Got a couple of old DVD-RW drives lying around, just collecting dust? Of course you do. If not, you likely know where to find a pair so you can build this totally adorable and fully dangerous laser engraver for your desk. Check out the complete build video after the break.
[Smart Tronix] doesn’t just tell you to salvage the stepper motors out of the drives — they show you how it’s done and even take the time to explain in writing what stepper motors are and why you would want to use them in this project, which is a remix of [maggie_shah]’s design over on Thingiverse. As you might expect, the two steppers are wired up to an Arduino Uno through a CNC shield with a pair of A4988 motor drivers. These form the two axes of movement — the 250mW laser is attached to x, and the platform moves back and forth on the y axis. We’d love to have one of these to mess around with. Nothing that fits on that platform would be safe! Just don’t forget the proper laser blocking safety glasses!
Need something much bigger that won’t take up a lot of space? Roll up your sleeves and build a SCARA arm to hold your laser.
Continue reading “Mini Laser Engraver Could Carve Out A Place On Your Desk”
Well, here it is: a shoe-in for the new world’s largest NERF gun. (Video, embedded below.) The Guinness people haven’t shown up yet to award [Michael Pick], but at 12.5 feet, this baby is over twice as long as the current record holder, which belongs to former NASA mechanical engineer Mark Rober and his now-puny six-foot six-shooter.
We have to wonder if it is technically bigger than the six-shooter, because they seem to be roughly the same scale, except that [Michael] chose a much bigger model to start from. The main body is made from wood, and there are a ton of 3D-printed details that make it look fantastically accurate. The whole thing weighs over 200 pounds and takes at least two people to move it around. We especially love the DIY darts that [Michael] came up with, which are made from a PVC tube inside a section of pool noodle, topped off with a 3D printed piece for that distinctive orange cap.
Propelling those darts at around 50 MPH is a 3,000 PSI air tank connected to an Arduino Pro Mini that controls the trigger and the air valves. While [Michael] hasn’t run the thing quite that high, it does plenty of damage in the neighborhood of 40-80 PSI. As you’ll see in the video after the break, this is quite the ranged weapon. Watch it blow a hole clean through a sheet of drywall and much more.
Want to build something with a bit more stealth? Make it death from above with a NERF quadcopter.
Continue reading “Giant Working NERF Gun Runs On Tiny Arduino”
If you are lucky, you’ve never experienced the heartbreak of watching a loved one lose their ability to do simple tasks. However, as hackers, we have the ability to customize solutions to make everyday tasks more accessible. That’s what [omerrv] did by creating a very specific function remote control. The idea is to provide an easy-to-use interface for the most common remote functions.
This is one of those projects where the technology puzzle is now pretty easy to solve: IR remotes are well-understood and there are plenty of libraries for recording and playing back signals. The real work is to understand the user’s challenges and come up with a workable compromise between something useful and something too complex for the user to deal with.
Continue reading “Elderly Remote Keeps Things Simple”
There was a time when people like us might own a tube tester and even if you didn’t, you probably knew which drug store had a tube testing machine you could use for free. We aren’t sure that’s a testament to capitalistic ingenuity or an inditement of tube reliability — maybe both. As [Usagi] has been working on some tube-based projects, he decided he needed a tester so he built one. You can see the results in the video, below.
The tester only uses 24V, but for the projects he’s building, that’s close to the operation in the real circuits. He does have a traditional tube tester, but it uses 100s of volts which is a different operating regime.
Continue reading “Modern Tube Tester Uses Arduino”
A lot of electronics wind up in landfills, and when [Playful Electronics] saw an old cash register heading for the dump, he decided to give its VFD display a new life as an Arduino peripheral. While you might not find the exact same parts, it is still fun to watch him work through the process, and you might find some tips for doing your own upcycle project next time you see some old tech heading out to pasture.
The project was relatively straightforward since data for the display was available. It is meant to connect via RS232 with a point of sale printer, so working with it is pretty straightforward.
Continue reading “Upcycling A VFD”
Do you kind of want a macropad, but aren’t sure that you would use it? Hackaday alum [Jeremy Cook] is now making and selling the JC Pro Macro on Tindie, which is exactly what it sounds like — a Pro Micro-based macro keypad with an OLED screen and a rotary encoder. In the video below, [Jeremy] shows how he made it into a music maker by adding a speaker and a small solenoid that does percussion, all while retaining the original macro pad functionality.
[Jeremy]’s original idea for a drum was to have a servo seesawing a chopstick back and forth on the table as one might nervously twiddle a pencil. That didn’t work out so well, so he switched to the solenoid and printed a thing to hold it upright, and we absolutely love it. The drum is controlled with the rotary encoder: push to turn the beat on or off and crank it to change the BPM.
To make it easier to connect up the solenoid and speaker, [Jeremy] had a little I²C helper board fabricated. There’s one SVG connection and another with power and ground swapped in the event it is needed. If you’re interested in the JC Pro Macro, you can pick it up in various forms over on Tindie. Of course, you might want to wait for version 2, which is coming to Kickstarter in October.
There are many ways to make a macro keyboard. Here’s one that also takes gesture input.
Continue reading “Meet The Marvelous Macro Music Maker”
[Larry Bank]’s Arduino library to print text and graphics on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) thermal printers has some excellent features, and makes sending wireless print jobs to a number of common models about as easy as can be. These printers are small, inexpensive, and wireless. That’s a great mix that makes them attractive for projects that would benefit from printing out a hardcopy.
It’s not limited to simple default text, either. Fancier output can be done using Adafruit_GFX library-style fonts and options, which sends the formatted text as graphics. You can read all about what the library can do in this succinct list of concise functions.
But [Larry] hasn’t stopped there. While experimenting with microcontrollers and BLE thermal printers, he also wanted to explore talking to these printers from his Mac using BLE directly. Print2BLE is a MacOS application that allows dragging image files into the application’s window, and if the preview looks good, the print button makes it come out of the printer as a 1-bpp dithered image.
Small thermal printers make for neat projects, like this retrofitted Polaroid camera, and now that these little printers are both wireless and economical, things can only get easier with the help of a library like this. Of course, if that’s all starting to look a little too easy, one can always put the thermal back in thermal printing by using plasma, instead.