A DIY Functional F-35 Is No Simple Task

The advent of affordable gear for radio-controlled aircraft has made the hobby extremely accessible, but also made it possible to build some very complex flying machines on a budget, especially when combined with 3D printing. [Joel Vlashof] really likes VTOL fighter aircraft and is in the process of building a fully functional radio-controlled F-35B.

The F-35 series of aircraft is one of the most expensive defence project to date. The VTOL capable “B” variant is a complex machine, with total of 19 doors on the outside of the aircraft for weapons, landing gear and thrusters. The thruster on the tail can pivot 90° down for VTOL operations, using an interesting 3-bearing swivel mechanism.

[Joel] wants his model to be as close as possible to the real thing, and has integrated all these features into his build. Thrust is provided by two EDF motors, the pivoting nozzle is 3D printed and actuated by three set of small DC motors, and all 5 doors for VTOL are actuated by a single servo in the nose via a series of linkages. For tilt control, air from the main fan is channeled to the wing-tips and controlled by servo-actuated valves. A flight controller intended for use on a multi-rotor is used to help keep the plane stable while hovering. One iteration of this plane bit the dust during development, but [Joel] has done successful test flights for both hover and conventional horizontal flight.  The really tricky part will be transitioning between flight modes, and [Joel] hopes to achieve that in the near future.

The real Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II project is controversial because of repeated budget overruns and time delays, but the engineering challenges solved in the project are themselves fascinating. The logistics of keeping these complex machines in the air are daunting, and a while back we saw Marine ground crew 3D print components that they were having trouble procuring through normal channels.

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Cable Driven Robotic Joint

Even the oldest of mechanisms remain useful in modern technology. [Skyentific] has been messing with robotic joints for quite a while, and demonstrated an interesting way to use a pulley system in a robotic joint with quite a bit of mechanical advantage and zero backlash.

Inspired by the LIMS2-AMBIDEX robotic arm, the mechanism is effectively two counteracting sets of pulley, running of the same cable reel, with rollers allowing them to act around the bend of the joint. Increasing the mechanical advantage of the joint is simply a matter of adding pulleys and rollers. If this is difficult to envision, don’t work as [Skyentific] does an excellent job of explaining how the mechanism works using CAD models in the video below.

The mechanism is back drivable, which would allow it to be used for dynamic control using a motor with an encoder for position feedback. This could be a useful feature in walking robots that need to respond to dynamically changing terrain to stay upright, or in arms that need to push or pull without damaging anything. With properly tensioned cables, there is no backlash in the mechanism. Unfortunately cables can stretch over time, so it is something that needs to be considered when using this in a project.

Pulley systems have been with us for a very long time, and remain a very handy tool to have in your mechanical toolbox. A similar arrangement is used in the Da Vinci surgical robots to control their tiny manipulators. It would also be interesting to see this used in the already impressive robots of [James Bruton]. Continue reading “Cable Driven Robotic Joint”

Signal The End Of A Print With MIDI Of Your Choice

The end of every 3D print should be a triumphant moment, and deserves a theme song. [FuseBox2R] decided to make it a reality, and wrote tool for converting MIDI tracks to G-code that uses the buzzer on your 3D printer.

The tool is up on GitHub, and uses the M300 speaker command that is available in Marlin and some other 3D printer firmware packages. It takes the form of a static HTML page with in-line JavaScript that converts a midi track to series of speaker commands with the appropriate frequency and duration parameters, using the Tone.js framework. Simply add to your slicer G-code to add a bit of spice to your prints. You can also build a MIDI jukebox using the RAMPS board and LCD you probably have gathering dust somewhere. See the video after the break for a demonstration, including a rendition of the DOOM theme song, and off course Mario Bros.

For more quarantine projects, you can also play MIDI using the stepper motors on your printer, or build a day clock if time is becoming too much of a blur.

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3D Printed Speakers With Many Lessons Learned

Although we all wish that our projects would turn out perfect with no hiccups, the lessons learned from a frustrating project can sometimes be more valuable than the project itself. [Thomas Sanladerer] found this to be the case while trying to build the five satellite speakers for a 5.1 surround sound system, and fortunately shared the entire process with us in all its messy glory.

[Thomas] wanted something a little more attractive than simple rectangular boxes, so he settled on a very nice curved design with few flat faces and no sharp corners, 3D printed in PLA. Inside each is an affordable broadband speaker driver and tweeter, with a crossover circuit to improve the sound quality and protect the drivers. The manufacturer of the drivers, Visatron, provides very nice speaker simulation software to select the appropriate drivers and design the crossover circuit. The front of each speaker consisted of a 3D printed frame, covered with material from a cut-up T-shirt. These covers attach to the main body using magnets and really look the part.

