Smiling Robot Moves Without Wires

What could be cuter than a little robot that scuttles around its playpen and smiles all day? For the 2018 Hackaday prize [bobricius] is sharing his 2D Actuator for Micro Magnetic Robot. The name is not so cute, but it boasts a bill of materials under ten USD, so it should be perfect for educational use, which is why it is being created.

The double-layer circuit board hides six poles. Three poles run vertically, and three of them run horizontally. Each pole is analogous to a winding in a stepper motor. As the poles turn on, the magnetic shuttle moves to the nearest active pole. When the perpendicular windings activate, it becomes possible to lock that shuttle in place. As the windings activate in sequence, it becomes possible to move left/right and forward/back. The second video demonstrates this perfectly.

[bobricius] found inspiration from a scarier source, but wants us to know this is his creation, not a patent infringement. We are not lawyers.

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Hacking A Metallurgical Microscope

[Amen] wanted to inspect ICs on the PCBs for suitability for reuse, so he bought a metallurgical microscope that illuminates from above rather than below, since it normally looks at opaque things. It has a working distance of 0.5 and 10mm, which isn’t a lot of room to solder.

The microscope didn’t come with a slide tray, so [amen] found a cheap one on eBay. Needing a connector block, he melted down some food trays into an ingot, which he then milled down into a block shape, drilled, and used to attach the slide tray to the microscope.

The thing came with a manual XY table, which the operator adjusts by turning knobs. It’s fine for most basic applications but it’s also a pain for more complicated projects, like tiling together a huge photo of a die. [amen]’s currently working on a powered XY based on a DVD drive’s stepper assemblies.

If you’re looking for more microscope projects, read up on the hacked inspection microscope and a Pi Zero ‘scope we previously published.

Fitting A CNC Machine, 3D Printer, And Vinyl Cutter In A Suitcase

Maker Faire NY is awash with new and interesting computer controlled tools, but the most unusual so far appears to be Popfab, a combination router, 3D printer, and vinyl cutter able to collapse down into a suitcase.

Popfab is the brainchild of [Nadya Peek] and [Ilan Moyer] of the MIT CADLAB. With interchangeable heads for routing PCBs, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting. A conventional machine of this capabilities would have motors all over the place, but [Ilan] used a CoreXY system to make the stepper motors stationary relative to the frame of the machine.

The electronics are standard Printrboard and Pronterface fare, but it’s still a remarkable build that also fits into a suitcase.

Pictures of the machine, the XY system (good luck wrapping your head around that, but I can tell you it relies on the differential movement of the two motors) and the lovely [Nadya] holding up the plastic extrusion head. We’ll get a video up tomorrow. after the break

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