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

Getting started with Arduino (from nothing)

A step-by-step “idiot’s” guide.

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.

Also be sure to check out the official Arduino Getting Started and Tutorial pages.

Via makeuseof


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

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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Processing 2.0 released

The open source programming language for makers and creatives gets a major update.

Processing, an open source programming language and environment, has been used extensively by millions of artists, designers, experimenters, and makers since its development in 2001. It made sophisticated programming accessible both in terms of ease of use and cost (free). Recently, Processing 2.0, the first full new version, was released to the public.
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MIT’s Silk Pavilion inspired by silkworm cocoons

Algorithmic design, digital fabrication, and silkworms work together to make a pavilion.

MIT MediaLab’s Mediated Matter group used inspiration from the cocoons of silkworms for the Silk Pavilion. Silkworm cocoons are made from one long, continuous silk thread. The pavilion uses the same approach, but with some high-tech help.
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Tracking the 17 year cicadas with an Arduino

Prepare for the coming swarmageddon with an excellent introduction to Arduino.

If you live in the Northeast USA, you probably know that the 17 year cicadas with soon emerge from the ground to serenade you with their surprisingly annoying mating calls. If are not lucky enough *cough* to live in the path of what has been called “swarmageddon”, the video will catch you up on the basics.

Radiolab, a podcast and public radio show, has put together an easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to build a soil thermometer with an Arduino and some basic parts. They even have the code ready for use. The cicadas emerge when the soil 8″ below the surface reaches 64º F (18º C). After the building the kit and measuring the soil temperature where you live, upload the result and your location on their site to help track the great emergence.

Via Hack a Day


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

Mataerial 3D printer prints into thin air

A new way to 3D print without the need for support material.

The Mataerial 3D printer uses a 2-part thermosetting resin instead of the thermoplastics commonly used in extrusion-based 3D printers. This approach allows the machine to print a line directly into the air with only a single point of contact with a surface. The surface doesn’t need to be horizontal or even; the material will even adhere to a vertical surface.
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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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