Tools category

A New Era of 3D Printing With Cel Robox’s Root, Mote and Tree!

C Enterprise Ltd., the company behind the amazing 3D printer Cel Robox, is now back on stage with some new upgrades and plug-ins: Root, Mote and Tree! Imagine that you will be able to control your 3D printer missions remotely where you can also control not only one printer, but multiple of them!

Robox is not another 3D printer, the 20-micron accuracy printer is a micro-manufacturing platform. The precise positioning of the 3 axis system along with the mechanical and electronic design of the HeadLock system provides a robust framework on which to build a range of manipulators and scanning devices to allow this robot in a box to do much more than just create beautiful 3D prints.

Key features of Robox is on this slideshow. You can check the full specifications here.

 

If you already have a Robox so don’t worry, you are not left behind. Robox team thinks that it won’t be a good choice to build above the already functional 3D printer in order to increase its capabilities. What they are doing right now is updating peripherals which are standalone and won’t disrupt the quality of the original printer. For example, an original Robox can be upgraded to become a RoboxDual using DIY upgrade kits or vendor provided services.

Increasing the size of printing by making a bigger size Robox was a suggestion for them, but what they were thinking about was different. Making a bigger Robox may risk some features already guaranteed in the original one, so why not make a way that you can function multiple Robox editions at the same time in an amazing architecture that saves space and time? Here comes Tree: a bespoke furniture system that utilises the compact nature of the Robox micro-manufacturing platform to increase productivity. It is  a precision CNC machined from high quality birch plywood with a choice of two different finishes, and is supplied as an easy-to-assemble ‘flat-pack’ solution. Using familiar fasteners, Tree can be assembled by anyone in under 30 minutes with just an allen key and screwdriver. It is a nice addition to your fablab, coworking space or even your office!

To control this Tree, a new plugin from Robox is also introduced: Root! Robox Root is a connectivity
extension platform for all Robox printers. Its core function is to add network capabilities to multiple Robox from a single Root, with secondary functions to include a web interface and printer sharing across a network. It is perfectly suited for use in offices, schools or other professions where multiple users need easy access to a single or multiple printers. The onboard HDMI port also allows you to connect Root to any external display or touchscreen, including its companion, Robox Mote.

Robox Mote is custom designed controller for Root. Using a 5” touch screen connected directly to Root, you can see the status of any connected machines and also control them directly. This allows you to control and execute prints without a connected PC from pre-sliced GCode on SDcard or USB flash drive. Using Mote is an option, you can use any smartphone, tablet, or a computer using AutoMaker – Robox outstanding software.

In order to launch this new phase of Robox with customers involved, the team had launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Although it still has 21 days to go but the campaign exceeded its 10,000 goal.

Check the campaign video to learn more from Robox team:

If you don’t have a Robox, it’s a good opportunity now to get one with a great deal. You can order Robox now for £999, as mentioned in the website, but how about a DualRobox with Root included for £1399? If you already have a Robox it’s time to add a Root to your collection for £149 including Mote and support. And finally, if you are a business or a fablab and want to add a great 3D printing corner to your space then it’s the suitable time to order one of the Tree packages provided in the campaign.

Lots more rewards, packages, specifications and detailed information are provided in the campaign page, so check it out!

Dintervalometer, A Custom Made Intervalometer For DSLR Cameras

If you want to take a timelapse with your camera, it may be helpful to use an intervalometer. It is an attachment or facility on a camera that operates the shutter regularly at set intervals over a period, in order to take timelapse series or take pictures after a set delay.

Daniel Knezevic had developed a custom made intervalometer for DSLR cameras. Dintervalometer (Deni’s intervalometer) enables cameras to shoot time lapses and allows shutter speeds longer than the 30s.

The Dintervalometer is built with an Atmega328P clocked at 10MHz, a PCD8544 84×48 pixel monochrome LCD display with a backlight, a 3.5mm male jack connector, and two tactile push buttons all combined together on a small PCB.

