We’ve talked about feature creep plenty of times around here, and it’s generally regarded as something to be avoided when designing a prototype. It might sound good to have a lot of features in a build, but this often results in more complexity and more difficulty when actually bringing a project to fruition. [Brendan] has had the opposite experience with this custom handheld originally designed for Game and Watch games, though, and he eventually added NES and Game Boy functionality as well.
As this build was originally intended just for Game and Watch games, the screen is about the size of these old games, and while it can easily mimic the monochrome LCD-style video that would have been present on these 80s handhelds, it also has support for color which means that it’s the perfect candidate for emulating other consoles as well. It’s based around a Raspberry Pi Zero 2W and the enclosure is custom printed and painted. Some workarounds for audio had to be figured out, though, since native analog output isn’t supported, but it still has almost every feature for all of these systems.
While we’ve seen plenty of custom portable builds from everything from retro consoles to more modern ones, the Game and Watch catalog is often overlooked. There are a few out there, but in this case we appreciate the feature creep that allowed this build to support Game Boy and NES games as well.
When [Michael Rechtin] learned about Radial Vector Reducers, the underlying research math made his head spin, albeit very slowly. Realizing that it’s essentially a cycloidal drive meshed with a planetary gear set, he got to work in CAD and, in seemingly no time, had a design to test. You can see the full results of his experiment in the video below the break. Or head on out to Thingiverse to download the model directly.
[Michael] explains that while there are elements of a cycloidal drive, itself a wonderfully clever gear reduction mechanism, the radial vector reducer actually has more bearing surfaces, and should be more durable as a result. Two cycloidal disks are driven by a planetary gear reduction for an even greater reduction, but they don’t even spin, they just cycle in a way that drives the outer shell, setting them further apart from standard cycloidal drives.
How would this 3D printed contraption hold up? To test this, [Michael] built a test jig with a NEMA 23 stepper providing the torque, and an absurd monster truck/front loader wheel — also printed — to provide traction in the grass and leaves of his back yard. He let it drive around its tether for nearly two weeks before disassembling it to check for wear. How’d it look? You’ll have to check the video to find out.
Many of us have been asking for some time now “where are our robot servants?” We were promised this dream life of leisure and luxury, but we’re still waiting. Modern life is a very wasteful one, with items delivered to our doors with the click of a mouse, but the disposal of the packaging is still a manual affair. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to summon a robot to take the rubbish to the recycling, ideally have it fetch a beer at the same time? [James Bruton] shares this dream, and with his extensive robotics skillset, came up with the perfect solution; behold the Binbot 9000. (Video, embedded below the break)
[MostElectronics], like many of us, loves cats, and so wanted to make an internet connected treat dispenser for their most beloved. The result is an ingenious 3D printed mechanism connected to a Raspberry Pi that’s able to serve treats through a locally run web application.
From the software side, the Raspberry Pi uses a RESTful API that one can connect to through a static IP. The API is implemented as a Python Flask application running under a stand alone web server Python script. The web application itself keeps track of the number of treats left and provides a simple interface to dispense treats at the operators leisure. The RpiMotorLib Python library is used to control a 28BYJ-48 stepper motor through its ULN2003 controller module, which is used to rotate the inside shaft of the treat dispenser.
The mechanism to dispense treats is a stacked, compartmentalized drum, with two drum layers for food compartments that turn to drop treats. The bottom drum dispenses treats through a chute connected to the tray for the cat, leaving an empty compartment that the top drum can replenish by dropping its treats into through a staggered opening. Each compartmentalized treat drum layer provides 11 treats, allowing for a total of 22 treats with two layers stacked on top of each other. One could imagine extending the treat dispenser to include more drum layers by adding even more layers.
Source code is available on GitHub and the STL files for the dispenser are available on Thingiverse. We’ve seen cat electronic feeders before, sometimes with escalating consequences that shake us to our core and leave us questioning our superiority.
[Pepijn de Vos] wanted a 6DOF HID. You know, a 6 Degrees Of Freedom Hardware Interface Device. Those are the fancy controllers for navigating in 3D space, for uses like Computer Aided Design, or Kerbal Space Program. And while we can’t speak to [Pepijn]’s KSP addiction, we do know that the commercially available controllers are prohibitively expensive. It takes some serious CAD work to justify the expenditure. [Pepijn] falls somewhere in-between, and while he couldn’t justify the expense, he does have the chops to design and 3D print his own.
Marvelously, he’s shared the design files for SpaceFox, linked above. It’s 6 spring-loaded potentiometers, supporting a floating printed Big Knob. The pots feed into an Arduino Pro Micro, which calculates the knob’s position on the fly and feeds in into the connected computer. On the computer side, the project uses the spacenavd driver to interface with various applications.
SpaceFox V1 is essentially a proof of concept, just asking for someone to come along and knock off the rough edges. [Pepijn] even includes a wishlist of improvements, but with the caveat that he’s satisfied with his working model. If this project really gets your 6DOF juices flowing, maybe try making an improved version, and share the improvements. And let us know about it!
Heat-set inserts are a great way to embed mechanically-strong, threaded parts into a 3D print. For installation, all that is required is an economical soldering iron; something most of us already have.
That’s fine for a handful of occasional inserts, but when a large number need to be inserted reliably and cleanly, something a little more refined is called for. That’s where [virchow]’s threaded insert press design comes in. It adds 3D-printed parts to an aluminum extrusion frame to create a press that smoothly lowers a soldering iron directly up and down, with minimal effort by the user.
The holder for the soldering iron is mounted to a small v-wheel gantry that rides along the vertical extrusion. The gantry features a counterweight to take care of resetting the position of the iron. [Virchow] admits that the design could be considered unnecessarily complicated (hence the “UC” in the name) but on the other hand, there’s nothing like doing a hundred or so inserts to make one appreciate every bit of comfort and stability.
Heat-set inserts aren’t difficult to use, but a little technique goes a long way. Spend a few minutes reading Joshua Vasquez’s guide on the optimal way to use them in 3D-printed parts to make sure yours not only go in straight but end up looking great as well.
The Playdate is an interesting gaming system. It’s a handheld, has a black and white screen, and superficially reminds us a little bit of the original Game Boy, right down to the button layout. But the fact that it has a second controller that pops out of the side, that this controller is a crank, and that the whole system was made by the same people that made Untitled Goose Game, makes us quite intrigued. Apparently it has made an impact on others, too, because this project turns the gaming system into a typewriter.
The Playdate doesn’t have native support for USB accessories unless it’s plugged into this custom 3D printed dock. Inside of the dock is a Teensy 4.1 which handles some translation between the keyboard and the console. Once the dock is taken care of the text editor needs to be side-loaded to the device as well. The word processor has the ability to move the cursor around, insert and delete text, and the project’s creator, [t0mg], plans to add more features in future versions like support for multiple files, changing the font, and a few other things as well.
For anyone interested in recreating this project, all of the printable files, the text editor, and the schematics are all available in the GitHub repo. It’s an impressive project for a less well-known console that we haven’t seen many other hacks for, unless you count this one-off Arduboy project which took some major inspiration from the Playdate’s crank controller.