A Rope Maker You Can 3D Print At Home

Ropes are one of those things that, while possible to make by hand, having a little mechanical help goes a long way in their manufacture. [b33ma247] wanted just such a rig, so set about building one from scratch.

It’s a simple device, but one that makes the task much easier. A series of gears are printed, which assemble on to a frame to form the winding mechanism that weaves the rope. There’s also a slide, a rope separator, and a weight carriage to ensure proper tension is kept on the string during the weaving process. The mechanism is driven by a power drill, though this could be easily replaced with a hand crank if full manual operation was desired.

It’s a project which shows if you have a 3D printer, you can make a lot of other useful tools for your workshop too. We see similar approaches taken when it comes time to wind coils, too. Video after the break.

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Gesture Control The Easy Way

Gesture control is a technology that has floated around for quite a while, but never quite reached mainstream acceptance. Wii Bowling was fun for a while, but we’re not regularly using gestures to open doors or order pizza just yet. Doing it yourself can be quite easy, however, as [RC Lover san] found with a barebones, hacky build.

Typically, when we think of gesture control, we envisage object tracking cameras or MEMS accelerometers. Instead, this build uses simple tilt switches, as you might find in a pinball machine from days of yore. Four of these are placed on a wrist-mounted device, allowing the user to tilt their arm to move an RC car in different directions. The tilt switches are easy to hack into the controller for a toy RC car, as they simply replace the existing buttons on the PCB.

It’s a project that goes to show that not everything has to be done with advanced sensors and complex algorithms. Sometimes, it can all be done with a handful of cheap switches and some ingenuity. Plus, using arm movements to scoot BB-8 around on the floor looks like great fun. We’ve seen other attempts to build simple gesture controls with pots, too. Video after the break.

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A High Performance Ski-Sled For The Big Kids

Sledding is a pastime often left to younger humans, though there is no good reason why this must be the case. [JoshXarles] is an adult with a strong enthusiasm for carving up the snow, and set out to build a high-performance sled this winter. 

It’s a ski-based design, and [Josh]’s goal from the outset was to build a rig with serious handling credentials. His favored run features several 180 degree switchbacks, so it’s important to be able to corner well without losing speed. This was achieved by using sidecut skis with a carefully designed steering system, allowing the sled to carve corners in the same way as a downhill skier. The frame of the sled is built out of aluminium box tubing, bolted together to form a strong structure. There’s also attractive wooden decking which completes the look.

The sled performed admirably in initial testing, with good steering feel and plenty of speed downhill. We’d love to try ourselves, weather permitting, of course. There are also electric options for those not blessed with geologically-suitable features to sled down. Video after the break.

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PaintBot Does The Art For You

Digital imagery is great, but there’s a certain charm to a real, handpainted piece. However, we live in an age of CNC, and the robots are always willing to try something new if they’re properly instructed how to do it. In this vein, [Alexander Leiser] developed PaintBot to paint beautiful pictures for him.

The ‘bot uses aluminium extrusion and stepper motors to move around. A 3D printed bracket was printed to hold a paintbrush so the artbot can do its work. [Alexander] wrote a script in C# to parse images and generate the requisite G-code for the ‘bot. Over time, this expanded into a full application, with a GUI and provision for automatic color changing. There’s plenty of logic required, to cover things like cleaning the brush between colors and composing the image properly. The medium of choice is acrylic on canvas, after early experiments with paper were found to be unsatisfactory.

The output from PaintBot is impressive, with a certain digital quality to the way the individual paint strokes make up the final image. [Alexander] has also wrapped up the software and named it PaintCam. Distributed on Thingiverse, it allows anyone with a 3D printer to use it as a robot painter themselves.

The project shows that it’s possible to create a nice artwork using CNC hardware, and we’d love to see what this could do with a neural network back end doing some artistic interpretation. If you build such a system, be sure to let us know! Video after the break.

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How To Slice Lightweight Aircraft Parts For 3D Printing

Historically, remote control aircraft were produced much like their early full-sized counterparts. Wooden structures were covered with adhesives and taut fabric membranes. Other techniques later came to the fore, with builders looking to foam and other materials. Of course, these days 3D printers are all the rage, so perhaps one can simply print out a whole plane? As [sahevaantaneja] discovered, it’s not that easy!

One of the foremost problems is the process of slicing. This is where 3D geometry is transformed into the G-code which defines the path taken by the 3D printer during production of a component. Slicer software is generally optimised for working with mostly-solid objects, and some tweaks can be required when working with thin-walled designs.

These challenges come to bear with an aircraft design, which, by necessity must be lightweight. [sahevaantaneja] does a great job of explaining the journey of discovery in which their design was optimised to work with conventional slicers. This allowed the various components to be printed without errors, while retaining their strength to survive in flight.

The design was successful in test flights –  a great reward after much experimentation. We’ve seen other 3D printed designs take flight, too. Video after the break.

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Arkanoid Clock Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

A clock can be a simple device that keeps you aware of the current time, but it can also be so much more. It can express an aesthetic ideal from yesteryear, or be a throwback to a popular cultural touchstone. It can even be both, in the case of the brilliant Arkaclock from [Victor Serrano].

The build started when [Victor] wished to create an old-school arcade-style game. Aiming to work with limited hardware, just like the pioneers, he settled on using the PIC18F86K22, with less than 4KB of RAM and just 64KB of program space to play with. Hooked up to a 256 x 64 OLED screen with a pleasant green glow, he set about recreating Arkanoid in assembly language.

With this done, [Victor] noted that the retro-looking display was rather pleasant. At this point, the device was repurposed into a clock, with the program generating an Arkanoid level in the shape of the current time. The AI would then play the game, destroying the bricks each minute before the level changed.

It’s an excellent timepiece, and one that would be perfect for the wall of any indie game studio. Other retro games make for great clocks, too. Video after the break.

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Bluetooth Intervalometer Makes Time Lapses Easy

Taking timelapses is a fun pastime of many a photographer. While most modern cameras have some features to pull this off, if you want to get really into it, you’ll want an intervalometer to run the show. Chasing just that, [Zach] decided that rather than buying off-the-shelf, a DIY build was in order.

The build relies on an Arduino Nano to run the show, in combination with the popular HC-05 Bluetooth module. The Bluetooth module allows the device to communicate with a smartphone app which [Zach] created using RoboRemo. This is a platform that makes creating custom USB, WiFI and Bluetooth apps easy for beginners. The app sends instructions to the intervalometer regarding the number of photos to take, and the time to wait between each shot. Then, it triggers the time lapse, and the Arduino triggers the camera by shorting the relevant pins on a TRS plug inserted into the camera.

It’s a straightforward build that most hackers could probably complete with parts from the junk box. Plus, building your own offers the possibility of customising it exactly to your needs. Of course, you can eschew modernity and do things mechanically instead. Video after the break.

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