Dintervalometer Features

  • Intervalometer: It is used for time-lapse photography. It controls how often, how long and how many shots are taken.
  • Bulb mode: It allows to take time exposures longer than 30s.
  • Backlight
  • Charging via USB

The Display & Backlight

The PCD8544 LCD display can be powered using 3V3 and it draws very small amounts of power (around 200uA) making it extremely good for use in battery powered devices. It is typically used in Nokia 5110/3310 phones, and it interfaces to microcontrollers through a serial bus interface (SPI).

A custom made backlight were designed to allow using the Dintervalometer in the dark without an additional lamp. It operates like a backlight of a cell phone: it is active for 10 seconds when the user presses a button or the Dintervalometer finishes some job.

The backlight consists of these materials:

  • A sheet of white paper
  • A piece of transparent plastic
  • A double-sided tape

The first layer of the backlight is a sheet of white paper. Its main function is to reflect the light of the LEDs. Then it comes the piece of transparent plastic. The top of the plastic is sanded with a fine sandpaper to diffuse the light. Finally, the LCD comes on the top. The layers are glued together with a double-sided tape.

Powering & Charging

Dintervalometer’s circuit is powered using a LiPo battery and a very low drop 3V3 voltage regulator (TPS79933). A MAX1555 Li+ battery charger IC is used to charge the battery, which also can be powered via USB.

To prevent the over-discharge of the LiPo battery, Dintervalometer monitors and measures the battery voltage every 60 seconds. The user can always see the current status of the battery on the LCD. When the battery reaches the critical voltage, a “Low battery” notification will be shown, then the device will turn off.

The voltage measuring process is done using a voltage divider and AVRs internal 1V1 voltage reference.

The following equation is used to measure the battery voltage in mV, with the known values R2=10k, R3=3k3, Vref=1100mV, ADCres=1024.

Controlling The Camera

Using the 3.5mm male jack connector, the Dintervalometer will trigger the camera to focus and to take a picture. The jack consists of three wires: ground, focus and shutter.

To focus the camera, the focus wire has to be connected to the ground. To release the camera both wires have to be connected to the ground. Dintervalometer is tested with Canon EOS 700D. It has a jack plug for remote shuttering.

The Software

The software is written in C and compiled with avr-gcc. It is divided into 6 logical modules:

  • TIMER: Initializes Timer1 and provides an interrupt based delay function.
  • BATTERY: Initializes ADC to read the battery voltage.
  • BACKLIGHT: Functions are used to control the backlight (initialize and update).
  • GPIO: Initializes IO ports for buttons, camera output, battery charger status indication, auto cut off control output.
  • LCD: It represents the pcd8544 LCD driver, it is reusable code for other projects. The driver provides the API to initialize, control, and print text on the LCD.
  • STATE: The state machine is implemented by using function pointers. Each menu state has three basic operations; show data on LCD, wait for user input, update backlight and battery status, and handle button presses/holds.
State Machine Diagram

Dintervalometer Sources

This project is published on hackady.io. Daniel had shared all the source designs and scripts online, so you can get it on its Github repository.

 

ONO, $99 Smartphone-Powered 3D Printer

Born in 2014 from the simple idea of making 3D printing accessible for everyone, Filippo Moroni and Pietro Gabriele worked on new technology to develop a high quality 3D printer that was affordable and easy to use. Their goal was to make the most diffused printer in the world and to develop a worldwide community around it. After 2 years of hard work, ONO has developed and grown into the first 3D printer of its class. ONO is the first ever smartphone-powered 3D printer that depends on your smartphone screen resolution in its printed outputs.

Similar to DLP (Digital Light Processing) resin printers, ONO needs light to harden the resins. But instead of using an embedded source of light, it uses the light of your smartphone screen to power the operation. Thanks to the customized patented resins ONO uses, they can react perfectly to white light coming from your phone, thus there’s no need for ultra violet light that is used for resin printers. All you need to do is to place your mobile on the phone pad and ONO will do the rest.

