This Car Has Wooden Performance

If you were to take a look at the car parked closest to where you are sitting, there’s an overwhelming probability that its main structural parts are made of steel. A few might be aluminium and fewer still composite materials, but by and large that’s it for automotive structures. This hasn’t stopped the inventive Russians at [Garage 54] from experimenting though, and in their latest they’ve made a car with a chassis made of wood. Not carefully sawn and assembled wooden structural components, oh no. These are wooden tree trunks and branches.

Of course it’s an opportunity for them to run wild on their very successful schtick of the crazy Eastern European YouTuber, but behind that it’s entertaining to watch how they adapt a drive train — taken we’re guessing from the FIAT 124-derived Zhiguli, or Lada as most of us would know it — to such an unconventional chassis. A lot of wire binding is used, and even then the car has a lot of the flexible about it. We’re not so sure about the differential without oil or indeed the front suspension that appears to be developing a lean, but they do manage to take it out of the forest and onto the road.

Are unconventional and definitely-not-road-legal motors your thing? Here’s another, courtesy of some Dutch lads.

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Custom Font Generation Means Boss Embossing

[Attoparsec] loves learning languages, but says they have a hard time retaining anything. We find that hard to believe given the number of tongues that [Attoparsec] was able to translate into embossing plastic. That’s right, this project is about making custom font wheels for an embosser, formerly known as a label maker.

If you think this seems like a finicky and perhaps lengthy mission to undertake, you’re right. In case you’re unfamiliar, ye olde embosser uses both a positive and a negative of each glyph in order to impress the sticky-backed plastic strip. It all started when [Attoparsec] found out about the Dymo 1595, which comes with font wheels for both Japanese hiragana and katakana in addition to English.

After sacrificing the English wheel, it was time to model the wheel part itself. That was easy enough, but the characters themselves were another story. Because of how the thing works, the negative has to be bigger than the positive to provide enough room for the tape. After trying to achieve the right draft angle on the characters in several CAD packages, [Attoparsec] was told that it should be fairly easy in OpenSCAD, and it was.

Printing in resin took about five hours to do both wheels at once. Once [Attoparsec] had the workflow down, they were off to the races. In this video alone, they made Old English, Esperanto, the International Phonetic Alphabet, an alphabet created by playwright George Bernard Shaw, Palm Pilot input script, and of course, Tolkein’s Tengwar. Be sure to check out the video after the break.

Tired of turning the wheel of your embosser to make labels? Automate the process with a stepper motor or two.

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Pen Plotter Uses Polar Coordinates

To keep track of a location in a two-dimensional space, two measurements are needed. Most of the time, we would naturally think to do this by the Cartesian method, measuring position along one axis and then again along a second axis. But this isn’t the only way of keeping track of position. Polar coordinates, where the distance from the origin and an angle are used as the two measurements, works just as well, and sometimes can be a preferred method. This pen plotter tosses the expected Cartesian methodology we would typically expect in favor of this polar system.

The first prototype that [André] built was a good proof of concept. A pen attached to a movable carriage on a single rotating arm produced passable drawings, but as all prototypes go this one needed some refinement. Limit switches at the ends of the table, as well as within the arm, served to orient the plotter so that it didn’t manually need to be zeroed out every time. A linear actuator was added to give finer control over the pen’s pressure on the table, and finally an encoder was added to the base of the plotter to more accurately correct positional errors in the rotating arm mechanism.

With everything said and done, the polar coordinate plotter seems to work just as well as its Cartesian cousins might, orienting it like this has some advantages as well. Specifically, it is more adapted to drawing curves or circles than an X-Y device might be able to, like we saw with this similar sand-drawing plotter. Also, if allowed to rotate its entire 360-degree reach instead of just the 90 degrees shown in the video, a machine like this could theoretically reach a wider workspace more easily than other plotters.

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DIY Pan And Tilt Camera Mount

Pan and tilt mounts have a number of uses that can increase the functionality of various types of cameras. Security cameras can use them to adjust the field of view remotely, astronomers can use them as telescope mounts to accurately track celestial objects, and of course photographers and videographers can use them to add dynamic elements to shots. But getting the slow, smooth, and reliable movement isn’t as simple as slapping some servos on a tripod. So unless you want to break the bank for a commercial mount, this DIY pan and tilt mount might be the way to go.

