As a community we owe perhaps more than we realise to the RepRap project. From it we get not only a set of open-source printer designs, but that 3D printing at our level has never become dominated by proprietary manufacturers in the way that for example paper printing is. The idea of a printer that can reproduce itself has never quite been fully realised though, because of what the RepRap community refer to as “vitamins“.
These are the mass-produced parts such as nuts, bolts, screws, and other parts which a RepRap printer can’t (yet) create for itself. It’s become a convenience among some of my friends to use this term in general for small pieces of hardware, which leads me to last week. I had a freshly printed prototype of one of my projects, and my hackerspace lacked the tiny self-tapping screws necessary for me to assemble it. Where oh where, was my plaintive cry, are the vitamins!
So my hackerspace is long on woodscrews for some reason, and short on machine screws and self-tappers. And threaded inserts for that matter, but for some reason it’s got a kit of springs. I’m going to have to make an AliExpress order to fix this, so the maybe I need you lot to help me. Just what vitamins does a a lone hardware hacker or a hackerspace need? Continue reading “3D Printering: Can You Ever Have Enough Vitamins?”→
It has become a bit of a running joke in the Hackaday community to suggest that a project could or should have been done with a 555 timer. [Tim] has rather taken this to heart with his latest Electronic Dice project, which uses three of the venerable devices.
If three seems like a lot of 555s to make an electronic die, then it may be worth considering that the last time we shared his project he was using 22 of them! Since then, [Tim] has been busy optimising his design, whilst keeping within the constraints of an old-school through-hole soldering kit.
Maybe the most surprising thing about this project is the purpose to which the NE555 devices are pressed. Rather than using them for their famous oscillation properties, they are in actual fact just being used as Schmitt Triggers to clean up the three-phase ring oscillator that is constructed from discrete transistors and passives.
The ring oscillator cleverly produces three phase-shifted square waves such that a binary combination of the three phases offers six unique states. Six being the perfect number for a dice throw, all that then remains is to figure out which LEDs need to be switched on in which state and wire them up accordingly.
To “roll” the dice, a push-button powers up the oscillator, and stops it again when it is released, displaying the random end-state on the LEDs.
It can be fun to see what can be done using old technology, and educational to try to optimise a design down to the fewest parts possible.
[Tim]’s earlier project is here if you want to see how the design has evolved. The documentation on both of these iterations is excellent and well worth a read.
NFC hacking can be a daunting task with many specialized tools, a proliferation of protocols, and a multitude of different devices. [ElectronicCats] has done a lot of work to try to make this investigation accessible by creating an open-source, hardware-certified NFC tool called the HunterCatNFC that can read and emulate a multitude of NFC devices.
The HunterCatNFC device is meant to be portable and self contained, with LED indicator lights that can give information about the various modes, and feedback about what data is being received. At its core, the HunterCatNFC has an NXP PN7150 NFC controller chip to handle the NFC communication. The main processing controller is a Microchip SAMD21 which also provides USB functionality, and the whole device is powered by a 3.7V 150mAh Li-ion battery.
The HunterCatNFC has three main modes, ’emulation’, ‘read/write’ and ‘peer-to-peer’. Emulation mode allows the HunterCatNFC to mimic the functionality of a passive NFC device, only responding when an NFC reader issues a request. The read/write mode allows it to emulate an NFC reader or writer, with the ability to communicate with nearby passive NFC devices. The peer-to-peer mode gives the device the ability to have two way communication, for instance, between two HunterCatNFC devices.
We’ve covered NFC hacking before, including the Flipper Zero. The HunterCatNFC is a fine addition to the NFC hackers arsenal of tools with some very nice documentation to learn from. For those not wanting to send out their own boards to be printed and assembled, [ElectronicCats] has them for sale.
Airless tires have been “a few years away” from production for decades now. They’re one of the automotive version of vaporware (at least those meant for passenger vehicles), always on the cusp of being produced but somehow never materializing. They have a number of perks over traditional air-filled tires in that they are immune to flats and punctures, and since there aren’t any airless tires available at the local tire shop, [Driven Media] decided to make and test their own.
The tires are surprisingly inexpensive to make. A few pieces of drainage tubing of varying diameters, cut to short lengths, and then bolted together with off-the-shelf hardware is all it takes, although they note that there was a tremendous amount of hardware needed to fasten all the pipe lengths together. With the structure in place they simply cut a tread off of a traditional tire and wrapped it around each of the four assemblies, then bolted them up to their Caterham street-legal race car for testing.
While the ride quality was notoriously (and unsurprisingly) rough and bumpy, the tires perform admirably under the circumstances and survive being driven fairly aggressively on a closed-circuit race course. For such a low price and simple parts list it’s shocking that a major tire manufacturer like Michelin hasn’t figured out how to successfully bring one to a light passenger car yet.
Drums are an exciting instrument to learn to play, but often prohibitive if there are housemates or close neighbors involved. For that problem there are still electronic drums which can be played much more quietly, but then the problem becomes one of price. To solve at least part of that one, [Jeremy] turned to using an Arduino to build a drum module on his own, but he still had to solve yet a third problem: how to make the Arduino fast enough for the drums to sound natural.
Playing music in real life requires precise timing, so the choice of C++ as a language poses some problems as it’s not typically as fast as lower-level languages. It is much easier to work with though, and [Jeremy] explains this in great detail over a series of blog posts detailing his drum kit’s design. Some of the solutions to the software timing are made up for with the hardware on the specific Arduino he chose to use, including an even system, a speedy EEPROM, hardware timers, and an ADC that can sample at 150k samples per second.
With that being said, the hardware isn’t the only thing standing out on this build. [Jeremy] has released the source code on his GitHub page for those curious about the build, and is planning on releasing several more blog posts about the drum kit build in the near future as well. This isn’t the only path to electronic drums, though, as we’ve seen with this build which converts an analog drumset into a digital one.
Bulk material is stuff handled ‘in bulk’. One LEGO piece is a brick but 1,000 poured into a bag is bulk material. Corn starch, sand, flour, powder-coat powder, gravel, cat food, Cap’n Crunch, coins, screws, Styrofoam beads, lead shot, and gummy worms are bulk materials.
Anyone who has played an online shooter game in the past two or three decades has almost certainly come across a person or machine that cheats at the game by auto-aiming. For newer games with anti-cheat, this is less of a problem, but older games like Team Fortress have been effectively ruined by these aimbots. These types of cheats are usually done in software, though, and [Kamal] wondered if he would be able to build an aim bot that works directly on the hardware instead.
First, we’ll remind everyone frustrated with the state of games like TF2 that this is a proof-of-concept robot that is unlikely to make any aimbots worse or more common in any games. This is mostly because [Kamal] is training his machine to work in Aim Lab, a first-person shooter training simulation, and not in a real multiplayer videogame. The robot works by taking a screenshot of his computer in Python and passing the information through a computer vision algorithm which recognizes high-contrast targets. From there a PID controller is used to tell a series of omniwheels attached to the mouse where to point, and when the cursor is in the hitbox a mouse click is triggered.
While it might seem straightforward, building the robot and then, more importantly, tuning the PID controller took [Kamal] over two months before he was able to rival pro-FPS shooters at the aim trainer. It’s an impressive build though, and if one of his omniwheel motors hadn’t burned out it may have exceeded the top human scores on the platform. If you would like a bot that makes you worse at a game instead of better, though, head over to this build which plays Valorant by using two computers to pass game information between.