Meet Obsidian, A $99 Plug & Print 3D Printer

Kodama Inc is a new company that delivers a new generation of FDM 3D printers that increase the possibility of affordable 3D printing. Recently, Kodama launched its new 3D printer “Obsidian“, the first 3D printer made for professional applications starting at under $100.

Kodama, Inc. (PRNewsfoto/Kodama, Inc.)

Most additive manufacturing machines in this price range are not aesthetically designed, nor engineered for accurate printing. Many consumers who are eager to upgrade their skills set are unable to because there is no affordable 3D printer that boasts high-quality printing.

“We wanted to create a 3D printer that defies what’s on the market. A sleek design, high-quality printing, and customizable, all starting at under $100,” said Michael Husmann, the ex-Apple employee and founder of Kodama Inc.

Obsidian is designed to deliver 3D printing functionality and features are more commonly found in devices that cost at least $1,000. It also can print in very high accuracy with a layer thicknesses between 50-350 microns. Obsidian’s design provides a stable printing experience, while the customized internal components decreases the need for frequent maintenance and recalibration.

Obsidian’s features include:

  • Printing volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
  • Printing Resolution: 50-micron at a steady 70mm/s speed
  • Plug and Play: Obsidian comes fully assembled, making it easy to get printing started in a few minutes.
  • Smart Display: Obsidian’s UI was tailor-made for Kodama by automobile UX designers to be inviting for beginners while packing all the controls a power user needs.
  • App Control: Obsidian’s Pro’s display runs on Android, allowing a myriad of new features. You’ll be able to remotely monitor and adjust your print settings while recording time lapses and receive prompts when your print is done or if something needs your attention.
  • Wide Filament Compatibility: Obsidian works with most filaments on the market, making it the ideal 3D printer to complete a variety of projects.
  • Heated Bed: Expands printing options by allowing the user to print with ABS, PETG, and other filament types. Only available with Obsidian PRO.
  • Exclusive Obsidian PLA: Obsidian is a naturally formed volcanic crystal. This filament contains real crushed Obsidian powder stones, and is only available through Kodama.
  • Camera: Record time lapses and monitor prints remotely.

Kodama is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign in June 2017, and it will offer limited Early Bird deals at $49 for the basic version of Obsidian.

Last year, Kodama raised over $1.6 million for Trinus, an all-metal 2-in-1 3D printer and laser engraver for under $500. Successfully shipping their breakthrough product to over 3,100 backers in 80 countries helped solidify Kodama, Inc. as an up-and-coming leader in affordable, high-quality 3D printing.

µduino, The Smallest Arduino Ever

A new member to Arduino compatible devices is just here, the newest yet the smallest Arduino ever created, µduino!Believing that it is enough to include some bulky devices in our applications, the team behind µduino is trying to provide a shrinkified device that can be included anywhere. With the size of  12mm (0.5 inches) x 12mm, µduino is considered the smallest Arduino compatible device that compete with other similar microcontroller boards with power saving .

The µduino makes use of the power of the ATMEGA32U4 chip found in the Arduino Leonardo (a board over 20 times larger), offering 20 I/O ports, including PWM and ADC ports! In addition, the µduino can be powered by batteries or directly by micro-USB.

A list of µduino specifications is here:

  • ATMEGA32U4 microcontroller
  • 6x Analog I/O ports
  • 14x Digital I/O ports (including Rx/Tx)
  • Status LED
  • 5V voltage regulator (accepts up to 16V DC)
  • 6-pin ICSP programming ports (load custom bootloaders, program other boards, etc)
  • 2x 5V ports
  • 2x ground ports
  • 1x Analog reference voltage port
  • Reset button
  • 16 MHz precision crystal oscillator
  • MicroUSB port for easy programming and prototyping
  • 2x mounting holes (can be sewn into clothing)

Despite its small size, µduino is still powerful and capable to be included in many applications performing as full size Arduino boards. µduino team are planning to run a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply but it is not launched yet. You can sign up here to receive more updates about µduino once launched.

The First 3D Quantum Liquid Crystals

Strong electron interactions can drive metallic systems toward a variety of well-known symmetry-broken phases, but the instabilities of correlated metals with strong spin-orbit coupling have only recently begun to be explored.

