Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Spot Welder

A spot welder can be used to permanently attach small pieces of (mostly ferrous) metal without the need for screws, rivets or adhesives. The actual science of optimizing a spot welder is pretty deep, but at the end of the day all you’re doing is heating up metal until it flows, so as long as the tool does that you can get some home shop use out of it…particularly if it’s made out of like $10 worth of materials and runs on household current. BTW, don’t mess around with high current devices unless you know what you’re doing and take all the appropriate safety precautions (like not standing in a puddle).

Here Grant Thompson of TheKingOfRandom.com explains how to make your own.

More after the jump  Continue reading

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A Survey of Open Hardware Debugging & Analysis Tools

One of the biggest brags of open source is that it reduces the cost of achieving a result to 1/5 or 1/10 of a commercial solution.

Of course, open hardware developers usually don’t include research & development costs. If someone wants to build their own project, the realization that development tools can cost far more than the small project they produce can come as a shock. Why would someone want to spend a thousand dollars on a tool to debug a ten dollar project?

Nathan Willis’ LinuxCon talk comes by way of LWN.net. Details of open source oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and more after the jump.

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MAKE Magazine Interviews Alicia Gibb of the Open Source Hardware Association

MAKE’s interview with Alicia Gibb, President of the Open Source Hardware Association, is well worth a read.

Why does open source hardware need an Open Source Hardware Association?
There are a lot of excellent things done by the community that don’t really have a cohesive web presence to live under. We hope to give the community a bit of structure by organizing information around open source hardware under the Association. The other reason is that currently a lot of our knowledge about open hardware is colloquial, and as you cited in your recent blog post, we have unspoken rules. We hope to create a resource to make all these things more transparent and provide a formal entity that can answer questions about how, why, what, and the best practices of open hardware.

How can the makers out there who design hardware help? How can the supporters and users of open hardware help?
We are not as much asking makers what they can do for us, but rather what we can do for them! The best help and support is an understanding that we’re flying by the seat of our pants, but also want feedback to know how we can best serve this community. Of course, there will also be the aspect of financial support that we hope at have. We’re not sure if this will be purely donation-based or if we should charge for membership to raise funds, but we definitely want involvement from the community for that!

and more…

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All The Plans for PENSA!’s DIWire Aluminum Wire Printer

A little while ago PENSA! wowed (a specific section of) the open source maker community with a few teasers for a brand new desktop rapid prototyping machine.

Their DIWire (DIY’er…get it?) takes aluminum wire and bends it into any shape specified in a wide variety of file formats. It’s a compelling idea and now that they’ve released all of the design files on Google Code and Thingiverse the community can start using and improving it.

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Printable Folding Construction Demonstrated With Robots

Sometimes you just can’t get from where you are, to where you want to be, in one step. For example, open hardware tends to work with stock materials, which means flat sheet is popular. It’s usually cheaper to obtain and work than a large block of the same material. But there aren’t very many ways to use a flat sheet if it stays a flat sheet. A couple popular ways to fold a flat sheet into a useful volume are illustrated.

Folding box by YanaPonoko. Thingiverse #17659

Parametric Flex Box by Juerd. Thingiverse #17327

Can this folding idea be taken even farther? For example, can we fold flat surfaces not just into structures, but into mechanisms as well?

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The 3D Printable Heliostat and Interview With Creator

A little while ago Openalia posted about Google’s open source heliostat array code.

Well, now you can build your own DIY solar thermal farm. Adam (aplavins) has designed a 3D printable 2-axis sun tracking device.

Interview after the jump.

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Open-EVSE, an OSH Charging System for Electric Vehicles

Everyone should start keeping track of what Google is doing (if they weren’t already).

Just a few days ago Openalia posted about Google’s open source simulation software for planning heliostat arrays. Today it’s about the hardware and software for an Arduino shield that charges any electric vehicle (EV) off of household current.

The Open-EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is for charging J1772 compliant EVs. SAE J1772 is a specific type of connector.

So, basically, EVs get parked in the garage and plugged into a special computer to recharge their batteries. It’s important that the wall power be carefully metered out to maximize the life of the expensive battery pack. This thing does that, but it costs way less than its commercial equivalents and it’s open source.

Today we will be interviewing Chris Howell, the driving force behind OpenEVSE.

Okay, Chris, what is your background?

  • I am a Network Engineer and have way too many hobbies… Pilot, Electronics, Ham Radio, RC planes/UAVs…

Did you have any engineering experience before you started?

  • I build networks for a living. I did not have any experience in building complex electronic circuits or programing before I started.

