Still Got Film To Scan? This Lego And Raspberry Pi Scanner Is For You

There was a time during the early years of mass digital photography, when a film scanner was a common sight. A small box usually connected to a USB port, it had a slot for slides or negatives. In 2020 they’re  a rare breed, but never fear! [Bezineb5] has a solution in the shape of an automated scanner using a Radpberry Pi and a mechanism made of Lego.

The Lego mechanism is a sprocket feeder that moves the film past the field of view from an SLR camera. The software on the Pi runs in a Docker container, and features a machine learning approach to spotting frame boundaries. This is beyond the capabilities of the Pi, so is offloaded to a Google Coral accelerator.

The whole process is automated with the Pi controlling not only the Lego but also the camera, to the extent of retrieving the photos from it to the Pi. There’s a smart web interface to control everything, making the process — if you’ll excuse the pun — a snap. There’s a video of it in action, that you can see below the break.

We’ve featured many film scanner projects over the years, one that remains memorable is this 3D printed lens mount.

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Open Source Lego Controller

A mechanical and manufacturing engineer by day, [Tyler Collins] taught himself electronics and firmware development in his spare time and created an open source Lego controller called Evlōno One. It is based on the STM32 and Arduino ecosystems, and compatible with a impressive variety of existing Lego controllers, sensors and actuators. [Tyler] encountered Lego Mindstorms while helping in an after-school program, and got to wondering whether he could make a more flexible controller. We’d have to say he succeeded, and it’s amazing how much he has packed into this 4 x 4 single-height brick format.

The Evlōno One is based on an ESP32 dual-core MCU, and has WiFi, Bluetooth, and an IR transmitter for wireless connectivity. It also boasts USB-C power delivery, three motor controllers, speakers, LEDs and a button. Dig through the Kickstarted page for more details on these interfaces and specifications. Both the firmware and the hardware will be published as open source on GitHub.

Although [Tyler] has the prototypes all running, he notes this is his first big production effort. FCC certification testing and production mold tooling are the two biggest items driving the scheduled Feb 2021 shipments. If computer driven Lego modeling is one of your hobbies, definitely check out [Tyler]’s project. And if you missed our [Daniel Pikora]’s FOSSCON 2018 presentation about the intersection (collision) of Legos and Open Source, our article must-read for you folks in the Adult Fan of Lego (AFOL) community.

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Adding Remote Control To The Elegoo Mars Pro

Recent price drops put entry level masked stereolithography (MSLA) resin 3D printers at around $200 USD, making them a very compelling tool for makers and hackers. But as you might expect, getting the price this low often involves cutting several corners. One of the ways manufacturers have made their machines so cheap is by simplifying the electronics and paring down the feature set to the absolute minimum.

So it was hardly a surprise for [Luiz Ribeiro] to find that his new Elegoo Mars Pro didn’t offer WiFi connectivity or a remote control interface. You’re supposed to just stick a USB flash drive into the printer and select the object you want to print from its menu system. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t hack the capability in himself.

Monitoring a print with Mariner.

If this were a traditional 3D printer, he might have installed OctoPrint and been done with it. But resin printers are a very different beast. In the end, [Luiz] had to develop his own remote control software that worked around the unique limitations of the printer’s electronics. His software runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero and uses Linux’s “USB Gadget” system to make it appear as a flash drive when plugged into the USB port on the Elegoo Mars Pro.

This allows sending object files to the printer over the network, but there was a missing piece to the puzzle. [Luiz] still needed to manually go over to the printer and select which file he wanted to load from the menu. Until he realized there was an exposed serial port on control board that allowed him to pass commands to the printer. Between the serial connection and faux USB Mass Storage device, his mariner software has full control over the Mars Pro and is able to trigger and monitor print jobs remotely.

It might not offer quite the flexibility of adding OctoPrint to your FDM 3D printer, but it’s certainly a start.

Lego Ziplining Robot Climbs For Claps

The internet has given us plenty of cool robotics projects, but we don’t think we’ve seen one zipline before. At least not until now.

