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From idea to prototype in less than 1 week

Thanks to rapid prototyping tools like Fusion360 and Cura on the software side and a 3D printer on the hardware side, it’s possible convert ideas into solid objects within very short times and affordable budgets. The following are four projects I did since the end of last summer 2015 that meet the title of this post:

Gopro gimbal: A 2-axis angular motion stabiliser for drone footage. The lighter models out there in the market where more expensive than I wished (200€ and upwards), thus I decided to make my own. This one was 3D printed at around 40% infill density, making the frame parts weight less than 30 grams (excluding motors, controller and camera). The material is Laywood, a bioplastic filled with wood particles, giving it a very unique look. The cost: less than 5€ for the plastic parts and about 70€ for the electronics (excluding, of course, the GoPro camera).

 

Thermoelectric cold air blower: This was an experiment for testing an idea i had in mind for some time. The device consists of a room-temperature air inlet and a “cold air” outlet duct. The two black units are standard CPU fans and the central white block is a peltier element. In short, a Peltier element uses a voltage differential to create a temperature differential (this is called thermoelectrical cooling or Peltier effect); one side of the plate dissipates heat whilst the other gets cold. Sadly, the experiment results didn’t fulfil my expectations, with just a few degrees of difference between the inlet and outlet air temperature.

 

Water rocket electronic parachute release: This one was actually done in under 3 days, as part of a group activity for the introduction programme at the university —even though an electronic release system was not required for the activity. The plastic in this case contains photo-luminescent particles that make it glow in the dark.

For the curious, the launch system contained no sensors but a primitive take of detector I came up with: as you can see on top of the structure there are two red cables, one of them wrapped with clay —just to add mass. As the rocket accelerated at launch, the  two cables would touch and trigger a countdown in the Arduino (which I know it’s oversized, but by that time it was the only board I had with me). After ~2 seconds, the servomotor would release an elastic band that would split the rocket in two and release the parachute.

 

Light base for sculpture: This was for a Christmas gift. The sculpture would be a Lichtenberg figure (quite an amazing object: a real lightning “frozen” inside a transparent acrylic cube). To make it more interesting, I wanted the luminosity of the lights to oscillate slowly and randomly. For that I embedded batteries, cables, LEDs, micro-controller, switch and potentiometer for regulating the maximum luminosity inside the base in the smallest package I could produce. The outer design of the base mimics the shape of a sequoia trunk and the 3D printing material is again Laywood. I was quite satisfied with the result, as well as the receiver of the gift 😉

Spin-synchronised bike lights: I saw this idea more than a year ago when Revolights was doing its Kickstarted campaign and now I finally decided to give it a try and make my own. Probably not as neat as their’s (mine has a considerable bunch of unhidden cables), but still looks amazing when turned on.

A magnetic hall sensor installed on the wheel passes by a magnet installed on the frame on each revolution and informs the microcontroller, which records the exact time and updates the recorded speed. Then uses this data to synchronise each LED so it only lights up when it’s located in the quarter wheel closer to the ground and in front of the handlebar. When going fast enough, it looks like a mysterious light segment sticking to the wheel without rotating. Next step: make the light segment move creating some visual effects!

FabKids Sant Cugat

FabKids is an introductory course into digital fabrication for kids. Digital fabrication is the process of turning ideas into computer designs and then into real objects. Digital fabrication can be understood as the process of turning bits into atoms.

For those who haven’t heard about the maker movement, Fab Labs and makerspaces all this can sound a bit strange, so let me briefly introduce all these terms;

The maker or DIY (Do It Yourself) movement is a huge (almost online) community of people who enjoy imagining objects, machines, computer programs, or whatever!, and turning them into real projects. A great deal of these projects are shared through the internet for others to ask about, discuss, take ideas or even improve them. This way the maker community evolves very fast, with projects of increasing complexity where anyone can contribute or add their thoughts. Note that “maker” is just a way to say anyone interested in discovering how things work and making its own ideas real objects, machines…

From Fab Foundation:

Fab Lab is the educational outreach component of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), an extension of its research into digital fabrication and computation. A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent.

Maker spaces are almost the same concept, but they are not bounded to the CBA.

The idea of the Fabkids course started —as far as we know— last summer at the Fab10 event here in Barcelona, the 10th anual Fab Lab meeting. During the seven day-long event, kids learned computer aided design (CAD), 3D scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, milling, mold making, mold casting and electronics with Arduino.

After the great success of the first FabKids we, a local team of three people, decided to keep on with the initiative in Sant Cugat —a town next to Barcelona— and organise a 4 day long course during Easter week.

In this first edition of FabKids Sant Cugat we had 19 girls and boys (more girls than boys!) with ages ranging from 11 to 15. Actually there weren’t more than 17 kids per day, as some of them couldn’t book for the four days. They learnt 3D and 2D design with CAD software, 3D scanning, 3D printing and Laser cutting. In addition to all this fabrication tools, they also got in touch with programming and electronics using Arduino boards.

Some details about the course:

It was held at the Creativity Room at ESADE Creapolis (very cool room!).

Our toolset included:

  • x4 3D printers (3 of which where lend by RepRap BCN, the other was mine).
  • x1 Laser cutter (lend by Laser Project).
  • x2 Kinect 3D scanners.
  • x17 computers.
  • About 12 Arduino boards and many electronic components.

The communication language was either Catalan or Spanish.

On the software side, the kids learned or familiarised with:

We received a very good feedback both from both the kids and the parents, and hence we wish to repeat the experience in short.

Welcome!!!

Hi, and welcome to FutureTechMaker! I write this site with the aim to share my technology projects with other enthusiasts.

Below you’ll find posts of small projects, events, videos, etc. On the ‘projects’ section in the menu bar above there are some longer-termed projects.

Thanks for visiting, and don’t hesitate to leave feedback if you’d like to!