Before assuming that the title should be “web crawler,” just shush your shussins’ and check out the video after the break. The Pinoccio, as previously noted, is a board in development as a sort of web-enabled by default Arduino. This makes it perfect for a project like this one where a little rover is controlled from 10,000 Kilometers away, or around 6000 Miles for those of us that dwell in the US.
This setup uses a cell-phone accelerometer in Brazil to allow control of this robot in Nevada. Although close, the control isn’t quite real time, so that has to be accounted for. Something like this could be easily used for a telepresence ‘bot.
If you want to build your own, the assembly time is estimated at 1 hour. Instructions, as well as source code can be found on their page after the video. Although the Pinoccio board won’t be available until at least this summer, maybe this will give someone inspiration to try something similar in the mean time!
Filed under: iphone hacks, ipod hacks, wireless hacks
Recently, we acquired a LulzBot AO-100. It was given to us, free of charge. After having it for about a week, I’ve figured out enough that I feel I can finally share my thoughts, impressions, and experiences. I will be completely honest about the machine. It was given to us, which is insanely awesome, but hey, I have to share the real information with the readers.
When we first started looking for a printer, we decided we didn’t want to build one from scratch. While that might seem initially to be the opposite of Hack a Day, there is a reason. I simply can’t build every tool I use from scratch. I have projects in mind that could benefit from a 3d printer, and I want to work on those. This meant that I was looking for a pre-assembled unit. Many people asked for an article on getting a reprap going, so we started to consider reprap based kits as well.
When LulzBot contacted us, I was initially skeptical. I mean, the name is lulzBot. Is this an internet troll? Is this somehow connected to Lulzsec, the hacking group? Did they seriously name their printer LulzBot? Well, as it turns out, they are legitimate. Not only that, we’ve seen them before, they are also AlephObjects, who sent in the video of the wall o’ printers working. Why did they name it LulzBot? The answer was basically, for the lulz. It is worth noting that [Jeff] has been a strong proponent for free software for a long time and that Lulzbot is built from the ground up to be completely open and shareable. You can go to the website right now and download the list of parts as well as all source code and configurations.
As you read further, please remember that the model they sent me was not their newest. They don’t even sell this model any more. Technically speaking, it is roughly 2 generations behind.
The LulzBot arrived in two packages. One was the printer itself and the other was a box full of spare parts, including 15 pounds of filament for printing and a complete and fairly extensive toolset. The printer was packed very nicely. They had some kind of expanding foam that conformed to the shape of the printer and held it very tightly. It had an inspection slip, list of included parts, and a sample print that I assume was from this very machine in the box with it. That’s a nice little touch.
I pulled it out, set it on my kitchen counter and thumbed to the section in the manual that explained the unpacking and set up process. It really only involved removing a few bits that held things in place for shipping, and assembling the filament spool holder.
At this point, I’ve already noticed that the bulk of the parts connecting the frame are 3d printed. This isn’t new, we’ve seen this tons of times, but the 3d printed multi-piece adjustable filament holder suddenly made me very excited. Here was a complete tool, made by a machine exactly like the one in front of me. Not just a part, a complete tool with moving parts. Once assembled, I installed the prerequisite software for the Arduino, Gslicer, and PrintrFace.
After the quick assembly, all that is left is to level the bed, set the z-home, and load new filament into the extruder. Loading the filament was quite easy. All that was required was that I loosen a couple bolts, pull the temporary one out, and stuff the end of the new one in.
Setting the Z-height is simple. Hit the Z-home button and watch the nozzle drop. There is a fat thumb screw on one side of the z-axis that the z-stop switch hits when it comes down. A small twist of this can adjust the home position of the nozzle accurately. The manual had pictures showing roughly how close it should be.
Next, I had to level the bed. I load a file that was on their site available for download. The file prints a square and a big pattern on the entire build surface. This allows you to see where the bed might be a fraction of a millimeter to low or high. Adjusting is done by four small bolts on the corners.
Then I began printing things.
At this point, I could have stopped! That’s all there was. Easy as can be.
