Getting Kitted to Teach your First Hardware Workshop

I was always a sucker for art classes in my early days. There was something special about getting personal instruction while having those raw materials in your hands at the same time. Maybe it was the patient voice of the teacher or the taste of the crayons that finally got to my head. Either way, I started thinking: “I want to do this; I want to teach this stuff.”

Last year at Hackaday Superconference I got my chance. Hardware workshops with real hardware were so rare; I just had to bring one to the table! What follows is my tale of joys and woes bringing together a crew to take their first few steps into the world of cable-driven animatronics. If you’re thinking about getting your feet wet with teaching your own hardware workshop, read on. I’ve packed this story with as much of my own learnings as I could to set you on a path to success.

The good news is that Supercon returns every year. I you want to take part in some epic workshops like this one, grab a ticket for this year’s conference now. If you want to host a hardware workshop, the Call for Proposals is still open! Okay, let’s dive in.

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Classy CoreXY Build Breaks Down the Design Pinchpoints

Ever since [Ilan Moyer] published the design, CoreXYs have been exploding in the homebrew 3D Printer community. Nevertheless, not all designs are created equal, and a solid design means adhering to some unspoken constraints. Fear not, though. [Mark Rehorst’s] blog post pulls the lid off these constraints and puts them up-front-and-center.  For anyone looking to succeed with their own CoreXY build, this thoughtful critique will keep us away from stray design paths.

[Mark’s] blogpost centers around the xy-stage of his UMMD printer. Here, he walks through the constraints of where belts should be located to guarantee dimensional accuracy of parts. Engineering doesn’t always result in designing the parts ourselves, but rather picking them from a list of options. This geometry-constraint breakdown gives us a more acute set of eyes the next time we pick a CoreXY frame to download and clone off of a place like Thingiverse.

What’s more, for all the antagonizing forces acting on our xy-stage like thermal expansion and frame flexing, [Mark] comes in with a countermeasure. Belts are thickened. Moving stages are constrained correctly, and pulley blocks are reinforced for a stage that is both precise and accurate. Given that it’s so easy to get another printer to start producing parts, lessons learned here will guide us on what underlying measures they need to counteract for a successful print stage.

It’s hard not to love [Mark Rehorst’s] foray into at-home printer builds. Not only do we see new ideas that constantly reinvent how we design printers, each build comes bundled with a wealth of tips and drawbacks. [Mark] gives us a tested design and a critical set of eyes on it that better helps us explore the space if we so choose. For more thoughtful additions to your next 3D printer, check out [Mark’s] CPAP-style remote cooling fan and belt-driven z axis.

Hanky-Deprived Drones Taste Whale Snot for Science

A whole world of biomass floats in the boogers of a whale’s exhaust, and it’s a biologist’s dream to explore it. Whale snot carries everything from DNA samples to hormone signatures. But getting close enough to a surfacing whale for long enough to actually sample this snot turns out to be a nightmare when done by boat. Researcher [Iain Kerr] and a team from Olin College of Engineering thought, why not use a drone instead? Behold, the Snotbot was born!

Snotbot is essentially a petri-dish-equipped commercial drone that users can pilot into the exhaust of a whale to collect samples before the cetacean dives back under. After 7 missions and over 500 collected samples, Snotbot is putting-to-rest years of frustration from researchers anticipating their next chance for a shot of snot. Along the way, the team have also leveraged it to image the whale’s fluke (a fingerprint equivalent), drop underwater mics, and collect poo samples. As opposed to darts, Snotbot is non-invasive, and the whales don’t seem to mind (or even notice) who’s downstream of their boogers.

Drones are almost ubiquitous at this point in our lives–to the point where they now fall under regulations by the US government. With so many of us building our own drones at home, it’s wonderful to see groups starting to ask the next question: cool drone; now what? With reliable drones at prices that are within reach for the everyday citizen, we’re excited that we will see dozens of applications that leverage this new skyward-bound platform over the coming years. If you can’t wait, have a quick look back in time, where drones are doing maritime deliveries and blowing up debris.

Tattoo your 3D Prints with Velocity Painting

Just when it seems like we’ve juiced all the creative potential out of our 3D printers, a bold new feature lands on the table. Enter Velocity Painting, a concept brought to life by [Mark Wheadon] that textures our 3D prints with greyscale images.

At its core, the technique is straightforward: skin an image onto a 3D print by varying the print speed in specific locations and, thereby, varying just how much plastic oozes out of the nozzle. While the concept seems simple, the result is stunning.

