Jeri Elsworth is being awesome. Again.

Jeri Elsworth is awesome. She makes things that would make most makers balk and give up before they even start. From building race car chassis, to home semiconductor experiments (Want to make your own transistors kids? I know you do!), she will have a go. Sometimes she wins, and sometimes not, but she always takes the time to document it so we can all learn.

Her new venture is an amazing set of 720p (per eye) Augmented reality/Virtual reality glasses. The team is, Jeri on hardware, Rick Johnson (game development guru) on software, and Toby the cat (roll unknown).

Sure, I’m going to be poor for a while, but I’m going to be one excited geek when they arrive next September!

You can check out the detail on the Kickstarter page or on the company web site.

Quadcopter update

Ohkay…

I had a lovely sunday watching the Bathurst 1000 and building the quadcopter, with the assistance of my daughter.

As it stands so far we have:

Still to go:

Quadcopter

Hobby King should come with a drug warning. It starts out safely enough, a couple of servos for an arduino project, a drive motor for something else. Next thing you know you’ve found out that you can fly aeroplanes and strange copters with video goggles on, seeing what’s in front of the plane. It’s like crack for geeks.

After watching one of Flite test’s youtube clips, I really wanted to have a go. But I have glasses, due to astigmatism, so buying the headset would also require custom lens inserts. It starts to look pretty expensive about then. That’s when I found this video, which shows how to setup a usable (not pretty) home made system. It looks cheap enough to try without breaking the bank, and it can be made to fit over my glasses. If I decide to go further with the hobby then its possible to hook up multiple goggles. So, this could become the guest headset.

I’ve managed to get hold of the lens and the screen, but you can’t buy the nice hotwire cut EPO foam mount anymore [edit: its back in stock!].

The veggie patch is expanding

We’ve decided to convert approximately 1/3 of our backyard to veggie patches. We’re not the best gardeners in the world, but we’re keen to get better. I’m not sure of the best way to remove the grass without losing the topsoil, so we have an experiment in progress.

I’ve turned the soil with the garden fork and I have erected a temporary fence around the section to keep the chooks in. I’m hoping that they will scratch around and loosen the grass up. Eyebrows were raised at the creative use of the garden fork in place of a star picket, but it does the job.

I’ll give them a few days and see how it goes. If it looks like its bothering the girls or just not working, I’ll pull the fence down again. At the very worst, the new beds will get some extra manure.

I would love to get a greenhouse in somewhere, but I’m just not sure where it will fit. Yet.

Smoothie board on Kickstarter

The Smoothie board is a controller board for 3D printers/robots/CNC machines. It’s been touted as the best one around for a while now, but has been difficult to get hold of as it’s been limited to prototype or DIY models. This looks set to change with a launch on Kickstarter to sell the Smoothie as a real commercial offering and with 11 days to go they are already funded to 150%.

The smoothie comes in 3 variants on kickstarter:

  • 3 axis CNC – CNC routers (shape OKO or zen toolworks), laser cutters, and potentialy lathes. There isnt a mention of lathes, so you’d need to look into software support before you commited to that.
  • 4 axis CNC – Four axis mills or printers with a single extruder.
  • 5 axis CNC – Five axis mills or printers with dual extruders.

If you need to drive a motor at over 2 amps, you can hook larger drivers onto the board using pre-mounted access points. So if you have a big mill and a little one you can run them off the same hardware.

The ability to change paramaters over USB, without reflashing the firmware or working with eprom sounds like it will make intital setup and configuration much less painful.

Based on a 32-bit ARM microcontroller ( LPC1768 Cortex-M3 ), the smoothie board has more than enough hardware to allow for future software upgrades and enhancements. One of the things I’ve never liked about my makerbot is the curves made up of a collection of lines. It sounds like this will not be a problem with the smoothie board, but I’m not sure if this is due to the faster processer supporting many more lines or if it is handling true curves. Either way, I’m keen to find out.

There is also a front end panel in development that looks like it’ll be a nice add-on.

[via Hackaday]

Kossel Delta printer

After many attempts to get my venerable Makerbot Cupcake CNC to print reliably, I’ve had enough. Its been a great learning experience, but I’m just not willing to put any more time into it. I’ve decided to make a reprap derivative, as I’m not willing to be tied into a brand that may or may not leave me high and dry again.

I’ve selected the Kossel delta printer for my build, for the very technical reason that it’s fun to watch them print. It looks like a spider spinning a web.

One of the apealing design features of the kossel is that it uses basicly the same motion system for each of the 3 sliders. No more shall I be debugging the X and Y motion, but having a complete new set of problems when I get to the Z.

I have some concerns around wear to the vertical colums of MakerBeam where the bearings roll accross them, but there are some ways to reduce these, and replacing the extrusion with new ones isn’t too expensive either.

The Kossel printes are still being activey developed with updates on http://deltabot.tumblr.com/ and https://github.com/jcrocholl/kossel, and has excelent community support through http://groups.google.com/group/deltabot.

With the last of my parts now arived, its time to start the assembly!