Author Archives: Admin

Car Heads Up Display Using LED Strip

This is the next step in my mission to make my car function 7 years newer and feel like a jet cockpit.

(click here if the above video isn’t loading)

I wanted a HUD, Heads Up Display to my car. The main purpose is to let me keep my eyes on the road and still be aware of my speed without looking down, hence “heads up”. This idea has been used in fighter jets for decades now.

I do not like any of the other ones on the market today, they all try to do “too much”. I wanted something more simple and elegant.

My design is a simple RGB capable individually controllable LED strip that reflect off my windshield.

I used the “DotStar” from Adafruit Industries, which uses APA102 LEDs. The brain is a Teensy 3.2, which is connected to my car’s CAN bus via a OBD-II connector (the diagnostic port that you can read the engine computer from).

It is programmed to have three different modes: voltmeter, tachometer, and speedometer. The mode switching is “context aware”: When the car is moving, the mode changes to speedometer. If I rev the engine Continue reading

Shrapnelly – 1 lb Antweight Combat Robot

This is my first ever combat robot! 454 grams (1 lb American Antweight class). It has a spinning drum weapon.Body is made of Garolite, with titanium skirts mounted on hinges (parts are cut on my Nomad 883 Pro, and some 3D printing). The drum weapon is CNC lathed aluminum with a brushless motor inside. The electronics is all custom built, utilizing the 802.15.4 radio integrated in the ATmega256RFR2.

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Voltage Divider Resistor Chooser

This is a special resistor voltage divider calculator. You tell it what is the maximum expected input voltage and the maximum desired output voltage, and a list of all the resistors you already own, and it automatically picks the two resistors you should use. This is useful because it means you don't have to buy a specific resistor for a project, and you don't have to calculate for every single resistor you own. Continue below to use Continue reading

CES 2016

I went to CES 2016 in Las Vegas. This is my second time visiting CES, last year I made this post (CES 2015) about it too.

This year is a little underwhelming than last year, perhaps its because last year was my first time, and this year is my second time. There are many things that simply remained unchanged, or just slightly improved. Here’s a list of what I found interesting: (continue reading)

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3D Printed Cord Wrap Tool for Microsoft Surface Pro 4

If you owned any good laptops, you might have a charger that had a curved shape, and/or a strap to help you wrap the cord. Well… The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is an amazing computer but it’s charger doesn’t even have a strap. So I’ve decided to solve this problem with 3D printing.

3dmodelchargetinbutnotwrapped (Large)printed (Large)wrapped (Large)

The filament I used is actually black 3mm polyurethane filament, which is both strong and flexible. Printed using my Ultimaker2, upgraded with a Flex3Drive, at 250 degrees C, layer height of 0.2mm, and 200% extrusion.

Funny that the strap would’ve been too long to be printed straight, that’s why I made it squiggly.

The model file is shared as a public model on Onshape here. Go ahead and download it, or even copy it to your own account to make modifications.

3D Printed Dust Skirt for Nomad 883 Pro

I got a new Nomad 883 Pro and it generates a lot of dust. This is going to be a big problem as I need to cut material that have hazardous fibers. I decided to make a dust skirt (aka vacuum skirt or vacuum shoe or vacuum head) so that a vacuum can suck up dust as the machine cuts. I 3D printed this thing, which is partly PLA plastic, and the skirt is 3D printed TPU (polyurethane) filament. The skirt is two layered and the cuts are made in a interleaved pattern so there’s a better seal. 3D printing makes this project really easy, just clean up the print, superglue, and tap the hole for the screw. The vacuum hose is 1.25 inch diameter and it just shoves right in with a perfect fit.

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The CAD files can be downloaded here

Nomad 883 Pro, my first CNC mill

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After getting comfortable with 3D printing, I decided I want to dabble with in-home CNC machines. I decided that I need something powerful enough to cut aluminum, but also precise enough to handle PCBs, and is enclosed so I can keep it in a home environment. I absolutely did not want a machine that’s designed to fit an ordinary router or Dremel. The Nomad 883 by Carbide 3D fit these requirements (link to specs).

I also really wanted to see the machine before I buy. I saw Othermill at RoboGames 2015, and while it seemed nice, it was geared more towards PCB milling. Another choice would’ve been Carvey but it is a Kickstarter that hasn’t started shipping yet. I saw Nomad 883 at the SF Maker Faire 2015, and it really impressed me, perhaps because it was built with all metal structure. The guy at the Nomad booth also hinted that I can cut steel on the next revision of the Nomad 883 (sorry I forgot his name). I picked Nomad 883 because it was more powerful and bigger than Othermill, while smaller than Carvey, and I would get it in around late August.

