Finding the ultimate Christmas present for the discerning geek has never been easy, but a small team of professional tinkerers based in New York has come up with the ultimate geek must-have – a printer that “prints” in 3D.
Rather than printing with ink on a page, 3D printers build up objects using layers of plastic. They have been available since 2003, but Brooklyn- based firm MakerBot, which started early in 2009, has developed a small printer that comes in kit form. Having to assemble the “robot” printer adds to the charm for true tinkerers, but this DIY approach also makes it far cheaper than it might be; until now, commercial 3D printers haven’t been available for much less than £25,000.
Here’s the kicker:
MakerBot has sold just 3,000 machines so far but is struggling to keep up with demand. A UK supplier, Robosavvy, is now selling the Thing-O-Matic for £847. As with the realised ambition of Bill Gates, who famously said he wanted to put a computer in every home in the world, all of us will eventually own a 3D printer, says Pettis. The key is to make these machines affordable.
“We’re not engineers – we’re tinkerers,” he says, explaining that MakerBot’s background in tinkering means a preoccupation with finding parts as cheaply as possibly, so much of the DIY kit is off the shelf. “If we were engineers, this thing would cost 100 times as much. But our goal is to democratise manufacturing so anyone can have a machine that makes anything they need. We want to render consumerism useless – and that doesn’t work if the machine isn’t cheap.“
I was in the hospital for a few days and while hooked up to machines that provided all sorts of vital signs I got inspired. This collection of charts provides the vital signs for the emerging “Bits & Atoms” economy where digital services and physical goods are fused in commerce. The world of “Bits & Atoms” or “Web Meets World” is still developing, but a couple big trends are popping up.
The Compete charts used seems to be way off for many of the sites – at least the ones that we know about – but the list is fantastic.
What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community – “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer – stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer your engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week. Mosfet the cat stops by too. Previous chats can be viewed at http://www.adafruit.com/ask
Tote your Thinkpad and port your Apple in style with our custom TRON-inspired laptop bag tutorial. With a little soldering and sewing skills you can have your own light up satchel, sure to impress geeky friends. So grab your sewing needle and soldering iron and follow along. This project is a collaboration between ladyada and Becky Stern.
About a month ago, I posted about Egg-Torte, a 1/2-size Micromouse Robot built by a gentleman named Kato from Japan. Egg-Torte was fast. Really fast. But apparently there was another robot that was even faster. “Excel-Mini 2″, built by Khiew Tzong Yong of Singapore took home the prize at the 2010 Micromouse Half-Sized Robot Finals, held in Tsukuba, Japan. After all, you know what they say: when it comes to small, autonomous robots competing in a 32×32 cell grid with cell dimensions of 90x90x50mm, There Can Be Only One™
The most notable feature of this maze was the long diagonal that all the fastest mice had to negotiate. Only six finalists managed a speed run. Min Tushi from Southern Taiwan University came in with an impressive 10.491 second run over the 80 cell route putting him 6 seconds ahead of his nearest rival with four more mice to run. Following Min Tushi was Kojima Thin 6 by Kozima Hirokazu who unfortunately did not manage to complete a speed run. Next up was Excel Mini 2 by Khiew Tzong Yong of the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore. To the delight of everyone except the remaining two competitors, he managed a time of 5.513 seconds. Clearly, the remaining two mice, Ng Beng Kiat’s Ning 4.1 and Kato’s EggTorte were going to have to manage something extraordinary to beat that. Alas, it proved too much for either entry. Ning 4.1 achieved second place with 6.865 seconds and EggTorte could not do better than 8.373 second for third place. So, it was Singapore with the top two places in the half-size contest and Japan down in third place. Could Japanese honour be restored in the classic contest?
At the top of this post is Khiew Tzong Yong’s winning run. Below are NgBengKiat’s and Kato’s best runs, for second and third place, respectively.
Each day during the week we’re going to have a sale on one (or more) items in our store week days 12/6 through 12/21. Just tune in to the site, or twitter or our RSS feed each day for the code that will give you 11% off.
The items will all go to eleven % off. Each day, eleven, eleven, eleven and… It’s not ten. You see, most places, you know, will be doing sales at 10% off. They’re stuck on 10% off – Where can they go from there? Where? Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Put it up to eleven.
