We love clocks here at Hackaday, and so does [John Whittington]. Last year he created this hexagonal honey clock (or “Honock”) by combining some RGB LEDs with a laser-cut frame to create a smooth time display that uses color and placement to display time with a simple and attractive system.
The outer ring of twelve hexagons is essentially the hour hand, similar to analog clock faces: twelve is up, three is directly to the right, six is straight down, and nine is to the left. The inner ring represents ten minutes per hex. Each time the inner ring fills, the next hex (hour) on the outer ring lights up. The whole display is flooded with a minute-long rainbow at noon and midnight. Watch it in action in the video, embedded below.
For the budding roboticist, omniwheels might be the next step in design patterns from your everyday “getting-started” robot kits. These wheels consist of tiny rollers that sit on the perimeter of the wheel and enable the wheel to freely slide laterally. With independent motor control of each wheel, a platform can freely locomote sideways by sliding on the rollers. You might think: “a wheel made of wheels? That sounds pricey…”–and you’d be right! Fear not, though; the folks at [Incubhacker] in Belgium have you covered with a laser-cut design that’s one-click away from landing on your workbench.
For anyone who’s tried to reliably mate flat laser-cut parts at an angle, we can tell you it’s no easy feat. The design here triumphs as both simple and reliable. Not only do they solve this problem elegantly, they also manage to create a design that will bear the load of a robot chassis that will travel with it. Laser-cut designs also usually suffer from a poor range of material options. Here the actual rollers need a bit more grip than what the plywood can provide. They also solve this problem effectively as well too, relying on heat-shrink tubing to provide the traction expected from a conventional wheel.
In the video below, [Incubhacker] takes you through the step-by process of making your own come to life. We’ve certainly seen some impressive laser-cut omniwheels in the past, but we like the simplicity of design combined with the composition of parts that probably already live on our workbenches.
Parchment might be a thing of the past, but for those of us who still use paper an embossed seal can give everything from your official documents to your love letters a bold new feeling of authenticity. As far as getting your own seals made, plenty of folks will settle for having a 3rd party make them a seal, but not us. [Jason] shows us just how simple it is to raster our own seals with a laser cutter.
As far as the process goes, there are no tricks outside the typical workflow for raster engraving. Here, [Jason] simply creates a positive and (mirrored) negative seal pattern for each side of the seal embosser. The pattern is set for raster engraving, and the notched outline will be vector cut. From here, he simply exports the design, and the laser handles the rest.
This hack turned out so cleanly it almost seems like it could got into professional use–and it already is! Some extra Google-fu told us that it’s actually a fairly standard technique across the embossing industry for making embossing seals. Nevertheless, we couldn’t share our excitement for just how accessible this technique can be to anyone within reach of some time on a laser cutter.
[Jason] is using Delrin as his material to capture the design, which cuts cleanly and nicely handles the stress of being squished against your legal documents a couple hundred times. We’ve had our fair share of love on these pages for this engineering plastic. If you’re looking to get a closer look at this material, have a go at our materials-to-know debrief and then get yourself equipped with some design principles so that you’re ready to throw dozens of designs at it.
It’s not the first time the crafting and hacking communities intermingle and start sharing tools. In fact, if you’ve got yourself a vinyl cutter kicking around, why not have a go at churning out a few pcb stencils?
Self-described “Inventor Dad” [pepelepoisson]’s project is called Stecchino (English translation link here) and it’s an Arduino-based physical balancing game that aims to be intuitive to use and play for all ages. Using the Stecchino (‘toothpick’ in Italian) consists of balancing the device on your hand and trying to keep it upright for as long as possible. The LED strip fills up as time passes, and it keeps records of high scores. It was specifically designed to be instantly understood and simple to use by people of all ages, and we think it has succeeded in this brilliantly.
