Makers and open hardware for innovation

Just like the garage computer explosion of the 70’s through the 80’s, which brought us such things as Apple, pong, Bill Gate’s hair, and the proliferation of personal computers, the maker movement is the new garage hardware explosion. Today, 135 million adults in the United States alone are involved in the maker movement.

Enthusiasts who want to build the products they want, from shortwave radios to personal computers, and to tweak products they’ve bought to make them even better, have long been a part of the electronics industry. By all measures, garage-style innovation remains alive and well today, as “makers” as they are called continue to turn out contemporary gadgets, including 3D printers, drones, and embedded electronics devices.

Making is about individual Do-It-Yourselfers being able to design and create with tools that were, as of a decade or two ago, only available to large, cash-rich corporations: CAD tools, CNC mills, 3D printers, low-quantity PCB manufacturing, open hardware such as Arduinos and similar inexpensive development boards – all items that have made it easier and relatively cheap to make whatever we imagine. For individuals, maker tools can change how someone views their home or their hobbies. The world is ours to make. Humans are genetically wired to be makers. The maker movement is simply the result of making powerful building and communication tools accessible to the masses. There are plenty of projects from makers that show good engineering: Take this Arduino board with tremendous potential, developed by a young maker, as example.

The maker movement is a catalyst to democratize entrepreneurship as these do-it-yourself electronics are proving to be hot sellers: In the past year, unit sales for 3D printing related products; Arduino units, parts and supplies; Raspberry Pi boards; drones and quadcopters; and robotics goods are all on a growth curve in terms of eBay sales. There are many Kickstarter maker projects going on. The Pebble E-Paper Watch raises $10 million. The LIFX smartphone-controlled LED bulb raises $1.3 million. What do these products have in common? They both secured funding through Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website that is changing the game for entrepreneurs. Both products were created by makers who seek to commercialize their inventions. These “startup makers” iterate on prototypes with high-end tools at professional makerspaces.

For companies to remain competitive, they need to embrace the maker movement or leave themselves open for disruption. Researchers found that 96 percent of business leaders believe new technologies have forever changed the rules of business by democratizing information and rewiring customer expectations. - You’ve got to figure out agile innovation. Maybe history is repeating itself as the types of products being sold reminded us of the computer tinkering that used to be happening in the 1970s to 1990ssimilar in terms of demographics, tending to be young people, and low budget. Now the do-it-yourself category is deeply intertwined with the electronics industry. Open hardware is in the center in maker movement – we need open hardware designs! How can you publish your designs and still do business with it? Open source ecosystem markets behave differently and therefore require a very different playbook than traditional tech company: the differentiation is not in the technology you build; it is in the process and expertise that you slowly amass over an extended period of time.

By democratizing the product development process, helping these developments get to market, and transforming the way we educate the next generation of innovators, we will usher in the next industrial revolution. The world is ours to make. Earlier the PC created a new generation of software developers who could innovate in the digital world without the limitations of the physical world (virtually no marginal cost, software has become the great equalizer for innovation. Now advances in 3D printing and low-cost microcontrollers as well as the ubiquity of advanced sensors are enabling makers to bridge software with the physical world. Furthermore, the proliferation of wireless connectivity and cloud computing is helping makers contribute to the Internet of Things (IoT). We’re even beginning to see maker designs and devices entering those markets once thought to be off-limits, like medical.

Historically, the education system has produced graduates that went on to work for companies where new products were invented, then pushed to consumers. Today, consumers are driving the innovation process and demanding education, business and invention to meet their requests. Makers are at the center of this innovation transformation.

Image source: The world is ours to make: The impact of the maker movement – EDN Magazine

In fact, many parents have engaged in the maker movement with their kids because they know that the education system is not adequately preparing their children for the 21st century. There is a strong movement to spread this DIY idea widely. The Maker Faire, which launched in the Bay Area in California in 2006, underlined the popularity of the movement by drawing a record 215,000 people combined in the Bay Area and New York events in 2014. There’s Maker Media, MakerCon, MakerShed, Make: magazine and 131 Maker Faire events that take place throughout the world. Now the founders of all these Makers want a way to connect what they refer to as the “maker movement” online. So Maker Media created a social network called MakerSpace, a Facebook-like social network that connects participants of Maker Faire in one online community. The new site will allow participants of the event to display their work online. There are many other similar sites that allow yout to present yout work fron Hackaday to your own blog. Today, 135 million adults in the United States alone are involved in the maker movement—although makers can be found everywhere in the world.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Convert that Cheap Laser Engraver to 100% Open-Source Toolchain

    LaserWeb is open-source laser cutter and engraver software, and [JordsWoodShop] made a video tutorial

    LaserWeb is important because most laser engravers and cutters have proprietary software. The smaller engravers like the one pictured above use a variety of things, and people experienced with larger CO2 laser cutters may be familiar with a piece of software called LaserCut — a combination CAD program and laser control that is serviceable, but closed (my copy even requires a USB security dongle, eww.)

