To our way of thinking, the whole purpose behind robotic vacuum cleaners is their autonomy. They’re not particularly good at vacuuming, but they are persistent about it, and eventually get the job done with as little human intervention as possible. So why in the world would you want to convert a robotic vacuum to radio control?
For [Lucas], the answer was simple: it was a $20 yard sale find, so why not? Plus, he’s got some secret evil plan to repurpose the suckbot for autonomous room mapping, which sounds like a cool project that would benefit from a thorough knowledge of this little fellow’s anatomy and physiology. The bot in question is a Hoover Quest. Like [Lucas] we didn’t know that Hoover made robotic vacuums (Narrator: they probably don’t) but despite generally negative online reviews by users, he found it to be a sturdily built and very modular and repairable unit.
After an initial valiant attempt at reverse engineering the bot’s main board — a project we encourage [Lucas] to return to eventually — he settled for just characterizing the bot’s motors and sensors and building his own controller. The Raspberry Pi Zero he chose may seem like overkill, but he already had it set up to talk to a PS4 game controller, so it made sense — right up until he released the Magic Smoke within it. A backup Pi took the sting out of that, and as the brief video below shows, he was finally able to get the bot under his command.
[Lucas] has more plans for his new little buddy, including integrating the original sensors and adding new ones. Given its intended mission, we’d say a lidar sensor would be a good addition, but that’s just a guess. Whatever he’s got in store for this, we’re keen to hear what happens.
Vacuum cleaners are great for tidying up the home, but they typically can’t deal with the bulky, gross messes of a proper workshop. [CraftAndu] is currently building a sailing vessel, and has found that there’s simply too much sawdust for a regular vacuum to take on. Thus, he built a mighty vacuum of his own that’s able to deal with such conditions.
The core of the build is a giant 3.8 kW dust collector that’s used as part of a workshop dust extraction system. It’s of the type you’d normally use to suck up dust from machine tools. It’s then fitted with a long flexible hose that goes to the vacuum handle itself. The handle is made up of lengths of sewage pipe and several adaptors to fit it all together and hook up to the flexible tube. It’s also fitted with a set of wheels to allow it to be easily skated about the floor of the shop.
It’s a neat way to suck up all the lightweight sawdust that collects around the workshop. However, [CraftAndu] notes that even with the 3.8 kW extraction system powering it, it’s still quicker to use a broom for bigger detritus like wood chips and the like.
Metalworking might conjure images of large furnaces powered by coal, wood, or electricity, with molten metal sloshing around and visible in its crucible. But metalworking from home doesn’t need to use anything more fancy than a microwave, at least according to [Denny] a.k.a. [Shake the Future]. He has a number of metalworking tools designed to melt metal using a microwave, and in this video he uses them to make a usable aluminum pencil with a graphite core.
Before getting to the microwave kiln, the pencil mold needs to be prepared. A 3D-printed pencil is first created with the graphite core, and then [Denny] uses a plaster of Paris mixture to create the mold for the pencil. The 3D printed plastic is left inside the mold and placed in the first microwave kiln, which is turned on just enough to melt the plastic out of the mold, leaving behind the graphite core. From there a second kiln goes into the microwave to melt the aluminum.
Once the molten aluminum is ready, it is removed from the kiln and poured in the still-warm pencil mold. This is where [Denny] has another trick up his sleeve. He’s using a household vacuum cleaner to suck the metal into place before it cools, creating a rudimentary but effective vacuum forming machine. The result is a working pencil, at least after he wears down a few razor blades attempting to sharpen the metal pencil. For more information about how [Denny] makes these microwave kilns, take a look at some of his earlier projects.
More specifically, the authors wanted to examine the use of 3D printing components to be used in a vacuum. Parts produced with filament-based printers tend to be porous, and as such, are not suitable for fittings or adapters which need to be pumped down to below one atmosphere. The paper goes on to explain that there are coatings that can be used to seal the printed parts, but that they can outgas at negative pressures.
The solution proposed by the team is exceptionally simple: after printing their desired parts in polypropylene on a Lulzbot Taz 6, they simply hit them with a standard consumer heat gun. With the temperature set at ~400 °C, it took a little under a minute for the surface of take on a glossy appearance — the result reminds us of an ABS print smoothed with acetone vapor.
