CNC Zen Gardening

The Harford Hackerspace in Baltimore, Maryland just went public with the zen garden they built for the Red Bull Creation contest. It’s a CNC creation that will help ease your frustration with that DIY 3d printer that you just can’t seem to get calibrated correctly.

On the hardware side the base of the machine serves as a sandbox. Finding the correct grain size of the medium was one of the more difficult parts of the build. The stylus is driven along three axes using a gantry common in CNC builds. The pulleys and some brackets were 3d printed, with the remained of the brackets being laser cut from wood. The Bullduino commands the stylus via a stepper motor control board, and drives the LEDs via a bank of MOSFETs. Limiting switches were also included to ensure an error didn’t result in damage to the device.

After the break you can see a build montage put to one of the greatest 8-bit game soundtracks of all time. The one thing we wish they would have shown is the built-in leveling bar that is responsible for “erasing” the garden.

Update: The Harford Hackerspace members came through with a new video that shows the ‘erasing’ process. You’ll find it after the break.

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An Introduction To Stepper Motors

If you’ve been reading Hack a Day for long enough, you know about our infatuation with stepper motors. These precious little devices put the oomph into our CNC routers, 3D printers, robots, and other miscellaneous projects. Steppers aren’t your run-of-the-mill motors, though. [Steaky] posted a great introduction to stepper motors that lets you hit the ground running building any moving project you could imagine.

Apart from identifying a stepper and figuring out if it works, [Steaky] goes over how to make these motors turn. The theory behind an H-bridge is easy enough, but theory isn’t something often presented in schematics or stepper driver datasheets.

We’ve pulled more than our fair share of steppers from flatbed scanners and old printers. There’s nothing wrong with scavenging old parts, and whether you’re making a robot band to play your kid’s birthday party, robochess, or one of the many 3D printers or CNC machines, there’s going to be a stepper motor in your future.

Desktop Coilgun Lets You Play Scorched Earth In Your Living Room

desktop-coilgun

A few years ago when [Dr. West] was wrapping up his collegiate studies, he put together a pretty cool coilgun for his senior project. The gun was built to simulate the Scorched Earth computer game in real life, but due to time constraints he was only able to build one turret instead of two.

The turret was constructed using mainly salvaged components, most of which came from old laser printers and desktop computers. The turret sits atop a computer PSU, which also happens to be the source of the coilgun’s charging power. A Rabbit 2000 microcontroller is used to drive the gun, which is something we’re familiar with from [Dr. West’s] past projects.

The gun can be aimed manually via the attached keypad, but we prefer the more authentic route, allowing the turret to aim itself after being fed X and Y coordinates. As you can see in the demo video, the coilgun works nicely, allowing [Dr. West] to hit a target from across the room.

We love the concept, and think it would be tons of fun to play a real life game of Scorched Earth with a pair of these turrets. If you are interested in making one of your own, you can find the writeup for his final project here in his public Dropbox.