3D Printing At 100C

Normally, 3D printing with filament takes temperatures of around 200 °C. However, there are some crafting plastics that melt in hot water at 60 °C. You can get spools of similar plastic that prints at very low temperatures, and some 3D printing pens use it. [Lost in Tech] picked up a spool of the stuff meant for medical printing and found that printing with it was a challenge. You can watch a video of the results below.

The first problem is that most printers don’t want to extrude at low temperatures. You can override this or, if you want to print with this plastic — PCL — you can rebuild the printer firmware. He never got bridges to work very well, but some prints came out reasonably well.

Of course, you might wonder why you would care about this kind of plastic. For one thing, it’s apparently safe to work with. If you were printing with students, too, you might be interested in a lower printer temperature. However, it didn’t look like the results were that good. However, it makes you wonder what kinds of filament you could use with a little work that might have some benefit.

The last time we heard about this stuff, someone was printing bones with it. We are always on the lookout for oddball filament to play with.

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Buck Converter Takes 8V To 100V

For those living before the invention of the transistor, the modern world must appear almost magical. Computers are everywhere now and are much more reliable, but there are other less obvious changes as well. Someone from that time would have needed a huge clunky machine like a motor-generator set to convert DC voltages, but we can do it with ease using a few integrated circuits. This one can take a huge range of input voltages to output a constant 5V.

The buck converter was designed by [hesam.moshiri] using a MP9486 chip. While it is possible to use a multipurpose microcontroller like something from Atmel to perform the switching operation needed for DC-DC converters, using a purpose-built chip saves a lot of headache. The circuit was modified a little bit to support the higher input voltage ranges and improve its stability and reliability. The board is assembled in an incredibly tiny package with inputs and outputs readily accessible, so it would be fairly simple to add one into a project rather than designing it from scratch.

Even though buck converters, and other DC converters like boost and the mysterious buck-boost converter, seem like magic even to us, there is some interesting electrical theory going on if you’re willing to dive into the inner workings of high-frequency switching. Take a look at this explanation we featured a while back to see more about how buck converters, the more easily understood among them, work.

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Hackaday Links: September 17, 2023

OK, it’s official — everyone hates San Francisco’s self-driving taxi fleet. Or at least so it seems, if this video of someone vandalizing a Cruise robotaxi is an accurate reflection of the public’s sentiment. We’ve been covering the increasingly fraught relationship between Cruise and San Franciscans for a while now — between their cabs crashing into semis and being used for — ahem — non-transportation purposes, then crashing into fire trucks and eventually having their test fleet cut in half by regulators, Cruise really seems to be taking it on the chin.

And now this video, which shows a wannabe Ninja going ham on a Cruise taxi stopped somewhere on the streets of San Francisco. It has to be said that the vandal doesn’t appear to be doing much damage with what looks like a mason’s hammer; except for the windshield and side glass and the driver-side mirror — superfluous for a self-driving car, one would think — the rest of the roof-mounted lidars and cameras seem to get off lightly. Either Cruise’s mechanical engineering is better than their software engineering, or the neo-Luddite lacks the upper body strength to do any serious damage. Or maybe both.

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The End Of Basic?

Many people, one way or another, got started programming computers using some kind of Basic. The language was developed at Dartmouth specifically so people could write simple programs without much training. However, Basic found roots in small computers and grew to where it is today, virtually unrecognizable. Writing things in something like Visual Basic may be easier than some programming tasks, but it requires a lot of tools and some reading or training. We aren’t sure where the name EndBasic came from, but this program — written in Rust — aims to bring Basic back to a simpler time. Sort of.

You can run the program in a browser, locally, or connected to a cloud service. It looks like old-fashioned Basic at first. But the more you dig in, the odder it gets. The command line is more akin to a Python REPL. You type things, and they happen. It took a while to figure out that you need to enter EDIT to write a program. Then, what you type gets saved until you press escape. The syntax is Basic-like but has oddities. There are no line numbers, but you can use labels that start with an at sign.

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Chromebooks Now Get Ten Years Of Software Updates

It’s an acknowledged problem with the mobile phone industry and particularly within the Android ecosystem, that the operating system support on a typical device can persist for far too short a time, leaving the user without critical security updates. With the rise of the Chromebook, this has moved into larger devices, with schools and other institutions left with piles of what’s essentially e-waste.

Now in a rare show of sense from a tech company, Google have announced that Chromebooks are to receive ten years of updates from next year. Even better, it seems that this will be retroactively applied to at least some older machines, allowing owners to opt in to further updates for the remainder of the decade following the machine’s launch.

Of course, a Chrome OS upgrade on an older machine won’t make it any quicker. We’re guessing many users will feel the itch up upgrade their hardware long before their decade of software support is up. But anything which saves e-waste has to be applauded, and since this particular scribe has a five-year-old ASUS Transformer just out of support, we’re hoping for a chance to jump back on that train.

There’s another question though, and it relates to the business model behind Chromebooks. We doubt that the hardware manufacturers are thrilled at their customers’ old machines receiving a new lease of life and we doubt Google are doing this through sheer altruism, so we’re guessing that the financial justification comes from an extra five years of making money from the users’ data.

PyOBD Gets Python3 Upgrades

One of the best things about open source software is that, instead of being lost to the ravages of time like older proprietary software, anyone can dust off an old open source program and bring it up to the modern era. PyOBD, a python tool for interfacing with the OBD system in modern vehicles, was in just such a state with its latest version still being written in Python 2 which hasn’t had support in over three years. [barracuda-fsh] rewrote the entire program for Python 3 and included a few other upgrades to it as well.

Key feature updates with this version besides being completely rewritten in Python 3 include enhanced support for OBD-II commands as well as automating the detection of the vehicle’s computer capabilities. This makes the program much more plug-and-play than it would have been in the past. PyOBD now also includes the python-OBD library for handling the actual communication with the vehicle, while PyOBD provides the GUI for configuring and visualizing the data given to it from the vehicle. An ELM327 adapter is required.

With options for Mac, Windows, or Linux, most users will be able to make use of this software package provided they have the necessary ELM327 adapter to connect to their vehicle. OBD is a great tool as passenger vehicles become increasingly computer-driven as well, but there are some concerns surrounding privacy and security in some of the latest and proposed versions of the standard.

Helping Robots Learn By Letting Them Fail

The [MIT Technology Review] has just released its annual list of the top innovators under the age of 35, and there are some interesting people on this list of the annoyingly accomplished at a young age. Like [Lerrel Pinto], an associate professor of computer science at NY University. His work focuses on teaching robots how to do things in the home by failing.

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