In addition to the heat treatment, the team also experimented with increasing degrees of infill overlap in the slicer settings. The end result is that parts printed with a high overlap and then heat treated were able to reliably handle pressures as low as 0.4 mTorr. While the paper admits that manually cooking your printed parts with a heat gun isn’t exactly the ideal solution for producing vacuum-capable components, it’s certainly a promising start and deserves further study.
The sound produced by any given electric guitar is shaped not just by the instrument itself but by the amplifiers chosen to make that sound audible. Plenty of musicians swear by the warm sound of amplifiers with vacuum tube circuits, but they do have some limitations. [Collin] wanted to build a reactive load for using tube amps without generating a huge quantity of sound, and it resulted in an interesting project that also taught him a lot about inductors.
The reactive load is essentially a dummy load for the amplifier that replaces a speaker with something that won’t produce sound. Passive loads typically use resistor banks but since this one is active, it needs a very large inductor to handle the amount of current being produced by the amplifier. [Colin] has also built a headphone output into this load which allows it to output a much smaller quantity of sound to a headset while retaining the sound and feel of the amplifier tubes, and it additionally includes a widely-used tone control circuit as well.
There’s a lot going on in the design of the circuitry for this amplifier load, including a lot of research into low-frequency inductors that can handle a significant amount of current. [Collin] eventually ended up winding his own, but the path he took to it was long and winding. There’s a lot of other circuit theory discussed as well especially with regards to the Baxandall EQ that he built into it as well. And, if you’d like to learn more about tube amplifiers in general, take a look at this piece which notes one of the best stereo amps ever produced.
The Daguerreotype was among the earliest photographic processes, long before glass plates or film, that relied on sensitizing a thin layer of silver on top of a copper plate. The earliest Daguerreotype plates were made physically, by rolling a copper-silver plate thinner and thinner until the silver layer was just right. Good luck finding a source of Daguerreotype plates made this way in 2022. (There are electroplating methods, but they all end up with chemically contaminated silver.)
On the other hand, magnetron sputtering is a process of depositing pure metal in thin layers using plasma, high voltages, and serious magnets, and [Koji Tokura] is making his own sputtered Daguerreotype plates this way, giving him the best of both worlds: the surreal almost-holographic quality of the Daguerreotype with the most difficult film preparation procedure imaginable.
The star of the show is [Koji]’s sputtering rig, which consists of a Tupperware glass sandwich box as a vacuum chamber and a microwave oven transformer as the high voltage source. In use, he pumps the chamber down, introduces a small amount of argon, and then lights up the plasma. The high voltage accelerates the plasma ions into a sheet of silver, and the silver particles that get knocked free coat the copper plate. A strong magnet creates a local plasma, which accelerates the coating procedure, but since [Koji] only had a relatively small magnet, he scans the plate with the magnet, using a scavenged 2D pen plotter mechanism.
The result is a chemically pure Daguerreotype plate produced in a seriously modern way, and we’d love to see the images in person. In these days of disposable images made by the AIs in your cell phone, it’s nice to see some people taking photography in strange directions. For instance, maybe you’d like to make your own ultra-large collodion plates. Or something else? If you do, show us!
To some folx, puzzles are the ultimate single-player game, but to others, they are like getting a single Tootsie Roll on Halloween. [Shane] of Stuff Made Here must fall into the latter category because he spent the equivalent of 18 work-weeks to make a robot that solves them automatically. Shots have been fired in the war on puzzles.
The goal of this robot is to beat a hybrid idea of two devilish puzzles. The first is all-white which could be solved by taking a piece at random and then checking its compatibility with every unsolved piece. The second is a 5000-piece monster painted white. There is a Moby Dick theme here. Picking up pieces like a human with fingers is out of the question, but pick-and-place machines solved this long ago, and we learn a cool lesson about how shop-air can create negative pressure. Suction. We wonder if anyone ever repurposed canned air to create a vacuum cleaner.
The meat of this video is overcoming hurdles, like a rhomboidal gantry table, helping machine vision see puzzle pieces accurately, and solving a small puzzle. [Shane] explains the solutions with the ear of someone with a technical background but at a high enough level that anyone can learn something. All the moving parts are in place, but the processing power to decode the puzzle is orders of magnitude higher than consumer machines, so that will wait for part two.