Some of us jokingly refer to our hobbies as “mad science,” but [Justin] from The Thought Emporium could be one Igor away from living up to the jibe. The latest project to come out of the YouTube channel, video also after the break, outlines a map for creating an artificial organism in their new lab. The purpose is to test how far a citizen scientist can push the boundary of bioengineering. The stated goal is to create a swimming entity with a skeleton. The Thought Emporium also has a neuron project in the works, hinting at a potential crossover.
The artifishal [sic] organism has themes at the micro and macro scale. [Justin] says, “Cells are like little nano-robots. Mainly in the sense that they just follow their built-in instructions to the best of their ability.” At the multi-cellular level, the goal is to program something to actuate muscle tissue rhythmically to sustain locomotion. The method for creating living parts is decellularization and recellularization, a technique we heard about at Hackaday Belgrade.
The Thought Emporium is improving upon its protocol which removes cells from their “scaffolding” to repopulate it with the desired type, muscle in this case. Cellular scaffolds retain the shape of whatever they were, so whatever grows on them determines what they become. Once the technique of turning a leaf into muscle fibers is mastered, the next step will be creating bones with a different cell line that will mineralize the scaffold. Optimizing the processes and combining the results may show the world what is possible with the dedication of citizen bioengineers.
Regenerative medicine is looking at replacement human-parts with similar techniques. We are eager to see fish that digest plastic.
Continue reading “Get Your Leafy Meats”
There are few rites of programmer passage as iconic as writing your first parser. You might want to interpret or compile a scripting language, or you might want to accept natural-language-like commands. You need a parser. [Varunramesh] wants to show you parser combinators, a technique used to make practical parsers. But the demonstration using interactive code cells in the web page is nearly as interesting as the technique.
Historically, you parse tokens, and this technique can do that too, but it can also operate directly on character streams if you prefer. The idea is related to recursive descent parsing, where you attempt to parse certain things, and if those things fail, you try again.
Continue reading “A Browser Approach To Parsing”
We all might dream of having an industrial robot arm at our disposal, complete with working controller that doesn’t need constant maintenance and replacement parts, and which is able to help us with other projects with only a minimum of coding or instruction. That’s a pipe dream for most of us, as without a large space, sufficient funding, or unlimited amounts of troubleshooting time we’ll almost always have to look for something smaller and simpler. Perhaps something even as small as this pocket-sized robotic arm.
This isn’t actually the first time we’ve seen the MeArm; the small robot has been around since 2014 and has undergone a number of revisions and upgrades. Even this revision has been out for a little while now but this latest in the series is now available with a number of improvements over the older models. The assembly time required has been reduced from two hours to about 30 minutes and the hardware has even been fully open-sourced as well which allows virtually anyone with the prerequisite tools to build this tiny robot for whatever they happen to need it for, due to its very permissive licensing.
The linked Instructable goes into every detail needed for building the robot as well as documenting all of the parts needed, although you will need access to some specialty tools to make a lot of them. We also featured a Friday Hack Chat about these robots back in 2018 that has some interesting details about these robots in it, and although this is a relatively small robot in the grand scheme of things it’s always possible to upgrade to something larger in the future.
Continue reading “MeArm 3.0: The Pocket-Sized Robot Arm”
Cross-pollination between different industries can yield interesting innovations, and a few years ago [John Wiltrout] developed some non-slip meter probe adapters. He recently used our tips line to share some details that you won’t see elsewhere, letting us know how the idea came to be.
It started with [John] being frustrated by issues that will sound familiar: probes did not always want to stay in place, and had a tendency to skid around at the slightest provocation. This behavior gets only more frustrating as boards and components get smaller. John was also frustrated by the general inability to reliably probe through barriers like solder masking, oxidation, and conformal treatments on circuit boards. Continue reading “Dentist Tool Hardware Inspires Non-Slip Probe Tips”
Seeing airplanes fly in formation is an exciting experience at something like an air show, where demonstrations of a pilot’s skill and aircraft technology are on full display. But there are other reasons for aircraft to fly in formation as well. [Peter] has been exploring the idea that formation flight can also improve efficiency, and has been looking specifically at things like formation flight of UAVs or drones with this flight planning algorithm.
Aircraft flying in formation create vortices around the wing tips, which cause drag. However, another aircraft flying through those vortices will experience less drag and more efficient flight. This is the reason birds instinctively fly in formation as well. By planning paths for drones which will leave from different locations, meet up at some point to fly in a more efficient formation, and then split up close to their destinations, a significant amount of energy can potentially be saved. Continue reading “Formation Flying Does More Than Look Good”
There are a wide variety of protein-based drugs that are used to treat various serious conditions. Insulin is perhaps the most well-known example, which is used for life-saving treatments for diabetes. New antibody treatments also fall into this category, as do various vaccines.
A significant cost element in the production of these treatments is the purification step, wherein the desired protein is separated from the contents of the bioreactor it was produced in. A new nanotech discovery from MIT could revolutionize this area, making these drugs cheaper and easier to produce.
Join us on Wednesday, June 28 at noon Pacific for the Desktop EDM Hack Chat with Cooper Zurad!
Whether you know it or not, chances are pretty good you’ve run into the results of electrical discharge machining at some point. EDM is the go-to machining method for so many applications, from making complex injection molding tooling to putting impossibly small holes into hardened steel, EDM gets the jobs that make traditional machining techniques weep.
At its heart, EDM is really simple; it’s just making sparks to selectively erode metal. In practice, though, it’s way more complicated than that. There’s the CNC aspect to control the cutting tool, the dielectric to cool things and flush away the swarf, and the precision control of the electric discharge. It’s all just complicated and expensive enough that it’s hard to find anyone doing EDM on the hobbyist level.
Hard, but not impossible. Desktop EDM is doable, and to help us understand the challenges involved we’ve invited Cooper Zurad to the Hack Chat. Cooper has quite a bit of experience with the related and somewhat less energetic ECM, or electrochemical machining, and is now turning the knowledge gained there to desktop EDM. Make sure to join us with your questions about machining with electricity.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, June 28 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
[Featured image by Qw5646, CC BY-SA 3.0]