Comic-style introduction to Arduino

A guide for visual learners:
Getting started with open-source programming

Jody Culkin is an artist of broad and impressive talents, and she’s done something wonderful for the DIY electronics community with one of her recent projects.

It’s not an award-winning sculpture, nor an emotive photograph or whimsical animation… this time, she has turned her hand towards helping newcomers get their head around just what this Arduino thing is all about.

The comic-style introduction has been CC-licensed for all to enjoy, and can be downloaded in full right here.

More than a guide to the ins and outs of the Arduino platform, this is also a handy introduction to electronics projects in general.

Introduction to Arduino via Boing Boing

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Getting started in DIY electronics

Victorian synthesizers, laser microphones, and space explorers
Nic Collins' Trombone-Propelled Electronics
If you haven’t had any sort of training in electronics, it can be a daunting world to get started in. It’s no use having someone talk about what you can do with an Arduino if you haven’t first been shown the basics of how circuits work, or say, what you can do with just a battery and a speaker. (more…)

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Staining wood sheet materials — 7 different woods, 6 different stains

Josh Reuss makes 42 wood stain samples

Ponoko’s own Josh Reuss is always putting up nifty experiments, tips & tricks in the Ponoko forum.

Earlier this year, Josh decided to try out a variety of stains on some scrap pieces of wood material. (These are all wood materials for laser cutting with your Personal Factory btw.)

He reported on his staining experiments, detailing the best methods for applying and which stains looked best on which materials. Check it out, and if you’ve done any staining or painting yourself, feel free to add your results and what you’ve learned to the forums.

Links to each material and stain used are after the jump.

(more…)

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Kinect 3D scanning in OSX with CocoaKinect

Easy Kinect 3D scanning with no compiling or installing weird drivers

CocoaKinect

I’m always looking for neat stuff to do with the Kinect sensor. Last week I spotted CocoaKinect, uploaded to Thingiverse by CidVilas. Unlike some other Kinect hacks I’ve played with in Windows, CocoaKinect doesn’t require anything more difficult than plugging in the sensor and starting the app.

Today I tried the typical self-portrait scan. When you launch CocoaKinect you’re presented with a simple single-screen interface:

CocoaKinect UI (more…)

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Digitise objects with an ordinary digital camera!

New 3D scanning web app…

My 3D scanner

This week we’re looking at a new 3d scanning web app  that scans real objects and you can digitise them for 3d print output on your Personal Factory here at Ponoko!

my3dscanner.com launched recently and is rapidly becoming popular. It allows anyone who owns a digital camera that records EXIF data to 3D scan real life objects! (If you don’t know what EXIF data is, don’t worry – as long as you have a camera newer than 1998 it probabley does this.)

(more…)

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Ten Helpful Tutorials and Guides

Best of the Blog 2010 – Tutorials and Making Help

In addition to the ten fantastic guides that are featured in the Ponoko Blog sidebar, today we’ve gathered for you a collection of ten more helpful guides and tutorials from the archives.

Read on for some simple advice for beginners (that may be a welcome reminder for more seasoned makers) through to a complete analysis of turning making into a business, with a few surprises in between.   (more…)

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10 Simple Steps to Make & Sell Your Custom Product


The world is full of great ideas, and never before has it been easier to turn those ideas into real, physical products. The thrill of holding something in your hands which you created is something quite special.

Here at Ponoko we love helping everyday people make extraordinary things and we relish our part in the renewed ‘maker movement’ which has taken off over the past few years.

To help you become a part of it too, we have drawn up ten steps to creating a successful custom product. We hope they’ll help to inspire you to start making – and hope to hear about your experiences of doing so!

1. Create a clear design brief for your product

The best thing you can start with is a very clear design brief, or outline. The key questions here are “Why?”, “Who?” and “What?”.

Firstly, identify the problem your product will solve, and the constraints you want to work within. For instance, instead of deciding you want to make a set of shelves – start with the fact you need to organize your books, and the constraint is that it needs to fit between your desk and your bed. This will widen the scope of what you may create, and ensure that it’s meeting a clear need.

Clarifying who you’re making the product for will help you in a multitude of ways – from how you will make it in the beginning through to how you will promote it to others.
(more…)

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Christmas Ornaments from a Lasercutting Newbie

windmills for the tree

For those of you who’ve had an idea in the back of your head for something you’d like to make, but you’ve never tried making a design for lasercutting — you’re not alone.

Brian Lutz, a 32 year old resident of Washington state who works in tech, wanted to make some Christmas ornaments for his family’s annual holiday ornament exchange.

A total lasercut design newbie, Lutz took the dive into making a lasercut design for the first time and shared his learning process on his blog, The Sledgehammer (which I came across in my Google alerts for “lasercut”).

He uses Inkscape for the first time to design a windmill ornament, “an ongoing inside joke”, and took his files to his local maker space for production. It’s a good read for anyone who’s new to this whole “personal factory” business. : )

And with the holidays (read: vacation time!) coming up, there’s no better time to join the maker movement.

Find out how to make real products using Ponoko.
And check out our Beginner section in Tutorials + Making Help for everything you need to get started.

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Unbox, Build, Print — Review of the RepMan 3.1 3D Printer

3D Printers Australia sets up a RepMan Kit

3D Printers Australia brings “all the best information from the world wide 3D Printing industry to the Australian industry”.

They’ve got a blog with lots of 3D printing videos, and their most recent post is a review of the RepMan 3.1. In their conclusion, the two guys report “All up the RapMan took us a good 12 hours to assemble with 2 people working on it but once it was complete it was up and running and printing decent parts with out any adjustment with factory settings. That in itself says a lot.”

“The build process is a little more complicated than a Makerbot mainly due to the scaffold frame design however its not any harder, it just takes more time to assemble. …The Makerbot cupcake CNC is around half the price of the RapMan but your only getting a 1/4 of the build size so if you want to print parts bigger than 100 x 100mm its worth having a good look at a RapMan.”

If you’re thinking of getting your own 3D printer, be sure to check out 3D Printers Australia’s full review. And don’t miss the Step By Step Guide to Building a MakerBot Cucpake CNC 3D Printer.

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Ins and Outs of Holes

How to determine placement and size of jump rings when laser cutting jewellery.

madebydan

Making jewellery is incredibly popular among Ponoko users.  It’s an excellent way to get a feel for laser cutting and try out a range of materials.  Popular rigid materials include plywood, acrylic, veneer mdf, bamboo, metals; while leather and felt are commonly used soft materials.

Much of the jewellery is based on 2D shapes, so minimal prototyping is required to get the optimum result in final product.  However, there are still a few problems that jewellery makers run into.  Many of those are the result of not considering how other components or findings, such as jump rings, clasps, pins, etc will be attached.  The other contributing factor is material durability.  You have to use enough material to avoid breakage.

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