This Saturday we’ll have Matthew Wettergreen here from Rice University to learn together how to build a MendelMax 3D RepRap printer.

MendelMax is the new rapid-to-assemble Mendel variant based on an extruded aluminum frame. Very rigid, very nice looking. Stop on by to check it out!

11 am – 8 pm
Saturday March 3rd @ Hive76

 

Just bought myself a Beagle Bone as an early Xmas present.  I’m tempted to write a long, gushy tome about it, but for the sake of folks reading this, I’ll restrain myself.   I’ll just offer that if you like Arduino, you’ll adore Beagle Bone — in my view, it leapfrogs every physical computing platform out there,  and it’s cheap too.  I got one for $80 + shipping — about the same price as an Arduino with an ethernet shield — and the BB is about 1000x the machine.

To begin with, it has node.js baked right into its Ångström Linux OS.  This node.js installation is extended with a “Wiring-like” API.  Then add the fact that BB “sketches” (for lack of a better term) are edited right in your favorite browser, using the Cloud9 IDE.  Cloud9 is clean and simple and it supports the essential IDE features that you might expect — a decent editor with code colorization, management of the files that comprise a project, an interactive debugger etc.  The idea of a web-enabled physical computing platform that is itself programmed using a web interface seems so obvious and so “right” that it feels like it was always meant to be.   Pure elegance meets sheer genius.

At any rate, the fact that this puppy is an outstanding physical computing platform with righteous networking capabilities makes it about the perfect platform for Internet Of Things architectures, so that’s where I’m focusing for now.

Since I have a background in process control systems and a bit of a bias towards Philly-grown tech,  I settled on NimBits for my back-end.  It has all the attributes of a real process control historian with a cloud architecture and some nice bells and whistles to boot.  Since NimBits counts an XMPP based API among its various access methods, I wrote a little study to see if I could send IMs using node.js.  Turns out it’s incredibly simple (check out the picture)  This app doesn’t push stuff to NimBits (yet), but it’s only a half-step away from it — and being able to have a physical computing platform send you IMs is pretty darn useful in its own right.

Keep an eye out here for more Beagle Bone and Internet Of Things stuff.  We live in fascinating times!

high resolution Yoda printed on Ultimaker
Last week I got to attend the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire NYC. Both events were really excellent.

There were so many wonderful things it was hard for me to pick a favorite. That is, until I hit the Ultimaker Booth. Ultimaker is another open source 3D printer offshoot of the RepRap Project. Erik de Brijn, Martijn Elserman, and the rest of their team have been hard at work perfecting v1 of the Ultimaker (and now Ultimaker+). The quality of this machine continues to amaze me (I’ve seen a previous beta version in person at Botacon). New this year, when mixed up with the newest firmware Marlin (which was recently ported to 3D FDM printers and is based on GRBL, the same firmware codebase picked to run Lasersaur), the Ultimaker is able to get insanely high resolution prints. You can get the Marlin firmware for RAMPS and RepRap from HERE on Github.

High mag of Finger on Ultimaker Print. Scale Bar = 1 mm.

Erik gave me one of the high res Yoda prints (Thanks Erik!) which I put under the microscope last week. You can see with the scale bar… we have 162 pixels = 1 mm. The average layer height in that pic is around 12 pixels, or 0.074 mm (That is 74 microns). And that orangey low res looking thing on the left? That’s not a print… that’s my finger. Click the image to see in higher detail!

Apologies to my buddy Dave Durant, but Ultimaker just beat your high res Cupcake record. And they’ve gotten even thinner layer heights than those, recently. Join their google group to learn more and stay apprised of the latest.

w0w. The future for FDM is so bright. Really Amazing.

 


After speaking to a few folks that expressed an interest in the MMMM workshop, it became apparent (a) most folks were newbs who want to learn the basics and (b) everyone wants to control motors.  Excellent!  We’ll do that.

Although motor control is potentially a vast and complex topic, with highly specialized branches, the basics are fairly easy to learn — and they’ll take you pretty far.   So … we’ll be prepared to present the following items:

  • DC motors
  • H-bridge circuits — these let puny microcontrollers run fairly powerful motors
  • Stepper motors — just a little more complex to program than DC motors and they use H-bridge circuits too
  • Quadrature Encoders — these are a  simple and accurate way to read the position of something

We’ll also try to discuss some organizational items — like the logistics of future workshops and the use of the MMMM GitHub, so that we can build up assets collectively, share them with the world and manage changes and contributions in a free-and-easy-but-organized way.

If you are coming , please bring:

  • Yourself — If you’re a newb, welcome — If you’re an MCU Yoda, then attend you must and wisdom to newbs impart
  • Some ideas
  • A laptop if you have one
  • You may want to install VMWare Player or VMWare Fusion before you arrive
  • An MCU development kit if you have one or …
  • Some money if you don’t.  We’ll have some development kits that you can buy.  Plan on at least $10 for the kits and some parts that you can use for small learning projects.
  • A bread-board if you want to build some live circuits to keep.  We’ll have breadboards to loan, but if you want to take one home, it has to be one that arrived with you.
  • That’s about it — see you all Monday.  To whet your appetite, there is some prototype code below for reading a quadrature encoded position detector (not really elegant enough for a final effort, but it’s a start).  We’ll have you writing stuff like this in no-time.