    Getting your Cheap Laser Engraver to work with LaserWeb3 ( Eleks Maker, Gearbest, BangGood)

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building Beautiful Boards With Star Simpson

    Over the last decade or so, the cost to produce a handful of custom PCBs has dropped through the floor. Now, you don’t have to use software tied to one fab house – all you have to do is drop an Eagle or KiCad file onto an order form and hit ‘submit’.

    With this new found ability, hackers and PCB designers have started to build beautiful boards. A sheet of FR4 is no longer just a medium to populate parts, it’s a canvas to cover in soldermask and silkscreen.

    The idea that PCBs can be artistic is certainly a modern creation. Most of the time, electronics are tucked away in a plastic enclosure. There’s no opportunity for anyone to even see these boards, and in any event the board needs to function correctly first and foremost before any aesthetic considerations can be made.

    In the last few years, the homebrewer has had access to the same tools as the professionals, and with that comes an exploration of materials and techniques. There is a lot to consider. The substrate for a PCB can be fiberglass, teflon, cardboard, and even ceramic. The depth of soldermask and silkscreen color is second only to the depth of your wallet. Even the finishes can be a beautiful matte gold or a shiny reflective silver.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Making VR Controllers From The Ground Up

    VR is going to be the next big thing in five to seven years, and with that comes the problem of what the controllers will look like. The Vive and PS Move are probably close to what the first successful consumer VR setup will look like, but there’s plenty of room for experimentation. [ShinyQuagsire] decided to experiment with VR, IMUs, and computer vision and managed to make a VR controller from the ground up.

    Making Controllers for VR from the Ground Up

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Counting Laps and Testing Products with OpenCV

    The script gives a good example for people wanting to play with computer vision. The source is available on Github. As for the Batteroo, we’ll await further test results before passing judgement, but we’re not holding our breath. After all, the train ran half as long when using a Batteroo.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY Vacuum Pickup Tool
    An easy to assemble vacuum pickup tool for doing SMD placement

    An easy to assemble professional quality vacuum pickup tool for less than $200

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hacked Television Uses No Power In Standby Mode

    How much effort do you put into conserving energy throughout your daily routine? Diligence in keeping lights and appliances turned off are great steps, but those selfsame appliances likely still draw power when not in use. Seeing the potential to reduce energy wasted by TVs in standby mode, the [Electrical Energy Management Lab] team out of the University of Bristol have designed a television that uses no power in standby mode.

    Demo of a TV that uses no power in standby

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Zero-power circuit that listens for radio waves

    Demonstration of a circuit that is woken up by radio waves (RF wake-up) from a mobile phone. The circuit uses zero power in receive mode.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Acoustic Levitation with a Twist

    Now you can 3D print your own sonic tractor beam
    DIY levitation for tiny objects

    In 2015, researchers made (acoustic) waves when they created the first single-direction sonic tractor beam. Now, the same scientists have developed the invention’s design, simplifying it to let anyone with a 3D printer build their own portable tractor beam.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hands On With The First Open Source Microcontroller

    2016 was a great year for Open Hardware. The Open Source Hardware Association released their certification program, and late in the year, a fe pleasew silicon wizards met in Mountain View to show off the latest happenings in the RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    The RISC-V ISA is completely unlike any other computer architecture.

    We’ve seen a lot of RISC-V stuff in recent months, from OnChip’s Open-V, and now the HiFive 1 from SiFive.

    Free Software and Open Hardware is a religion, and it’s significantly more difficult to produce Open Hardware than Free Software. No matter how good or how Open the design is, the production of the first Open Source microcontroller will generate far too many comments from people who use the words ‘moral imperative’ while citing utilitarian examples of why Open and Libre is good.