A team of physicists at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech, had discovered an new state of matter that may have applications in ultra-fast quantum computers of the future. It is the first three-dimensional quantum liquid crystal.

“We have detected the existence of a fundamentally new state of matter that can be regarded as a quantum analog of a liquid crystal, There are numerous classes of such quantum liquid crystals that can, in principle, exist; therefore, our finding is likely the tip of an iceberg.” says Caltech assistant professor of physics David Hsieh, principal investigator on a new study describing the findings in the April 21 issue of Science.

Liquid crystals are materials that are between liquid and solid, they are consisted of molecules that flow around freely as if they were a liquid but are all oriented in the same direction, as in solid. An important feature of the liquid crystals that in addition to availability in the nature, they can be made artificially like those used in items that have display screens.

In 1999, the first quantum liquid crystal was discovered by Caltech’s Jim Eisenstein, the Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics and Applied Physics. It was a two-dimensional which means that it was limited with a single plane inside the host material. In a quantum liquid crystal, electrons behave like the molecules in classical liquid crystals. They move around freely in a preferred direction of flow.

These images show light patterns generated by a rhenium-based crystal using a laser method called optical second-harmonic rotational anisotropy. At left, the pattern comes from the atomic lattice of the crystal. At right, the crystal has become a 3-D quantum liquid crystal, showing a drastic departure from the pattern due to the atomic lattice alone.

The behavior of the electrons in the newly discovered 3D-variant are possibly even stranger. The electrons do not only distinguish between x-, y- and z-axis, but they also have different magnetic characteristics depending along which axis they move back and forth.

According to the researchers, the 3D quantum liquid crystals could play a role in a field called spintronics, where the spin direction of electrons can be utilized to create more efficient computer chips. It may also help with some of the challenges of building a quantum computer, which seeks to take advantage of the quantum nature of particles to make even faster calculations.

“Rather than rely on serendipity to find topological superconductors, we may now have a route to rationally creating them using 3-D quantum liquid crystals” says Harter. “That is next on our agenda.”

You can read more about this research through the published paper and by reading Caltech’s post.

Store Data in Nanomagnets

Imagine if a bit of data can be stored in a single atom or a small molecule, then massive volumes of data can be stored in a tiny amount of space. This theory was the topic of a research tries to develop a new method to store data magnetically in atoms.

As the magnetization of an atom can only be in one of two directions, theoretically we can magnetize the atom to be logical ‘1’ or ‘0’. But in the Practical application, this may be difficult because of some obstacles. At first we have to find a molecule that stores the magnetic information permanently, not only for a short period of time. Also it is difficult to attach such molecules to a fixed surface in order to construct a storage medium.

Dysprosium atoms (green) on the surface of nanoparticles can be magnetised in only one of two possible directions: “spin up” or “spin down”. (Visualisations: ETH Zurich / Université de Rennes)

Christophe Copéret, a professor at the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry at ETH Zurich, and his international team of researchers had developed a method that could be a solution for these problems.

They developed a molecule that contains a dysprosium atom at its center, surrounded by a molecule frame that serves as a transport vehicle. This molecule is deposited on a surface of silica nanoparticles and fused by annealing at 400 degrees Celsius. The scientists showed that these atoms can be magnetized and can maintain their magnetic information.

The magnetization process currently only works at around minus 270 degree Celsius, and can be maintained for up to one and a half minute. The scientists are therefore looking for methods that allows it to be stabilized at higher temperatures and for longer periods of time.

Molecules with a dysprosium atom (blue) at their centre are first deposited onto the surface of a silica nanoparticle (red and orange) and then fused with it. (Visualisations: Allouche F et al. ACS Central Science 2017)

For this research project, ETH scientists worked with colleagues from the Universities of Lyon and Rennes, Collège de France in Paris, Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA.

You can find the full research here.

AMY Robotics, Multifunctional Autonomous Mobile Robots

Earlier this month, the multifunctional autonomous mobile robots “AMY A1” and “AMY M1” had been launched as the first batch of products of AMY Robotics. Amy Robotics is an innovative technology company focusing on research and development of service robots that enhance quality of life with robotic technologies, products and services.

Both AMY Robots are intelligent mobile-service robots characterized with speech interaction, autonomous navigation, home automation, SDK and Cloud platform service that is powered by sophisticated AI technology and cloud computing. They can understand speech and make conversation with people in noisy environment, recognize specific people, follow a person in front of them and move to a place autonomously.

