Keeping projects in balance with DIY robotic device
The Stewart platform is an ingenious robotic device that provides flexible movement of a working surface across six degrees of freedom. Often used to support flight simulators and telescopes, they are also an essential component of many serious university projects.
After observing that more time is often spent on preparing a reliable platform than on the project itself, Dan Royer has set out to build a standard platform that universities can make use of across a range of projects.
Large Stewart platforms use hydraulics to manipulate heavy loads quickly and precisely. Currently, Dan’s version works on a smaller scale using a platform built from laser cut wood with stepper motors providing motion control.
It is quite a challenge to deliver mechanical precision that is also strong and smooth when in motion. The test rigs that Dan has constructed are powered by Adafruit’s stepper motor controller boards, all driven by an Arduino. The task of keeping all six stepper motors working together is particularly tricky, so in pursuit of the most stable outcome the Gcode demo software is available as an open source download on github.
Creation story features in First Peoples exhibit at Melbourne Museum
Interactive design gurus ENESS have used the latest in digital manufacturing technologies to give form to the spiritual history of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures.
First Peoples is an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Australia, where the creation story of Bunjil, a mythic wedge-tailed eagle, has been brought to life in the form of a 2.2m kinetic sculpture.
The stylised laser-cut acrylic feathers undulate with mysterious rhythm, while a computer controlled projection is mapping graphics simultaneously onto each blade in real-time, driven by motion-tracking and some sophisticated custom software. A song-like narration read by Aboriginal actors guides the viewer, as the display literally glows and pulses with life.
“…the scuplture simulates the omni-present nature of creation and universal motion. Visitors are meant to be inspired in the same way Victoria’s first inhabitants were by Bunjil’s power.”
See more of the story on how the thinking behind this inspirational exhibit; how it was made and also catch a few glimpses of the motion and projection artwork in action after the break. (more…)
Maurice Ribble designs a hardware hit for fiber hobbyists.
Spinning wheels always bring to mind fairy tales: Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold in exchange for a maiden’s first born child, Sleeping Beauty cursedly pricking her finger on the spindle.
But luckily, Maurice Ribble’s story isn’t so grim (pun intended.) Maurice is a computer engineer who lives with his wife Emily in the Boston area. “I always say my wife’s first love is knitting because she’s done it for much longer than she’s known me,” he says.
Emily often spins her own yarn for her knitting projects and totes a manual spinning wheel to her knitting group. “The mechanics of the spinning wheel were fascinating to my engineering mind and her need to travel with it gave me some great reasons to set about making a very portable, electric spinning wheel,” Maurice explains.
Soon he had requests from Emily’s friends to make them one too. “One thing lead to another, and now you can buy them on the internet,” he says. And lots of people are buying them.
Open source micro-factory turns your local laser cutter/CNC into a private IKEA
Exploring new models for open and collaborative digitally fabricated design, OpenDesk aims to become the destination of choice for modern open source furniture.
“By downloading, printing, purchasing or customising an OpenDesk, you’re helping to create a new way of buying products. One that’s more transparent, sustainable and flexible than current manufacturing models”.
With a growing repository of clever, flexible products from a number of designers, the OpenDesk model enables people to choose at what level they wish to engage with the manufacturing process.
The OpenDesk network helps create laser cut furniture from wood and other materials for less
Got a laser cutter of your own, or know someone with a CNC machine just down the road? Then you can download comprehensive drawings that are ready to send straight to the machine. Perhaps you’re not a carpenter or maker yourself but are happy with the flatpack IKEA process. OpenDesk puts you in touch with a workshop in your area, where the design can be cut and finished (oiled, sanded, polished etc) and sent to your door for you to assemble. If hands-off is more your style, there is even an option for a professional to whip it all together for you.
The idea is that the more work you do, the lower the cost will be. Of course, in many locations the OpenDesk network may not yet have makers who can deliver or assemble – so some users will be forced to buy flat-pack or arrange the making themselves. (more…)
Vintage technical publication still grooving after all those years
Before we had those nifty little electronic transistors to build nicknacks and devices out of, machines and the designers behind them relied on mechanical precision to perform tasks. Bringing to light the 1868 publication by Henry T Brown, 507 Movements reveals just how ingenious some of those mechanisms can be… and how relevant they are for today.
Even better than simply a trip down memory lane, this magical repository is just itching to be applied in some 21st century laser cutting projects.
In previous posts, we have taken a look at online 3D mechanical resources and the very handy Gear Template Generator that help to de-mystify mechanical devices. Both of these tools help to get gears working right, but what if you need a little help figuring out which gears or mechanisms to use? That’s where 507 Movements shines.
The movements are represented in both static and selected animated drawings that are kind of hypnotic yet educational at the same time.
To demonstrate how nifty geared mechanisms can be, we’ve included an impressive video after the break (assuming gears are what gets you groovin’) of some creative cogs in action. (more…)
With nearly 2 million views and over 43,000 subscribers to her design-meets-DIY YouTube channel, Karen Kavett clearly knows how to build an audience.
At just 22 years old, Karen works full-time as a video blogger and freelance designer in San Francisco.
She’s been creating videos on crafting, graphic design, “and other nerdy stuff” since 2008. She’s signed with one of the top online video agencies and her design work ranges from UX for YouTube to cover illustration for a NYT best selling author.
And she’s recently decided to expand her brand to a line of typographically inspired jewelry she makes with the help of Ponoko’s laser cutting service.
Let Karen introduce herself to you — and get a look at her mirrored acrylic ampersand necklace — in the video below.
Arduino has made it easier than ever before to build sophisticated electronics projects. That being said, there is still a significant learning curve for people who have absolutely no idea what they are doing when it comes to electronics.
This “Beginner’s Guide” for the Arduino by Brad Kendall is a great introduction. It starts from the very beginning and assumes no knowledge whatsoever. If you want to make something with an Arduino and you don’t know how a breadboard works, this is the guide for you. It will walk you through setup and your first couple projects.