    The Openness of the HiFive 1 and RISC-V

    The biggest selling point for RISC-V chips is that there are no licensing fees, and this microcontroller is Open Source. This is huge — your AVRs, PICs, ARMs, and every other microcontroller on the planet is closed hardware.

    If we’re ever going to get a completely Open Source computer, it has to start somewhere, and here it is.

    With that said, this is an Arduino-compatible board with an FTDI chip providing the USB to serial conversion. If we had a facepalm emoji, we’d use it here. An FTDI chip is not Open Source, and they have designed drivers to break chips that aren’t theirs. The design files for the HiFive 1 were made with Altium, a proprietary and non-Free software.

    Will Stallman ever say the HiFive 1 is Free as in speech? Absolutely not. Instead, the HiFive 1 is an incrementally more Free microcontroller compared to a PIC, ARM, or AVR.

    The HiFive 1 supports 3.3 and 5V I/O, thanks to three voltage level translators.

    The folks at SiFive realize documentation and SDKs are necessary to turn a chip into a development board. To that end, they have a bare-metal SDK and support for the Arduino IDE.

    Right now there are two methods of programming the HiFive 1. The Freedom E SDK, and the Arduino IDE.

    Right now, the SDK only works under Linux

    This test used this Dhrystone Arduino sketch with the Arduino Micro, HiFive 1, and the Teensy 3.6. As you would expect the Arduino Micro performed poorly (but still ten times faster than a mainframe from 1988), and the Teensy 3.6 was extremely fast.

    HiFive 1 is fast. Really, really fast.

    The HiFive 1 has more Flash (although it’s an SPI Flash), it has DMA, and it has roughly twice the processing power as the Teensy 3.6.

    Admittedly, I do have a very early version of this board, and the CrowdSupply campaign for the HiFive 1 was only funded last week.

    At the base level, the HiFive 1 is a powerful microcontroller with a lot of Flash, with support for hundreds of Arduino libraries. That’s great, and alone this might be worth the $60 price of admission.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Keep an Old Real Time Clock Module Ticking

    Sometimes we run into real problems restoring old machines. [RedruM69] recently ran into a system with a dead Real Time Clock (RTC) module. These modules were used on computers and all sorts of other equipment, storing time, date, and 100 or so bytes of battery backed SRAM (before the days of cheap, plentiful flash memory).

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Disposable Camera Coil Gun!

    Some of the most enjoyable projects tend to have the terrible drawback of also having the most potential to cause bodily harm, like getting zapped by the capacitor when digging into a disposable camera. But often — if you’re careful — this curiosity pays off and you wind up learning how to make something cool like this coil gun from a camera flash’s capacitor. This handheld launches a small nail, and is packed in a handheld form factor with a light switch trigger.

    Camera Capacitor Coil Gun

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Portable Jacob´s Ladder

    A Jacob´s ladder is a favorite project of high voltage enthusiasts. It makes a visually attractive and fun display of a high voltage electrical arc climbing a pair of electrodes. [Keystone Science] shows us how to make a Jacob´s ladder that runs on 9 V batteries.

    How to make a Portable Jacob’s Ladder

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cornell Students Have Your Back

    Back problems are some of the most common injuries among office workers and other jobs of a white-collar nature. These are injuries that develop over a long period of time and are often caused by poor posture or bad ergonomics. Some of the electrical engineering students at Cornell recognized this problem and used their senior design project to address this issue.

    Posture Corrector:
    We’ve Got Yo Back

    The purpose of this project is to create a wearable device that helps users correct their posture in order to alleviate back pain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We created a posture monitor because of our interest in health and fitness. We designed our circuit using the PIC32 microcontroller, flex sensor, vibration motor and TFT LCD. We attached the flex sensor and vibration motor to the lower back of a compression shirt that is worn by the user. The microcontroller uses the output of the sensor to determine if the user is in poor posture and sends a signal via the vibration motor accordingly.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Low Cost Platform Allows Prototyping Wearables with Ease

    Wearable technology is finding inroads into vertical markets such as healthcare, industrial, and automotive sectors.

    Wearable technology is finding inroads into vertical markets such as healthcare, industrial, and automotive sectors. For example, special vehicle-health applications that monitor fuel efficiency, automobile speed, and the heart rate of a fatigue driver are being developed by Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes automotive manufacturers. The cost of wearable technology development boards ranges from low cost to highly expensive. Adafruit has created a cost-effective wearable platform called the Flora were special electronic modules have been designed to work with the microcontroller-based maker board.

