Saving money is inherently no fun until the time comes that you get to spend it on something awesome. Wouldn’t you be more likely to drop your coins into a piggy bank if there was a chance for an immediate payout that might exceed the amount you put in? We know we would. And the best part is, if you put such a piggy bank slot machine out in the open where your friends and neighbors can play with it, you’ll probably make even more money. As they say, the house always wins.
Drop a coin in the slot and it passes through a pair of wires that act as a simple switch to start the reels spinning. Inside is an Arduino Uno and a giant printed screw feeder that’s driven by a small stepper motor and a pair of printed gears. The reels have been modernized and the display is made of four individual LED matrices that appear as a single unit thanks to some smoky adhesive film.
This beautiful little machine took a solid week of 3D printing, which includes 32 hours wasted on a huge piece that failed twice. [Max 3D Design] tried rotating the model 180° in the slicer and thankfully, that solved the problem. Then it was on to countless hours of sanding, smoothing with body filler, priming, and painting to make it look fantastic.
If you want to make your own, all the files are up on Thingiverse. The code isn’t shown, but we know for a fact that Arduino slot machine code is out there already. Check out the build and demo video after the break.
We’ll be honest, we were more excited by Duke University’s announcement that they’d used carbon-based inks to 3D print a transistor than we were by their assertion that it was recyclable. Not that recyclability is a bad thing, of course. But we would imagine that any carbon ink on a paper-like substrate will fit in the same category. In this case, the team developed an ink from wood called nanocelluose.
As a material, nanocellulose is nothing new. The breakthrough was preparing it in an ink formulation. The researchers developed a method for suspending crystals of nanocellulose that can work as an insulator in the printed transistors. Using the three inks at room temperature, an inkjet-like printer can produce transistors that were functioning six months after printing.
What’s the coolest thing about doing upholstery work? Aside from the fact that you end up with a new thing to sit on, sometimes the work only involves clever stapling, and no sewing is necessary. Such is the case with [wyldestyle]’s upcycled jeans chair, which started as a bare-wood swivel number from the dump. In fact, this project is almost completely made from recycled materials, except of course for those staples that hold it all together. And really, that heavy-duty stapler is likely the fanciest tool you’d need to make your own.
[wyldestyle] didn’t have any furniture foam, and we think that stuff is too expensive, anyway. So the padding treatment begins with a piece of thick Styrofoam that covers the seat screws and bolts. This is glued in place and trimmed down to match the contours of the chair’s seat and back.
Here’s where things gets tricky: the next step is wrapping over the stiff foam board with a few layers of that foam sheeting stuff that’s often used as packing material. This sheeting needs to be taut, but pull it too tight, and it will rip.
To add some loft to the chair, [wyldestyle] stretched and stapled the stuffing from an old pillow that was headed for the garbage. The final step is strategically scissoring jean scraps to fit, then stretching and stapling those to cover all the layers underneath. We like the way this chair looks, and would probably try to place pockets somewhere useful, like the back of the chair.
It’s a shame that so much denim goes to waste all over the world. There’s often a lot of life left in most of the fabric, which can be repurposed into all kinds of things, including eyeglasses frames using a wicked set of jigs.
Our favorite raft of otters is back at it again with another display of open source audio prowess as they bring us the OtterCastAmp, the newest member of the OtterCast family of open source audio multitools. If you looked at the previous entry in the series – the OtterCastAudio – and thought it was nice but lacking in the pixel count or output power departments then this is the device for you.
The Amp is fundamentally a very similar device to the OtterCastAudio. It shares the same Allwinner S3 Cortex-A application processor and runs the same embedded Linux build assembled with Buildroot. In turn it offers the same substantial set of features and audio protocol support. It can be targeted by Snapcast, Spotify Connect or AirPlay if those are your tools of choice, or act as a generic PulseAudio sink for your Linux audio needs. And there’s still a separate line in so it source audio as well.
