Art Controller for Aquaponics

Control box

Logan wrote in to let us know how he is using our Art Controllers for his aquaponics project:

The system has two 140 gallon fish tanks and three 4×8 grow beds filled with grow stones. The beds water flow control is metered with Arduinos with data from Adafruit flow sensors on each bed. The important part is the bed water control, that is controlled by Art Controllers. We have almost 100 fat Talipia fish to fertilize the plants. The room is red because of all the high power LED grow lights.

grow beds under red light

The grow beds fill until a float switch trips the Art Controller that then opens a big 24 V solenoid valve draining the grow beds to a sump that pumps the cleaned water back to the fish tanks. The controller lets me program how long the beds stay drained so the plant roots get some O2 and not rot.

Thanks for sharing your project and pictures, Logan!

Vector engraved stipples

Laser-etched Hoan Bridge

Over at rasterweb, Pete has been playing with StippleGen2 to create artwork with the laser engraver at the Milwaukee Makerspace.

Laser-etched Hoan Bridge

StippleGen’s output consists of lots of tiny overlapping circles and this piece was made by using vector engraving, where the laser traces out each circle individually. In some places, the lasered marks overlap many times, leading to a new and unusual surface texture. In the closeup above you can see the ridges and valleys formed by the overlapped engraved areas. Go check out his article for the rest of the story about the project!

Klein Bottle Openers

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Grossman

This is one of the coolest things that you can actually buy. It is a Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Grossman.  It is made in the shape of a Klein Bottle, a 3D representation of a single sided shape.  And it opens bottles. It’s a 3D printed stainless steel sculpture that fits nicely in the hand, giving you just the right kind of leverage; an absolute pleasure to use.

Klein Bottle Opener

But— and this is where we were caught off guard— there’s a second great, yet completely independent, kind of Klein bottle opener out there: the Beverage Tool by Klein Tools. Klein tools is quite truly (as they say), “the #1 choice among professional tradesmen.”

We happened upon this gem at Hand-Eye Supply, the Core77 store, while visiting Portland, Oregon.  As far as we can tell, it was there because they like well-made tools, including those from Klein, not because they like mathematics.

Klein Bottle Opener

The tool has convenient “Tip-Ident” mark in the shape of a bottle cap so you can quickly find it among other tools.

And now, dear reader, you know where to get a complete set of Klein bottle openers.

Coming soon: Visual diffs for 3D models

Cube Hero Screenshot

After reading our post on Improving open source hardware: Visual diffs, Wil wrote in to to tell us about Cube Hero:

I have a demo up of visual diffs for 3D printable models. Here you can see a specific model, and … you can see diffs as I changed the model.

We’re excited to see new tools for collaboration like this being developed. Besides visual diffs, the project aims to provide visual versioning, 3D object sharing, and bill of materials integration. Cube Hero is looking for interested possible users, so go check it out–they’re accepting signups for updates and launch invitations.

The 2012 Open Source Awards

open source awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the Open Source Awards announced today at OSCON: Bradley Kuhn, Elizabeth Krumbach, Massimo Banzi, Christie Koehler, and Jim Jagielski!

lightbulb in eggbot

We were honored to participate in the creation of the awards which were given out this year. Using an Eggbot, we plotted the Open Source Award design onto lightbulbs which were integrated into the awards which were given out on stage. Additionally, the award recipients are each receiving an Eggbot. It is exciting and fitting that this year’s award is itself open source hardware which works on open source software and was created using open source tools.

lightbulbs and eggbot

Top photo by Sarah Novotny.

This mutant-airplane business may be getting out of hand

Mutant Airplane

Whoa! What the heck is that?

It turns out that it’s a flying testbed for new gear-driven turbofan jet engines being developed by Pratt & Whitney. While much can be done on fixed test stands, this lets them test the engines on a real aircraft at high altitude and under a wide variety of environmental conditions.

The little engine under test above— destined for smaller regional jets —is mounted to a “stub wing” on a specially-modified Boeing 747SP.  That’s the same short-body model of 747 that NASA adapted for the SOFIA aircraft-based telescope.  This particular aircraft is a full-time testbed at Pratt & Whitney; its main engines are larger versions of the little one under test.

These new gear-driven engines are interesting on their own; a gearbox between the main fan and the turbine allows each side to run at a more optimal speed, and promises a significant increase in overall efficiency.

Link: Test Flights Start for Titanium-Blade Engine @ Design News.
For more photos, take a look here: PurePower Engine photos

Behind the Scenes with our Artist-in-Residence

RobotGrrl @ Evil Mad Scientist 2


Thanks to Erin “RobotGrrl” Kennedy for being our Artist in Residence this spring! She has headed back to Canada after Maker Faire.

Erin has just written what is perhaps the only “behind the scenes” blog post about life here at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, which you can read over on her RobotGrrl blog.


RobotGrrl @ Evil Mad Scientist 1


Erin has also written blog posts here on getting started with AVR microcontrollers, and about unboxing an old Heathkit. She’ll be posting part two of the Heathkit build here in the near future.

Ladyada’s Workshop in LEGO

Adafruit has an awesome LEGO kit design for Ladyada’s Workshop up on LEGO CUUSOO. CUUSOO is a site where people can submit designs for new LEGO sets or vote to support designs that have already been submitted. With enough support, LEGO may eventually turn these into actual production kits. With your support, maybe we can all have the chance to play with a LEGO version of MOSFET, a pick-and-place and a soldering iron.