Features of AMY Robots:

  • Cloud Platform Service
    AMY Robots capabilities are empowered by cloud platform and can be upgraded and extended continuously.
  • SDK, Open platform for developers
    Android development environment access to robot hardware and capabilities. Amy can provide remote healthcare consultation service via telepresence, daily health tips, health data management, medicine reminder and more.
  • Home Automation
    Amy robots provide environment perception, security patrol and monitoring, and smart home management enabling you controlling home appliance with voice commands.
  • Autonomous Navigation
    Amy knows well at indoor positioning. She can move from a location to another autonomously and safely with obstacle avoidance.
  • Telepresence
    You can control the robot with video communication through Amy’s client application. It provides you boundless connection with your family, colleagues and friends through virtual presence at any time anywhere.
  • Speech Interaction
    Amy is powered by intelligent language processing engine which support multi-lingual speech interaction, far distance (5m range) recognition in noisy environment. Amy can help you access massive on-line knowledge base with speech. You can have hand-free robot operation (play music/video, take picture, set volume, robot movement control, intelligent reminder etc).

AMY A1 and AMY M1 are 1.1 meter robots weighted 15 kg with 10.1″ screen head and up-to 0.5 m/s moving speed. They are running based on 8-core ARM CPU+4 core Intel CPU using 20Ah 14.8V battery, which can last for 8 hours. With its 5 meters pick-up range microphone, AMY can be controlled using voice commands like “Hello Amy, follow me” and “Hello Amy, go to the kitchen with me”. However, The M1 has an additional laser sensor, wider detection range, higher localization accuracy, and supports function customization.

Amy A1 robot was presented at the Innorobo 2017 trade show in Paris. For more information and details visit their official website.

Water Out Of Thin Air

Due to the advances of technology, we are able now to produce water out of thin air without using the resources usually applied like mains utilities. Such approach would be perfect in places that lack natural resources like deserts. Working from the effects of direct solar radiation, a group of researchers at UC Berkeley had designed such a device with minimum mechanical parts and simple embedded systems.


Using a structure known as a Metal Organic Framework (MOF), these researchers have been harvesting water directly from the air (at humidity levels as low as 20%). This humidity level is commonly found in dry regions of the world. The prototype was able to extract 2.8 liters of water per day at an air humidity of 20 to 30%.

MOFs are network-like structures composed of organic compounds and metallic units and have been around since their invention about 20 years ago. Depending on the MOF composition and base materials, certain molecules can be deposited particularly stably into voids in the structure. Gases from hydrogen to methane are possible. Their storage density per volume is actually higher than if the gases were compressed into large hollow tanks. 

MOF structure: The yellow balls represent voids in the structure that collect water. Source: UC Berkeley / Berkeley Lab

The water harvester is shown clearly in the first picture, where there is within about 1 kg of MOF crystals pressed between an upper light absorbing layer and a lower condenser plate.

“As ambient air is drawn through the porous MOF, water molecules attach themselves to the interior surfaces. Sunlight entering through a translucent window in the top of the unit heats up the MOF and drives the bound water toward the condenser, which is at ambient temperature via a heat pipe and radiator arrangement below the unit. The vapor condenses and the water drips into a collector.” – Elektor

Knowing how best is this technology can be used and scaling it up with the right parameters, it is predicted to make a breakthrough in the world of regenerating natural resources using solar energy without solar PV cells. More details about this new technology is available at UC Berkeley News.

Source: Elektor

Spectrum Next, A New of ZX Spectrum

In 1982, the UK’s best selling computer, ZX Spectrum, was released by Sinclair as 8-bit personal home computer highlighting the machine’s color display. And today, a group of makers are introducing the Spectrum Next, an updated and enhanced version of ZX Spectrum.

The Spectrum Next is fully compatible with the original one. It enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It also comes with a new software to make use of the new hardware, including new graphics modes and faster processor speeds.

As it is implemented with FPGA technology, it can be upgraded and enhanced using special memory chips and a clever design, while remaining compatible with the original hardware. It has a Z80 within, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz, and an optional 1Ghz co-processor.