ONO has the following components:

  1. LED interface – The logo on the top of the printer flashes to show the status of the print
  2. Motor housing – The top part of the printer which controls the raising of the build plate
  3. Z-axis actuators – Drive gears connected to the motor and the build plate
  4. Build plate – Aluminum plate where the part adheres
  5. Resin tank – Removable tank where resin is poured prior to printing
  6. Printing film – Thin, clear film which seals the resin tank
  7. Adjustable base – The base can be raised or lowered so that the phone screen will sit flat against the printing film.
  8. Phone pad – A soft pad that helps level phones with protruding cameras

 

The affordable $99 3D printer is portable and can be charged using any USB charger whether connected to wall plugs or a power bank. You can clean ONO easily thanks to the removable resin tank and the printing films.

ONO has the following specifications:

  • Printer Dimensions: 180 x 128 x 185 mm – 7.0 x 5.0 x 7.3 in
  • Printing Volume: 124 x 72 x 52 mm – 4.8 x 2.8 x 2.0 in
  • Phone compatibility: Any phone with a screen size below 5.8”
  • Accuracy: Up to 42 micron XY resolution, Up to 100 micron Z resolution
  • (XY resolution depends on the resolution of the phone screen.)
  • Printing Speed: 12 mm per hour

It’s a simple process, after downloading the app you have to choose the design to be printed and then plug in through the headphone jack. Finally fill the resin tank with the resin you prefer. ONO is providing multiple kinds of resins for different uses: solid, flexible, translucent, castable and clear! The $15 resin bottle is said to be able to bring out around 10 simple 3D printed objects, and the amazing thing is that unused resin can be recycled for future prints!

“We believe 3D printing should be accessible to everyone. This is why we set out to design ONO, the first ever smartphone 3D printer.” – ONO team

You can check this video by Adafruit to know more about ONO during World Maker Faire 2016 featuring Giacomo Fornasini:


ONO is a rebrand of OLO, the first edition of the printer that was live on Kickstarter one year ago. More details about ONO can be found at the official website where you can sign up on its newsletter to be updated and to know when ONO will be available to buy.

PCB Rax – A modular system for holding circuit boards

pcb-rax-01-1024x657

The PCB Rax is an easy to use, versatile printed circuit board holder for repair, prototyping , and assembly that can hold nearly any shape of circuit board. Check the details on the link below.

Not all circuit boards are rectangular. PCB Rax was designed to hold all kinds of different shaped circuit boards, from circles to christmas trees, and everything in-between. PCB Rax comes standard with 10″ connecting rods that can hold rectangular boards up to 9-1/4″ x 8″, and odd shaped boards up to 6-1/2″ x 8″. For larger projects the connecting rods can be replaced.

PCB Rax – A modular system for holding circuit boards – [Link]

Introducing “Buy Parts” Electronics-Lab New Feature

In partnership with OEMSecrets, we are pleased to launch a new section in our website. “Buy Parts” is a price-comparison search engine that helps you save time and money, by finding the cheapest price and the best offer while buying electronic components online.

capture

This tool provides an electronic components comparison from leading distributors and manufacturers in the electronics market, such as Farnell, element14, Mouser, TIstore, etc. It also offers datasheets and part images from suppliers to give you a better understanding of products you are purchasing.

The new search engine comes with these features:

  • Price comparison to help you find the cheapest price.
  • Quantity filter to find you the total cost of the part.
  • Quick datasheet downloads to confirm part specifications.
  • Order with ease with our add to basket ‘buy now‘ buttons.
  • Line by line comparison results dedicated to save your time.
  • Part images available for visual verification before ordering.
  • Quick-find supplier navigation to find favourites.
  • Currency conversions, your zone your currency.

capture2

It is very simple to use. Just enter a part name in the search box and start saving time and money!