    An Atmel ATMEGA32 microcontroller provides the processing power for the Flora, providing six digital pins, two communication pins, and two serial control lines. These digital pins and control lines are accessible to makers, designers, and engineers by half circle solder pads that surround the Flora’s perimeter.

    Adafruit has provided all of the Eagle Cad circuit schematic diagrams and PCB layout drawings for engineers, designers, and makers

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What Makes the Perfect Hardware Badge

    There are only a handful of people who can say they’ve built several successful electronic badges for conferences.

    There are a lot of pressures in this type of design challenge: aesthetics, functionality, and of course manufacturability. If you want to know how to make an exposed-PCB product that will be loved by the user, you need to study Voja’s work on the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference Badge.

    The point of a conference badge is for attendees to wear them around their necks. This makes aesthetics as important as any other aspect of the design. Every single person will interact with the badge in this manner.

    sought input from many different people to help narrow down a half dozen designs to a single idea

    With a design chosen, Voja tweaked the color scheme, ran a batch of prototypes, and started populating boards.


    Design has some effect on price (can it be manufactured?) but hardware choices are the biggest driver of this. The badge has three ICs on it, the PIC18F25KL50, an LED driver, and the accelerometer. The rest is fairly straight-forward, an IR receiver, mini-B USB jack, LEDs, buttons, and passives. The point is that there’s nothing truly exotic here. Used well, common components have no trouble creating a device people will love.

    People need to interact with these badges

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Programming the Open-V Open Source CPU on the Web

    You can now program the Open-V on the web, and see the results in real time. The code is compiled in the web IDE and then flashed to a microcontroller which is connected to a live YouTube live stream. It’s pretty neat to flash firmware on a microcontroller thousands of miles away and see the development board blink in response.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Socks by Bob

    Meet [Bob Rutherford], 88 years old, who lives in Saskatoon, Canada. He and his gang ([Glynn Sully], 92 years old , [George Slater] 85 year old, and young [Barney Sullivan] 65 years old) have made 10,000 socks for shelters in the community and across the country. That’s almost 8 miles of socks. Last year alone “operation Socks by Bob” as he likes to call it, produced 2,000 socks.

    So how did these 4 fellows manage to pull this off? Turns out that [Bob] has a bit of a maker spirit in him and he actually built a fast, cheap, knitting machine for the purpose of making socks.

    88-year-old Saskatoon man makes thousands of socks for shelters
    Bob Rutherford has made more than 10,000 socks for shelters across Canada using homemade knitting machine

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why the Wright Brothers Succeeded

    The types of steps and missteps the Wright brothers took in developing the first practical airplane should be familiar to hackers. They started with a simple kite design and painstakingly added only a few features at a time, testing each, and discarding some.

    The airfoil data they had was wrong and they had to make their own wind tunnel to produce their own data. Unable to find motor manufacturers willing to do a one-off to their specifications, they had to make their own.

    Sound familiar?

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This Bike Sonar is Off the Chain

    On paper, bicycling is an excellent form of transportation. Not only are there some obvious health benefits, the impact on the environment is much less than anything not directly powered by a human. But let’s face it: riding a bike can be quite scary in practice, especially along the same roads as cars and trucks. It’s hard to analyze the possible threats looming behind you without a pair of eyes in the back of your head.

    [Claire Chen] and [Mark Zhao] have come up with the next best thing—bike sonar. It’s a two-part system that takes information from an ultrasonic rangefinder and uses it to create sound-localized pings in a rider’s ears.

    Bike Sonar
    Rear-facing sonar with sound localization feedback

    our project is divided up into two systems – each consisting of a standalone PIC32 on a solder board

    We created separate projects to be loaded on to the PIC on the bike side and the PIC on the helmet side. These two standalone systems communicate via radio.

    Servos are controlled with pulses of varying widths,

    Measuring Distance with Output Compare and Input Capture

    As shown in the timing diagram below, ultrasonic sensor must recieve a 10us pulse on the trigger pin to send an eight-cycle sonic burst at 40kHz, which it uses to measure distance. The echo pin will recieve a pulse of some duration, which proportional to the distance of the object.

