[Mike] is a laser cutting newbie and has never had the opportunity to create a file and send it off to a laser for cutting. He knew he didn’t want to squint at a CAD package, nudging lines by tenths of a millimeter, only to screw something up and have to do it all over again. His solution, like so many other automation tasks, was to create a program that would generate a box of any size in .SVG format.
[Mike]’s program runs in C, and only requires a few variables set in the program to create a box of any size. There’s no argc or argv for the program – the one thing that would turn this into a command line utility that simply creates SVG boxes. Perhaps another time.
The rest of [Mike]’s hackerspace, Fab Lab xChc, was impressed the program worked the first time. With this small bit of C code, [Mike] has an easy, simple tool to generate laser cut boxes. The only remotely complicated bit of C this program uses is printf(), so even an Arduino can spit out the SVG for a laser cut box.
What if your Kindle displayed useful information as the “screensaver”? Now it can thanks to this extension of the Kindle weather display hack we covered a year ago. [Pablo Jiménez Mateo] figured out how to display time, date, weather, and tasks as his Kindle wallpaper while retaining the original functionality of the device as an ePaper reader.
The hack isn’t strictly standalone. Like the Kindle weather station hack on which it is based, you need a computer to act as the server. We see this as a good thing. The server generates a vector graphic which is used as the Kindle screensaver. This process of scraping and packaging the data is just too much for the computing power of the Kindle alone.
Now that [Pablo] got this working without disrupting the normal function of the device, you can remix the hack with your own information sources by working with the server-side code. For those that aren’t familiar with the Linux commands needed to get the Kindle ready, don’t worry. This is reasonably non-invasive. You do need to Jailbreak your device. But once you do, the steps used simply load a small script to grab the images.
We’ve seen a fair number of hacks like this one that reuse a Kindle basically just for its ePaper display. [HaHaBird] has this device hanging on his refrigerator to display the weather and remind him about recycling day. It kind of make us wonder why we’re not seeing cheap ePaper modules on the hobby market?
The concept isn’t new, but [HaHaBird] does move it along just a little bit. He started by following the guide which [Matt] wrote after pulling off the original Kindle weather display hack. It uses a separate computer running a script that polls the Internet for weather data and generates a vector graphic like the one seen above. The Kindle then loads the image once every five minutes thanks to a cron job on the rooted device. But why stop there? [HaHaBird] tweaked the script to include a reminder about his municipality’s irregular recycling schedule.
Don’t overlook the quality of the hardware side of this hack. With its prominent place in the kitchen he wanted a nicely finished look. This was achieved by building a frame out of cherry and routing passages on the back to make room for the extension cable (so it could hang in landscape orientation) and a toggle to hold the Kindle firmly in place. Additional information on the build is available here.
This temperature display may not knock your socks off, but it’s a simple demonstration of how you can used vector graphics as a web readout for data (translated). [Luca] wrote this four page tutorial to help others, he makes it look really easy, and the sky’s the limit on eye candy once you get he basics in place.
The first step is to create the dynamic SVG (vector graphic) file using Inkscape that will be used by the webpage. This starts with a static background, in this case the grey parts of the thermometer which will not change. Over the top the blue parts were added, with just a bit of XML editing to give those parts a hook which will be used in the next step. The demo above will have a moving blue bar and changing numeric output to match data coming in from a temperature sensor.
An SVG file is just a text file that is rendered as a graphic when loaded. [Luca] shows you how to used the identifiers set up when making the graphic to dynamically change the size and value of the blue parts with server-side PHP before sending the graphic to the browser. With that in place you just need to give the PHP file access to the data. He shows how to use the Pachube API but you could just as easily get this via serial or otherwise.
[Tinkerer] bought a small cupboard from an antique store to fit nicely into his kitchen decor. After getting it home, he realized that some of the cubbyholes had originally housed drawers. The originals were long gone but this provided an opportunity for him to make the replacements seen above.
The first design approach that popped into [Tinkerer’s] mind was to draw the pieces in an editor like Inkscape. Some consultation with others at the local Hackerspace led him to this script-based parametric SVG design tool. We jumped right in to give it a whirl, clicking on Load –> Construction (category) –> Better Box. Once you’ve chosen the script, click on ‘Parameters’ on the left column and enter the sizing you want for your box. When all values are correct, click the renter tab, then export it as a Scalable Vector Graphic.
We’ve lamented time and again about our lack of a laser cutter, so we were unable to test this out. But we can’t see why it wouldn’t reproduce the same results that [Tinkerer] achieved.
PartKAM is a Flash-based CAM production package created by [Jack Qiao]. There are a ton of computer aided manufacturing suites out there, this one is simple and requires nothing more than having your browser open. We played with it for a few moments and found it useful but still a bit buggy. Most notably, it lacks a ‘undo’ option. That being said, you can export as SVG or gCode for use when you just need to hammer out a few parts with that CNC mill you threw together.
Ponoko is an on-demand manufacturing service. You submit your design and they’ll cut it out of one of their many materials. The site is built so you can sell your products or designs directly. They recently took a major step with the introduction of Designmake Prime. It’s a monthly subscription based service with many benefits. It lets you submit DXFs for evaluation instead of their standard EPS or SVG. You can request any material you want and they’ll provide direct support. You also get priority in manufacturing queues. While they’ve always offered an à la carte service, this new move puts Ponoko directly in the role of a traditional manufacturer. Offering manufacturing as a service shows their intention of former a relationship with their customers, but at the an individual level, which most manufacturers can’t approach because of scale.
Ponoko first came to our attention when RepRap published an acrylic version of their machine.