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Published on: October 4, 2013 / Comments: None

Converting your 3D Printer into a lightweight laser engraver

Following the same idea as this previous post, it I stumbled on this company that has the same concept for turning your 3D Printer into a low power laser cutter/engraver.  They appear to actually have a kit ready to go now which seems to focus primarily on the old Makerbot thing-o-matic, but I’m sure can be adapted to other designs.

The laser is mounted in front of the plastic extruder, and the 2 watt laser driver board is tied to the motor on/off signal from the existing electronics.  From there a little special G code is required to get it going .

Check out a video of it cutting 1/32″ wood with a 445nm Blu Ray laser after the break.


Published on: September 24, 2013 / Comments: None

Do-It-Yourself Raspberry Pi Tablet

Raspberry Pi CameraIntroducing DukePad. A Do-It-Yourself Raspberry Pi tablet running JavaSE Embedded 8. The DukePad design includes a 10″ LCD Display (1280 x 800), a Raspberry Pi, a Raspberry Pi Camera, WiFi, a motion sensor and more which are all encased in an acrylic enclosure (PDF). The parts to build your own open source Tablet will cost you about $370.

The creators are quick to point out that DukePad is demo quality. So don’t expect any ground breaking features out of the box. However, the beauty of open-source is you can make it your own. If you don’t want to buy everything individually be patient because a kit is in the works.

Who knows… maybe you can add your own fingerprint reader for security!


Published on: September 14, 2013 / Comments: 1

Arduino Guitar Tuner (Frequency Detector)

Here’s a project which rocks! nikoala3 made an Arduino Guitar Tuner based off of this Audino Frequency Detection project. Both projects are well documented so you just may learn something.

In her build nikoala3 shows you how you can take an AC signal and offset it using a voltage divider to bring it into the 0-5V range that the Arduinos Analog to Digital Convert (ADC) uses. The Arduino has a 10bit resolution but the project only uses the high 8 bits giving you a range of 0-255 counts.  The sketch detects the frequency at which the signal crosses a given threshold. Different strings produce different amplitudes so you have to tweak the threshold to where it works with all the strings on your guitar.

A few LEDs and one cool enclosure with a laser cut top really made this project pop. There is something really refreshing about finding well documented builds like this. Check out more build photos after the break.


Published on: September 13, 2013 / Comments: None

Build a Tiny Laser Turret

Ranking up there in the category of possibly over engineered cat toys, is the TinyLaserTurret.  This will probably keep you _and_ fluffy entertained for at least a few hours.

The brains of the operation is an ATTiny85 microcontroller.  The unit is controlled by a Wii Nunchuck (using the WiiChuck adapter).  Pan & tilt are made available via servos.   Then there’s a 5v red laser module for that mysterious dot that fluffy can’t seem to ever catch.  Because of current requirements the laser is driven with a transistor.  Everything is mounted on a 3D Printed frame.



Published on: September 4, 2013 / Comments: 1

A Laser attachment for your 3D Printer

I’m sure everyone has thought of it, but is anyone actually doing it ?  It’s a work in progress, but up on thingiverse is a universal mount, some schematics, and Arduino code for adding a laser to your 3D Printer.  Why not?  You’ve already got an XYZ platform… The build so far is made to be minimally intrusive to modifying your printer.  e.g. you don’t have to modify your printer’s firmware.

Before you go rushing off and strap a laser to your extruder, note that even very low power lasers are real dangerous.  Don’t fool around with safety.

With that being said, the build works like this. The laser controller is an arduino setup to control a low power laser (sorry no giant 40w laser tubes guys!).  We’re looking at 1W-5W.  This should be enough to do some small engraving.   A small DC motor is attached with a universal bracket and attached to the extruder.   It’s tied to the extruder so when the stepper motor turns, the dc motor turns.   The motor is read via the analog port on the Arduino.   Code-wise, if the voltage exceeds the threshold voltage the laser will fire.

Right now it’s just breadboarded and not working but I’m interested to see how this plays out.

Here’s a link to the build on thingiverse.

Published on: August 29, 2013 / Comments: None

507 Mechanical Movements

As more and more people join the new age of home manufacturing and engineering, we need some inspiration.  This site has captured 507 ‘mechanical movements’.  That means odd shaped gears, pullys, yankers, shakers, clickers, scissors, and engine designs.  A lot of the designs are static, but some have been upgraded and animated.

Sometimes it’s cool just to make things move mechanically for the hell of it.  A lot of this has a real ‘steampunk’ vibe if you are into making that.  These designs can be re-created and possibly 3D printed, laser cut or CNC’d.  Either way you should check them out.

View all 507 mechanical movements here.

Published on: August 21, 2013 / Comments: None

Learn a little more about Baltic Birch

You’ve learned how to use your local hackerspaces’ laser cutter and cutting acrylic like crazy but you want to start getting into some wood projects.  Well one favorite among the DIY community is using Baltic Birch.  It’s a plywood, so it’s strong but also available in real thin increments.

Dan was nice enough to create a post describing some of the details of Baltic Birch.  Apparently you can tell the number of ply’s by the thickness, also what kind of grading scale is “CP” ?  If you’re trying to buy wood off the internet for your laser cut box you may want to stick to grade “B” because seeing those patches will look ugly when stained.  Or you may be OK with a lower grade wood when building a structural piece.

Whatever your reason, you should read the post if you intend to work with this medium.