The mount is built largely out of 3D printed parts and a few fairly common motors, belts, pulleys, and bearings. The movements are controlled using stepper motors, and there are two additional systems built in so that focus and zoom can be controlled through the system as well. The software controlling it all is open-source and  available on GitHub, and controls the mount remotely through a network connection. It’s also designed to use the readily-available ESP32 chip, making it overall fairly adaptable.

The system doesn’t slouch on features, either. It can move from one point to another with various programmable speeds, has a key sequencer for more complex movements, and can accommodate the needs of stop motion animators as well. It’s an impressive build that should be accessible to plenty of photographers with a 3D printer and the right parts, but photography and astronomy aren’t the only reasons to use a pan and tilt mount. Check out this one that brings some sunlight to a shaded room.

2023 Cyberdeck Challenge: CyberTapeDeck

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to picking an enclosure for your cyberdeck project: you either repurpose the carcass of some commercially produced gadget, or you build a new case yourself. The former can lead to some very impressive results, especially if your donor device is suitably vintage, but the latter is far more flexible as the design will be based on your specific parameters.

But for the CyberTapeDeck, [Matthew] decided to take a hybrid approach. The final product certainly looks like it’s built into a 1980s portable tape deck, but on closer inspection, you’ll note that the whole thing is actually 3D printed. The replica doesn’t just nail the aesthetics — it also includes the features you’d expect from the real thing, including an extendable handle and functional buttons which the internal Raspberry Pi 3 sees as a macropad thanks to an Arduino Pro Micro.

A seven inch LCD stands in for the tape door, and while it unfortunately doesn’t look like [Matthew] was able to replicate the opening mechanism to angle the display, you can at least stand the whole thing on its end to provide a more comfortable viewing experience.

[Matthew] says one of the intended purposes for this cyberdeck is to get his son excited about working with electronics and programming, so in a particularly nice touch, he’s mounted a terminal block over the “speaker” that ties into the Pi’s GPIO pins. This provides a convenient interface for experimenting on the go, without getting tangled up in exposed wiring.

We appreciate that [Matthew] has released the STL files for all of the printed parts, because even though it makes a great cyberdeck, the design is begging to house a faux-retro media player.

Linux Fu: The Old School Terminal

Maybe you have a vintage old-school computer. Maybe you have a replica. Maybe you just want to run SIMH and relive the glory days of CP/M or VMS. The problem is, it looks kind of silly to have CP/M running in your beautiful X11 terminal window full of 3D animations, opacity effects, and special fonts. You could buy an old CRT monitor. That would be cool, too, because on a modern screen, you don’t get scan lines and all the crummy artifacts that go along with an electron beam and phosphor display device. Or you can grab retro-cool-term.

Star Trek on CP/M

Even if you don’t have an old computer, the program will work fine to simply run your shell for everyday use. Confound the youngsters when they see your terminal with scan lines and CRT jitter updating the latest packages.

What Is It?

If you want a shell in a GUI, you used to use xterm, although most people use something more modern. I use Konsole, but some like RXVT or whatever terminal your distro favors. Cool-retro-term is just a replacement for this. By default, it only opens a shell prompt.

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Improving A Kodak Film Digitizer

Despite the near-complete collapse of its ecosystem in the face of portable videocassette camcorders in the 1980s, somehow the 8 mm format, smallest of the movie films, has survived the decades. There’s a special aura around an 8 mm image which electronic recordings don’t replicate, plus for film makers there’s an attraction to working with real film. Unsurprisingly almost all of the devices used with 8 mm film have ceased to be manufactured, but a few items escaped the cut. It’s still possible to buy an 8 mm digitizer for example, and it’s one of these with a Kodak brand that [Mac84] has. Unsatisfied with its image quality, he’s set about tinkering with its firmware to give it some video adjustment possibilities and remove its artifact-prone artificial sharpening.

Helped by the device having a handy EEPROM from which to extract the code, he was able to recover the firmware intact. From here on he was in luck, because the digitizer’s Novatek CPU is shared with some dash cams and this had spawned a hacker scene. From there he was able to find the relevant area and adjust those settings, and after a few false starts, re-flash it to the device.

The results can be seen in the video below the break, and perhaps reveal much about what we expect from an image in the digital age. The sharpened images look good, until we see untampered versions which are closer to the original.

If you don’t have a Kodak scanner you can always build one yourself, and meanwhile like many people we are still wondering what happened to that new Super 8 camera they announced in 2018 but never released.

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