Archive for the ‘Things We Like’ Category

Video: Arduino’s Massimo Banzi Highlights Awesome Open Source Projects

Massimo Banzi, one of the open source heroes from Arduino, gives a great rundown of projects and technologies using Arduino boards in the TED Talk below. Watch for a nice shout out to the MakerBot community at the very beginning, and Massimo’s really simple explanation of why open source rules:

You don’t need anybody’s permission to create something great.

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Now You Can Make Your Own DIWire


Here’s a morning treat for you!

Marco from Pensa has posted a new how-to video for building your own DIWire, including a parts list and all the code (on a Google code site). Best news yet: the files for the parts you can MakerBot are all available on Thingiverse!

We posted about the DIWire a few weeks back with a lot of enthusiasm for Pensa’s goal of bringing down the costs of a CNC wire bender. It is so awesome to see that they’ve gone the extra mile and shared all the files and know how with everyone. And best yet, they’ve noted ways that people can help improve the project:

There are many ways to improve it. For instance, the wire straightener was good enough for now, but if you google wire straightener, you’ll see how its usually done. Also, the motors we “spec’ed” are the ones we found in a bin in our shop. They are pricey because they are real accurate, but not so powerful. Right now, with these motors can only bend 1/8” aluminum rod, and the 3D printed parts also would need to get stronger in order to bend more substantial material. So, if you make one and improve upon it, let us know, we’ll post your improvements for everyone else to see.

Check out the Pensa blog for more details on the project, and some other nice videos.


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Caption This Poster

Okay, this poster tweeted to us by @caygreen admittedly has some very interesting interpretations. Give us your best caption in the comments, or tweet to @makerbot.

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MakerBot Your Hobby: Yo-Yo!

This video courtesy of a pioneering yo-yo master @yochu, who throws down some dope spins on this MakerBotted yo-yo! Get Eric Chu’s yo-yo files for yourself on Thingiverse (link below!)

Note: I’m sorry for saying “dope spins”. I don’t know yo-yo lingo, even after I googled “yo-yo lingo”.

Error - could not find Thing 13927.

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Innovation Prize Contestant Would Give Grants To Makerspaces

Just saw on Fabbaloo that one of the entrants in the Business Development Bank of  Canada (BDC) Young Entrepreneurs competition is proposing to give the entire $100,000 prize away in grants to makerspaces across Canada.

Typically located in rented quarters, these entities enable innovation by providing physical space and equipment that would otherwise not be available to first-time or established entrepreneurs. “These local initiatives are one of the best kept secrets in Canada,” says [Seccuris Inc. Chief Strategy Officer Michael Legary]. “By encouraging this kind of homegrown ingenuity, our proposal will create new opportunities for Canadian communities, and build a larger pool of innovators and entrepreneurs to draw on.”

MakerBot grew out of a hackerspace (NYC Resistor), as have many other companies in the US. If this is something you’d like to support, go lend a click at the contest page.


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Keep Calm And Make On

The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for over 60 years, a milestone being celebrated in a huge weeks-long “Diamond Jubilee” bash. Doing anything for 60 years is an incredible achievement, and must have required a lot of patience and perseverance.

Sometimes the process of making something or trying a new project that requires completely new skills can make a person feel like they’ll never hit the finish line. But then you take a step back and see you’ve just got two wires crossed or a syntax error throwing things off. And then the victory is sweet.

So in honor of that lady with the handbag and the patient maker in all of us, here’s scottperezfox‘s upload of the classic1 World War II-era poster, that reminds us to “Keep Calm and Carry On“. Make one for your desk, or take the design and tweak it for your purposes.


  1. the kinda newly classic, since this was re-discovered not that long ago []
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Met Accession Numbers

One of the things that we’re doing with all the digitized things from the Met that are being uploaded to Thingiverse is including the accession number. What is this numbering system?

Don Undeen explained to me that the two digit numbers are how they started the documentation of things in the 1800’s and they had a Y2K problem after a hundred years. He also told me that there are a few duplicate accession numbers because the authority for doling them out wasn’t centralized back in the day. Bonus points for finding them in the museum! I’m guessing that every library scientist has a foible about their numbering system. I should also mention that they are called accession numbers because they document the time that they are accessible!

The Met’s site explains.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art assigns a unique accession number to each object it acquires. The first two or four digits of an accession number refer to the year that the object became part of the Metropolitan’s collection. The Museum was founded in 1870 and for the first 100 years of its existence two digits were used. Thus, the first item accessioned into the Museum has the number 70.1 because it was accessioned in 1870.

