PETamentor2 Is Latest To Turn Bottles Into Filament

[Ondřej Šraitr] has several videos, including the one you can watch below, about his PETamentor2 — a machine for turning PET bottles into printable filament. You can grab the files on Thingiverse, and there aren’t many parts you have to buy.

The device looks good, and from the videos, it appears to work well. A blade slices the bottle into a strip that feeds what is essentially a hot end that pushes out the filament. The blade is adjustable to set the amount of plastic fed at any given time which is important because you need enough to create a solid piece of filament but not any more than that.

Surprisingly, the bill of materials doesn’t include any sort of microcontroller. There is a PWM speed control module to drive the 7 RPM motor and a temperature controller. Of course, you need a power supply, a heater block and a heater. The nozzle is, oddly enough, a standard 0.4 mm nozzle. You drill it out to 1.5 mm and die swell takes care of getting to the final 1.75 mm size.

It takes about 45 minutes to eat up what looks like a 1-liter bottle. The filament produced looks good in the video. We aren’t sure, but we think that was a roll of solder used as a ballast weight on top of the bottle keeping it moving in a downward direction. Bottles imply wetness, of course, so after producing the filament, it needs to be dried.

This is the second version of the machine and we were a bit surprised that we never saw a video of the filament in use. But it looks like it would work and it isn’t like we haven’t seen this technique used before. In fact, we’ve seen it several times. We can’t remember any that looked as stylish as the PETamentor2, though, and we are interested to hear about anyone’s results with the resulting filament.

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Fourteen-Legged Cell Carries Nature’s Tiny Computer

Computers are, after all, frighteningly complex state machines. Quite of bit of the software we write can be modeled as a state machine, too. A great technological achievement by humans? Turns out, state machines exist in some of nature’s tiniest natural computers, according to biologists studying Euplotes eurystomus, a kind of water-dwelling eukaryote. This single-cell organism uses fourteen protolegs known as cirri that move in a particular gait, in response to certain stimuli.

As you might expect, a single-celled organism doesn’t have the infrastructure to support a brain, so scientists wondered what could control the way the beast walks using the cirri. The answer was fibers made of bundles of microtubles that acted as a mechanical state machine.

While we are used to state machines using bi-stable electronic elements, older machines often used cams and microswitches along with a timing motor. For example, a phone answering machine might have a three-minute motor. One cam would depress a micro switch to run the outgoing message for 15 seconds. Then another cam would depress a microswitch to start recording, and a final switch and cam would keep the motor running until the very end. To start the process, a ringing phone would goose the motor so that that last cam engaged. Simple and no computer needed. The “brain fibers” of the Euplotes seem to work in a similar way. They enforce which states can be reached from what other states and react to outside stimuli, as well.

Is any of this practical? Maybe not, although we often see technology mimic biological systems. But we can’t help but wonder if future microscopic-scale machines might not need this same sort of mechanical state machine for many purposes, including locomotion.

You can apparently make single-cell organisms your servants, more or less. We’ve covered state machines many times if you need a refresher.

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Hackaday Links: October 16, 2022

Be careful where your take your iPhone 14 or Apple Watch, because under the right circumstances, you might end up swatting yourself. At least that’s what seems to have happened to some owners when their device’s crash detection feature interpreted a roller coaster ride as a car crash, and dialed emergency services. Crash detection is apparently set up to make the call automatically when accelerometers detect the high g-forces that normally occur in a crash, but can also occur on a coaster ride — at least the good one. In at least one case, an ersatz call to 911 was accompanied by the screams of fellow coaster riders, as the service apparently opens the device’s microphone when a crash is detected.

Hilarity ensued, of course, as long as you weren’t someone with a legit emergency who experienced a delayed response because of this. We’d have sworn that having a system auto-dial 911 was strictly illegal for just this reason, but apparently not. We guess there are two lessons here: one, that Apple engineers really should have thought this through, and maybe need to get out into the real world once in a while; and two, that people will gladly fork over their hard-earned dollars for the privilege of going on a fun ride that’s indistinguishable from a car crash. Our own Lewin Day took a close look at the situation earlier this week if you’d like to read more on the subject.

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Everything You Wanted To See About Restoring A 1956 Radio

Ever wanted a good, good look at the insides of a 1950s radio, along with fantastic commentary on the internals and the purpose of various components? Then don’t miss [Adam Wilson]’s repair and restoration of a 1956 Philips 353A, a task made easier by a digitized copy of the service manual. [Adam] provides loads of great pictures, as well as tips on what it takes to bring vintage electronics back to life. What’s not to like?

Vintage electronics like this are often chock-full of components that deteriorate with age, so one doesn’t simply apply power to see if it still works as a first step. These devices need to be inspected and serviced before power is ever applied. Even then, powerup should be done with a current-controlled source that can be shut down if anything seems amiss.

Thank goodness for high quality, digitized service manuals.

Devices like these largely predate printed circuit boards, so one can expect to see plenty of point-to-point soldering. Vacuum tubes did much of the hard work, so they are present instead of integrated circuits and transistors. Capacitors in the microfarads were much larger compared to their modern equivalents, and paper/wax capacitors (literally made from rolled-up paper covered in wax) handled capacitances in the nanofarad range instead of the little ceramic disk caps of today.

