DIY Photo Backup In The Field

They say a file isn’t backed up if it isn’t backed up twice. This is easy enough to do if you have access to your computer and a network, but if you’re a photographer you might end up in a place without either of these things and need a way to back up the files you just created. For that you’ll need a specialized photo backup tool which you can easily build yourself.

While commercial offerings are available which back up files locally from a camera’s SD card to another medium, they suffer from a high price. [André]’s solution can be had for a fraction of that cost. Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, a tiny USB hub, and a high capacity jump drive, a photographer can simply plug in an SD card and the Pi will handle the backups with varying levels of automation. The software that [André] made use of is called Little Backup Box written by [Dmitri Popov] and can be used typically as an automatic backup for any other device as well.

This is a great solution to backing up files on the go, whether they’re from a camera or any device that uses an SD card. Removable storage is tiny and easily lost, so it’s good to have a few backups in case the inevitable happens. Raspberry Pis are an ideal solution to data backup, and can even be battery powered if you’re really roughing it for a few days.

3D-Printed Magazines Tame The SMD Tape Beast

Chances are pretty good that you’ve got a box or a bin somewhere in your shop with coils of SMD component tapes in it. If you’re lucky, the coils are somewhat contained in their conductive Mylar bags; if you’re more like us, the tapes are flopping around loose in an attempt to seemingly tie themselves together. In either case, these 3D-printed SMD magazines will bring a little order to the chaos, and make board assembly a little bit easier.

When we saw [Robin Reiter]’s build, we thought these would be cassettes for some sort of pick-and-place machine. But while they certainly look like they could be adapted to an automated PnP setup, [Robin]’s main goal was to provide organized storage for loose tapes. Each magazine has a circular reservoir to hold the coiled tape, with an exit slot at the front and a wedge that directs the cover tape in the opposite direction. This removes the cover tape to expose the components, clears it away from the pickup area, and as a bonus, allows the component tape to be advanced just by pulling back on the cover. Each magazine has a spring-loaded latch that clips onto a base that looks a bit like a DIN-rail; the weighted base holds several magazines and makes it easy to set up a manual pick-and-place session. The video below shows all the details.

For certain personality types, this really scratches an itch. We love the modular design, and the organization that these would bring to our shop would really help clean things up a bit. And if [Robin] were ever to take this design to the next level, adding something like this could be useful.

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A Guide To Shop Equipment Nobody Thinks About: Clean, Organized, And Efficient

When planning out a workspace at home, the job, or at a makerspace, we all tend to focus on the fun parts. Where the equipment will go, how you’ll power it, what kind of lights you’ll get, etc, etc. It’s easy to devote all your attention to these high-level concepts, which often means the little details end up getting addressed on the fly. If they get addressed at all.

But whether we want to admit it or not, an organized workspace tends to be more efficient. That’s why [Eric Weinhoffer] has put together a blog post that details all those mundane details that we tend to forget about. It’s not exactly exciting stuff, and contains precisely as much discussion about whiteboards as you probably expect. That said, it’s thorough and clearly comes from folks who’ve had more than a little experience with setting up an efficient shop.

So what’s the first thing most shops don’t have enough of? Labels. [Eric] says you should put labels on everything, parts bins, tools, machines, if it’s something you need to keep track of, then stick a label on it. This does mean you’ll likely have to buy a label maker, but hey, at least that means a new gadget to play with.

Of course, those self-stick labels don’t work on everything. That’s why [Eric] always has a few rolls of masking tape (such as the blue 3M tape you might be using on your 3D printer bed) and some quality markers on hand to make arbitrary labels. Apparently there’s even such a thing as dry erase tape, which lets you throw an impromptu writing surface anywhere you want.

[Eric] also suggests investing in some collapsible cardboard bins which can be broken down and stored flat when not in use. If you’ve got the kind of situation where you’ll always have more or less the same amount of stuff then plastic is probably your best bet, but in a more dynamic environment, being able to collapse the bins when they aren’t in use is a capability we never even realized we needed until now.

As you might imagine, the post also touches on the issues of keeping sufficient safety gear available. We’ve talked about this in the past, but it’s one of those things that really can’t be said too many times. Having a wall of meticulously labeled storage bins is great, but it’s going to be the last thing on your mind if you manage to get an eye full of superglue.