To sense orientation and movement, Stecchino uses an MPU-6050 gyro and accelerometer board. An RGB LED strip gives feedback, and it includes a small li-po cell and charger board for easy recharging via USB. The enclosure is made from a few layers of laser-cut and laser-engraved material that also holds the components in place. The WS2828B WS2812B LED strip used is technically a 5 V unit, but [pepelepoisson] found that feeding them direct from the 3.7 V cell works just fine; it’s not until the cell drops to about three volts that things start to glitch out. All source code and design files are on GitHub.
[Rory Johnson] writes in to tell us about PlyTop Shell, a Creative Commons licensed design for a laser cut wooden laptop that he’s been working on since 2016. It’s designed to accommodate the Raspberry Pi (or other similarly sized SBCs), and aims to provide the builder with a completely customizable mobile computer. He’s got a limited run of the PlyTop up for sale currently, but if you’ve got the necessary equipment, you can start building yours while you wait for that new Pi 3B+ to arrive.
Originally [Rory] was working on a 3D printed design, but quickly ran into problems. The vast majority of 3D printers don’t have nearly the build volume to print out a laptop case in one shot, so the design needed to be broken up into multiple smaller pieces and then grafted together into the final case. Not only did this take a long time and a lot of material, but the final result had the rather unfortunate appearance of a plastic quilt.
Eventually he got hooked up with a maker collective in Minneapolis that had a laser cutter, and the PlyTop was born. There’s still a 3D printed component in the design that goes in the screen hinge, but the rest of the PlyTop is cut out of a three 2′ x 4′ sheets of 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood. As you might expect, plenty of fasteners are required, but [Rory] has a complete Bill of Materials (complete with purchase links) for everything you’ll need to turn the cut pieces into a fully fledged laptop. He’s considering selling kits in the future, but is still working on the logistics.
In keeping with the idea of complete flexibility, there’s no defined layout for the internals of the PlyTop. Rather, there’s an array of star-shaped openings on the bottom plate that allow the builder to connect hardware components up in whatever way works for them. [Rory] actually suggests just holding everything down with zip ties to allow for ease of tinkering.
He’s also come up with a list of suggested hardware for the keyboard, touchpad, and display; but those are really just suggestions. The design is open enough that it shouldn’t take much work to adapt to whatever gear you’ve got laying around.
Single-board computers, usually featuring ARM processors, have revolutionized the world of the hardware hacker over the last decade. The computing power you would have found in a desktop computer not so long ago, mounted on a small PCB and powered from a mobile phone charger.
With a few notable exceptions though, these single board computers are just that, boards. No cases in the pack, which has, of course, spawned a huge aftermarket of commercial offerings and a pile of homemade ones of varying sophistication. If these homemade offerings are your fancy then today’s link may be of interest, some very well-designed laser-cut cases from [Nick Smith] for a selection of popular and less well-known boards.
The Orange Pi Lite and Raspberry Pi Zero are both familiar enough, but one of the delights of writing for Hackaday reveals itself in the discovery of the more esoteric Marvell ESPRESSObin, an SBC with multiple network ports and serial ATA.
We see a huge variety of human-computer interface devices here at Hackaday, and among them are some exceptionally elegant designs. Of those that use key switches though, the vast majority employ off the shelf components made for commercial keyboards or similar. It makes sense to do this, there are some extremely high quality ones to be had.
Sometimes though we are shown designs that go all the way in creating their key switches from the ground up. Such an example comes from [Brandon Rice], and it a particularly clever button design because of its use of laser cutting to achieve a super-slim result. He’s made a sandwich of plywood with the key mechanisms formed in a spiral cut on the top layer. He’s a little sketchy on the exact details of the next layer, but underneath appears to be a plywood spacer surrounding a silicone membrane with conductive rubber taken from a commercial keyboard. Beneath that is copper tape on the bottom layer cut to an interweaving finger design for the contacts. An Adafruit Trinket Pro provides the brains and a USB interface, and the whole device makes for an attractive and professional looking peripheral.
You can see the results in action as he’s posted a video, which we’ve included below the break.