    Generating Localized Sound Bursts with Direct Digital Synthesis

    Communication between the two PIC32s was facilitated using two Nordic nRF24L01 radios operating in the 2.4GHz ISM band

    We first tried sound localization using a 300Hz, 250ms sound bursts played from the leftmost and rightmost angle.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Old Motor Donates Rotor for Coaxial Wind Vane and Anemometer

    Problem: build a combined anemometer and wind vane where the pivots for both sensors are coaxial. Solution: turn an old universal motor into a step-wise potentiometer for the wind vane, and then pull a few tricks to get the whole thing assembled.

    The windings were stripped off the assembly leaving nothing but the commutator. 1kΩ SMD resistors were soldered across adjacent commutator sections to form a series resistance of 22kΩ with taps every 1k


    I built a ‘Anemometer and Wind-Vane Wind-Speed and Direction Logger’ as part of a RoadTest on the Texas Instruments MSP-EXP430FR4133 LaunchPad development kit and the ADS7042 Ultra-Low Power Data Acquisition BoosterPack.

    I purchased a burnt out electric-Mixie motor assembly

    The assembly had 24 commutator-segments which would permit indicating wind direction in angles of 360/24 or 15 degree steps.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    eForth for cheap STM8S Value Line gadgets
    Turn cheap stuff from AliExpress into interactive development kits!

    This project turns cheap “Value Line” STM8S µC boards into interactive Forth development kits by learning how a board works, and writing board support code and docs. Using the SDCC tool chain it’s possible to combine C code with a Forth shell for testing, setting control parameters, or as a scripting engine!

    The code is based on the STM8EF eForth Demo by Dr. C.H. Ting for STM8S Discovery.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sophi Kravitz: State of the IO

    At the Hackaday SuperConference in November, Sophi Kravitz had the chance to look back on the past year of, and what a great year it has been. now has over 178k members who have published 12.6k projects with about 10% of those being collaborative team projects. But the numbers tell just a small story of the vibrant community Hackaday has.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fail of the Week: NASA Edition

    There’s a reason we often use the phrase “It ain’t Rocket Science”. Because real rocket science IS difficult. It is dangerous and complicated, and a lot of things can and do go wrong, often with disastrous consequences. It is imperative that the lessons learned from past failures must be documented and disseminated to prevent future mishaps. This is much easier said than done. There’s a large number of agencies and laboratories working on multiple projects over long periods of time. Which is why NASA has set up NASA Lessons Learned — a central, online database of issues documented by contributors from within NASA as well as other organizations.

    NASA Lessons Learned

    The NASA Lessons Learned system is a database of lessons learned from contributors across NASA and other organizations. It contains the official, reviewed learned lessons from NASA programs and projects. Its varied contents are sought by thousands of visitors a month who represent a multitude of disciplines including science, engineering, education, manufacturing, and project management.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Engineering Pop Culture!
    Labs, ‘Spaces,’ and Innovation Around the World

    Once the space occupied by a ‘Space’ becomes saturated, like so many forms of life the ‘Space’ needs to undergo change, evolve, and grow

    It doesn’t take much to start a “Lab” or a “Space.” Really, it’s more about the need than the gear. Once someone has decided there is a need for a “Space” (often called Maker Spaces, Hackerspaces, Fab Labs, or Fundi Spaces), then there are a few requirements such as a physical location and access to electricity, but other than that… well, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Custom Sensor Head Turns 3D Printer into Capacitive Scanner

    The best thing about owning a 3D printer or CNC router may not just be what you can additively or subtractively create with it. With a little imagination you can turn your machine into a 3D scanner, and using capacitive sensors to image items turns out to be an interesting project.

    Capacitive Scanning

    The sensor is an FDC2212 mated to a MSP430F5528.

    The sensing elements are two 20mm squares side by side. Each square is one side of the FDC2122 resonant tank, meaning that this is reading in a differential capacitance configuration. The sensing elements are surrounded by individual shields on 3 sides and above.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    [Dave’s] Not Just a Member of the Air Club for Tweezers

    DIY Vacuum Pickup Tool
    An easy to assemble vacuum pickup tool for doing SMD placement

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    C64 Keyboard Emulation Over Serial

    There’s a lot of reasons you might want to emulate the keyboard on your Commodore 64. The ravages of time and dust may have put the original keyboard out of order, or perhaps you need to type in a long program and don’t fancy pecking away with the less-than-stellar feedback of the standard keys. [podstawek] has come up with the solution: a Commodore 64 keyboard emulator that works over serial.