This cool little ziplining robot is courtesy of the folks over at [Tart Robotics]. As they described it, the robot moves using a 4-bar linkage mechanism with the motor’s torque “transferred to the arm mechanisms through a pair of bevel gears and a worm drive.” Even cooler, the robot is activated by clapping. The faster you clap, the faster the robot moves. That’s sure to wow your friends at your next virtual hacker meetup.

They had to do a bit of custom 3D printing work to get a few of the Lego components to connect with their non-Lego off-the-shelf bits, so that took a bit of time. Specifically, they had some cheap, non-branded DC motors that they used that did not naturally mate with the Lego Technic components used to create the rest of the robot’s body. Nothing a few custom 3D printing jobs couldn’t solve.

It always amazes us what cool contraptions you can put together with a few Lego blocks. What’s your favorite Lego project?

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This LEGO Air Conditioner Is Cooler Than Yours

What’s the coolest thing a person can build with LEGO? Well it’s gotta be an air conditioner, right? Technically, [Manoj Nathwani] built a LEGO-fied swamp cooler, but it’s been too hot in London to argue the difference.

This thoroughly modular design uses an Arduino Uno and a relay module to drive four submersible pumps. The pumps are mounted on a LEGO base and sunk into a tub filled with water and ice packs. In the middle of the water lines are lengths of copper tubing that carry it past four 120mm PC case fans to spread the coolness. It works well, it’s quiet, and it was cheap to build. Doesn’t get much cooler than that.

[Manoj] had to do a bit of clever coupling to keep the tubing transitions from leaking. All it took was a bit of electrical tape to add girth to the copper tubes, and a zip tie used as a little hose clamp.

We think the LEGO part of this build looks great. [Manoj] says they did it by the seat of their pants, and lucked out because the copper and plastic tubing both route perfectly through the space of a 1x1x1 brick.

DIY cooling can take many forms. It really just depends what kind of building blocks you have at your disposal. We’ve even seen an A/C built from a water heater.

A Real Working Lego NES

Lego is an entry into the world of engineering for many a youngster, and an enjoyable pursuit for many more. These days, high quality kits are available to make everything from the Tower of Pisa to Nintendo’s venerated NES console. [TronicsFix] picked up the latter set, and decided it needed to be fully functional.

Consisting of 2646 pieces, the official Lego NES is a faithful recreation of the original, albeit at approximately 80% of the size. After building the kit to spec, [TronicsFix] noted that there was no way a cartridge would fit in the slot.

Given this failing, a ground-up rebuild was in order. Starting with the internals from an original NES, [TronicsFix] set about building an appropriately sized base and working from there. Supports were built to mount the various components, with the controller ports being particularly well done, and the video output and power switches being a little more tricky. The many cosmetic pieces from the official kit came in handy here, giving the final product the aesthetic touches it needed to fit the bill.

The final result is an authentic, functional NES in a LEGO case. [TronicsFix] demonstrates as such, showing the console playing Super Mario 3. Nintendo consoles remain a favorite amongst modders; some going so far as to build fire-breathing creations. Video after the break.

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LEGO Delivers Corvette Experience On A Budget

Many dream of tooling around in a high performance sports car, but the cost of owning, maintaining, and insuring one of them make it a difficult proposition. While this LEGO version of the Corvette ZR1 might not be exactly like the real thing, it’s 4-speed manual and electronic gauge cluster can give you a taste of the supercar lifestyle without having to taken out a second mortgage.

Working through the gears.

Built by [HyperBlue], this desktop speedster has more going on under the hood (or more accurately, the roof) than you might expect. While it looks pretty unassuming from the outside, once the top is lifted, you can see all the additional components that have been packed in to motorize it. The functional gearbox takes up almost the entire interior of the car, but it’s not like you were going to be able to fit in there anyway.

But the motorized car is really only half of the project. [HyperBlue] has built a chassis dynamometer for his plastic ride that not only allows you to “start” the engine with realistic sights and sounds (recorded from an actual GM LT1 V8 engine), but put the mini ‘Vette through its paces. With a virtual dashboard powered by the Raspberry Pi, you can see various stats about the vehicle such as throttle position, RPM, and calculated scale speed; providing a real-world demonstration of how the transmission operates.

While a LEGO sports car might not be quite as exciting as getting yourself a real project car, there’s something to be said for being able to rebuild your transmission without getting your hands dirty.

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