Long story, but I ended up getting the Nomad 883 Pro version around early November. Keep reading to see more pictures and my first impressions.

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3D Printed Micro Match Connector Crimp Tool

I have a project that involves Micro Match connectors. They are similar to IDC connectors, but with a lower profile and a zig-zag pattern.

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I had to crimp one connector onto a ribbon cable, my first attempt using a vice failed miserably, instead of the conductors being forced into the teeth properly, the forces instead crushed the connector. Unlike a IDC connector, which is mostly solid plastic, the Micro Match connectors are pretty hollow, thus weaker.

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Continue reading to see how I solved this problem.

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3D Printed Peristaltic Pump

I 3D printed a very durable peristaltic pump. It is capable of pumping very thick liquids at as much pressure as the tube can handle. It is durable because it is printed at 100% infill at high thicknesses and uses steel ball bearings. It is capable of such strength because it is using a massive 12V DC brushed motor that has a 150:1 gear ratio metal gear box, which means several kilograms of torque.

final product20150708_195726 (Large)during printhalfassembledcad viewcadviewisotranslucent.fwcadviewrotor1cadviewrotor2cadviewsidecadviewtopcircuit large.fwgearmotordisassembled

For design files and more details, please continue reading.

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3D Printed Battery Recharge Dock for Parrot Rolling Spider

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I got a Parrot Rolling Spider for fun. The batteries are 570mAH and the life is under 10 minutes, plus the reviews often mention that the batteries will lose their capacity quickly. Further research into this problem indicated that charging them slowly will alleviate this problem.

I wanted a few spare batteries and a way to recharge them. I decided to DIY a dock for them. I had a handful of spare parts, such as the MCP73831 and plenty of small perfboards. All I needed to do was 3D print something to hold the batteries in place, and this is what I came up with.

More pictures if you continue reading.
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Olsson Block Low Temperature Troubleshooting

In my quest to have the best Ultimaker 2 possible, I have installed a Flex3Drive kit and Olsson Block kit.

Recently I have been having issues with inter-layer adhesion. I tried a speed test and would consistently fail them, either due to jamming or inter-layer splits… This is a story of how somebody more experienced in electrical and software engineering tackles a thermodynamics problem.

Bonus: this article contains a picture of my extra power 400W supply for the Ultimaker 2

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Ultimate Ultimaker Upgrades 2015q2

After around 100 hours of printing, the teflon coupler above the nozzle of my Ultimaker2 started to deform under heat, causing friction on the filament. Combined with the relatively weak and not-gear-reduced feeder motor, this resulted in a frustrating amount of underextrusion.

So I decided to buy some replacement parts, and some upgrade parts in the process. Obviously I ordered a replacement teflon coupler. Second, I ordered a Flex3Drive kit. Third, I ordered a Olsson Block. After all of these were installed, I can honestly say my printer is now print-and-forget. In 30 hours and 5 filament swaps, I haven’t had any imperfections at all, and the only failed print was due to bad bed adhesion due to the model curling up. I haven’t had to touch the tuning menu once, and I never had to use my extruder floss. Continue reading to learn more about these upgrades and my experience with them. Continue reading

RoboGames 2015

I went to spectate RoboGames 2015. If you didn’t go, WHY THE HELL NOT?!

I live literally a 10 minute walk away so I went both Saturday and Sunday. Since I walked in, I accidentally walked through the back entrance, so I snuck into the pits without a badge 😀 but I did still pay for a ticket after. I got some pictures in the pits, not stuff I see every day.

I put together a highlights video. Actually probably only missed Friday, and missed 4 matches from Saturday and Sunday, I have about 20 GB of video… I’m putting a few up just as teasers but you should really come check out RoboGames next time or buy their DVD when they release it.

The combat is the only event where I could get good video without raising my arms. There were a ton of other competitions, like minisumo, line following, humanoids, soccer, hockey, etc. It really reminds me of the Canadian National Robot Games back in 2007, which I entered as a highschool student. The Canadian competition has long since been cancelled but it’s amazing how alive the Silicon Valley competition is.