    key64tapper – Commodore 64 Keyboard Emulator

    This project emulates the keyboard of Commodore 64. It allows one to send a string of characters, or interactively type in characters, from a PC/Mac/Linux computer, and have it displayed on the C64 screen.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CNC-Telescope With Semi-Nasmyth Mount

    [GregO29] had a 10″ GoTo telescope but at 70lbs, it wasn’t really portable. And so he did what any self-respecting CNC enthusiast would do, he put his CNC skills to work to make an 8″ Newtonian reflector, semi-Nasmyth mount telescope of his own design. It also gave him a chance to try out his new Chinese 6040 router/engraver with 800W water-cooled spindle.

    CNC Telescope, semi-Nasmyth mount

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smoothly Modernized Nixie Display

    The renaissance of Nixie tube popularity amid the nostalgia surrounding older tech has made them almost prohibitively expensive for individual projects. Seeing an opportunity to modernize the beloved devices, [Connor Nishijima] has unleashed this new, LED edge-lit display that he has dubbed Lixie.

    “Lixie”, an LED alternative to the Nixie Tube
    Always jealous of people who could afford big Nixie Tubes, I rolled my own alternative with WS2812Bs and laser cutting!

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Heavy Lift Electromagnet from Microwave Oven Transformers

    It’s OK, you can admit it — from the time you first saw those huge electromagnetic cranes in scrap yards you’ve wanted to have one. While it may not fling around a car, parts donated from scrapped microwaves can let you build your own electromagnetic lifting device and make that dream finally come true.

    ELECTROMAGNET from microwave transformers

    At the 0054 video, we experimented using transformers from broken microwaves making a very strong electromagnet. This electromagnet is intended to be placed on the crane that we have already made in our workshop in order to be able to lift heavy, metallic objects.

    To start the particular project, we removed the transformers from three destroyed microwaves. Then, we cut the upper surface of the transformer and we removed the secondary coil replacing it with the primary one. In this way, we turned the transformer into an electromagnet. The same procedure has been followed in all the three transformers.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RF Outlet to Light Switch Hack 2.0
    Convert an off the shelf RF control outlet into a RF light switch.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Innocent TV Imprisoned Behind Mirror

    After following along with all the Magic Mirror builds, [Troy Denton] finally caved in and started building one for his girlfriend for Christmas. These popular builds are all pretty much bespoke, and this one is no different.

    His victim TV didn’t have the ability to be switched on and off by the Raspberry Pi using HDMI/CEC, so he came up with an alternative.

    Building a Magic Mirror; Nifty Opto-Isolator Tricks

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Calgary man builds $25K flight simulator in his basement

    With roughly $25,000 and thousands of hours spent on the project, Governali now can take off anytime he wants.

    “The part that I enjoy the most is building it,” he said.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microfluidics “Frogger” is a Game Changer for DIY Biology

    See those blue and green dots in the GIF? Those aren’t pixels on an LCD display. Those are actual drops of liquid moving across a special PCB. The fact that the droplets are being manipulated to play a microfluidics game of “Frogger” only makes OpenDrop v 2.0 even cooler.

    Lab biology is mainly an exercise in liquid handling – transferring a little of solution X into some of solution Y with a pipette. Manual pipetting is tedious, error prone, and very low throughput, but automated liquid handling workstations run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This makes [Urs Gaudenz]’s “OpenDrop” microfluidics project a potential game changer for the nascent biohacking movement by offering cheap and easy desktop liquid handling.

    Scientific Gaming Projects

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Print Your E-Drum Pads

    E-drum with small 3D printer and thick paper

    This is prototype of 8 inch pad for e-drum.

    It is made from multiple parts. I did not want to make drums with conspicuous bolts to connect the parts. Therefore, as much as possible, the joint part was made inconspicuous and designed to look like one part. Why? That’s because it is cool.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Startup Looks to Shake Up IP Paradigm

    A novel concept in semiconductor design is taking shape that could potentially have a dramatic impact on the costs associated with prototyping and building hardware.

    A novel concept in semiconductor design is taking shape that could potentially have a dramatic impact on the costs associated with prototyping and building hardware.

    Efabless Corp., which emerged from stealth mode in November, is offering what it describes as the first online marketplace for community-developed intellectual property. The goal of the company is to create a community of chip designers and bring it together with customers in need of semiconductor IP.

