Laser cutting wood to make the Stewart Platform

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.

Marginally Clever via Hack a Day

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Spin your own Wool Yarn with the Electric Eel Wheel

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.

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Gear up for laser cutting

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…)

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MakerBot Digitizer is almost here

Add a 3D scanner to your workflow

The easiest and fastest way to create your own unique 3D models is about to be released by MakerBot. Eagerly anticipated ever since an early prototype was unveiled in March, the MakerBot Digitizer is just about ready for action. This neat little device will turn almost any (smallish) object you can get your hands on into 3D designs you can share and print.

In an email alert from MakerBot this week, the following info was released that outlines some key features of the Digitizer.

- Simple, yet sophisticated software creates clean, watertight 3D models with just two clicks.
- Get a 3D digital design file in just minutes.
- No design skills, 3D modeling or CAD expertise required to get started.
- Outputs standard 3D design file formats that can be modified and improved in third-party 3D modeling programs, like Autodesk’s free software MeshMixer.
- Easily upload your unique scans directly to Thingiverse.com.

Could the MakerBot Digitizer fill a gap in your creative workflow? Hide the cat, and keep an eye on MakerBot for further updates including pricing and availability.

MakerBot Digitizer via The Next Web

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3D Manufacturing Community Survey

Annual survey returns with a new round of questions for 3D makers

A little over a year ago, the P2P Foundation supported the first ever wide-scale survey of the 3D printing community. Their results made for some interesting findings, a few of which are summarised in the above video.

In an industry where experimentation and innovation play a large role in the daily grind, you’d expect to see significant developments over time. So what has changed in the world of 3D manufacturing over the past year? Is 3D printing still a niche industry? Are we in the midst of the next Industrial Revolution?

The goal of the 2013 survey is to provide insights about 3D printing communities to the people who are actually doing the printing.

Click through to the Statistical Studies of Peer Production survey where you too can become a valuable 3D printing statistic. There are only 23 questions and it typically takes less than five minutes to complete.

The survey closes on August 15, with results and an in-depth analysis from P2P’s Jarkko Moilanen and Tere Vadén due out in the coming months.

3D printing survey via Statistical Studies of Peer Production

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An open source analog camera you can 3D print at home

Download it, modify it, print it.

As much as we love low-cost 3D printers and what they can do for makers, their relatively low printing resolution can limit their applications. So it’s always particularly special when someone makes something awesome with a low-res printer.

Léo Marius made this camera for his graduation project from the School of Arts and Design in Saint-Etienne, France. It’s a surprisingly simple construction, and he says it should print in about 15 hours on a Rep-Rap or equivalent. It takes some pretty decent pictures too, especially if you’re into the old-fashioned look. Marius made an Instructable documenting the project, and the files are available on Thingiverse. Check out his blog for information about the development project, but you’ll have to translate it from French.

Continue past the jump for more images, including pictures taken with the printed camera.
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Arduino boards run an industrial machine

If you can build it, Arduino can run it.

Arduino’s massive success among the maker and hacker crowd is undisputed, but it’s usually seen more as something for experimenting and prototyping than a component for professional applications. JF Machines Ltd has handily proven that idea wrong with an industrial printer run by five unmodified Arduino boards.
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The Neo-Artist: Last chance to get involved

Time is ticking – Kickstarter campaign ends 4pm Friday EDT

When we recently discovered The Neo-Artist, it seemed like Lincoln Kamm was living the dream. He has developed an expertise in helping creative people find ways to produce and sell their work using the latest in digital manufacturing technologies, and now he wants to share it with you.

All of his knowledge (and a few extra practical perks) are condensed into the publication The Neo-Artist, which is the focus of a Kickstarter campaign that wraps up on Friday July 12 at 4pm EDT.

A nice snapshot of what The Neo-Artist is all about can be seen in the clip above, where Lincoln is interviewed by 3D Printer World. Watch the interview to discover more about the campaign, as well as cat-breading and other insights into Lincoln’s creative world that led him to share his expertise in The Neo-Artist.

If you need a little convincing to get involved in this campaign, one of the perks for backers is to receive discounted consultation time with Lincoln himself on your own projects. Imagine having personal, one-on-one time with an expert in making a success of making! Jump on board before it’s too late.

via Kickstarter

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A power tool for the age of digital fabrication

Smarter than the average tool.

As wonderful as CNC milling machines are, they aren’t exactly portable. Material has to transported to and from the location of the machine, and it has to fit within the work area. The Handibot is small enough to bring with you to a work site, and it can be placed wherever it’s needed on material of almost any size.

The Handibot is something between a traditional power tool and a CNC mill. It’s a power tool made smarter with a lot of help from apps and digital fabrication techniques. Learn more about it and get one for yourself on the (already) fully-funded kickstarter campaign.
(more…)

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AtFAB launches a line of furniture using locally distributed manufacturing

Show your support for the next industrial revolution.

AtFAB has developed a new line of furniture to be produced using locally distributed manufacturing for the consumer market. They are asking for backers through their kickstarter campaign to help fund the first few, pilot, production centers. Later, they will integrate their production with Ponoko and 100kGarages to make their production system truly local.

Locally distributed manufacturing has been around for a little while, but it has been mostly limited to the maker/DIY community. It simply isn’t accessible enough for most people. AtFAB already has considerable experience developing digitally fabricated furniture in the maker community, and now they are using that knowledge to launch a line of furniture for the consumer market. AtFAB will deliver flatpacked furniture, complete with hardware and instructions, to your door.
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