Continue reading for more videos and pictures

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SD Card Bootloader by Backdoor Code Injection

For various reasons, I decided to try writing a SD card bootloader for my Ultimaker2.

The project is open source and on my GitHub here.

My goal was to install this new bootloader without having physical access to the circuitry. Thus I cannot use a ISP tool and must be done through the bootloader that is already present on the Ultimaker2. The only way to do this is to partition off a portion of application memory region for a secondary bootloader that executes after the original bootloader. But the ATmega2560 has a restriction that prevents anything in the application memory region from modifying the flash memory at all. Overcoming this restriction is what this hack is all about, continue reading if you are interested in learning more.

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PS4 Playing NES Cartridges

Update March 2015

This project won 2nd place in this Reddit contest about functional 3D printed projects. Thank you very much to ToyBuilder Labs for being the sponsor.

Questions and Answers

  • Why not use a bigger 3.5″ drive? They can hold much more and cost much less.
    • I can edit the design anytime I want and 3D print it anytime I want, so I will definitely consider it.
    • But I had a few spare 2.5″ drives laying around.
    • The fake cartridge is a funny idea so I did it for the LULz! (and protects the drives)
    • Please note: 3.5″ drives will require an external 12 volt power supply, while 2.5″ drives only require the 5 volts from the motherboard.
  • What parts are needed?
    • #4-40 thread 0.25″ long countersunk machine screws, for holding the hard drives inside the cartridges
    • #4-40 thread 0.5″ long countersunk machine screws, for holding the dock to the cover
    • 0.5″ long nails to hold the SATA connector in place
    • something like this SATA extender, but note that this isn’t the exact same one I used, so you should measure it yourself and edit my files before printing my files
  • How did you connect the cable to the motherboard?
    • This was actually pretty hard, I ended up gluing a popsicle stick to the connector first, and then used the stick to poke the connector inside and into the motherboard’s connector.
    • This can be improved by some sort of 3D printed dummy drive, but I got tired and wanted to wrap the project up.
  • In the picture of the Ultimaker, why do the plastic look a bit rough?
    • Those are failed prints, I only used them for the picture, specifically because the roughness emphasizes the fact that they are 3D printed.
    • The final good prints are so good that you cannot tell that they are actually 3D printed. The Ultimaker is very high quality.
  • Why didn’t you launch the game?
    • I didn’t connect the system to my network, so the PS4 didn’t let me launch them, since they are all digitally downloaded and thus require authorization first
    • Don’t worry, they all work once connected to the internet.
  • I’ve seen something similar before…
    • Adding a hard drive to the PS4 using SATA extensions isn’t a new idea at all, somebody already added 6 TB to it, using a 3.5″ drive, but he used a external enclosure and a external 12 volt power supply.
    • I went to CES2015 and saw Nyko’s Data Bank. I want to make it clear that I started my design a long time before Christmas, and was not inspired or influenced by Nyko
  • Ask me a question, if it is a popular question, I will answer it here.

You want files? Click Here. I hosted the files on YouMagine, and I provided the STEP file format, which you should be able to open with most 3D modeling software. So if you want to change the design for 3.5″ drives, or chose another cartridge shape, you can!

NOTE: the dimensions of the fake NES cartridge I used are not the same dimensions as genuine NES cartridges, so genuine cartridges will not fit in this project, and the fake cartridges will not fit inside a genuine NES deck.

Ultimaker2 Bearing Spool and Bearing Guide Upgrade

This is an upgrade to the Ultimaker2 3D printer for people who have spools that do not fit the original spool holder, and spools that are too tight and thus do not feed smoothly, causing under-extrusion.

It is composed of two assemblies: a replacement for the filament guide and a replacement for the spool holder. Both utilizes ordinary skateboard bearings to achieve smooth rotation. The conical shape of the spool holder allows for any sized spool to be used, easily swapped because it uses a wing nut.

um2 spool holder upgrade angleum2 spool holder upgrade sideum2 spool holder upgrade cross section

um2 filament guide upgrade angleum2 filament guide upgrade sideum2 filament guide upgrade cross section

Files are available on YouMagine. I want to emphasize that I am sharing the STEP files, not just STL, because STL are harder for people to import and modify than STEP files. SolidWorks files are also provided.

The cross section images shows you how to assemble the upgrade parts. The screw diameters are #6 for the filament guide and 5/16″ for the spool holder. Please figure everything else out from the cross section images.