$15 Arduino-Based Reflow Oven Controller

A reflow oven is one of the most useful tools for hardware developers, a machine used primarily for reflow soldering of surface mount electronic components to printed circuit boards (PCB). ESTechnical, a hardware manufacturer based in UK, works hard to produce open source hardware gadgets and contribute its best to make the hardware tools much better, had made a great product, the $15 Reflow Oven Controller. Having an Arduino based reflow oven controller with a graphic LCD opens up a world of possibilities to solder surface mount devices.

cyclewithoverflowThis reflow oven is built around the Arduino Pro Micro, an Adafruit TFT color LCD, and around two solid state relays, one for the heating elements and one for the convection fan. The board contains a very simple Zero crossing detection circuit, used to align control logic to mains frequency, two MAX31855 thermocouple-to-digital converters and two Sharp S202S01 PCB-mount solid state relays, mounted on Fischer SK409 50,8 heat sinks.

 

2014-08-03t12-36-40-845z-photo-jpg-855x570_q85_pad_rcrop

The Arduino-based reflow oven controller comes with:

  • PID loop control
  • Wave Packet and Phase Fired control for AC outputs
  • graphic TFT LC-Display, drawing the temperature curves
  • solely controlled using a cheap rotary encoder and its single button
  • stores up to 30 temperature profiles in EEPROM
  • configurable PID-parameters
  • simple, small hardware to drive loads up to 600V and up to 8A
  • hardware can
    • measure two temperatures independently
    • drive two AC loads, such as heater and fan
  • Note: Requires Arduino IDE 1.5.x or newer

The software uses PID control of the heater and fan output for improved temperature stability. The heater AC load is controlled using Wave Packet control in order to minimize RF interference and load on the relay. For the fan motor, Phase Fired control has been implemented.

In order to fit your ESTechnical Reflow Oven Controller to T962A, SMTHouse reflow oven infrared IC Heater soldering machine, you will need some tools that are not included in the packing list. You can check the Reflow Oven Accessories Package.
Detailed steps of the installation process are listed here.

T962A Reflow Oven
T962A Reflow Oven

To follow the tutorials make sure of each step or get help from an expert because this project operates with possibly lethal mains voltage.

More details and documentation are available at Github and at ESTechnical official website.

Tools for the Electronics Hobbyist Part 2- LC200A L/C Meter

When I started to deal with Chinese electronics suppliers from websites like Alibaba, Aliexpress and Taobao, I discovered that there are huge amount of undiscovered tools from the Chinese market. They are not easily discovered, maybe due to the Chinese language barrier, especially when we deal with a Chinese website like Taobao or maybe because most of us are used to deal with known electronics distributors like Sparkfun.

I also discovered that I can get my stuff from there in a lower price and in most cases of the same quality.
We can’t deny that dealing with known and trusted electronics stores such as Sparkfun and Adafruit is more comfortable and safe, but our proposal is an alternative one.

That doesn’t mean that our series will focus only on tools from Chinese suppliers. We will also explore special tools from Ebay, Tindie and other resources.

This series is weekly, so stay tuned! Please note that when we talk about a tool from a certain store or a supplier, we don’t claim that we guarantee the quality and if the store is trustworthy.

You can reach the posts published in this series using the following link.

tools_series2

Welcome to the second post in this series. Last time we talked about the graphic component tester. This time we are going to talk about another useful tool in our labs. I discovered it from the Chinese vendors and it’s called ‘LC200A L/C Meter’. It’s a tool that measures capacitance and inductance.

lc200a1

It has two leads that are connected to the target inductor or capacitor. LC200A has four measuring range positions:

  1. C range – Capacitance (0.01pF-10uF).
  2. L range – Inductance (0.001uH-100mH).
  3. Hi.L range – Big inductance (0.001mH-100H).
  4. Hi.C range -Big capacitance (1uF-100mF).

This device has three options to power it, through mini USB, 5.5mm DC socket or 4 AA batteries.

lc200a2

lc200a3

The results of the measurements are shown on a 16*2 LCD.

lc200a

To use it, you need to press the red button for 1 second after connecting the probes so the device calibrates, because the probes may give some drift (error) in the readings. You also need to select the range before connecting the probes with the target capacitor or inductor. You can read more details and features for this device from the user manual. You can also watch the video below, which is a review and a teardown for LC200A.