Technical Specifications:

  • Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
  • Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8×1 mode etc.
  • Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
  • Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
  • Network (optional): Wi Fi module
  • Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)

Spectrum Next has three graphical modes; “Radastan”, “Layer 2” and Sprites. Radastan is a 128 x 96 with 16 colours per pixel from an enhanced palette. “Layer2” is a Next exclusive mode that supports a “layer screen”, a 256 x 192 with 256 colours per pixel. Sprites are exclusive to the Next too and can be used over the other modes. A “sprite” is a 16×16 image with 256 colours per pixel that can be drawn anywhere on screen, including the border area. Sprites can also be moved incredibly fast over the screen, because the job is done by hardware, not software.

ZX Spectrum Next in action

Next is a “esxDOS ready” that uses the system designed by Miguel Guerreiro, and it’s one of the most powerful OS available at this time, including support for the .TRD format widely used in Russia and required for some of the most advanced programs currently available for the Spectrum.

Three days remaining of Spectrum Next crowdfunding campaign, where they already reached 215% of their goal. The current cost is about $225 and you can pre-order your board through the kickstarter campaign. More details about Spectrum Next is available on the official website.

PandwaRF, A Portable Radio Analysis Tool

PandwaRF, is a portable low-power RF device that captures, analyses and re-transmits RF signals via an Android device or a Linux PC. It uses Bluetooth (BLE) or USB connection to transmit data in a simple and fast way, comes in the form of a controllable housing from a smartphone or a computer.

This pocket-size device operates at sub-1 GHz range, and it replaced the ‘standard SDR Grind’ of capturing, demodulating, analyzing, modifying and replaying by hand with a simple powerful interface.

The PandwaRF consists of a capable hardware device, tailored for beginners and advanced users, with an application that runs either on an Android device or on a PC. The Android interface provides full functionality to control and customize the PandwaRF easily using JavaScript.

Technical details of the PandwaRF:

  • Bluetooth Smart Module ISP130301, based on nRF51
  • CC1111 Low-Power SoC with Sub-1 GHz RF Transceiver
  • Multi frequencies (from 300 MHz to 928 MHz)
  • Multi modulation (ASK/OOK/MSK/2-FSK/GFSK)
  • Transmit and receive in half duplex mode
  • Support data rates up to 500 kBaud
  • Open hardware
  • Full speed USB: 12 Mbps (Linux or Android)
  • Bluetooth Smart 4.0 (Android/iOS)
  • USB charging & battery powered
  • 4 buttons to assign codes
  • 4 Status LEDs
  • 16 Mbit Flash Memory to save custom RF protocols
  • Rechargeable battery powered for stand-alone operation
  • Battery fuel gauge
  • RX amplifier for improved sensitivity: +13dB from 300MHz-1GHz
  • TX amplifier for higher output power: +20dB @ 433MHz & +17dB @ 900MHz
  • SMA connector for external antenna
  • Antenna port power control for external LNA
  • 22-pin expansion and programming header
  • Included: Battery and injection molded plastic enclosure

PandwaRF features are not fully complete yet, the developers had finished captured data processing offload, radio scripting (JavaScript & Python), RF packet sniffer, and spectrum analyzer. Other features are still in development process.

The device is available in three options, the Bare version is about $120 and comes without housing and without battery, the standard version is about $142 with battery and black case, in addition the extended version with enhanced features.

You can reach more information and order your PandwaRF on the official website.

Affordable DNA Detection Using A Smartphone

Researchers at UCLA have developed an improved method to detect the presence of DNA biomarkers of disease that is compatible with use outside of a hospital or lab setting. The new technique leverages the sensors and optics of cellphones to read light produced by a new detector dye mixture that reports the presence of DNA molecules with a signal that is more than 10-times brighter.

Nucleic acids, such as DNA or RNA, are used in tests for infectious diseases, genetic disorders, cancer mutations that can be targeted by specific drugs, and fetal abnormality tests. The samples used in standard diagnostic tests typically contain only tiny amounts of a disease’s related nucleic acids. To assist optical detection, clinicians amplify the number of nucleic acids making them easier to find with the fluorescent dyes.

Both the amplification and the optical detection steps have in the past required costly and bulky equipment, largely limiting their use to laboratories.

In a study published online in the journal ACS Nano, researchers from three UCLA entities — the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the California NanoSystems Institute, and the David Geffen School of Medicine — showed how to take detection out of the lab and for a fraction of the cost.