    The idea is to essentially democratize chip design, mobilizing and incentivizing chip designers by providing an open platform that connects customers to designers and enable them to communicate, agree on design requirements, create specs and deliver prototypes.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Labs, ‘Spaces,’ and Innovation Around the World

    Once the space occupied by a ‘Space’ becomes saturated, like so many forms of life the ‘Space’ needs to undergo change, evolve, and grow

    It doesn’t take much to start a “Lab” or a “Space.” Really, it’s more about the need than the gear. Once someone has decided there is a need for a “Space” (often called Maker Spaces, Hackerspaces, Fab Labs, or Fundi Spaces), then there are a few requirements such as a physical location and access to electricity, but other than that… well, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Good Penmanship With A 3D Printer

    [Chris Mitchell] was going to make his own plotter for doing cursive writing for cards but realized he might be able to use his 3D printer to do the writing instead. But then he couldn’t find any suitable software so he did what you’re supposed to do in this situation, he wrote his own called 3DWriter. He even 3D printed a holder so he could attach a pen to the side of the extruder. When not in use as a plotter he simply retracts the pen tip.

    The software is written in C# for Windows and is available on GitHub along with a detailed write-up.

    Use your 3D Printer with a pen to write letters, birthday cards etc

    Use your 3D Printer with a pen to write letters, birthday cards etc


    Use your 3D Printer with a pen to write letters, birthday cards etc

    I couldn’t find any small programs that i could use to write letters using my 3D Printer as a plotter so i wrote one. After mucking about with different fonts i found a fontset called the Hershey fonts. These are the only fonts used in this application since they are primarily stroke based fonts rather than outline fonts that every other program i tried had.

    Video demo over on youtube

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    $15 Geiger-Muller Counter for Beta/Gamma/XRay

    An inexpensive Geiger counter that can detect several kinds of ionizing radiation using a surplus Soviet tube and a one-use camera circuit

    This is a Geiger-Muller radiation detector utilizing a 600V modified disposable camera power supply and a 3.5mm jack output to an audio source. It clicks when radiation is detected by the tube. A 2N2222 transistor is triggered by a pulse from the Geiger tube (a SI-3BG radiation tube), which causes the 3V input from the power source (2 AA batteries in my case) to cross the transistor and induce a click in the audio source. Any audio device with a jack can be used.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RigTig’s Big 3D Printer
    A DIY 3D printer (big volume, inexpensive, lightweight and portable).

    RigTig’s Big 3D Printer (RB3DP) is a machine for placing material in 3 dimensions. The effector (printing head) hangs from three strings. The length of each string is adjusted by a small stepper motor, so the effector moves in 3D space.

    The weight of the effector is counter-balanced by weights on pulleys on each string, so the small stepper does not need to provide much torque to actually position each string.



    Print volume is big: 1 to 100+ cubic metres.

    Cost is small: less than US$100.

    Speed is slow.

    Accuracy is low.

    It is a work-in-progress.


    The DIY cost to make a RB3DP is significantly less than one hundred dollars (USD100), plus 3D printed parts.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cordless Drill Uses no Electricity

    There are few projects on how to make your own cordless drill, but what sets [Johnnyq90’s] amazing project apart is the fact that his power plant is a nitro engine. Not an easy task of course, but he makes it look easier than it is, and we really enjoyed the construction process.

    He uses an RC Kyosho GX12 engine that was previously modified

    How to Make A Nitro Engine Powered DRILL

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to Make a Powerful AIR COMPRESSOR using Syringe

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Cardboard Computer

    Every time we say “We’ve seen it all”, along comes a project that knocks us off. 60 year old [Mark Nesselhaus] likes to learn new things and he’s never worked with hardware at the gate level. So he’s building himself a 4-bit Computer, using only Diode-Transistor Logic. He’s assembling the whole thing on “card board” perf-board, with brass tacks for pads.

    Why — because he’s a thrifty guy who wants to use what he has lying around.

    The Cardboard Computer

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Series 1 3D printed rotary duplicating machine
    3D printed machine which carves, duplicates and produces objects

    My first new machine for 2017-The rotary duplicator.
    This machine carves wood and make shapes. It can be operated in three modes:
    1. As a CNC guided carving tool.
    2. As a straight line duplicator.
    3. Non concentric duplication.


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