After printing, [Thomas] soaked all the parts in water to clean of the PVA support structures but discovered too late that the outer surfaces are not watertight and a lot of water had seeped into the parts. In an attempt to dry them he left them in the sun for a while which ended up warping some parts, so he had to reprint them anyway. The main bodies were printed in two parts and then glued together. This required a lot of sanding to smooth out the glue joints, and many cycles of paint and sanding to get rid of the layer lines. When assembling the different pieces, he found that many parts did not fit together, which he suspects was caused by incorrect calibration on the delta-bot printer he was using.

In the end, the build took almost two years, as [Thomas] needed breaks between all the frustration, and eventually only used one of the speakers. We’re glad he shared the messy parts of the project, which will hopefully spare someone else a bit of trouble in a project.

Listening to a high-quality audio setup is always a pleasure, and we’ve covered several projects from audiophiles, including affordable DML speakers, and 3D printed speaker drivers.

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Perfect Wire Hose Clamps With A Simple DIY Tool

Hose clamps have been around as long as we’ve been using flexible hoses. Usually, a clamp consists of a slotted metal strap, and a screw for tightening. Most of us know how quickly they slip when you want to add a bit more torque, or the frustration of not having the right size. Fortunately [Max Egorov] reminded us of DIY wire clamps (video after the break), an excellent alternative that is very effective, covers an infinite size range and is easy to make with a simple tool.

The wire clamp is in effect a doubled girth hitch, that is pulled tight with the ends bent over to keep the tension. [Max] shows you how to easily make your own clamper tool with basic tools and a few bits of steel. Making it as ornate as his one is definitely not required.  You can also buy a commercial tool that is sold under the name ClampTite, which uses a leadscrew type design.

To achieve a tight seal with a hose clamp, the main requirement is constant pressure around its entire circumference. These wire clamps do this very well and are popular among aircraft mechanics, since flying in a plane with a leaky coolant or fuel hose could shorten your lifespan a bit. [Max] also demonstrates a variety of other uses for these including fixing tool handles and even building a ladder.

We love simple but effective tools like this, and we’ll definitely be adding one to our toolbox. Have you used these before? Let us know in the comments!

There is (almost) never such a thing as too many tools, and making your own is very satisfying. We’ve seen people build an outfit a complete carpentry workshop using plywood, and build sheet metal press brake with no welding.

Thanks [Keith O] for the tip!

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Getting Your Morning Mix Exactly Right, Every Time

In historical times, before the pandemic, most people had to commute to work in the mornings, and breakfast often ended up being a bit rushed. [Elite Worm] is very serious about getting his breakfast mix exactly right, and o shave a bit of time off the prep, he built a 3D printed automatic ingredient dispenser for his breakfast bowl.

[Elite Worm] breakfast consists of four ingredients, that have either a powder or granular consistency. They are held in 3D printed hoppers, with a screw top for refilling and a servo-operated door with a funnel at the bottom. The hoppers need to be shaken to properly dispense the ingredients, so all four are mounted on a bracket that can slide up and down on linear bearings. The shaking is done by a brushed DC motor with a slider-crank mechanism, which moves bracket and hoppers up and down very vigorously. [Elite Worm] notes that the shaking is probably a bit too violent and can make the entire table shake if it isn’t sturdy enough, and reducing the motor RPM might be a good idea. Below the hopper system sits a movable weighing station with a load cell, a custom ATmega328P based control board and a Nextion touch screen display, which allows for various ingredient combinations to be saved. The load cell is used to keep track of the ingredient quantities by weight, as they are dispensed one at a time.

We really like the ingenuity of the build, but personally, we would have swapped out the hopper for something that’s moulded, since all the crevices in 3D printed parts is a perfect place for bacteria to grow and can be tricky to clean properly Continue reading “Getting Your Morning Mix Exactly Right, Every Time”

The Drone That Flies In Any Orientation

Modern radio-controlled multi-rotor drone can be incredibly agile, but can only make orientation changes around the yaw axis while remaining in approximately the same position. Researchers at ETH Zurich have again built and tested multirotor with controllable motion six degrees of freedom, this time dramatically improving efficiency.

We covered a similar design from ETH Zurich previously which was hexacopter with arms with limited rotation. This new design is also a hexacopter, but with 2 coaxial motors on each rotating arm. Each arm has an increased range of rotation over the previous design, beyond 360 degrees. With the range of rotation and the very complex control system, the drone can efficiently fly in any orientation, while still being able to apply effective torque or linear force in any direction. This opens up a lot of possibilities for tasks that drones can perform, like close-up industrial inspection, using tools or pulling cables while keeping the rotors clear.

The arms do have a limited amount of rotation before winding the motor cable tight, but the control system keeps track of this and can unwind during or after movement. See the video after the break to see it in action. The complete scientific paper is not light reading, but definitely interesting. We’re looking forward to seeing if and when these type designs get used in real-world applications.

There are without a doubt a lot of drones in our future, and probably the most successful project to date is the Zipline fixed-wing drones in Rwanda and Ghana, which have made over 35000 deliveries of emergency medical supplies since 2016.

Thanks [Qes] for the tip!

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