye is the Goliath’s unique positioning system. While most CNC machines have the luxury of end-stops or servomotors capable of precise positional control, the Goliath has two “base sensors” that are tethered to the top of the machine and mounted to the edge of the workpiece. Each sensor connects to the host computer via USB and uses vaguely termed “Radio Frequency technology” that provides a 100Hz update for the machine’s coordinate system. This setup is sure to beat out dead-reckoning for positional awareness, but details are scant on how it precisely operates. We’d love to know more if you’ve used a similar setup for local positioning as this is still a daunting task for indoor robots.

A re-skinned DeWalt 611 router makes for the core of the robot, which is a common option for many a desktop milling machine and other bizarre, mobile CNCs like the Shaper Origin. While we’re certain that traditional computer controlled routers and proper machining centers are here to stay, we certainly wouldn’t mind if the future of digital manufacturing had a few more compact options like these.

Propane-Powered Plasma Rifle

It may not be a “phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range,” and it doesn’t even use plasma in the strict definition, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. It’s a propane-powered bottle-launching rifle, and it looks like a lot of fun.

[NighthawkInLight] sure likes things that go pop, like his watermelon-wasting air-powered cannon and cheesy-poof pop gun. This one has a little more oomph to it, powered as it is by a propane torch. The principle is simple: fill a soda bottle with propane, ignite the gas, fun ensues. The details are a little more subtle, though, and allowances need to be made to keep back pressure from preventing the projectile from filling with fuel. [NighthawkInLight] overcomes this with some clever machining of the barrel. The final production version in the video below is needlessly but delightfully complex, with a wooden stock and a coil of clear vinyl tubing helical plasma accumulator before the barrel; the last bit is just for show, and we have to admit that it looks pretty good.

Unless you count the pro tip on using CPVC pipe to make custom fittings, this one is nothing but fun. But we don’t have a problem with that.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Bellcycles are Open-Source, Compact, and Unique

What do we want in a bicycle? It should be able to be constructed at home, even if your home is a New York apartment. It should be Open Source so our friends can make their own. It should be compact so it won’t clutter up our little apartments. It should be unique instead of another me-too. [Alex Bell], of Bellcycles, is showing off his bicycle on hackaday.io and it fills all the requirements.

The unusual shape drastically reduces the size, turning radius, and storage footprint from a traditional bicycle. It shares the large front wheel design of the penny farthing. Unlike the giant wheeled penny-farthing, the rider is much closer to the ground so it doesn’t require a special technique to get on. In fact, dismounting the cycle is as easy as standing up since there is nothing in front of the rider which is great news for urban commuting.

If practicality takes a back seat to peculiarity, check out this Strandbeest bicycle and if you’d just rather stay in your apartment, you can still take a worldwide cycling tour in VR.

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Retrotechtacular: Radio to Listen to When you Duck and Cover

CONELRAD may sound like the name of a fictional android, but it is actually an acronym for control of electronic radiation. This was a system put in place by the United States at the height of the cold war (from 1951 to 1963) with two purposes: One was to disseminate civil defense information to the population and, also, to eliminate radio signals as homing beacons for enemy pilots.

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This 3D Cable Printer Remixes the Delta

When last we ran into [Daren Schwenke] he was showing off his 6-color delta printer that changes colors seamless mid-print. Right now he’s working on a printer that uses tensioned cables to precisely move a toolhead while maintaining enough solidity that [Daren] can tap on the toolhead without it budging at all.

It’s much more simple a rig than a gantry-style 3D printer, with a chassis shaped like a geodesic polyhedron consisting of fiberglass trusses (those driveway markers) secured by 3D-printed lugs, all controlled by a Beaglebone Green and four steppers. A key element of the build is the central steel rod, a 4′ repurposed garden stake which serves to stabilize the whole toolhead. In terms of  build diameter it can scale from around 200 mm to 600 mm. [Daren] aims to using Machinekit’s tripod kinematics for control and he also learned a bunch from RepRap’s Flying SkyDelta project.

For more 3D-printing goodness, be sure to check out [Daren]’s aforementioned 6-color delta.

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