The accession number for Edgar Degas’s A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?) is 29.100.128. The number 29 refers to the year 1929. The number 100 refers to the collection within which the painting entered the Museum. In this case, it is the Havemeyer Collection, comprised of almost 2,000 items, which came to the Museum in 1929. This particular object is number 128 in that collection.

The accession number for the Roman statue Old Market Woman is 09.39. The 09 refers to 1909, the year in which the statue entered the Museum’s collection. Because it does not have a collection number, we know that this item came to the Museum as an individual object.

In 1970, a century after the Museum’s founding, the style of accession numbers changed. It became necessary to differentiate the accessions of the Museum’s second century from those of the first. For example, the accession number for Vincent van Gogh’s Shoes is 1992.374. This painting was acquired by the Museum in 1992.

So basically they came up with their own version of the Dewey decimal system that worked for the museum. Very cool. I love hearing about the different ways that things are organized.

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What To Do With All That Scrap

All of us wonder what to do with scrap plastic, and while the world tackles the challenge of re-filamentizing all those goodies, let’s remember there are good ways to use it. RichRap has invited everyone to make their own art out of melted PLA and submit the photos to his Thingiverse entry.

Here are the basics from his blog, and a few pics, including one version from 2ROBOTGUY.

You will need –

An oven
Baking tray
Aluminium foil
Scrap bits of PLA and any failed prints
Beer – (to help with artistic inspiration)

Lay the Aluminium foil on the tray and place your largest scrap parts onto it, don’t space them too much apart as they will produce a smaller pool of plastic than you would think.

Optionally use some filament to make a round or shaped outer ring to keep all the plastic in if you want a nice shape.

More at Rich’s blog.

All of RichRap's scrap plastic from before April 12

2ROBOTGUY's scrap plastic art

via Ponoko blog

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Open-Source ROV Slashing Cost Of Underwater Exploration

NASA engineer Eric Stackpole may be changing the face of ocean exploration with his open-source submarine made from inexpensive parts. The New York Times’ Brian Lam had a very nice post on the Bits Blog (and some extra details at another site he runs, Scuttlefish) about this $750 machine that’s rated to 100 meters, which is “below the range that divers can easily reach for long periods of time.”

That price tag is really something special, especially compared to the $10,000 professional ROV “Scout” from Videoray, which the Bits Blog post says can be used to a depth of only 76 meters. And it’s certainly a big chunk off of the expensive deep sea exploration devices like the Alvin, which explored the Titanic wreck site to the tune of $55,000 a day (and that’s 1986 dollars!).

Mr. Stackpole can’t afford exotic alloys or custom technology for his little sub. … The depth sensor they plan to use is commonly found in a scuba diver’s computer. High definition video camera is scavenged from a cheap Web-camera that people use to video chat. The most expensive part inside is the computer, a little Linux computer called a BeagleBone that costs $89. Still, the team thinks they can get costs down by buying parts in bulk.

Also, a quick shout out: Stackpole’s OpenROV is yet another cool project to come out of TechShop in San Francisco.

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Finally, MakerBotting A Melody!

This is the coolest thing in the world right now.

Remember those Fisher Price record players that pumped out jams like Mary Had A Little Lamb and, I dunno, the theme from Babar? They’re back, and ready for MakerBotting!

Instructables author fred27 has published a nice set of steps for producing custom records for these machines on a CNC mill. There is also an app for generating the music. It looks fairly simple, just drop in notes.

Here’s the thing: this was all done on a mill, but as Gizmodo points out, this is prime territory for a 3D printer like a MakerBot. Of course, longtime MakerBot community members will remember some of the serious research we have already done into 3D printable vinyl…

I read through the Instructable and noticed this bit of caution:

we will end up creating plastic pins around 1mm in size that trigger the music box hidden in the record player’s arm. I was worried about whether the extruded plastic technique used by most printers would give it the required strength.


Looking at the picture above, I feel confident a MakerBot could make these nubs more than strong enough to resist the music box mechanism. I’d suggest making this with higher infill settings to be sure.

But how to MakerBot this?

The gcode for milling these suckers is available from fred27, and the process would need to be converted. The Instructable provides the design file for the blank disc itself, but in order to be used with a MakerBot, you’d need the entire model with the music added in.

Fred27 says that in order to mill the disc at one time, you should use the gcode file marked “…(Full).nc”.

Aha! Maybe that’s the answer. If that gcode for the entire record, musical nubs included, can be converted back into a model, then that model can be sliced to provide appropriate instructions for the MakerBot.

This is the perfect opportunity to put a modern spin on an old toy, and Fred plans to submit it to the Make It Real Challenge.

So what tunes do you remember from these records, and which custom tunes would you make?


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