When did you start and when did you decide to go open source?

What made you decide to open source the project?

  • The decision to Open Source “OpenEVSE” was made because the Electric Vehicle industry desperately needed an inexpensive Charging station/ Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). The existing hardware is far to expensive ($750+) and the manufactures are taking advantage of consumers with outrageous labor costs to install the charging station.
  • My quote to install the charging station form Nissan’s partner AV was over $1200. I already had a breaker in the panel and the charging station was to be located 18 inches away.

Did you choose one particular license over others? Why?

  • Not really… The licences are pretty confusing, we just picked a common license.

Were there any tools/resources that were vital to your success?

  • The Arduino paved the way for OpenEVSE. I bought an Arduino and out of frustration with my ridiculously high Charging Station quote I decided to see if I could use it to generate a J1772 pilot signal. J1772 is the standard in use by the EV industry. It is a 1khz square wave generated by the Charging Station. The voltage drop determined the EV state and duty cycle tells the EV how much current it can draw.
  • After a couple hours with the Arduino I was able to implement the pilot.
  • Other resources that were very helpful were the tutorials from Adafruit and Sparkfun. I had to learn a lot about SMD stenciling, microprocessors and opamps.
  • DorkBotPDX is great for the many prototype boards and OHARARP for the SMD stencils.

Any tools that were just really cool that everyone should know about?

  • I really like the DSO Quad scope. It has been really useful for this project.
  • The electric skillet for solder reflow is awesome.

Could you suggest one really important skill people should learn first?

  • Learn how to program an Arduino.
  • Once you know what a microprocessor can do lots of ideas start flowing.

Were there any significant changes between revisions or forks?

  • No significant changes just a slow progression of improvements and added features.

How much of the project was individual effort and how much was social?

  • The hardware was mostly individual with a few suggestions from really smart people. I brought the project to the stage that I was able to successfully charge my Nissan LEAF. Shortly after I recieved an email from “lincomatic” another LEAF owner who offered to make improvements to the software.
  • Now I still do most of the hardware, but both lincomatic and I add to the software. OpenEVSE is starting to see some small contributions from the community. Hopefully more people will contribute to the project over time.

Are you anywhere close to feeling “done” with the project?

  • The project is not done but it is mature. Open EVSE fully supports J1772 and all the same safety features as the “big boys”… GFCI, ground monitoring, stuck relay detection.
  • There are a lot that can still be added touch screen LCD, Internet connectivity, energy metering, etc.

Do you plan on selling anything when you’re finished?

Has it been successfully used in a real job? By anyone else?

  • Yes, OpenEVSE is in use by owners of the Nissan LEAF, Chevy VOLT, Toyoda PiP and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Tesla and BMW Active-E owners are currently building Charging Stations. To date over 50 OpenEVSE boards have shipped.

Where do you want to take the project from here?

  • I would like to interface OpenEVSE with a Raspberry Pi to provide a rich web interface and also a graphical interface.

What do you think about open source as a philosophy? As a strategy?

  • Open Source is a great way to get people interested in a project and to spark innovation.

Do you follow any other open source projects?

  • Arduino and Raspberry pi.

In your wildest dreams, what would be open sourced next?

  • Everything…
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Solder Free 3D Printed Circuit Board

3D printing is moderately useful. It will become much more useful when it can produce more than structural parts.

Automatically placing and connecting electrical components is still a ways off, although lots of people are working on it. Until then, CarryTheWhat has demonstrated an impressive DIY method of producing circuit boards on a 3D printer.

The key to how this approach works is a series of pegs connected by conductive thread. By strategically wrapping the conductive thread onto a peg board generated in OpenSCAD, the components of the circuit can all work together.

It’s a bit bulky and crude, but it works. For example, here is a flashlight…

If you’d like to see a step-by-step description of the process, CarryTheWhat wrote it up on Instructables and on Thingiverse.

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DIY Wire Bender from PENSA!

PENSA! has demonstrated a new DIY rapid prototyping machine.

Their wire bender can take 3D files, vector files, or even text files, and automatically “print” them out with aluminum wire.

The shapes it can make are truly impressive. Also, one of the first things they printed was a text bubble with the word “$#!?” in it. My kind of people.

They just released this little marvel on May 2nd. Hopefully, they’ll provide the design files so we (I) can add yet another machine to the DO WANT list.

Found on Core77 and Hack A Day.

For what it’s worth, a year ago the P2P Foundation listed a “CNC wire bender” in their hypothetical Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem. They got it 2/3 right…PENSA!’s works in 3D instead of 2D.

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