Convince Your Boss to Send You To Supercon

The Hackaday Superconference is rapidly approaching and you need to be there. The good news is, if you play your cards right you can get your boss to sign off on sending you to Supercon as part of your professional development.

This is the Ultimate Hardware Conference. This is your chance to recharge your batteries and come back energized for an amazing year ahead. You’ll be among hundreds of people who love to push the boundaries of what is possible. Dozens of talks and workshops take place over the backdrop of three days worth of a Hacker Village atmosphere focusing on a badge hacking demoscene.

We’re here to help you get to yes with the powers that be in your company. If you have a tight set of requirements that dictate what counts as professional development, we have a template to use in formulating your ask. Fill in this letter with the details that work for you and head over to the corner office with this in hand.

If you already have a supervisor who understands the hacker lifestyle, the best route is to show off the best Supercon has to offer. Share the playlist of talks from 2017 with them and you’re a shoe-in for your company’s conference attendance budget. And while you’re at it, try to convince your boss to come along for the fun!

See you in November!

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Industrial 3D Printing Uses Layers Like We’ve Never Seen Before

We’ve seen FDM printers lay down layers by extruding plastic in a line. We’ve seen printers use sintering and lithography to melt or cure one layer at a time before more print medium moves into place for the next layer. What we’ve never seen before is a printer like this that builds parts from distinct layers of substrate.

At the International Manufacturing Technology Show last week I spoke with Eric Povitz of Impossible Objects. The company is using a “sheet lamination process” that first prints each layer on carbon fiber or fiberglass, then uses a hydraulic press and an oven to bake the part into existence before bead-blasting the excess substrate away. Check out my interview with Eric and join me below for more pictures and details.

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3D Printing in Metal: the Laser and Metal Powder Printers We Saw at IMTS

Last week I went to the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and it was incredible. This is a toy store for machinists and showcases the best of industrial automation. But one of the coolest trends I found at the show are all the techniques used to 3D print in metal. The best part is that many of the huge machines on display are actually running!

It’s probably better to refer to this as additive manufacturing, because the actual methods can be significantly different from your 3D printer. Below you’ll find examples of three different approaches to this process. I had a great interview with a company doing actual 3D printing in metal using a nozzle-based delivery often called cladding. There’s a demo video of powder layer printing using lasers. And a technique that uses binders as an intermediary step toward the final metal part. Let’s take a look!

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Katherine Scott: Earth’s Daily Photo Through 200 Cubesat Cameras

Every year at Supercon there is a critical mass of awesome people, and last year Sophi Kravitz was able to sneak away from the festivities for this interview with Katherine Scott. Kat was a judge for the 2017 Hackaday Prize. She specializes in computer vision, robotics, and manufacturing and was the image analytics team lead at Planet Labs when this interview was filmed.

You’re going to chuckle at the beginning of the video as Kat and Sophi recount the kind of highjinks going on at the con. In the hardware hacking area there were impromptu experiments in melting aluminum with gallium, and one of the afternoon’s organized workshop combined wood and high voltage to create lichtenberg figures. Does anyone else smell burning? Don’t forget to grab your 2018 Hackaday Superconference tickets and join in the fun this year!

Below you’ll find the interview which dives into Kat’s work with satellite imaging.

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You Can’t Build A Roland TR-808 Because You Don’t Have Faulty Transistors

That headline sounds suspect, but it is the most succinct way to explain why the Roland TR-808 drum machine has a very distinct, and difficult to replicate noise circuit. The drum machine was borne of a hack. As the Secret Life of Synthesizers explains, it was a rejected part picked up and characterized by Roland which delivers this unique auditory thumbprint.

Pictured above is the 2SC828-R, and you can still get this part. But it won’t function the same as the parts found in the original 808. The little dab of paint on the top of the transistor indicates that it was a very special subset of those rejected parts (the 2SC828-RNZ). A big batch of rejects were sold to Roland back in the 1970’s — which they then thinned out in a mysterious testing process. What was left went into the noise circuit that gave the 808 its magical sizzle. When the parts ran out, production ended as newer processes didn’t produce the same superbly flawed parts.

This is an incredible story that was highlighted in 808, a documentary premiered at SXSW back in 2015. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime (and to rent everywhere else) and is certainly worth your time just to grasp how seminal this drum machine has been in hip hop and several other music genres.

For modern product developers, betting your production on a batch of reject parts is just batty. But it was a very different time with a lot fewer components on the market. What worked, worked. You do have to wonder how you stumble upon the correct trait in an obscure batch of reject parts? Looks like we’ll be adding Ikutar Kakehashi’s book I Believe in Music: Life Experiences and Thoughts on the Future of Electronic Music by the Founder of the Roland Corporation to our reading list.

[via EMSL]

All the Badges of DEF CON 26 (vol 4)

From a cockroach filled with LEDs, to an impressively dense 576 RGB LED display, and even a hunk of carpet, our final installment of the unofficial hardware badges at DEF CON 26 are beyond impressive. I tried to see every badge and speak to every badge maker this year. So far we’ve covered a ton of badges in volume 1, volume 2, and volume 3 of this series, and now it’s time to finish up!

If I didn’t get a chance to cover your badge in these articles, we still want to hear about it. What everyone wants is to dig into the details of these gorgeous examples of unique hardware. So post a project page for you badge on Hackaday.io, and make sure you get on the Conference Badges list that has been growing by leaps and bounds.

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New Mooltipass Begins Development with Call for Collaborators

One of the most interesting aspects of our modern world is the ability to work collaboratively despite the challenges of geography and time zones. Distributed engineering is a trend which we’ve watched pick up steam over the years. One such example is the Mooltipass offline password keeper which was built by a distributed engineering team from all over the world. The project is back, and this time the goal is to add BLE to the mini version of the hardware. The call for collaborators was just posted on the project page so head over and check out how the collaboration works.

The key to the hardware is the use of a smartcard with proven encryption to store your passwords. Mooltipass is a secure interface between this card and a computer via USB. The new version will be a challenge as it introduces BLE for connectivity with smart phones. To help mitigate security risks, a second microcontroller is added to the existing design to act as a gatekeeper between the secure hardware and the BLE connection.

Mathieu Stephan is the driving force behind the Mooltipass project, which was one of the first projects on Hackaday.io and has been wildly successful in crowd funding and on Tindie. Mathieu and five other team members already have a proof of concept for the hardware. However, more collaborators are needed to help see all aspects of the project — hardware, firmware, and software — through to the end. This is a product, and in addition to building something awesome, the goal is to turn a profit.

How do you reconcile work on an Open Source project with a share of the spoils? Their plan is to log hours spent bringing the new Mooltipass to life and share the revenue using a site like colony.io. This is a tool built on the Ethereum blockchain to track contributions to open projects, assigning tokens that equate to value in the project. It’s an interesting approach and we’re excited to see how it takes shape.

You can catch up on the last few years of the Mooltipass adventure my checking out Mathieu’s talk during the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. If this article has you as excited about distributed engineer as we are, you need to check out the crew that’s building this year’s Open Hardware Summit badge!