However, if you recall, this isn’t the newest model. There is a list of things I could upgrade on this to get better quality. I couldn’t just leave it alone, I had to start messing with it.
I chose to print a few items that I had previously printed on a Makerbot Replicator for comparison. It is worth noting that the LulzBot ships with a .5mm nozzle and the replicator I used had a .35mm nozzle (I think, possibly .4).
The initial prints were pretty good. Especially when I got my Z-height smashed down the way it should be. [Jeff] gave be a slightly newer config file that made a pretty big difference too.
Here’s a timelapse video showing an early print. You’ll notice I didn’t set my height low enough and it caused one of the tentacles to pop up. This isn’t a huge deal, and a minor adjustment has resolved it.
I was actually a little frustrated with some peculiar fluctuations I had found in my prints. My z-axis just seemed to need constant adjustment and wasn’t reliably returning to home each time. I ultimately found that this was just a couple loose screws on a z-axis guide rail, I problem I should have noticed on visual inspection when I took it out of the box.
x-Axis carriage mount lower piece upgrade.
[Jeff] suggested I download the lower piece of the x-axis carriage mount. This upgrade gives some more stability and should reduce wobble. I downloaded it and printed it out. To mount it, I had to disconnect the large Acme screws from the z-axis motors. This upgrade got put back to stock in the next step.
I quickly became annoyed at the z-axis-acme-adapters. They had recessed holes for their bolts, but he holes weren’t the exact size of the bolt, so it spun freely in the indention. Since it was indented, I couldn’t put a wrench on it either. I ultimately ended up putting super glue in the hole which, once dry, gave the nut enough friction to stay still. During this process while I was explaining my frustration with [Jeff], he pointed out I could print newer better ones, like they use in the new model. I should point out that I’ve seen this used other places, not just the lulzbot. For tiny nuts, it is a bad idea. The flat surface is just too small to grip. The plastic has too much flex.
I had to fight these back on the printer, then print the new ones. Again, I was struggling with the fact that the nut would spin freely, so I couldn’t get it tight enough. The motor kept spinning in the mount because it was too loose. Not only that, but I noticed the new fancy x-carriage mounts were hanging all the way down far enough to interfere with the z-axis-acme adapter. I didn’t have the linear bearing this mount was supposed to hold, so I ended up just putting the stock ones back on.
While inspecting the new z-adapters, I noted that they had the same recessed nut area. The theory here is that the nut will fit snugly and not turn, in practice I found that they do turn if they are small enough. Larger ones do not have this issue. To resolve this, I just put the head of the bolt in that section which left the nut on the surface of the opposite side. Since the bolts have an allen socket head, this worked fine. This was a really annoying problem with a ridiculously easy solution.
The new adapters were much nicer, having a keyed hole on the bottom that fit the motor’s rotor very snug. I put everything back together, tightened everything as tight as I dared, loaded the smaller .35mm nozzle and began to print. The corners were tighter, details finer, but I also had this new and annoying wavyness.
After some quick research I found that my lack of experience with the repraps had sent me in the wrong direction. It appears that the z-axis motors/acme screws aren’t all supposed to be as rigid and tightly mounted as possible. They’re supposed to be able to wiggle a little bit so that the slight imperfections in mounting angle, or screw straightness won’t have enough force to push the whole carriage off course by a fraction of a millimeter.
I loosened the new adapters. This was rather easy now that I had reversed the mounting of the bolts that tightened them. I backed the motor and the acme screw out so that they were barely inside the adapter and tightened it back down. This allowed for more wiggle. My print improved!
Some very nice folks on the #reprap channel in IRC suggested that I try rubber tubing as a coupler instead. It has enough squash stretch to eat up most of the inconsistencies. Sure enough, a couple pieces of rubber tube worked fine!
at this point, I have detail and quality. It is humming away right now printing some fun stuff.
a big issue with an easy fix
My son got really excited when he saw all the gear related files on thingiverse. Naturally, I downloaded a simple one and printed it it. I chose this simple planetary gear set. Unfortunately, even though it looked good, the gears didn’t fit in the outer ring. Everything was slightly too large. I could force it in, but the pressure was so much that it wouldn’t spin. I then tried a gear heart, which I happened to have an example of from another printer. I could assemble it, but something was wrong and the gears wouldn’t spin like they’re supposed to. I was quite frustrated, since this meant that nothing very precise I would print would work.
