My projects are getting larger and larger lately. This time I’m trying to build a boat. A small wooden boat of 15 feet. I thought building a boat that you could actually use, that should be great fun. And of course much more fun than to just go and buy one.
So I scanned the web for designs that looked relatively easy, even for first time builders. I settled with a boat, called Fleet, designed by Ross Lillistone. It’s an elegant, slim and clean boat. I ordered the plan and then started to build a model first. They say you should build a model first to get an impression how things fit together, so I did that.
This project has been on my to-do list like forever. Over the last years I acquired a couple of tools and now I have a somewhat decent workshop. The Raspi 3 is there and quite powerful enough to run MAME. I even saved an old TV from the dumpster and had it sitting on the shelves for ages. So it was like now or never.
I have a soft spot for 8-bit arcades. When I was a kid, maybe 13 or 14 (around 1980!), I was on a vacation with a good friend of the family. He was a truck driver and drove always from Germany to Italy and back. A trip usually took 4 to 5 days. So I was on a truck for a week, which felt really cool. We delivered some stuff to Bologna and a couple of more places. Then we drove back to Milan and we had to load arcade machines. I saw these for the first time. At least it felt like that. All machines where running. All coin doors were open! Somebody saw me standing in front of them with huge eyes and showed me how to trigger the switch to get credits for free. BAM! I was hooked.
I played Galaxian for 2 hours straight. As the truck was loaded and we had to leave, they had to peel me of the arcades!
The next couple of years I dumped a lot of coins (Deutsche Mark) into arcade machines and I got quite good at Galaga, BombJack and Gauntlet.
Then, ages later, I stumbled upon MAME, the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator and had fun digging up the old games. I even built a controller box to be able to play at least with proper joystick and buttons.
Then, 4 months ago I decided, that I should have all tools together, that are required to build a complete arcade cabinet. The required skills I would learn by doing, hopefully.
Four years ago I built The Almost Useless Machine, a tiny machine that tries to cut a wooden dowel. Here comes the second incarnation, a bit stronger and a bit more robust.
Last November I was part of a web documentary by arte.tv about makers and FabLabs and the like. It consists of 8 parts and deals with a couple of different aspects of the maker scene. Great work, thanks Adrien and team!
Thinking up robots and machines is one of my number one pleasures. Being able to realize them, tops everything. I added a couple of power tools to my small shop and as a result, my projects got bigger and more mechanical.
Here is my latest creature, the Paint Machine. It’s a machine the prints simple bitmaps with spray chalk on the street or sidewalk.
Some of the key features:
- dimension: width: 220cm, length: 38cm, height: 24cm, weight: 12kg
- printing speed: ca. 0.036 km/h
- resolution (4:3): 61px * 46px, print: 225cm * 170cm
- swappable print head
- remote controlled with smartphone app
I started working on this in April and built almost everything from scratch. A lot of time went in designing parts, trying them out and then re-designing them. Now I guess, it would require a lot less time to build a second one.
I always loved watching marble machines, especially the creations of denha. These little machines are super cute and very well made. So a marble machine was on my todo list for a very long time.
To start easy, I decided to build the most minimalistic marble machine I could think of. Just one oval and a single lift mechanism.
A while ago I bought and assembled a ShapeOko 2. It took a while to get it running and I also done a few upgrades. The first project is a keychain for the new/old car of my friends and studio colleagues, Arne and Sören. They are preparing this old Audi V8 for a rally around the baltic sea.
Last July I bought a small used lathe. It’s a Proxxon SD 300, also known as Hobbymat MD65 or as PRAZI Saupe/Unitech SD-300. It can hold pieces up to 300mm in length and weighs about 45kg. Why a lathe you ask? I wanted to do more mechanical stuff. 3D printers are fine and all that but I wanted something stronger. At least aluminum.
This article is also available in Serbo-Croatian language by Vera Djuraskovic, thanks Vera!
And now also available in Portuguese, thanks Artur!
For quite some time I had my Raspi lying around. And some RGB Pixels as well. So it was about time to bring them together. The last couple of days I built a web interface that I can use to control my pixels. That’s more a technical demo, rather than something useful. But I learned quite a bit.
For the server part I decided to use node.js. For the client I wanted to use Angular.js and Bootstrap. To have the UI work on a mobile as well, I had to include Angular-touchevents.
The pixels are connected to the Raspi vi SPI. Although there are node modules for SPI and Adafruit pixels, they were not working out of the box. I had to poke around a bit to make them work. Changes are included in the node-pixel repository.
When put together, it works like this:
- The browser opens index.html and renders an array of 25 clickable batches.
- Clicking and dragging on a batch changes its color and lighting.
- These changes are send to the server over web sockets.
- The server receives the color changes, updates the pixels over SPI and then sends a broadcast via web sockets to all connected clients
As seen in the demo, there is a very noticeable lag between updates. For a more pro solution you may want custom build clients and your own custom protocol (or maybe DMX?) to get rid of that.
We all know, we should use more renewable energy. Here is my contribution. Use solar power if you want to cut 20mm wooden rods. And plan ahead because it may take a while.
This little machine uses a so called solar engine to drive the motor. This solar engine is able to collect tiny amounts of energy over time and stores it in large capacitors. When the voltage reaches a certain level, it opens up and uses all the stored energy at once to drive a motor. These engines were used to drive tiny BEAM-bots and were quite popular a while ago. A lot of information can be found at beam-wiki.org on how to build them and how they work.
Last year I bought a Canon PowerShot SX200 on ebay. I wanted to play a bit with CHDK, the Canon Hack Development Kit to make some timelapse things. Problem was, the battery would hold only up for 2 hours or so. Even worse, the camera has no power jack to attach a power supply. The solution is to buy a battery dummy that has a jack on its back. That costs like 30 euros!
3D printing to the rescue!
In January Kolle Rebbe, a german agency, asked if I could help them with their project. The idea was to have an interactive ad poster to collect money for Misereor, a german relief organization. The campaign is named “Mit 2€ viel bewegen”, which means something like “getting things moving with 2€”. You would donate a 2 Euro coin and the coin would travel through the poster, a bit like a marble in a marble machine. On the way to the bottom, the coin would trigger all kind of animations to show, what the money would be used for. Very cool idea!
Almost a year ago Martin came to me and asked me, if would like to join him on a cool project. His idea was to put a LED POV into a real race car. Of course I wanted!
Every race event attracts a lot of fans. Martin’s idea was to integrate the fans into the race. The race cars should carry fan messages around the track and print them into the night.
The technique used for that is called POV (Persistence of vision). It is somehow related to Light Painting. For that you take a long exposure picture and move the LEDs through it. If the LEDs are switched on and off in the right pattern, it prints a readable message on the picture.
Soldering is easy. It realy is. If you are still in doubt, head over to mightyohm.com, where you can find a really nice comic on how to solder, done by my good friends Jeff Keyzer and Mitch Altman.
Best of all, it’s totally open source!
Do you remember, when you first started your X and stared at Xeyes? Aaaah, those were the days.
I wanted to have Xeyes in Processing to have it as an example of some lines of code that could be easily integrated into an interactive demo or the like. So I thought, ok, that’s quite easy, just draw a bunch or ellipses and circles. Turns out that it is not that easy.