There’s no Arduino board inside, no laser-cutting or CNC machined components, and it certainly does not print in 3d.
However, this 1950s Keaton Music Typewriter has much to admire. The original version was patented by San Francisco inventor Robert H. Keaton in 1936, and further refinement saw units like the one featured here hit the market in the 1950s.
Some say there are now fewer than a dozen known Keaton Typewriters in existance. Seeing this makes me wonder what other specialised technical devices are floating about. These contraptions have value not only as interesting techno-nostalgia, but they can also provide insights and inspiration for the growing numbers of DIY tinkerers making their own CNC and 3d printing machines.
Toss it up into the air and the whole world says “Cheese”
We all love taking photos. Capturing the emotion and energy of a scene; recording a moment in time so that it can be shared with others. But if you thought pushing a button was fun, you’re in for a treat – because this camera is going airborne.
It has long been known that wide angle panoramic images are closer to what our own eyes see than conventional pictures. Yet unlike conventional pictures, panoramas usually require a complex stitching process. Issues arise such as ghosting from moving objects and full spherical panoramas are affected by the camera tripod.
Until now. The Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera will be featuring in the Emerging Technologies demonstration at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011.
Consisting of 36 fixed-focus camera modules housed in a 3d printed chassis, this not only looks different to every camera you’ve ever seen, but the way that it works is also unique. Sensors onboard detect when the Ball Camera is at the apex of its trajectory, triggering the exposure. The image is then downloaded via USB to be displayed in a spherical panoramic viewer.
There’s a video waiting for you after the break. (more…)
A look at assistive technologies
This week I came across this fascinating mini-documentary about one-armed banjo builder Bill Rickets. Bill has invented all kinds of machines that make it possible for him to fabricate every single part of his banjos, right down to the nuts and bolts. His goal of making instruments that will be treasured 100 years from now is really inspiring.
It got me thinking about assistive technology and how the DIY approach can result in ingenious solutions to difficult problems. Take for instance this motorised kayak for quadriplegics.
The two pontoons provide stability and each house a small electric motor. The motors are controlled by a ’sip and puff’ mechanism: a straw in the operator’s mouth is sipped or puffed to alter the speed and direction of the craft.
The sip and puff mechanism is an example of how a non-standard human-machine interface can make technology accessible to people without a great deal of dexterity. Montana engineer Ken Yankelevitz makes use of all kinds of these non-standard interfaces to create video-game controllers for quadriplegics. This PlayStation controller features sip/puff tubes, lip-activated micro-switches, toggle switches, and a tongue-controlled joystick:
This elaborate device by Morskoiboy converts words into a drink through the use of a system of syringes, tubes, and colorful syrups. Each button on the typewriter is a syringe, and when it is pressed it pumps a particular colored liquid into the display. Then it can be released into a glass via the tap. From the maker: (more…)
Laser cut business card grabs attention on Instructables
Imagine this. You’re at a business meeting, and as tradition would dictate, the time has come to exchange cards. How much thought have you put in to what you’re about to hand over?
Most of us go to a reasonable amount of effort with our business cards. Maybe it’s about trying to look professional, or maybe you are hoping to be memorable with your quirky or distinctive style. Well… making an impact and really grabbing someone’s attention within the confines of a 3.5′ x 2″ piece of cardboard just got a whole lot more interesting.
Artist-In-Residence at Instructables, Penfold Merton, used some clever gear template software to generate the mechanism for this remarkable and truly memorable laser cut business card -
…which doubles as a convenient gripping device for when you don’t want to handle other people’s dirty, less mechanical business cards.
The design continues to evolve, so be sure to check out the latest updates on Instructables where you can find all the info you need to build a robotic claw business card of your very own.
That’s right… those ‘bots are teaming up, and they are getting smarter. It’s the Swarmanoid, a collaborative family of robots that communicate with each other in order to achieve location specific tasks.
“…a swarm-bot is an artefact composed of a number of simpler, insect-like, robots (s-bots), built out of relatively cheap components, capable of self-assembling and self-organising to adapt to its environment.”
In a demonstration of what these little machines are currently capable of, the task was set to retrieve a book off a shelf. Sounds kind of straightforward, until you consider that the team of robots first had to find the bookshelf, communicate the location, and then assemble into units capable of accessing and retrieving the book.
Click through for a short film that won Swarmanoid the Best Video Award at the 2011 AAAI (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) conference. It’s not quite James Cameron, but there is still plenty to get excited about for those robot enthusiasts out there. (more…)
Congratulations to Made In Space, who’ve sucessfully tested their 3D printer in zero gravity!
Made In Space’s advance in 3D print technology comes days after shuttle Atlantis’ final landing concluding 30 years of the shuttle program. Astronauts working aboard the International Space Station will no doubt be soon printing out tools, as their favourite supply vessels are retired from duty. (more…)
At the start of this month, the IEEE electronics blog ran a fascinating story on a unique robot drive system that a grad student had invented (or re-invented).
The singularity drive system consists of a rubber hemisphere spinning vertically, like a top, that can be tilted front-to-back and left-to-right. This changes the point of contact with the ground, allowing the robot to drive in any direction or speed, forwards or backwards, without the need for any additional steering or transmission system. (more…)
University of Exeter develops first 3D chocolate printer!
Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK must all have a sweet tooth as they’ve developed a working prototype 3D food printer. Instead of polymer, metal or ceramics this printer uses chocolate as an ink. Yum! Video after the jump…
What goes through your head when you see discarded products by the side of the road?
For Ed Sobey, this trash is an irresistible treasure-trove just waiting to be explored. From mechanical components and electronics to plastics, metals and other raw materials, there is a maker’s buffet bursting with goodies on every sidewalk.
In his latest book, Unscrewed, Ed provides advice on how different salvaged components can be used to make wildly diverse contraptions. With younger tinkerers in mind, guidelines are also provided on how to disassemble products safely and he even lists the recommended tools for taking apart every conceivable object. (more…)