Precision Pantograph Probes PCBs

Electronic components are getting smaller and for most of us, our eyesight is getting worse. When [Kurt] started using a microscope to get a better view of his work, he realized he needed another tool to give his hands the same kind of precision. That tool didn’t exist so he built it.

The PantoProbe is a pantograph mechanism meant to guide a probe for reaching the tiny pads of his SMT components. He reports that he has no longer has any trouble differentiating pins 0.5 mm apart which is the diameter of the graphite sticks in our favorite mechanical pencils.

[Kurt] has already expanded his machine’s capability to include a holder for a high-frequency probe and even pulleys for a pick-and-place variation. There’s no mention of dual-wielding PantoProbes as micro-helping-hands but the versatility we’ve seen suggests that it is only a matter of time.

Four bar linkages are capable of some incredible feats and they’re found all around us. Enjoy one of [Kurt]’s other custom PCBs in his Plexitube Owl Clock, or let him show you to make 3D objects with a laser engraver.

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Tracing A Scene An Old-Fashioned Way

Taking a picture is as simple as tapping a screen. Drawing a memorable scene, even when it’s directly in front of you, is a different skill entirely. So trace it! Well, that’s kind of hard to do without appropriate preparation.

[bobsteaman]’s method is to first whip up a pantograph — it tested well with a felt marker on the end. Next, he built a camera obscura into a small wood box with a matte plexiglass top, which didn’t work quite so well. A magnifying glass above the camera’s pinhole aperture helped, but arduous testing was needed to ensure it was set at perfect position for a clear image. The matte plexiglass was also thrown out and, after some experimentation, replaced with a sheet of semi-transparent baking paper sandwiched between two pieces of clear plexiglass. The result is hard to argue with.

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A Compact, Portable Pantograph Camera Slider

Ho, hum, another camera slider, right? Wrong — here’s a camera slider with a literal twist.

What sets [Schijvenaars]’ slider apart from the pack is that it’s not a slider, at least not in the usual sense. A slider is a mechanical contrivance that allows a camera to pan smoothly during a shot. Given that the object is to get a camera from point A to point B as smoothly as possible, and that sliders are often used for long exposures or time-lapse shots, the natural foundation for them is a ball-bearing linear slide, often powered by a stepper motor on a lead screw. [Schijvenaars] wanted his slider to be more compact and therefore more portable, so he designed and 3D-printed a 3-axis pantograph mechanism. The video below shows the slider panning the camera through a silky smooth 60 centimeters; a bonus of the arrangement is that it can transition from panning in one direction to the other without any jerking. Try that with a linear slider.

Granted, this slider is not powered, but given that the axes are synced with timing belts, it wouldn’t be difficult to add a motor. We’ve seen a lot of sliders before, from simple wooden units to complicated overhead cranes, but this one seems like a great design with a lot of possibilities.

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Spell Out the Time with Frickin’ Laser Beams

Clocks are a never-ending source of fascination to hackers. We get all kinds around here, from Steampunk Nixie clocks to retro cool flip clocks to clocks that don’t even look like clocks. But this is something new — a glow-in-the-dark laser tracing clock.

What [tuckershannon]’s clock lacks in practicality it makes up for in the gee-whiz department. The idea is simple: trace the characters out on a phosphorescent screen using a laser. To accomplish this, [tuckershannon] adapted the design of this whiteboard marker robot clock, replacing the drawing surface with glow-in-the-dark stickers. A 405 nm laser diode module is traced over the surface by the two-servo pantograph plotter, charging up the phosphors. He offers no clue as to how long the ghostly image lingers, but from the look of it, we’d bet that it lasts for a good fraction of a minute, especially in a dark room. Then again, you’d want the image totally faded before the next write cycle comes up, to prevent overwriting the previous time.

All in all, it’s a nice design and a clever new clock display modality. And who knows — maybe this whole glowing phosphor display thing could really catch on.

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Scissor Lift Table From the Wood Shop, for the Wood Shop

The value of a mobile adjustable height cart in the shop can’t be overestimated. From moving tools around to installing heavy fixtures on walls and ceiling, a scissor-lift platform is a great tool. Commercial versions get a bit expensive, though, so a shop-built scissor lift table made of wood might be a nice project for the budget-minded to tackle.

Wood might not be your first choice for a fixture such as this, but it’s what [Marius Hornberger] is set up to use, and with proper species selection and careful engineering, it can make for an amazingly sturdy table. [Marius] chose ash for his parts, a wood with a long history of performing well under difficult conditions. The table is not all wood, of course; metal bushings and pins are used in the scissor mechanism, and the lift drive is a stout Acme-thread screw and nut. We’re impressed by [Marius]’ joinery skill, and with how sturdy the table proved to be.

Not a lot of woodworking projects seem to show up in our tip line for some reason, which is a shame. We love to feature wood builds, and like our own [John Baichtal] recently pointed out, the health of the wood shop is often a leading indicator of the health of a hackerspace.

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Homemade 3D Carving Duplicator

[Frank] is a guitar builder and has to make a quantity of acoustic guitar bridges that wouldn’t make sense to do manually by hand each time. He wanted a way of duplicating bridges quickly and precisely but he didn’t want to go to a CNC machine. Instead, he build a 3D duplicating machine.

The machine has 3 perpendicular axes, just like a milling machine. Mounted to the Z Axis is an air powered spindle that can reach 40,000 RPM. All 3 axes are moved by the operators hands. Normally, free-hand cutting something like this would be very difficult. [Frank’s] solved this in his machine by using a stylus that is offset from the cutting bit. The stylus is the same effective length and diameter of the cutting bit and is guided over a finished bridge pattern. While the stylus is tracing the pattern, the spindle and bit are removing material from a bridge blank. The stylus is continually moved over the entire pattern bridge until the spindle is finished carving out a new bridge out of the blank.

To aid in lifting the heavy Z Axis and spindle, [Frank] added a counter balance to make tracing the pattern extremely easy. Once the new bridge is carved, it only requires minor sanding to remove the tool marks before being installed on a guitar! [Frank] admits his linear bearings and rails are very rigid but also very expensive. If you’re interested in a less-expensive 3D duplicator, check out this project.

Dremel Powered Duplicating Carving Machine

[Adran] wanted to be able to accurately cut out a bunch of the same parts out of wood but didn’t have the cash to spend on buying or building an automated CNC machine. After thinking about it for a while he decided to build a mechanical device that will allow him to duplicate objects by tracing them in 3 dimensions. This type of duplicator uses a stylus to trace over the surface of an object while the cutting tool is also moved over a piece of raw material, cutting as it goes. The end result is a newly carved object that is the same shape as the original. The idea is like a pantograph that works in 3 dimensions.

The wood frame is constructed to move freely front to back and left to right. To control the height of the cutting tool, in this case a Dremel, the frame pivots up and down and the X-axis rail. A screw driver is mounted off the side of the Dremel that acts as a stylus. It is mounted in the same orientation as the Dremel bit and is constrained such that it and the Dremel move in the same direction and amount at all times. When the tip of the screwdriver is traced over a 3D part, the Dremel moves the exact same amount carving a part out of a block of material.

Although the machine works, [Adran] admits there is some room for improvement. The left to right motion is a little choppy as the wood frame is riding directly on steel rails. He plans on adding linear bearings for the next revision to smooth things out.