Palo Altona built MakerBot CupCake CNC

Last weekend, a small group of tinkerers of Palo Altona built a MakerBot Cupcake CNC. Simone and Christian from Good School bought the MakerBot and asked Palo Altona for assistance with the assembly. Of course we were happy to help out.

We startet on Saturday and made good progress. We assembled the CNC and the extruder and made the first tests with stinking hot ABS. Yeah!

Next day was for learning firmware and tools. We switched X, Y and Z directions of the stepper motors a couple of times and managed to drive the heated nozzle into the platform at first try. *sigh*

This is the very first print out. Although it is not tight enough to drink from it, I was really impressed by the result. What a cool machine!

Here are some more pictures:

Thanks Simone and Christian for inviting us, it was a pleasure!

Pong Time

This is a Pong clock for your Android phone. It tells the time by playing Pong against itself.

Sander Muller came up first with the idea to have a Pong Clock. A really great idea and a fantastic device. Then lately Lady Ada designed a wonderful hackable clock platform, called MONOCHRON. The first implementation on the platform was, of course, a Pong Clock.

As I received my new Android phone, a Motorola Milestone, I was looking for a simple project to get my hands dirty. So what could be more obvious than writing a Pong Clock.

If you want to take a look at the source, check out my PongTime repo at github. The code is not pretty as can be, mostly because of optimizations to get rid of object creation and thus garbage collection.

If you are reading this with your Android phone, you can grab the Pong Time app directly in the Android Market. Otherwise search for “Pong Time”.

Mega328 Header Kit

Blinky Mega328 Header Board

It took a while since I first posted about the new ATmega header board but finally, here it is.

The board is great for prototyping on a solderless breadboard. It is compatible with the common 28-pin AVR controllers like ATmega48, ATmega88, ATmega168 and ATmega328. On plus it is Arduino compatible.

Some of the features:

  • Space efficient, occupies only on more row than the controller itself
  • Has no voltage regulator on board, so you choose, at which voltage you want to run it
  • It has SMD resistors and LEDs (size 1206) to make it a great starting point to learn how to hand solder SMD
  • Has a sticker to tell which pin is what. Thanks Tod!
  • Blinks blue!

Check out the detailed howto page.

Remote Accelerometer

ADXL335 + ATmega328 + RFM12B

What is a remote accelerometer? It’s a tiny device that has a three axis accelerometer and transmit the acceleration values to a remote host. And what is it good for? There are various uses for it. One is you attach the sensor to someone and let him jump around. On your remote machine you can use the data to produce sound or modify music. Think of it as a simplified Wiimote.

Continue reading

Palo Altona – Tinker drinkup in Hamburg


If you’ve missed Marcus post, here is another on the same topic.

Nearly every other Thursday Marcus and I are hanging out together for having a beer and chatting about all things geek, especially electronics, CNC, 3D-printing, micrcontroller and Arduino. But there’s no limit, everyone interested in tinkering and making is welcome. It takes place at Saal II in Schanze. Try us, we’re kind ;)

You can take a look at Marcus’ or mine twitterfeed to checkout when the next #palo_altona will be.

We already had guests sometimes but yesterday’s drinkup was great as we had two new guests. Feels as if there is something moving in Hamburg. Yeah!

Update 2010/02/16: Palo Altona is now scheduled biweekly. Every Thursday was a bit stressing for everybody.

Update 2010/03/20: Palo Altona has now a Posterous page for news and schedule.

A retro twitter wall (twypper)

Arduino with typewriter

A couple of weeks ago Jan came to me and asked me if I could build a special kind of twitter wall. At our company CoreMedia we do an Open Space every 3 months or so. This time we had a Hacking Day as well, so we needed something special. After throwing some ideas around, we came up with a twitter client that should print out tweets with an electric typewriter. A short google showed, that that has been done already (of course!). See it at oomlout.

But that couldn’t stop us. Jan scanned ebay for a nice electric typewriter and found a Commodore SQ 1000. It was in really good condition, probably rarely used. It worked as advertised.

Continue reading

LiPoly charging with MCP73833

For my latest projects I used a lot of single cell lipo batteries. They are really nice. High power density, low self-discharge, no memory effect and they can deliver quite an amount of current.
But lipo battery handling is a bit more complicated as with other rechargeable batteries. You have to take care of under voltage and over charging as that may destroy the battery.

I used the Sparkfun LiPoly charger, based on MAX1555, for some time and it works really well. The only thing I missed was a way to control the current. After some research I decided to try another chip, the Microchip MCP73833.

Continue reading

Arduino introduction in c't

Here is my very first article. It is published in c’t, one of the best known computer magazines in Germany. wOOt!

It shows some basic Arduino examples and how to build a Wiimote-like controller. The controller consists of an 3-axis accelerometer, a push button and an Arduino nano on a breadboard. This combination is used to control a Lunar Lander type of game, programmed in Processing.

Resistor cheat sticker

While we were at cheating, here is a new sticker for your notebook. It helps you to read and learn resistor values.

The first 10 direct messages to me will get one for free. And of course every next order at the Tinker Store will include one of these.

Microcontroller cheat sheet

Often, when I am tinkering with a controller on a breadboard, I have to open up the according datasheet, only to look up the pinout. So I designed a simple page with all of of the pinouts that I use most. It has:

  • 8-pin AVRs, ATtiny25/ATtiny45/ATtiny85
  • 20-pin AVR, ATtiny2313
  • 28-pin AVRs, ATmega48/ATmega88/ATmega168/ATmega328
  • Arduino to ATmega mapping
  • ISP header, 6-pin and 10-pin
  • FTDI-cable

Maybe it’s helpful for others as well. You can download it as:

If you like it, you will also like the Tod’s cool Arduino chip sticker.

Update 2010/01/24

The new version includes the pinout of the Bus Pirate. Thanks Philipp for the update.