I contacted [Jeff], who took the same file to their machines and printed it. He said that the file worked for them. We went back and forth for quite a while before [Jeff] figured out that I had loaded the wrong configuration files. Even though I have the AO-100, I needed the configuration files for the AO-101 which were correct for the newest version of slicer.
After that update, my parts were meshing just like they are supposed to! I am quite happy.
Too scared to reprap
While talking to a few people, I’ve found that the biggest issue with repraps are, well, that you have to build them yourself. When you look at the detail they achieve, then consider that maybe you’ve never built something that is that precise, it can be daunting. One great way to overcome that trepidation would be to go to a build party. There are folks out there that throw parties where groups of people all come together and build their repraps all at once. When I spoke to [Sonny] who does these parties, he said that everyone goes home with a functional reprap for under $1k. You get help and expertise from the whole group. Hackerspaces will sometimes organize these events as well, so be sure to find your local hackerspace and ask. In fact, there’s one at the Hacker Consortium in Nashville on Feb 15th and one at LvL1 in Louisville KY, on March 9th.
Of course, you can always just get a machine that is pre-assembled like we did.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Hobby electronics from 1982
[Lennart] came across one of his projects from several decades ago. It’s a twinkling star which blinks LEDs at different rates using some 7400 logic chips and RC timers.
Solder fume extractor
We’re still blowing the solder fumes away from us using our mouth, but this might inspire us to do otherwise. It’s a large PC fan mounted on a lamp goose neck. It clamps to the bench and is quite easy to position.
Ultrasonic liquid level measurement
Wanting a way to measure the liquid in these tanks without submerging a sensor, [JO3RI] turned to an Arduino and an ultrasonic rangefinder. His method even allows the level to be graphed as shown in his Instructible about the project.
Adding an ‘On’ light to save batteries
Dumpster diving yielded this electronic drum machine for [MS3FGX's] daughter to play with. The problem is that pushing any of the buttons turns it on, it doesn’t have an auto-off, and there’s no way to know when it’s on. This is unacceptable since it runs on 5 AA batteries. His quick fix adds this green On LED. We wonder if he’ll improve upon this and add an auto-off feature?
CMOS Binary Clock
This is a portion of the guts of [Dennis'] CMOS Binary Clock project from the early 2000′s. He even built a nice case with a window for the LEDs which you can see are mounted perpendicular to the protoboard.
Filed under: Hackaday links
[Todd Harrison] really has our number. Like him, we don’t want to spend money when we don’t have to, and hacking our own solutions is a lot more fun anyway. This time around he’s helping out a friend who is a ham radio enthusiast. The friend’s radio didn’t come with a frequency display, and buying the add-on would cost more than the radio did. So [Todd] has set out to build an Arduino frequency counter for a Kenwood TS-520S HF ham radio.
This post (and the video found after the break) doesn’t cover the entire project. It’s rather involved just to make sure that [Todd's] initial idea is viable so he spends about 35 minutes explaining the problem, then measuring the radio outputs and testing to see that the Arduino can read them accurately. Because the radio has a very large range of operation, [Todd] will need to add external component to facilitate this. That extra circuit design will be the topic of the next project segment.
Filed under: radio hacks
After reading about an initiative between NASA and Boeing to develop lights for the International Space Station [Rasathus] decided to give it a go at building his own. The project uses RGB pixels to build a circadian rhythm light installation. Without the normal rise and fall of the sun the sleep wake schedule for the astronauts can be pretty rough. This uses color and intensity of light in a well-defined schedule to help alleviate that. [Rasathus] is trying to bring his project in well under the $11.1 million mark which was established for the ISS.