The collaborative team of researchers included lead author Janay Kong, a UCLA Ph.D. student in bioengineering; Qingshan Wei, a post-doctoral researcher in electrical engineering; Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering; Dino Di Carlo, professor of bioengineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Omai Garner, assistant professor of pathology and medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The UCLA researchers focused on the challenges with low-cost optical detection. Small changes in light emitted from molecules that associate with DNA, called intercalator dyes, are used to identify DNA amplification, but these dyes are unstable and their changes are too dim for standard cellphone camera sensors.

But the team discovered an additive that stabilized the intercalator dyes and generated a large increase in fluorescent signal above the background light level, enabling the test to be integrated with inexpensive cellphone based detection methods. The combined novel dye/cellphone reader system achieved comparable results to equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars more.

To adapt a cellphone to detect the light produced from dyes associated with amplified DNA while those samples are in standard laboratory containers, such as well plates, the team developed a cost-effective, field-portable fiber optic bundle. The fibers in the bundle routed the signal from each well in the plate to a unique location of the camera sensor area. This handheld reader is able to provide comparable results to standard benchtop readers, but at a fraction of the cost, which the authors suggest is a promising sign that the reader could be applied to other fluorescence-based diagnostic tests.

“Currently nucleic acid amplification tests have issues generating a stable and high signal, which often necessitates the use of calibration dyes and samples which can be limiting for point-of-care use,” Di Carlo said. “The unique dye combination overcomes these issues and is able to generate a thermally stable signal, with a much higher signal to noise ratio. The DNA amplification curves we see look beautiful — without any of the normalization and calibration, which is usually performed, to get to the point that we start at.”

Additionally, the authors emphasized that the dye combinations discovered should be able to be used universally to detect any nucleic acid amplification, allowing for their use in a multitude of other amplification approaches and tests.

The team demonstrated the approach using a process called loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP, with DNA from lambda phage as the target molecule, as a proof of concept, and now plan to adapt the assay to complex clinical samples and nucleic acids associated with pathogens such as influenza.

The newest demonstration is part of a suite of technologies aimed at democratizing disease diagnosis developed by the UCLA team. Including low-cost optical readout and diagnostics based on consumer-electronic devicesmicrofluidic-based automation and molecular assays leveraging DNA nanotechnology.

This interdisciplinary work was supported through a team science grant from the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program.

 

Source: UCLA

Arduino Primo With Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, and Infrared

Thanks to a partnership with Nordic Semiconductor – the world’s most successful open-source ecosystem for education, Maker, and Internet of Things (IoT) markets -, Arduino announced its new board, Arduino Primo, including native Bluetooth Low Energy wireless connectivity and NFC touch-to-pair using Nordic nRF52832 SoCs.

The Arduino Primo combines the processing power from the Nordic nRF52 processor, an Espressif ESP8266 for WiFi, as well as several on-board sensors and a battery charger.  The nRF52 includes NFC (Near Field Communication) and Bluetooth Smart.  The sensors include an on-board button, LED and infrared receiver and transmitter.

There are three onboard microcontrollers:

  • nRF52832, the main Arduino microcontroller with integrated BLE and NFC
  • STM32f103, a service microcontroller used for advanced debugging and programming of the other microcontrollers
  • ESP8266, for Wi-Fi and related internet connectivity functions.

The board has:

  • 14 digital input/output pins (of which 12 can be used as PWM outputs)
  • 6 analog inputs
  • 64 MHz ceramic resonator
  • micro-USB connector
  • ICSP header
  • battery charger
  • Infrared receiver and transmitter
  • NFC antenna
  • BLE interface
  • Buzzer
  • two service buttons
  • LEDs
  • reset buttons (to reset the various microcontrollers).

Arduino Primo can be connected to a computer using a micro-USB cable, or it can be powered using a battery, connected via a 2-pin JST-PH connector. Having both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity on board makes it easy to get started in the IoT world.

“Our passion at Arduino is to provide the tools to encourage passionate people to build out their ideas and bring them into the world. Adding wireless connectivity from our partnership with Nordic provides even more options,” says Federico Musto, CEO & President of Arduino S.r.L. “Ease-of-use is one of our core strengths, and this makes the Nordic chip a perfect match for the Arduino Primo,” adds Musto.

More details about Arduino are available at the official page at Arduino.org

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