    (more…)

     

    A few months ago Enrique Muyshondt (President of DesktopFab, aka Endeavour on IRC) gave us a set of Sells Mendel parts that he had cast for our work on various research projects at UPenn and here at Hive76. We slowly assembled it and got it running, and thanks to this past weekend’s RepRap World Tour stop in Baltimore, we have it running! In addition to 3D printing like a champ, we’re now using it to work on the firmware and customize printing scripts for tissue engineering research. We are grateful for the support!

    The parts are cold cast bronze, this means Enrique painted several layers of bronze powder into his molds and then cast them with resin. What came out were the brown parts you see in the pictures and video below.

    This 3D printer rocks. The RepRap 3D printing project still has a lot of rough edges, but that’s why we love it. We’ll have BronzeBot on exhibit at the next RepRapWorldTour in Baltimore, and then back in Philly in August to do it again.

    Slideshow:

     

    We whipped up a Wiring-ish wrapper for the MSP430 a while back in order to simplify the task of porting Arduino libraries for use with MSP430 microcontrollers.  It turns out, we weren’t the only ones that thought of it.  PJ spotted a post on Hack A Day where someone unveiled something remarkably similar, and that post resulted in at least two other folks besides us posting their similar ideas — so there are at least four of these wrapper libraries out there.

    Naturally, we’d like to think that ours is the best of the bunch, and the best named too — TIWrap.  Seriously, though, we seem to be genuinely different in that that we have bundled in actual libraries ported from Arduino, such as the HD44780 and MAX7221 libraries.  There are some piezo buzzer libraries and we expect to add some Charlieplexing utilities soon.  You can get a copy of TiWrap here.

    The demo above is a “Fancy Flashlight” concept proposed by Matt Torbin.   It’s just one MSP430, two LEDs, a button and a bit of code which you can find in the TiWrap examples.

    And in case the title left you puzzled …

     

    The Prusa Mendel build is finally complete! Here’s a Stanford Bunny:

    Prusa Mendel Bunny Print by jmil

    PLA bushing sliding on precision ground 8 mm rods is actually quite smooth movement. I don’t think it can go as fast as the original Sells Mendel (which was ball bearings sliding over the rods), but it’s only half the printed parts and the z-axis is much smoother motion too. I will try oiling or greasing the bushings to try to get smoother and faster motion without losing steps. So definitely some tradeoffs but overall a super awesome bot. The Prusa is also fully parametric and entirely made from OpenSCAD. All sources are available on github FTW.

    As this is the first bot I built that I actually own, I named this awesometown after my HS science teacher, Mr. Sloate, who really got me into Biology and now, robotics for Biology.

    What will we print next?

     
    We won!

    We won!

    Great news, The Citizen Science Quartely just picked the winner for the Open Science Design Contest, and:
    WE WON!!!!!!!!1111!!111one

    You can read more about the original entry HERE.

    We’ll be using the Ponoko gift certificate to design a housing for the electronics and make it more kit-able. Bench Science FTW!

    And definitely check out the Kickstarter for The Citizen Science Quarterly. It’s shaping up to be a really interesting mix of Bench Science in the DIY spirit. From the Kickstarter page:

    “We’d like to create a magazine for the scientist in all of us.

    It will have simple How-To’s, like extracting the DNA of a strawberry using kitchen materials. But on the next page could have a paper on the validity of using Bacillus Subtillus as a model organism. We’d feature extraordinary citizen scientists who are doing extraordinary things in abnormal labs (aka garages, closets, etc). We’d also give legal and safety tips to inform and protect citizen scientists from some of the dangers they could run into.”

     
    Open Source Orbital Shaker

    Open Source Orbital Shaker

    Here is my entry for the Open Call for Open Science Equipment Contest.

    I did this with help from Mike, Jack, Rob, Adam and others right here at Hive76. Thanks everyone!

    Details and all source files for this project are available on Thingiverse.

    The deadline for submission is December 15th, so if you have an idea for open source equipment you still have some time to submit your entry to the contest!

    Open Source Orbital Shaker from jmil on Vimeo.

     
    Chris building a BoomCase

    Chris building a BoomCase

    Our entire building at 915 Spring Garden is taking part in Open Art Studios this weekend, and we’ll be there too!

    Almost 30 studios will be open to the public, including Hive76! There’s a ton of different medias people use, everything from textiles to clays to electronics.

    Come join us on Saturday and Sunday, December 4th and 5th, from noon – 5 pm at Hive76. We’ll also be upgrading our MakerBot with a new MK5 Extruder so we’ll be printing in tip-top shape again soon!

     
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