The light modules he’s using are from a strand of LEDs from Adafruit. Each is driven by a WS2801 controller, a common driver used for easy and complicated projects like this huge ball of light which our own [Jesse Congdon] tackled. The board above is the start of an adapter board for interfacing with the Raspberry Pi GPIO header. [Rasathus] wanted to make certain he didn’t fry the control electronics so he built some protection into this adapter. The control software is covered in the second portion of the write up. We’ve embedded the video from that post after the break.
Filed under: led hacks, Raspberry Pi
[Mark] is just starting off on his own 6502 computer odyssey. He was inspired by some of the other projects we’ve seen around here, like [Quinn Dunki's] Veronica Project, but with a spin that leverages modern processors to alleviate some of the messy work. As you can see above, there’s an Atmel chip perched above the 65C02 processor. This chip not only feeds the processor data (through all those slightly diagonal yellow wires) but also provides the clock signal and operates the reset and bus enable lines.
This is more of a hello world post for [Mark]. The chip is simply running NOP commands right now. But it shows that the basic idea works, and the video after the break lets us see another time-saving aspect of the circuit. He’s using a character LCD to display memory location and data values. The plan is to get a blog going, which he’s hesitant to do as it takes valuable hacking time away from the project. We disagree. The write-up (although incredibly fun for us to read) ends up being a reference manual for him once the project starts to get really hairy.
Filed under: computer hacks
[Quentin Harley] must really have wanted to test his snuff when it comes to mechanical engineering. He’s been hard at work for a couple of years now designing his own SCARA arm 3D printer. That link leads to a recent summary article in which he shows off the build as seen above. It’s not fully functional yet, but he’s at the point where it’s time to develop the driver circuitry and firmware so he’s close. His blog is dedicated to this single project so click around and see what he went through along the journey.
The SCARA arm is seen in blue, using a couple of stepper motors to move the extruder mount along the x and y axes. The bed itself moves along the Z axis via two precision rods with a threaded rod in the center. As you can see, some of the parts are made of wood, and he used PVC for the cross supports between the upper and lower base platforms. But the majority of the build uses 3D printed parts, including the arms, drive gears, and mounting brackets.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
Sometime the hacking topics come in waves. For instance, we were tipped off about this pair of automatic fish feeders just an hour apart from each other. Maybe it’s that time of year when people are about to go on Holiday and want to make sure their marine pets don’t go hungry?
The feeder on the left is a true hack. It’s built from a pair of servos and a pill bottle. An ATtiny85 drives the motors. One is mounted to the other, allowing the cap which catches and distributes the food to move along two axes. When it rotates into place under the pill bottle it bumps against a stick to open a flapper releasing more food.
On the right is a feeder that precisely doses the food. That’s because it includes a separate chamber for each feed. A worm gear drives the hopper, with screw heads pressing against a leaf switch for position feedback. This one is well designed and built to last.
Filed under: home hacks
[Phillip] needed a way to trigger an input every 8 hours or so. This is a snap with a microcontroller with a proper timer, but he recently heard about a very cool programmable timer chip that’s also a 555. Of course CSS555 timer chip has an obscure programming interface, but that isn’t a problem when you can program it yourself with a parallel port.
The CSS555 timer chip (PDF…) is a strange little beast. It’s pin compatible with everyone’s favorite timer IC, but also has a programming mode that allows the output to trigger on every 1 cycle, every 10 cycles, and so on up to one output every million cycles. Basically, it’s a 555 with a huge programmable capacitor that only costs two bucks.
After building a programming circuit from a 74125 hex buffer chip, [Philip] connected his programmer to the parallel port of an ancient PC. For a little retrocomputing cred, he wrote a small app in Forth that pushes commands from the parallel port to the CSS555 chip, greatly increasing the time delay of the chip’s stock configuration.
It’s a neat build, and an awesome introduction to a really cool timer chip. Of course this could be easily replicated with a $2 microcontroller, but that wouldn’t give [Philip] the satisfaction of using a 555.
Filed under: classic hacks, news