Drawbot software aims to do it better than the rest

drawbot-software

There are plenty of drawbot projects out there, many of which come with their own special software in tow. While some of these packages are easier to use than others, [Dan Royer] is pretty sure he can do it better.

Looking for a fun and engaging way to teach STEM subjects in schools across the country, [Dan] developed a relatively simple drawbot which can be constructed by a wide range of age groups. While he is trying to get schools to purchase his robot kits, we’re guessing that our readers would be more inclined to build their own.

So what does [Dan] have to offer that might interest you? Well, he says he has developed some drawbot software that’s pretty darn easy to use. Rather than multiple applications generating machine-specific code, his software will transform your picture into a line drawing in one easy step. The app uses a traveling-salesman algorithm to generate drawings with nary a crossed line in sight before outputting the resultant machine instructions in easy-to-use GCode.

We don’t have a drawbot of our own handy to test his software out, so if you do happen to give it a shot, let us know how it worked for you in the comments.

Building an artificial moon for Burning Man

lune-and-tide-burning-man

If you were lucky enough to score passes to this year’s Burning Man, be sure to keep a look out for [Laurence Symonds] and crew, who are putting together an ambitious fixture for the event. In reality, we’re guessing you won’t have to look far to find their giant moon replica floating overhead – in fact it will probably be pretty hard to miss.

They are calling the sculpture “Lune and Tide”, which of an 8 meter wide internally lit moon which hovers over a spinning platform that’s just as big across. The inflatable sphere is made up of giant ripstop nylon panels which are home to 36,000-odd sewn-in LEDs. The LEDs illuminate the sphere to reflect the natural color of the moon, though with a simple command, [Laurence] and Co. can alter the lighting to their heart’s content.

If Hack a Day’s [Jesse Congdon] makes his way out to the festival again this year, we’ll be sure he gets some footage of Lune and Tide in action. For now, you’ll have to satisfy your curiosity by checking out the project’s build log.

Raspberry Pi keeps tabs on your solar power setup

raspberrypi-solarlogger

[Brian Dorey] has been adding green power solutions to his home for some time now, and as things have progressed, he has experimented with several different iterations of data loggers. The latest system watching over his solar power setup is a Raspberry Pi armed with a custom-built I2C analog/digital converter.

The Rasp Pi is responsible for monitoring several different temperature sensors related to his solar water heating and storage system, but that’s just the beginning. It also keeps watch over his roof-mounted solar electric panels, his battery bank, and its charge controller. For good measure, he also monitors his home’s temperature and his water tank’s recirculation pump because, why the heck not?

All of the collected data is relayed to his web server where it is handsomely displayed for his perusal and analysis. [Brian] has made his code available here, so you can monitor your home in the same fashion with little fuss.

Motorized camera rig makes panoramic shooting simple

diy-panorama-rig

Where some people might see a pile of junk, Hackaday reader and budget-conscious photo nut [FantomFotographer] sees inspiration. He was in search of a rig that would help him take better panoramic photos and found all that he needed to build one right around him.

He had an old tripod kicking around, which serves as the base for rig. At the top sits a pair of servos [FantomFotographer] attached to the tripod with some scrap wood, screws, and glue. The servos are driven by an Arduino Nano, which sits comfortably in a plastic enclosure he scavenged from trash heap. He uses an IR receiver to control the whole thing, which allows him to not only change shooting angles, but camera settings as well.

While it might sound like all is well with his upcycled camera rig, [FantomFotographer] says that like every project, there is some room for improvement. He’s keeping the source code under wraps at the moment, but once he gets everything working to his liking, he says that he’ll release it.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the cool panoramas he has put together.

Cutting islands into copper-clad PCBs with a drill

If you’re looking to build some small radio circuits, or if you are simply seeking a new look for your PCBs, you might want to check out what YouTube user [AndyDaviesByTheSea] has been working on lately. He has been building RF circuits as of late and was searching for a better way to create islands or “lands” on copper-clad PCBs.

He says that these sorts of islands are traditionally cut into the PCB with a scalpel or file – hardly an efficient process. [Andy] did a little experimenting and found a great way to quickly and precisely cut lands with a drill. Borrowing a bit of metal from an old VHS tape, he crafted a circular land cutter with a metal file. When mounted as a drill bit, his cutter produces clean, shallow cuts which create perfect lands on which to solder his components.

The only drawback to this method is that [Andy] found his bits were being dulled by the fiberglass boards pretty quickly. His solution was to carefully grind a broken heavy duty drill bit to do the task, which he says works even better than his original cutter.

Kegerator tallies your pints on Untappd while you sit back with a cold one

untappd-auto-checkin

[Jeff] admits that he’s pretty well addicted to Untappd, a site he describes as a Foursquare for beer. Like his fellow beer nerds, he enjoys reporting the pints he’s had, even if they happen to be from his own stash of homebrew kegs. Untappd certainly supports this level of dedication, but it seemed silly to [Jeff] that he needed to grab his phone each time he poured himself a cold one in the comfort of his own home.

He took a look around the room and spied an Arduino doing a whole lot of nothing, so he set off to build a system that would allow him to automatically record his drinking habits without the use of his smartphone. The system is not overly complex, and measures pours using flow sensors, uploading the results to Untappd using their “check-in” API. [Jeff] was sure to include several other useful features into his build, including a lockout timer that prevents multiple check-ins when simply topping off a pint, as well as “neighbor mode” which lets you pour a round for friends without recording the pour.

Be sure to check out the build in its entirety on [Jeff’s] site, and let us know if you’re doing something equally cool with your keg setup at home.

ATX benchtop conversion retains safety features, delivers plenty of current.

atx-benchtop-psu

[Bogin] was looking to add a benchtop power supply to his array of tools, but he didn’t really find any of the online tutorials helpful. Most of what he discovered were simple re-wiring jobs utilizing LM317 regulators and shorted PS-ON pins used to keep the PSUs happily chugging along as if nothing had been changed. No, what [Bogin] wanted was a serious power supply with short circuit protection and loads of current.

He started the conversion by disassembling a 300 watt ATX power supply that uses a halfbridge design. After identifying the controller chip, a TL494 in this case, he proceeded to tweak the PWM feedback circuit which controls the supply’s output. A few snips here, a few passes with a soldering iron there, and [Bogin] was ready to test out his creation.

He says that it works very well, even under heavy load. His tutorial is specific to these sorts of PSUs, so we would be more than happy to feature similar work done with those that implement other design topologies. In the meantime, be sure to check out a video of the hacked power supply in action below.

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