Velocity Painting opens up new ways of expression on top of an existing print with all the skinning opportunities. Imagine adding a texture for realism like this rook that’s been patterned with a brick layout, or imagine an aesthetic embellishment like the flames on [Mark’s] dragon print.

The results speak for themselves, and the growing number of users are proving it. Head on over to the gallery to indulge yourself in this delightful oozing aesthetic that’s sure to turn a few heads.

[Mark Wheadon’s] hack takes the mechanics of how we print and adds another creative tuning knob. If you’re looking for other embellishments for your prints, have a look at [David Shorey’s] work on texturizing fabrics.

Spraychalk Anoints your Sidewalks with Precision Sandprints

Giant lines in the sand are incredibly useful for pleasing the gods and hailing overpassing extraterrestrials. Beautiful, unwarranted spray-painted sidewalks might land you in detention with local law enforcement. Of course, why not have both? With the Sand-and-Spraychalk machine, you can!

The Sand-and-Spraychalk machine Is a moving two-axis CNC machine that can anoint its path with a spray of either sand bits or spray paint.  As with any self-respecting power tool these days, the Spraychalk is driven by a rechargeable Bosch 18 V battery pack. As far as safety goes, leveraging an already-product-proven solution instead of cooking our lawns with questionable LiPos is downright clever.

Elegance is in simplicity, and the Spraychalk is no exception. The entire build is a collection of off-the-shelf parts mixed with a few laser cut plates and a one custom nozzle made of POM (Acetal). Precise spraying might sound like a hard problem, but it’s executed here with just a motor-driven cam and a couple levers. Finally, adapting a 18 V battery pack may seem like a form-factor nightmare, but our creator, [kallibaba], managed to pull it off with just a few laser-cut plates.

The Spraychalk rightfully sits next to its previously mentioned cousins that have graced these pages before. The next time we’re wondering just who vandalized your lawn so majestically, we know where to look!

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Tie-Dyed Filament Sings With Color

Manufacturers dye all sorts of 3D printer filaments on their factory lines; why can’t we? [Richard] takes this idea one step further by creating his own custom multicolored reels of nylon. Printing with these reels produces a vibrant pattern that simply demands our attention and  begs us to ask: how on earth..?

[Richard’s] tie-dye adventure is cleanly documented on the blog.  He simply spools a reel of nylon together and dyes subsections of the spool with a different color. With the filament “paletted” to taste, parts pop of the printer with an eye-catching rib pattern of color.

It’s worth mentioning that nylon is extremely hygroscopic, and dyeing filament in a bath full of colored liquid is sure to get it full of moisture. Then again, nylon’s capacity to absorb water might be why it dyes so well. Nevertheless, filament must be oven-dried (or equivalent) for a successful print. Post-drying, [Richard] doesn’t seem to be having any printing problems, and the results speak for themselves.

3D printers might be frequent fliers on these pages, but we still love seeing small modifications that enhance the visual appeal. What’s more, this trick delivers spectacular results with no modifications to the printer itself. Then again, if this job sounds like just too much work for you, we’d suggest using a sharpie.

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Budget Dehydrator Gives your Damp Filament a Second Chance

If you’ve had the misfortune of leaving your 3D printer filament out on a muggy day or, heaven forbid: showering with it, it’s probably soaked up quite a bit of moisture. Moisture will do more than just make your printer sound like Rice Crispies, it’ll ruin surface finishes and cause the filament to string into thin wisps between separate geometries on the same layer. Luckily for us, though, both [SafetyGlassesRequired] and [Joe Mike Terranella] give us the breakdown on taking a pair of snippers and about $40 in cash to start drying out our filament far away from the possibility of ruining any nearby kitchen ovens.

If you’ve been circling the 3D printer community for a while, you might have already heard about this trick. But with the arrival of a curiously-culinary-looking contraption called PrintDry, we can’t let the elephant in the room keep silent for much longer. Rather than risk our own pennies and leave ourselves stranded with a device that only makes the jerky on the box cover, [SafetlyGlassesRequired] and [Joe Mike Terranella] kindly prove our suspicions for us once and for all: a food dehydrator works perfectly for drying all that filament that we left out in the rain!

Clumsiness aside, a dehydrator isn’t a bad investment in the long run. Not only can we keep our supply dry, we might just be able to give all that freebie filament (that we dug out of the trash) a second life by resetting it to a clean, dry state.

These dehyrdators will toast all that moisture out of your filament, but it wont keep them dry whilst printing. For that problem, you’ll need to summon a heated drybox like this one.

[Joe Mike’s] solution will run us about $40. If you can do better, let us know in the comments.

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