You can get LC200A for about 40$ from ebay, Aliexpress or Taobao.

Tools for the Electronics Hobbyist Part 1- Graphical Components Tester

tools_series

When I started to deal with Chinese electronics suppliers from websites like Alibaba, Aliexpress and Taobao, I discovered that there are huge amount of undiscovered tools from the Chinese market. They are not easily discovered, maybe due to the Chinese language barrier, especially when we deal with a Chinese website like Taobao or maybe because most of us are used to deal with known electronics distributors like Sparkfun.

I also discovered that I can get my stuff from there in a lower price and in most cases of the same quality.
We can’t deny that dealing with known and trusted electronics stores such as Sparkfun and Adafruit is more comfortable and safe, but our proposal is an alternative one.

That doesn’t mean that our series will focus only on tools from Chinese suppliers. We will also explore special tools from Ebay, Tindie and other resources.

This series is weekly, so stay tuned! Please note that when we talk about a tool from a certain store or a supplier, we don’t claim that we guarantee the quality and if the store is trustworthy.

You can reach the posts published in this series using the following link.

tools_series_1

Welcome to the first post of our series “Tools for the Electronics Hobbyist”. We are going to talk about graphical components tester, which I found on “91make” store on Taobao and it seems that they’re specialists in graphical components testers.

This tool is used to discover the type and main features (like value and some other electrical characteristics) of the majority of discrete components like transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors and other components.

This is useful when you have an unknown part. As you know a part with TO-220 package can be a BJT, a MOSFET or maybe something else. It is also useful when you know the basic function of the part in your hand and you need to know some of its characteristics.

PartsGraphicalTester

Features:

  • Can used with npn and pnp transistors, n-channel and p-channel mosfet, diodes (including double diodes), thyristors, transistors, resistors, capacitors and other components.
  • Measuring the gate threshold voltage and gate capacitance of MOSFET.
  • Amplification factor (gain) of the BJT and the base of the forward bias voltage.
  • Getting the pinout of the component.
  • Use 9v battery for power supply.

I found a video on Youtube for the same tool tested with a lot of components

It’s available for 40 RMB which is about 6$, and you can see that it’s cheaper than Ebay or Tindie suppliers. You can also read the Hackaday review about this tool.

That’s all for this time , see you on next post.

1Hz to 30KHz Wave Generator Using Arduino

Wave generator is one of the most needed tools in our electronics labs, you can buy a fully functional ready made one or make a simple one using your Arduino.

Ard_waveGen

Joekutz over Hackaday.io created a simple wave generator using Arduino powered from 9V battery and produces amplified and non amplified signals. This generator uses the 8-bit resistor ladder, aka R2R, DAC with 0.0195V step, knowing that Vout of R2R DAC is Vout = Vref × VAL / 2^N  Where N = 8 (hence 2^8 = 256) and Vref = 5.0 V.

R2R_sch
Image Source – “Arduino Waveform Generator” Instructable

Joekutz used the “Arduino Waveform Generator” instructable, but he added to the original project design a LCD display, a speaker to hear the generated wave and edited the way how user sets the waveform and frequency.

Joekutz decided to hack a cheap calculator LCD and to use it in his project, he found out how to emulate a press of “CE, +, = and 1” Keys using Arduino, so he can display any number using this hack, for example displaying 123 on the LCD means the following sequence: 111 + 11 + 1.

Ard_waveGen_parts

He created an Arduino library for his hack. You can see the below video from Joekutz explaining LCD hack:

In the below video Joekutz demonstrates the project:

The mechanical work in this project included designing a cheap plywood case using Inkscape and designing a switches knobs using FreeCAD.

You can download the Arduino Library and sketch files from the project page on Hackaday.

Projecta: A Solution For PCB Printing

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Projecta, the Affordable & Faster PCB Prototyping Machine is going to launch their kickstarter campaign soon. Check the draft kickstarter page and feel free to post your feedback.

Projecta is an affordable desktop CNC machine optimized for making circuit boards in new innovative way.

Projecta: A Solution For PCB Printing – [Link]