SOLIDGND

A selection of in-house & commissioned projects.
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Anet A8 – Budget 3D Printer Kit

I picked up this Prusa i3 inspired 3D printer for £139.81 (GBP) from gearbest.com. It has been really useful and has seen plenty of use in both my personal and University projects.

Not only that but it has been used round the house too. By the second day of having this printer up and running, I had already designed, printed and fixed the knob that turns my shower on and off.

Since then, the printer has been busy printing out a number of useful mods created by some talented CAD designers over on Thingiverse.com.

Please check out the first impressions & assembly video as well as the video covering the modification that I have done to this machine to increase its ease of use. The most useful feature being the mesh bed-leveling and warp compensation.

 

Video

 

Video

 

Auto-Leveling Sensor & Skynet Installation

 

You should probably download the latest version of the skynet firmware from the creator over on their facebook page. However you can also download my copy of the firmware (2.3.1 version) with all appropriate settings in the auto bed leveling section of the code.

Download Here

Cura 2.3.1 Printer Settings

Start by adding a new “custom FDM” printer and match the settings shown in the image below. A text based version of the start g.code is provided below as well.

Cura Printer Settings

Start G.Code for Auto-bed leveling:

G21 ;metric values
G90 ;absolute positioning
M82 ;set extruder to absolute mode
M107 ;start with the fan off
G28 X0 Y0 ;move X/Y to min endstops
G28
G29
G1 Z15.0 F{travel_speed} ;move the platform down 15mm
G0 X2 Y2 Z2
G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length
G1 F200 E25 ;extrude 3mm of feedstock
G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length again
G1 F{travel_speed} ;
M117 Printing… ;display message

 

Cura 2.3.1 Print Profile

Feel free to download my current print profile to use as a starting point. You may need to adjust the temperatures if you are not using a Buildtak print bed surface like I am.

Download Here

“The Purge: Election Year” Mask

Constructed in half an hour using a plastic Halloween mask and a length of green electro-luminescent (EL) wire, this project was first suggested to me by my friend and peer over at Starboard Engineering. This project required a steady hand to precisely drill the holes and careful planning to ensure the most efficient route when threading the EL wire through the mask. We have a bunch of masks available but order now to avoid disappointment.

Get Them Here!

blue-eyes

red-close

wide

in-light

Fredmau5: Deadmau5 LED Replica

After working on and off for nearly 4 years, this project is now finished. Upon discovering Deadmau5; the stage name of Joel Zimmerman,  I had always toyed with the idea of re-creating the LED mau5 head that he wears during his shows. After some research, I began planning how it would all go together. The lights are a chain of individually addressable led pixels that were glued in place with hot-melt glue and a mix of custom led holders, some of which I 3D printed and the rest made by Shapeways 3d printing service.

 

deadmau53

A mask image was used to generate the eyes and mouth.

 

passage

Led Edit 2013 was used to convert graphics displayed on screen into LED instructions.

 

red

A copy of Glediator was obtained from http://solderlab.de and was used to create visual effects.

 

deadmau52

Electro-luminescent wire is used to highlight the ears, however my camera did not have enough dynamic range to capture both well.

 

Video

1

A 14″ lighting globe was cut in half and reinforced with MDF to act as a shell.

3

Custom LED pixel holders were designed using sketchup and 3D printed using a prusa I3.

An animated gif that was used as a mask.

Colour gif image used to test the LEDs.

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Another animated gif used as a mask.

 

Solid State Cabin Blower Resistor

A while ago the cabin fan in my car stopped working at lower speeds. Looking through the schematic diagram of the heater controls (courtesy of a Haynes manual) revealed that the motor speed was being crudely controlled by putting various large current limiting resistors in series with the motor. Upon inspection, the large wire wound resistor pack was cracked and a quick test with the multimeter confirmed my thoughts, there was no continuity across  the two larger resistors for speed settings 2 and 3 (out of 4). I confirmed that it was only the resistors causing the problems by putting a wire in parallel with the resistor effectively by-passing it and confirming that the Fan ran at max speed.

Original Resistor Pack

Original Resistor Pack

I decided it would be a good opportunity to design a PWM speed controller to be compatible with the car’s pre-existing system. Two options came to mind immediately, the first was using a 555 timer and the other was using an Atmel ATTiny 85, both of which I had in my parts bin.

The two options would require a potentiometer to be put in the place of the original 5 position rotary switch but the 555 timer would need a lot more care to ensure that it would go from 0%  to 100% duty cycle across the 80 degrees of motion that the original dial markings were spread across. Using a microcontroller would allow a map to be created and make full use of the limited potentiometer travel with ease. Not only would it make fine tuning easier, it would also allow the PWM frequency to be experimented with.

