- Mars is currently making its closest approach to Earth.
Here are some viewing tips.
- Mining platinum from the roadside (YouTube)
- Crowdfunding a book about The Secret History of Mac Gaming
- How it’s made: “Long Eggs” (YouTube, german language)
- The Cattle Prod Selfie Stick
- Cute japanese bags, modeled on deep sea creatures
- Radio Shack to return once more?
- Converting stepper motors into industrial servo motors
- Camera tests for the Muppet Movie in 1979 (YouTube)
I’ll be giving a talk and demo on Saturday at this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I’ll be demonstrating one of the many projects from my book, The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory (and signing books as well).
You can catch the talk and demo on Saturday, May 21, at 1:30 PM, on the Maker Show & Tell Stage.
Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.
It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.
This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.
(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)
We are very pleased to introduce our newest art robot: the AxiDraw.
The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.
The AxiDraw is a fantastic machine for making art — along with all those other things that you might use a pen-wielding robot for: Making “hand written” invitations, signing forms, or making neater whiteboard art than one might otherwise be able to.
AxiDraw is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.
- Voice recognition + Smith-Corona typewriter + servo motors: A retro-futuristic dictation machine.
- Spinning clay, from the perspective of the pottery wheel
- The fastest manmade object (ignoring our fastest space probes)? Possibly a nuclear-powered manhole cover. (And, quite possibly not.)
- Bunnie Huang is crowdfunding A sourcing guide to electronics in Shenzhen
- Teletubbies in Black and White, Set to Joy Division
- Experimental Dadaist Music
- DIY Automated Optical Inspection for circuit boards
- Web Equation: Sketch an equation, get LaTeX output.
- Visions of the Future, a set of space travel posters from JPL
- John Calhoun has released the source code for his classic Mac games Glider 4/Pro, Pararena II, and Glypha III.
Today we are releasing our newest set of “Download and Print” cards for Valentine’s day. This is our fourth year, and fourth set of cards: The 2013 set had six equation-heavy cards, the 2014 set was a set of six symbol-heavy cards, and the 2015 set included love, hearts, and arrows.
This year’s set of six new cards features a note about warming Pluto’s cold heart, at least one embarrassingly bad pun, and the perfect card for your robotic expression of love.
“I was supposed to solve for x. So glad I found u instead.”
And, from the distant reaches of our solar system:
“Just knowing you’re out there warms my heart.”
“ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
THIS VALENTINE AUTOMATICALLY
GENERATED FOR YOU”
You can download the full set here, which includes all 24 designs from all four years (a 1 MB PDF document).
As usual, print them out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, personalize, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.
- Is there anything that can set sand on fire? Yes.
- Raccoon vs Cotton Candy (via BoingBoing)
- That’s not a PCB (Designs that try to look like printed circuit boards, yet fail)
- Export 3D object faces from Sketchup to 2D SVG data for laser cutting
- The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene
- A Neptune-sized planet beyond Pluto? (And, why you should be skeptical.)
- A notable post-mortem of the Zano Kickstarter campaign
- SVG Nest: Open source SVG shape nesting
- Inside joke brought brilliantly to a comedy stage (Act 2: starts at 42:25)
- What makes a safe hoverboard?
- Pop Sonnets (also available in book form).
- Highly satisfactory video of a fiberglass braiding machine.
- Adorably Cute Xenomorphs, the book.
- Lego models of Minimoog synths
- Sundial gnomon design with digital readout shadow
- Designing and prototyping a resin-molded wallet
- German school kids sing We are the Robots (youtube)
- Mega-Processor (as opposed to Microprocessor)
- TIFU by using Math.random()
- The Jitterbox (youtube), an example of an auxetic metamaterial: when you pull on it, it expands in all directions.
- The Tamagotchi Singularity. Related: View the Tama-hive
- Ken Shirriff’s great teardown of an Apple laptop charger
- Mechanical Techno Demonstration (youtube)
- MAME for Vectrex, by Trammell Hudson. (Also: Tennis For Two.)
Introducing the Boldport Buggy kit.
The first version of this circuit board was created as a badge for the hardwear.io hardware security conference in The Hague. This new version of the Buggy is a complete kit, featuring an updated circuit board, with a power switch and six candle-flicker LEDs.
A cool detail is that its six legs are actually the current-limiting resistors for those six LEDs. They are posable (giving it quite a bit of personality) and we have given it little red tubing socks to cover up the otherwise-conductive feet.
Inside of one of these you’ll find the actual DC motor itself, a set of plastic gears, a potentiometer (pot) connected to the output shaft, and a little circuit board that controls it all. The gear train is used to convert the high-speed low-torque output of the motor into its high-torque low-speed output, and the pot reads the orientation of the output shaft so that it can be controlled (servoed) to the correct position. However for today, we’re primarily interested in the case, and most of what’s inside doesn’t really matter.
The lower part of the case comes off with four very skinny, very long screws.
And then, you can pull out the tiny little circuit board.
The DC motor slips out easily, but the three wires to the pot are soldered in, and need to be clipped.
Incidentally, it’s straightforward to hack servo motors, repurposing the circuit board such that (1) the two outputs to the DC servo motor actually control something else and (2) that the input signal from the pot comes from something else. You can read our article about how to make a one-ton servo motor for a good example.
And then there is the matter of the cable. We don’t actually need that much cord hanging out the end — and it weighs something — so we can clip it shorter.
A dab of hot glue secures the cut-off end of the cable to the bottom of the case.
And the finishing touches: Reassemble the case, add the servo horns and finally the earwires. The final weight of each one is about 6.5 g, and the total weight of the components that we removed (motor, wires, circuit board, and cables) is about 5.6 g. As we have left it, the output shaft feels solidly held in place. Turning the output shaft still turns the gear train, and its motion is limited to the servo motor’s original range of travel; about 2/3 of a turn.
You can make it even lighter — all the way down to 5.4 g per piece — by opening it up further and removing the pot and all of the plastic gears except for the output shaft. It looks mostly the same from the outside (with the exception that the gears are no longer visible), but does not feel nearly as nice: The output shaft is only loosely held on its axis, and now able to turn freely through a full circle.
One might imagine taking it the opposite direction too: Building in a little battery and microcontroller, so that the servo motor would turn on its own while dangling from an ear. That version is left as an exercise for the reader, hopefully one with short hair that won’t get tangled.