One thing that helped immensely is the previously-mentioned Philips 353A service manual, which includes not only a chassis and component layout, but even has servicing procedures such as cord replacement for the tuning dial. Back then, a tuning dial was an electromechanical assembly that used a winding of cord to rotate the tuning capacitor, and replacing it was a fiddly process. If only all hardware was documented so well!

The end result looks wonderful and still has great sound. As a final tweak, [Adam] added an external audio input cable as a nod to the modern age. Now, we have in the past seen a small LED screen integrated convincingly into an antique, but in this case [Adam] kept the original look completely intact. You can see it in action, playing some Frank Sinatra in the short video embedded below.
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2022 Cyberdeck Contest: A Wrist-Worn Deck With A Hybrid Interface

You’d think that now that the 2022 Cyberdeck Contest is wrapped up, we’d stop writing about it. Sorry, but no — there were so many great entries that we just can’t help but keep focusing on them. And this wearable hybrid interface cyberdeck has a look we love so much that we can’t resist spotlighting it.

We wouldn’t go so far as to call the “hgDeck” a PipBoy, but [Igor Brkić]’s wrist-worn deck certainly bears some similarity with to the Fallout-famous terminal. In fact, the design for this one is based on his earlier hgTerm Raspberry Pi mini-laptop, which honestly would have made a great entry all by itself. But while the two version shares some similarities, the hgDeck puts a serious twist on the form factor. In the stowed configuration, the Pi Zero W puts the main display, a 3.5″ Waveshare TFT, to work using the resistive touchscreen interface. But with the flick of a finger, a motor flips the monitor up on a set of pantograph linkages, which exposes a compact Bluetooth keyboard. Another touch stows the screen and returns you to touchscreen-only operation.

There were a fair number of wrist-worn decks in the contest’s final results, and while this one didn’t win, [Igor]’s build has got to be one of the cooler designs we’ve seen, one that almost seems practical in the real world.

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Cutting A Wearable Display In Half Is Harder And Simpler Than It Seems

In the world of hardware hacking, you sometimes spend a ridiculous amount of time debugging a problem, only to find a simple solution that was right in front of you the whole time. [Zack Freedman] got a good dose of this while building the Optigon V2, a modified Epson Moverio wearable display he uses as a teleprompter in all his videos. He prefers having the teleprompter over his left eye only, but the newer version of the Moverio would shut off both sides if one is disconnected, so [Zack] needed a workaround.

Looking for some help from above, [Zack] requested developer documentation for the display module from Epson, but got declined because he wasn’t a manufacturer or product developer. Luckily, a spec sheet available for downloaded from the Epson website did contain a lot of the information he needed. An STM32 monitored the temperature of each display module over a pair of independent I2C interfaces, and would shut down everything if it couldn’t connect to either. This led [Zack] to attempt to spoof the I2C signals with an ATmega328, but it couldn’t keep up with the 400 kHz I2C bus.

However, looking at the logs from his logic analyzer, [Zack] found that the STM32 never talked to both display modules simultaneously, even though it is capable of doing so. Both displays use the same I2C address, so [Zack] could simply connect the two I2C buses to each other with a simple interface board, effectively making the left display “spoof” the signals from the right display.

Wearable displays need some fancy optics to be practical, you can’t just stick an OLED to your face. Two other interesting projects from [Zack] are his modular mechanical keyboard and the Gridfinity 3D printed storage system.

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Automatic Flag Waver Lets You Show Your Loyalty Without Getting Tired

A flag is a great tool to show your loyalty to a country, a sports team or even a philosophical movement. But there’s not so much you can actually do with a flag: you can either hang it somewhere, or wave it around to attact others to your cause. [Mellow] found that waving quickly becomes tiresome, and decided to design a machine that automates this task for him.

A man holding a device that waves two small rainbow flagsNow there’s a bit more involved in designing a proper flag-waver than simply moving the flag back and forth. Ideally, the fabric should flow smoothly from side to side and show both sides equally, in the same way a human would do when waving a big flag around. After a bit of research [Mellow] decided on a design that generates a rather complex motion using just a single servo: the mast is tilted from left to right, while gravity ensures the flag rotates around its axis. It’s probably best demonstrated visually, as [Mellow] does in the video embedded below.

The flag-waving mechanism is designed in Fusion 360 and 3D printed using white filament. Inside a little square box is a Wemos D1 Mini, powered by a lithium battery scavenged from a vape pen, as well as a battery management system and a power switch. The servo sits on top of the box and holds the flag in a little socket that allows the mast to rotate freely. [Mellow] also went one step further and built a two-flag waver, which still uses only one servo but creates two opposite motions through a set of spur gears. Both waver types bring a lively atmosphere to their surroundings, and we can actually imagine them being useful in places like sports bars.

Automatic flag-wavers are still rare devices, and as far as we can tell this is only the second one we’ve seen, after this hat-mounted example. That is, if you don’t count the automatic “flag” on this mailbox.

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