Here was a simple schematic I quickly threw together. The top left rectangle is the isp connector and the one on the right is a 4 pin solder pad. The large N-channel Mosfet is driven by VCC and is turned off by powering the NPN which in turn shunts the pull-up resistor.

The circuit consisted of a LM7805 voltage regulator and capacitor bank to supply a clean source of power the Atmel ATTiny 85. A large N-channel Mosfet was used to allow the current to flow from the motor to ground. It was driven by the VCC rail and is turned off by powering the NPN which in turn shunts the pull-up resistor to ground, intern bringing the gate of the MOSFET to ground. The circuit was designed in Eagle Cad and sent off to OSHPark PCB FAB.

 

The final 2 layer PCB

The final 2 layer PCB

I used the eagleUP  plugin for eagle and google SketchUp to create a 3d model of the board and the populated it with parts to ensure that the heatsink would fit.

SSCBRP

I used the eagleUP plugin for eagle and google SketchUp to create a 3d model of the board and the populated it with parts to ensure that the heatsink would fit.

 

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I didn’t have any smaller capacitors so unfortunately I had to make do.

 

The potentiometer was epoxied into the carcass of the old switch.

The potentiometer was epoxied into the carcass of the old switch.

 

IMG_4120

 

The final product with a heat-sink and potentiometer attached.

The final product with a heat-sink and potentiometer attached.

 

The design was successfully implemeted into my car however a small compromise had to be made. With the PWM frequency set above the human audible range (20KHz) the MOSFET was overheating. It is possible that the MOSFET was not fully saturated but it is more likely becauase high frequency switching causes the it to spend longer in the transistion region which wastes power. To overcome this, the PWM frequency was reduced  to 10KHz which does produce a faint whine under normal operation.

Arduslider

This arduino controlled, motorized camera slider uses both 3D printed parts and and 3D printer parts. It costs a fraction of the price of commercially available sliders and can be modified to suit you.

The video below was shot at Dartmoor National Park using this slider. The last 2 clips were done by combining this project with my earlier D40 remote hack to create a moving time lapse. Please view it in 1080p if you have the bandwidth…

 

Video

 

The dual rail design was inspired by a cliff elevator. The beauty of this design is that the two slider heads move in different directions and allow a camera to move further for a given length slider. It later came to light that a start-up on kickstarter had already implemented this design and had started the patent process. It looks like a really nice piece of kit, however it is far beyond what I was willing to spend with my limited filming experience.

 

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Arduslide: Arduino Camera slider

 

 

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Concept: counter slider mechanism

 

Required Parts:

  • 2x 1/4″ BSW x 1/2″ Long Whitworth Hex Bolt, Nut and Washer.
  • 2x M3 14mm bolts
  • 1x Nema 17 stepper motor
  • 1x Pololu A4988 Step Stick
  • 1x Arduino Nano, Uno or Leonardo.
  • 1x Veroboard / Stripboard
  • 1x DPDT Toggle Switch
  • 1x 10K Potentiometer
  • 1x Decorative Knob
  • 1x Smooth Idler Pulley Kit
  • 2x Sub-Minature Micro Switches
  • 1x GT2 Timing Belt: 2mm Pitch, 6mm Wide, 700mm Long
  • 4x Hardened Steel Smooth Rods: 8mm Outer Dia, 300mm Long
  • 1x Aluminum Round Tube, 1/2″ Outer Dia, 16swg Wall Thickness, 300mm Long
  • 12x LM8UU linear bearings, (8 are used but get 12 as they are damaged easily)

Optional Parts:

  • Camera Remote
  • DC Boost Regulator
  • USB Power Bank
  • USB Cable
  • 1/4″ Ball Head Tripod Camera Mount
Bits and bobs.

Bits and bobs.

 

Printed parts.

Printed parts.

 

Slider bearing fitment

Slider bearing fitment.

 

Rails and limit switches in place.

Rails and limit switches in place.

Rave Shades

Unlike other led glasses, this kit uses larger 3 mm LEDs which offers a superior visual effect when animations are played. Not only that, our kit has a wopping 24 x 8 led matrix to provide more detailed text and animations. There are 160 individually addressable LEDs that work together to display scrolling text, custom animations and much more. Rave Shades are a kit that requires self-assembly with tools used for basic electronics, like a soldering iron, wire cutters, and a glue gun.

Ever since my EL-EE-DEE glasses got featured on the instructables homepage, I have gotten many requests to build them on commission. The original glasses took an age to make, so I decided to design a kit for people so assemble themselves. This kit only takes a couple of hours to complete provided you have previous soldering experience. After trying out a couple of prototypes I was happy with the design and began the write up on instructables, the link to which can be found by clicking the big green button at the end of this post. At the time of being featured on the instructables homepage, I released the Kickstarter campaign.

Out of respect for an existing company called rave shades, I changed the name of this product to Ravez Shades, this has since led to some confusion.

