A Paste Extruder For Normal Printers

In the bright sunshine of a warm spring afternoon at Delft Maker Faire, were a row of 3D printers converted with paste extruders. They were the work of [Nedji Yusufova], and though while were being shown printing with biodegradable pastes made from waste materials, we were also interested in their potential to print using edible media.

The extruder follows a path set by similar ones we’ve seen before in that it uses a disposable syringe at its heart, this time in a laser-cut ply enclosure and a lead screw driven by a stepper motor. It’s part of a kit suitable for run-of-the-mill FDM printers that’s available for sale if you have the extra cash, but happily they’ve also made all the files available.

We’ve seen quite a few syringe extruders and at least one food printer, so there’s nothing particularly new about this one. What it does give you is a relatively straightforward build and a ready integration with some mass market printers you might be familiar with. Perhaps the most interesting part of this project isn’t even the extruder itself but the materials, after all having a paste extruder gives you the opportunity to experiment with new recipes. We like it.

Modern CO2 Laser Reviewed

If you’ve got a laser cutter, it is highly probable that it uses a laser diode. But more expensive machines use a carbon dioxide laser tube along with mirrors. There was a time when these lasers came in two flavors: very expensive and amazing or moderately expensive and cheaply made. However, we are seeing that even the moderately expensive machines are now becoming quite advanced. [Chad] reviews a 55-watt xTool P2. At around $5,000, it is still a little spendy for a home shop, but it does have pretty amazing features. We can only hope some less expensive diode lasers will adopt some of these features.

[Chad’s] video that you can see below attempts to recreate some of the amazing things xTool did on their product introduction live stream. He was able to recreate most, but not all of the results. In some cases, he was also able to do better.

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Wood game piece being carved by a CNC mill with a hacked rotary axis

This $12 CNC Rotary Axis Will Make Your Head Spin

[legolor] brings us a great, cheap rotary axis to add to your small 3 axis CNC mills. How are you going to generate G-Code for this 4th axis? That’s the great part, and the hack, that [legolor] really just swapped the Y axis for the rotation. To finish the workflow and keep things cheap accessible to all there’s a great trick to “unwrap” your 3D model so your CAM software of choice thinks it’s still using a linear Y axis and keeps your existing workflow largely intact. While this requires an extra step in Blender to do the unwrapping, we love the way this hack changes as little of the rest of your process as possible. The Blender script might be useful for many other purposes too.

Wood game pieces carved from wood by a CNC mill with a hacked rotary axis

The results speak for themselves too! We thought the 3D printed parts were suspect in a CNC setup, but for the small scale of game pieces and milling wood, the setup is stable enough to produce a surprisingly accurate and detailed finish. If you want to try the same approach with something larger or a tougher material, [legolor] has a suggestion of a tailstock setup that’s still under $100 USD. Continue reading “This $12 CNC Rotary Axis Will Make Your Head Spin”

A Free TV With A Catch: New Normal Or Inevitable Hardware Bonanza?

The dystopian corporate dominated future may have taken a step closer, as a startup called Telly promises a free 55 inch 4K TV with a catch — a second screen beneath the main one that displays adverts. The viewers definitely aren’t the customers but the product, and will no doubt have every possible piece of data that can be harvested from them sold to the highest bidder. There’s even a microphone and camera pointed at the viewer, to complete the 1984 experience. In a sense it’s nothing new, as certain TV manufacturers have been trying to slip adverts into the interfaces on their paid-for smart TVs for years.

Oddly we’re not convinced though, that the eventual outcome of this will be as sinister as readers might expect. Indeed if the past is anything to go by, it could even herald an eventual bonanza of 4K screens for hardware hackers. To explain why, we have to travel back to the late 1990s, when free hardware for adverts startups were last tried. Back then there were a spate of companies using the same model of free or super-cheap hardware, and without exception they ran into¬†the fundamental problem that people who rely on a free product in exchange for adverts aren’t generally high value consumers who can bring in the revenue to support buying a ton of consumer electronics. The “free” hardware from several of these startups then found its way onto the surplus market — or in the case of CueCat barcode scanners, directly into the hands of hardware hackers, and was repurposed for use in the way our community knows best.

So yes. Telly represents all that’s wrong for the privacy of viewers about the current media landscape. But who knows, it might just spawn a hacking scene all of its own. As a final note we think that they’ll have an interesting time protecting their brand name if they ever enter the British market, where “telly” has been slang for television ever since the technology entered the mainstream.

Hackaday Prize 2023: A DIY Voice-Control Module

If science fiction taught us anything, it’s that voice control was going to be the human-machine interface of the future. [Dennis] has now whipped up a tutorial that lets you add a voice control module to any of your own projects.

The voice control module uses a Raspberry Pi 4 as the brains of the operation, paired with a Seeed Studio ReSpeaker 4-microphone array. The Pi provides a good amount of processing power to crunch through the audio, while the mic array captures high-quality audio from any direction, which is key to reliable performance. Rhasspy is used as the software element, which is responsible for processing audio in a variety of languages to determine what the user is asking for. Based on the voice commands received, Rhasspy can then run just about anything you could possibly require, from sending MQTT smart home commands to running external programs.

If you’ve always dreamed of whipping up your own version of Jarvis from Iron Man, or you just want a non-cloud solution to turn your lights on and off, [Dennis’s] tutorial is a great place to start. Video after the break.

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New DOS PCs, In 2023?

It’s not likely that we’ll talk about a new PC here at Hackaday because where’s the news in yet another commodity computer? But today along comes not one but two new PCs courtesy of the ever bounteous hall of wonders at AliExpress, that are unusual enough to take a look at. If you have around $250 to spare, you can have a brand new, made in 2023, 80386sx plamtop PC capable of running Windows 95, or an 8088 laptop for DOS. Just what on earth is going on?

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Turning Old Kindles Into AI Powered Picture Frames

While we tend to think of Amazon’s e-paper Kindles as more or less single-purpose devices (which to be fair, is how they’re advertised), there’s actually a full-featured Linux computer running behind that simple interface, just waiting to be put to work. Given how cheap you can get old Kindles on the second hand market, this has always struck us as something of a wasted opportunity.

This is why we love to see projects like Kindlefusion from [Diggedypomme]. It turns the Kindle into a picture frame to show off the latest in machine learning art thanks to Stable Diffusion. Just connect your browser to the web-based control interface running on the Kindle, give it a prompt, and away it goes. There are also functions to recall previously generated images, and if you’re connecting from a mobile device, support for creating images from voice prompts.

You can find cheap older Kindles on eBay.

All you need is a Kindle that can be jailbroken, though technically the software has only been tested against older third and fourth-generation hardware. From there you install a few required packages as listed in the project documentation, including Python 3. Then you just move the Kindlefusion package over either via USB or SSH, and do a little final housekeeping before starting it up and letting it take over the Kindle’s normal UI.

Given the somewhat niche nature of Kindle hacking, we’re particularly glad to see that [Diggedypomme] went through the trouble of explaining the nuances of getting the e-reader ready to run your own code. While it’s not difficult to do, there are plenty of pitfalls if you’ve never done it before, so a concise guide is a nice thing to have. Unfortunately, it seems like Amazon has recently gone on the offensive, with firmware updates blocking the exploits the community was using for jailbreaking on all but the older models that are no longer officially supported.

While it’s a shame you can’t just pick up a new Kindle and start hacking (at least, for now), there are still millions of older devices floating around that could be put to good use. Hopefully, projects like this can help inspire others to pick one up and start experimenting with what’s possible.

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