One look at the chassis and it’s clear that unlike the OtterCastAudio this is not a simple Chromecast Audio replacement. The face of the OtterCastAmp is graced by a luscious 340×800 LCD for all the cover art your listening ear can enjoy. And the raft of connectors in the back (and mountain of inductors on the PCBA) make it clear that this is a fully fledged class D amplifier, driving up to 120W of power across four channels. Though it may drive a theoretical 30W or 60W peak across its various outputs, with a maximum supply power of 100W (via USB-C power delivery, naturally) the true maximum output will be a little lower. Rounding out the feature set is an Ethernet jack and some wonderfully designed copper PCB otters to enjoy inside and out.
As before, it looks like this design is very close to ready for prime time but not quite there yet, so order at your own risk. Full fab files and some hints are linked in the repo mentioned above. If home fabrication is a little much it looks like there might be a small manufacturing run of these devices coming soon.
Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of projects that use ultrasonic or time-of-flight sensors as object detection methods for the visually impaired. Ultrasonic sensors detect objects like sonar — they send sound pulses and measure the time it takes for the signal to bounce off the object and come back. Time-of-flight sensors do essentially the same thing, but with infrared light. In either case, the notifications often come as haptic feedback on the wrist or head or whatever limb the ultrasonic module is attached to. We often wonder why there aren’t commercially-made shoes that do this, but it turns out there are, and they’re about to get even better.
Today, Tec-Innovation makes shoes with ultrasonic sensors on the toes that can detect objects up to four meters away. The wearer is notified of obstacles through haptic feedback in the shoes as well as an audible phone notification via Bluetooth. The company teamed up with the Graz University of Technology in Austria to give the shoes robot vision that provides even better detail.
Ultrasonic is a great help, but it can’t detect the topography of the obstacle and tell a pothole from a rock from a wall. But if you have a camera on both feet, you can use the data to determine obstacle types and notify the user accordingly. These new models will still have the ultrasonic sensors to do the initial object detection, and use the cameras for analysis.
Whenever they do come out, the sensors will all be connected through the app, which paves the way for crowdsourced obstacle maps of various cities. The shoes will also be quite expensive. Can you do the same thing for less? Consider the gauntlet thrown!
Your airplane has crashed at sea. You are perched in a lifeboat and you need to call for help. Today you might reach for a satellite phone, but in World War II you would more likely turn a crank on a special survival radio.
These radios originated in Germany but were soon copied by the British and the United States. In addition to just being a bit of history, we can learn a few lessons from these radios. The designers clearly thought about the challenges stranded personnel would face and came up with novel solutions. For example, how do you loft a 300-foot wire up to use as an antenna? Would you believe a kite or even a balloon?
The toys of the past may have been cheesy, but you can’t deny the creativity needed to build something engaging without any electronics. One stalwart toy from this category is View-Master, the little stereoscopic slide viewer that brought the world to life in seven vibrant scenes. And digitizing these miniature works of art is the purpose of this neat View-Master reel scanner project.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of using a View-Master, the gist is that a flat disc cardboard disc ringed with 14 color transparencies was inserted into a plastic viewer. Binocular eyepieces showed scenes from opposing pairs of slides, which were illuminated by a frosted screen and room lighting. The scenes were photographed from slightly different angles, leading to a stereoscopic image that was actually pretty good quality.
In the video below, project creator [W. Jason Altice] describes View-Master as “the YouTube of the 1950s.” We partially agree; with only seven frames to tell a story, we’d say it’s more like TikTok than YouTube. Regardless, capturing these mini-movies requires quite a bit of complexity. All the parts for the reel carousel are 3D-printed, with a small stepper to advance the reel and an optical sensor to register its position. A ring of RGB LEDs beneath the reel illuminates the slides; being able to control the color of the light helps with color balancing for slides with faded colors. An 8-megapixel camera captures each slide, and some pretty slick software helps with organizing the image pairs, tweaking their alignment, capturing the captions from the disc, and stitching everything into a video.
There’s a whole YouTube channel devoted to View-Master captures, which are best viewed with a Google Cardboard or something similar. Even without the 3D effect, it’s still pretty cool to watch [Popeye] beat up a nuke again.