Drawdio is an electronic pencil that lets you make music while you draw! It’s great project for beginners: An easy soldering kit with instant gratification. Essentially, its a very simple musical synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of pencil graphite to create different sounds. The result is a fun toy that lets you draw musical instruments on any piece of paper.
On the top floor of an old bank converted into an artist collective, just past prop design for Bjork’s next music video, the do-it-yourself biotechnology revolution has begun.
A cadre of science entrepreneurs recently opened Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant community biotech laboratory. The bedroom-sized facility was two years in the making and, for a $100-per-month membership, anyone can use the space for whatever experiments they dream up.
“If you work in a university lab, you have to do what your adviser tells you to do,” said Genspace co-founder Dan Gruskhkin, a freelance journalist and self-described science enthusiast. “Here, you work under mentors and can do things you’re interested in immediately.”
The small space is made of found parts. A sliding patio door, Plexiglas panels and old wire screens enclose the lab, and stainless-steel restaurant tables serve as lab benches.
The lab’s glassware, micropipettes, centrifuges, electrophoresis machines, incubators, microscopes and other scientific equipment were donated. Genspace president and co-founder Ellen Jorgensen, a biomedical researcher at New York Medical College, used to work for Vector Research and got the company to donate the gear after it shut down a facility.
Ms. Ceceri’s microscope, a Digital Blue QX5, is one of several pieces of scientific equipment that make up her home lab, which she has set up on her dining room table in Schuylerville, N.Y. Home labs like hers are becoming more feasible as the scientific devices that stock them become more computerized, cheaper and easier to use.
Ms. Ceceri has several microscopes and a telescope. Other home laboratories have tools like infrared thermometers, which can be used in the kitchen, and kits to analyze DNA at home.
Many of these tools work closely with home computers and come with software that enhances their power. Others mix low-cost computers into the hardware to deliver more precise control.
ioBridge is releasing an open source web service for the Internet of Things in January 2011. We are reaching a point in the development where we are ready to battle test different microcontroller platforms connecting to the APIs. We are looking for someone to assist with firmware development for microcontrollers that are network connected via Ethernet or WiFi. The goals are to create headers and libraries that make the connection to the web services. This is a contract position for people looking to start immediately. Recommended experience / attributes: HTTP protocols, web services/APIs, WIZnet, and Zero G / Microchip Wireless, general hacking, (and +10 Charisma).
Thanks! I just finished building 12 MiniPOV3 with a group of 7th and 8th grade students. They had a great time. They worked in teams of two (each team built two kits) with a “helper”. They had no previous electronics or soldering experience, and all of them succeeded in getting the MiniPOV3 working. It took about 1-1/2 hours all together. I’m planning a follow-up session to help them program custom messages into their MiniPOV. Thanks so much for great quality PCBs and fantastic documentation – Eric
On September 22, 2010, with the departure of the Expedition 23 crew, Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock assumed command of the International Space Station and the Expedition 25 crew. He is also known as @Astro_Wheels on twitter, where he has been tweeting pictures to his followers since he arrived at the space station. We thought that we should put some of them together as a tribute to him and the whole ISS crew. The images bring breathtaking views from our only off planet Vista point. The following pictures are all visible on Astro_Wheels’ twitpic account and for these we are eternally grateful to him for sharing these with the world. The captions are all his own words.
This is one is my favorite. It’s just… perfect!
Wheelock writes of this photo:
Out over the central Atlantic, just before another spectacular sunset, with the spiral bands of Hurricane Earl visible in the setting sun. An interesting view of the life-giving energy of our sun. The solar arrays on the port side of the Space Station as well as Hurricane Earl…both gathering the last bit of energy before they fall into eclipse (8-30-2010).
More than a half-century ago, Brookhaven Lab nuclear physicist Willy Higinbotham sought to “liven up the place” with an experiment in entertainment. At BNL’s annual open day in 1958, Higinbotham created what is often credited as the world’s first video game. Hundreds waited in line for a chance to play “Tennis for Two,” an interactive game made from an analog computer, two chunky controllers, and an oscilloscope screen just five inches in diameter.
The visitors, some of the world’s first gamers, saw a two-dimensional, side view of a tennis court on the oscilloscope screen. They served and volleyed using controllers with buttons and rotating dials to control the angle of an invisible tennis racquet’s swing.