Out of respect for an existing company called rave shades, I changed the name of this product to Ravez Shades, this has since led to some confusion.

 

 

Sample animation.

Sample animation.

 

Video

 

How to build!

EL-EE-DEE Glasses

I came up with this idea after seeing similar videos on the internet. I however have improved on the design. What separates my glasses from the others out there, is that mine use an external matrix driver and battery. What this means is, for the cost of having a cable down your back when wearing the device, you get a greatly improved battery life. This also allows the device to use ultra-bright 1210 LED’s. Not only that, a full sized arduino can be used if you have one. This project uses cheap and easy to gain parts to allow you to create a one of a kind fancy dress party piece. These glasses do not obstruct your vision any more than the original shutter shades. Even with the glasses on turned on, no glare from the LEDs can be seen.

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This caption can only say one thing. SWAG !

 

EL-EE-DEE (LED) Glasses

EL-EE-DEE (LED) Glasses

 

A pin was used to mark the position of the LEDs

A pin was used to mark the position of the LEDs

 

The pin left very discrete fiducial markings.

The pin left very discrete fiducial markings.

 

Vertical connections were made by meandering wires.

Vertical connections were made by meandering wires.

 

How to build!

Portable Boombox

Earlier last year my University house mates and I had house party, in order to provide ample volume and substantial bass I decided to up upgrade from a pair of bookshelf speakers to an all in one, easy to carry sound solution. At the heart of the boombox is a 200W RMS car stereo amplifier, which is more than capable of driving the twin 75W mid/bass drivers.

The system has a 9AH sealed lead acid (SLA) battery, a mains powered battery charger and a high current 12V switch mode power supply in the form of a 203W xbox power supply. A large triple throw rocker switch allows the desired power source to be selected and the smaller rocker switch puts the xbox power supply in sleep mode or awakens in depending on the position.

When a powered IEC (kettle cable) is inserted, the battery management system immediately begins to charge and then maintain the level of the battery.

Powerful portable boombox

Powerful portable boombox

 

Boombox internals.

Boombox internals.

 

Video

 

Interface panel

Interface panel

 

Schematic Diagram

Schematic Diagram

 

How to build!

This project was documented on Instructables.com, click the button above to visit the page.

Electro-Magetic Spike Generator

I made this device to demonstrate how electricity and magnetism interact with each other in a visual way.  The basic concept was to create a large and short lived pulse of current that passes through a coil. The huge current flowing  in a circular motion produces a strong magnetic field very briefly. This field passes through a conductive ring. This rise and collapse of the magnetic field induces eddy currents in the conductive ring. These eddy currents produce an opposing magnetic field which intern repels the initial magnetic field caused by the pulsed coil. Provided enough current passes through the initial coil and the conductive ring has a low electrical resistance it will fire straight up in the air. As magnetic field strength gets weaker the further away you are from it, it is important to dump a lot of energy in the shortest possible amount of time to have the largest projectile range.

 

Long exposure photo of the contactor upon discharge.

Long exposure photo of the contactor upon discharge.

 

When I demonstrated this to my peers and my lecturer at college it used a standard mains rated toggle switch to make the circuit. However, after 2 discharges the switch contacts had become welded together internally so I created open frame contactor who’s tip could be replaced easily. While it is possible to touch both contacts and receive a 400v shock, precautions were taken to reduce the likely hood of that happening.

The capacitor bank was made from 20 individual 100uF 400V electrolytic capacitors which were put in parallel with each other to hold more energy. The bank itself was then put in parallel with the capacitor on an external camera flash charging circuit. A disposable camera was not used as they are only rated for 1.5V which would mean approximately twice the charging time of the current setup at 3V.

 

A small part of the contactor vaporizes upon striking the positive terminal.

A small part of the contactor vaporizes upon striking the positive terminal.

 

Homemade fast acting contactor, with easy tip replacement.

Homemade fast acting contactor, with easy tip replacement.

 

Multiple capacitors are put in parallel with the old camera flash capacitor.

Multiple capacitors are put in parallel with the old camera flash capacitor.

 

Hard drive platter serves as a projectile.

Hard drive platter serves as a projectile.

 

Capacitor bank.

Capacitor bank.

 

Camera flash circuit.

Camera flash circuit.

LED Helmet

This cheap and cheerful LED matrix helmet was loosely based on the masks worn by Daft Punk in the music video for the track titled “Something About Us”.

A Johnson decoded decade counter (4017) was used to cycle through the columns of the matrix, while 2 shift registers allowed individual LEDs to be illuminated in the column determined by the counter. An Arduino Uno was used to control the counter and shift in the desired pixels to form an image. These images can be played in quick succession to create the illusion of motion.

Video

 

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The LED matrix on the right is driven by the same chips and is there for a duplicate of the left hand matrix.

 

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It is hard to make this look pretty, and it is even harder to look through.