Custom circuit boards with an Othermill CNC mill

Easily make circuit boards, jewelry, and other detailed objects with this new desktop CNC.

There are a lot of options for CNC mills right now (and I mean a lot), but it’s rare to see one with the precision necessary to mill a custom circuit board. Finding one at a reasonable cost is simply unheard of.

The Othermill from Otherfab fills that need nicely. With it you can quickly and easily mill any circuit board your heart desires. Now all of your projects can have circuits seamlessly integrated into the design. Since it is compatible with any 1/8″ bit (like a dremel), it can also be used for a variety of other applications from jewelry to precisely machined mechanical parts.

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Othermill started at $1000 for early adopters.
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Botanicus Interacticus turns living plants into highly responsive interfaces

A new approach to digital interaction through . . . plants?

Using a single wire placed in the soil, Botanicus Interacticus transforms a living plant into a sophisticated interface. Unlike earlier methods that only identify contact, Botanicus Interacticus uses Touché sensing technology to allow for a range of precise and engaging interactions.

Botanicus Interacticus enables us to use gestures as sliding the fingers on the stem of the orchid, detecting touch and grasp locations of a bamboo, tracking proximity between a human and a plant, and estimating the amount of touch contact leading to a rich amount of interaction possibilities.

Botanicus Interacticus is being developed at Disney Research by Ivan Poupyrev in collaboration with Philipp Schoessler, Jonas Loh/Studio NAND, and Munehiko Sato. Be sure to watch the two videos after the jump to learn about the project.
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NASA launches three smartphone satellites into orbit

Consumer hardware and open source software help build a $3500 satellite.

NASA recently put three nanosatellites powered by Google HTC Nexus One smartphones into orbit. Dubbed PhoneSats, they are about the size of a coffee mug. The satellites are intended to demonstrate how the rapidly decreasing cost and increasing power of off the shelf hardware and open source software can be used for a new generation of accessible, low-cost space research.
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The MIT Hobby Shop and early signs of the maker movement

A look inside the history of the Hobby Shop.

The MIT Hobby Shop was founded 75 years ago by a group of students who wanted to make things, who wanted to bring their ideas into the real world. The Shop has changed considerably over the years, but it still relies heavily on peer-to-peer teaching and an interdepartmental approach.

In the 1937-38 academic year, Vannevar Bush, then Vice President of MIT, granted a group of 16 MIT students permission to use a room in the basement of building 2. With equipment they found around the Institute they set up a wood and metal shop in the 16-foot by 22-foot area. The club members chose the name “Hobby Shop” based on their belief in the philosophy that the well rounded individual pursued interests outside their profession – hobbies.

Read more about the history of the Hobby Shop on their site.

Via MAKE


Taylor Gilbert is a proponent of creative technology including Arduino, Processing, and repurposed hardware. Follow him @taylor_gilbert

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Tap your foot to set a beat with drum effects using Arduino

You tap your foot, Arduino does the rest.

Beat Feet was concieved, designed, and prototyped in four days by a team participating in MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop at PESIT Bangalore. The project uses a sensor attached to the bottom of a shoe to control the tempo of MIDI drum affects. The idea is to allow musicians to add and control a background rhythm while continuing to play their instrument (presumably not a drum).
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A soft circuit textile interface using Arduino

The Nama, a textile-based instrument.

The Nama Instrument is a textile-based interface that uses a Lilypad Arduino and 5 Lilypad Accelerometers to wirelessly control custom software. The project was made by Luiz Zanotello for his BA graduation project in Design from Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil.

The software shown in the video demonstrations generate music and animation based on how the instrument is handled, but Zanotello proposes that input from the Nama could be used for other applications as well.
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A 3D printed, Raspberry Pi-powered, remote control snow blower

The Snow Droid X, in progress.

Technically speaking, winter is over, but someone forgot to tell the weather around here. If we’re going to keep having winter, we might as well enjoy it in true maker fashion with a Rasberry Pi-powered snow blower from Kris Kortright.

Unlike projects intended for use in the mild climate of a living room, the “Snow Droid” is designed to endure the slightly less hospitable environment of winter and all that entails. The camera and servos are all special watertight models, and the 3D printed head of the snow blower (shown in green) is designed to have water, wind, and impact resistance.

The first picture after the jump shows the unmodified Snapper 24″ Snow Blower used as the starting point of the project. The rest show details of the head and control system (being tested with an Arduino). As of the last update, this project was still in process, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on it.
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Connect your Arduino to the cellular network with the new GSM shield

Control and communicate with your next project with your cell phone.

Arduino has just released their new GSM shield that allows your Arduino to make and receive calls and text messages. You can even control specific functions of your project by text. Light up a LED, turn on a motor, all via cell phone. This isn’t the first time someone has figured out how to Arduino to the cellular network, but now it’s easier than ever before. This is very nearly a plug-and-play device.
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The ultimate Arduino-based cat litter box

The litter box of kings.

This litter box was made by Greg Leisure with the help of an Arduino. It is quite possibly the most elaborate cat litter box ever built. Even calling it a litter box seems disrespectful. It’s more like a litter house. Or a litter condo. It has it all, all the bells and whistles a cat or cat owner could want. Lights with motion sensors? Check. Both sound and smell dampeners? Check. Automatically-triggered fans? Naturally. Automatic Lysol dispensers? Of course.
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A DIY digital camera made with cardboard and an Arduino

A simple, open source camera you can make at home.

Photographer Product Designer Coralie Gourguechon made the Craft Camera as a way of countering the “planned obsolescence and complexity of electronic products.” All of the components are open source, and the design has a Creative Commons license.

The major components, in addition to an Arduino UNO, are a lithium battery pack, a Snootlab SD card Arduino shield, and a JPEG color camera TTL interface. The design for the case can be printed onto cardboard, cut out with a utility knife, and glued together. More detailed information is available on the project’s open source page, but the code and detailed plans are, unfortunately, not yet available. The site says they will be “released soon,” so be sure to check back later.
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