Tiny Forklift Makes Unusable Space Usable

Houses with crawlspaces are fairly common in some geographic regions. The crawlspace can make it easier to access things like plumbing and electrical wiring, and can even be used as storage in homes that don’t (or can’t) have a basement. Along with improved building ventilation, these some of the perks compared to homes built on a solid slab of concrete. These crawlspaces aren’t exactly easy to get around in, though, but [Dave] has an easier way to get stuff in and out of these useful, but small, spaces.

Enter the crawl space forklift. Made with largely off-the-shelf components, the robot includes a few standard motors and linear actuators to move around and operate the front fork. That’s all pretty standard, but this build really shines with its use of FPV camera, monitor, and transmitter that allow the pilot to navigate the robot in the small space using remote control. For those safety-conscious among us, there is also a fire extinguisher ball on board which self-activates in case the robot catches on fire under his house.

This is a great, high-quality build that shows how common parts can make something revolutionary with the right idea. Identifying a problem and then building a solution, while not forgetting to spring for some safety equipment, can really make a difference even with something as simple as unoccupied space in a home. They can tackle tasks around the home, too.

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Custom Storage Boxes, From Cardboard And 3D Printed Bits

It’s not that storage boxes and organizers are hard to find. No, the problem this project set out to solve was more nuanced than that. The real trouble [theguymasamato] had was that his storage options — wide shelves and deep drawers — weren’t well suited to storing a lot of small and light objects. The result was a lot of wasted space and poor organization. To make matters worse, his big drawers had oddball dimensions, meaning that store bought organizers weren’t a good fit either.

To solve these problems, [theguymasamato] decided to design his own stackable boxes to store small and light objects far more efficiently than before. The design also allows the boxes to be made in a variety of sizes without changing any of the 3D printed parts. Carefully measured and cut cardboard is critical, but that’s nothing a utility knife and ruler can’t solve. The only other requirements are a few simple plastic parts, and some glue. He can fit six of these inside a single one of his drawers with enough room to access and handle them, but without wasting space.

Cardboard is really versatile stuff. Not only has it been behind some amazingly complex devices such as this tiny working plotter, but we’ve seen it form major components in the remarkably ambitious cardboard CNC.

FindyBot3000 Is Listening And Ready To Help

It’s a problem every maker faces at one time or other – how to organise the ever-growing mass of components in the workshop. Some give up and just live with box upon box of disordered parts. That wasn’t good enough for [Inventor22], though – who created FindyBot3000 to tackle the job. 

The first step is to source a set of those tiny component drawers we all know and love. These are then combined with WS2812B LED strips, which act as indicators for each individual drawer. A Particle Photon is used as the brains of the operation, and drives the strips. So far, so good.

Of course, blinking LEDs are great and all, but it’s the voice control where things get really interesting. Through Google Home and IFTTT, it’s possible to give commands to the Particle Photon. This can be used to manage the parts in the drawers, as well as to quickly highlight the location of various components. It’s backed up with an Azure backend, which manages the component database and keeps track of everything.

It’s a tidy build that does away with tiny sticky labels, and is reconfigurable on the fly as parts come and go. Of course, if you’re mostly storing SMD parts, you might prefer a reel based solution. Video after the break.

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Pack Your SD Cards Swiss Army Style

SD cards have largely supplanted most other card-based storage devices, in all but a few niches. Available in standard, micro, and the rather obscure mini sizes, they’re used in everything from digital cameras to car stereos and console ROM carts. For most users, storing them consists of tossing them in a bag, occasionally in a plastic case that’s barely any bigger than the card itself for a little extra protection. This can get frustrating when carrying multiple cards, but [Dranoweb] has a solution.

[Dranoweb]’s design is similar to a Swiss Army knife, repurposed with many fingers, each with slots for holding everyone’s favourite storage devices. All the parts barring the screw are 3D printed. There are various designs of the storage fingers, allowing the build to be customized to suit varying quantities of SD and microSD cards. There’s even a deep-pocketed piece for USB drives and small adapters, and an oversized design for Nintendo DS carts.

It’s a tidy design that makes it that much less likely you’ll lose your microSD in the bottom of your backpack. Now, if you need to interface with an SD card, we can help you there too.