Jigsaw Puzzles Are Defeated

To some folx, puzzles are the ultimate single-player game, but to others, they are like getting a single Tootsie Roll on Halloween. [Shane] of Stuff Made Here must fall into the latter category because he spent the equivalent of 18 work-weeks to make a robot that solves them automatically. Shots have been fired in the war on puzzles.

The goal of this robot is to beat a hybrid idea of two devilish puzzles. The first is all-white which could be solved by taking a piece at random and then checking its compatibility with every unsolved piece. The second is a 5000-piece monster painted white. There is a Moby Dick theme here. Picking up pieces like a human with fingers is out of the question, but pick-and-place machines solved this long ago, and we learn a cool lesson about how shop-air can create negative pressure. Suction. We wonder if anyone ever repurposed canned air to create a vacuum cleaner.

The meat of this video is overcoming hurdles, like a rhomboidal gantry table, helping machine vision see puzzle pieces accurately, and solving a small puzzle. [Shane] explains the solutions with the ear of someone with a technical background but at a high enough level that anyone can learn something. All the moving parts are in place, but the processing power to decode the puzzle is orders of magnitude higher than consumer machines, so that will wait for part two.

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The 3D Printed Car Tire Rim Finally Hits The Road, Sorta

When you think of “car rim” you probably think stamped steel or machined alloy with a sturdy drum to withstand the arduous life of the road, not something 3D printed out of ABS. That would be crazy, right? Not to [Jón Schone] from Proper Printing, who’s recently released an update about his long-term quest to outfit his older sedan with extruded rims.

There were a few initial attempts that didn’t go as well as hoped. The main issue was layer separation as the air pressure would stretch the piece out, forming bubbles. He increased the thickness to the absolute maximum he could. A quick 3D scan of the brake caliper gave him a precise model to make sure he didn’t go too far. He also couldn’t make the rim any bigger to fit a bigger wheel to clear the caliper, as he was already maxing out his impressive 420 mm build volume from his modified Creality printer.

A helpful commenter had suggested using a threaded rod going all the way through the print as a sort of rebar. After initially discounting the idea as the thickness of the rim gets really thin to accommodate the caliper, [Jón] realized that he could bend the rods and attach the two halves that way. Armed with a paper diagram, he cut and bent the rods, inserting them into the new prints. It’s an impressive amount of filament, 2.7 kg of ABS just for one-half of the rim.

It didn’t explode while they inflated the tire and it didn’t explode while they did their best to abuse it in the small alley they had selected for testing. The car was technically no longer road legal, so we appreciate their caution in testing in other locations. In a triumphant but anti-climatic ending, the rim held up to all the abuse they threw at it.

We’ve been following this project for several months now, and are happy to see [Jón] finally bring this one across the finish line. It sounds like there’s still some testing to be done, but on the whole, we’d call the experiment a resounding success.

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Arduboy Goes Thin And Flexible For Portable Gaming

We all have a gaming system in our pocket or purse and some of us are probably reading on it right now. That pocket space is valuable so we have to budget what we keep in there and adding another gaming system is not in the cards, if it takes up too much space. [Kevin Bates] budgeted the smallest bit of pocket real estate for his full-size Arduboy clone, Arduflexboy. It is thin and conforms to his pocket because the custom PCB uses a flexible substrate and he has done away with the traditional tactile buttons.

Won’t a flexible system be hard to play? Yes. [Kevin] said it himself, and while we don’t disagree, a functional Arduboy on a flexible circuit makes up for practicality by being a neat manufacturing demonstration. This falls under the because-I-can category but the thought that went into it is also evident. All the components mount opposite the screen so it looks clean from the front and the components will not be subject to as much flexing and the inputs are in the same place as a traditional Arduboy.

cost = low, practicality = extremely low, customer service problems = high

     ~[Kevin Bates]

These flexible circuit boards use a polyimide substrate, the same stuff as Kapton tape, and ordering boards is getting cheaper so we can expect to see more of them popping up. Did we mention that we currently have a contest for flexible circuits? We have prizes that will make you sing, just for publishing your flex PCB concept.

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