Microsoft Integrates Autodesk's 3D Printing Platform Spark Into Windows 10 81

Posted by timothy
from the try-explaining-that-to-grandma dept.
An anonymous reader writes: At Microsoft's Build 2015 developer conference today, Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft vice president of developer and platform evangelism, announced new 3D printing features in Windows 10. More specifically, Autodesk Spark is being integrated into Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system. Spark is a platform for building 3D printing software, hardware, materials, and services. Adding it to Windows 10 is a big win for Autodesk.

Ask Slashdot: How Should I Build a Maker Space For a Liberal Arts College? 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-it-out-of-LEGO dept.
XxtraLarGe writes: I work for a small liberal arts college, and have been asked to research makerspaces. I have done a bunch of initial research which tells me a lot about equipment being used, as well as location, etc., but what I'm not finding are what to know before you start, or what it takes to make the effort worthwhile.

I'd be interested in hearing from other educators, staff, students and other maker community members on Slashdot that had makerspaces at their schools or community — can be any level — and what was the experience like? 3D printer, 3D scanner & Laser cutting machines seem to be a given, so I'd like to hear what kinds of think-outside-the-box equipment/materials did you have? We are considering putting it in our library, which seems to be a popular choice with most schools. There's also the possibility of having it somewhere in town that it could be more accessible to members of the community, maybe even as a co-op.

The Next Generation of Medical Tools May Be Home-brewed 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-your-raspberry-pi-into-a-pacemaker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the Little Devices Lab at MIT, Jose Gomez-Marquez builds medical tools using a DIY mindset. He's designing cheap alternatives to existing hospital equipment to help spread high-quality medical care around the world. Gomez-Marquez is at the forefront of a large and often-unrecognized group of DIY medical tool builders. Together they are challenging the idea that staying healthy requires extraordinarily expensive, sophisticated equipment built by massive corporations. Harnessing this inventive energy, he argues, could improve the health of thousands of people around the world.

Meet the Firmware Lead For Google's Project Ara Modular Smartphone (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the build-it-one-piece-at-a-time dept.
According to Wikipedia, 'Project Ara is the codename for an initiative that aims to develop an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.' Google is the sponsor, and the project seems to be moving faster than some people expect it to. There's a Project Ara website, of course, a GitHub repository, a Facebook page, even an Ara subreddit. During his conversation with Timothy Lord, Ara firmware project lead (and spokesman) Marti Bolivar said it won't be long before prototype Ara modular phones start user testing. Meanwhile, if you want to see what Marti and his coworkers have been up to lately, besides this interview, you can read a transcription of his talk (including slides) from the January Project Ara Developers Conference in Singapore.

Breakthough Makes Transparent Aluminum Affordable 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-computer dept.
frank249 writes: In the Star Trek universe, transparent aluminum is used in various fittings in starships, including exterior ship portals and windows. In real life, Aluminium oxynitride is a form of ceramic whose properties are similar to those of the fictional substance seen in Star Trek. It has a hardness of 7.7 Mohs and was patented in 1980. It has military applications as bullet-resistant armor, but is too expensive for widespread use.

Now, there has been a major breakthrough in materials science. After decades of research and development, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape. This material, known as Spinel (magnesium aluminate), is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum into transparent sheets. Spinel weighs just a fraction of a modern bulletproof pane.

The World of 3D Portraiture 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-looks-just-like-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this BBC story about the niche market of 3D printed "selfie" models. By now we're familiar with tales of 3D-printed marvels, from guns to duck prosthetics. But when I traveled to a physics conference in March, I wasn't expecting to end up with a full colour printout of myself. However, at a small stall that popped up on Industry Day at the American Physical Society's March meeting — that is precisely the service that was being offered. I stepped on to a little rotating platform, tried to stand still for a few awkward minutes while a camera scanned me up and down, and then filled out a form. A few weeks later, a box has arrived in the post. Somewhere inside it, my two-inch twin is waiting for me to overcome my trepidation and show him the light of day. But I'm in no hurry; it all seems a bit... odd. The box sits on my desk for several days. Even though getting 'printed' puts me in the illustrious company of Barack Obama and Richard III, I'm unsure about my decision. What, I wonder, does someone do with a small selfie in statue form? Where does this business find its customers?

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 75

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 20

Posted by Roblimo
from the monocopter-bicopter-tricopter-quadcopter dept.
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.

MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees 177

Posted by timothy
from the new-ones-being-printed dept.
Jason Koebler writes MakerBot fired roughly 20 percent of its staff Friday. Figures from 2014 placed the company's ranks at 500, meaning the cuts could equate to roughly 100 employees. The orders came from new CEO Jonathan Jaglom, Motherboard was told. Employees are apparently being led out of the company's Brooklyn office by security today. "It's about 20 percent of staff," a MakerBot representative, who asked not to be identified because she had not received approval to speak to the press, told Motherboard. "Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming."

Embedded Linux Takes to the Skies (Video) 26

Posted by Roblimo
from the robot-drones-want-you-to-take-them-to-your-leader-(beep) dept.
This is an interview with Clay McClure. He makes his living designing 'custom Linux software solutions for technology start-ups in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area.' He also works on Embedded Linux for autonomous drones. Here's a link to slides from a talk he gave on exactly that topic: Flying Penguins - Embedded Linux Applications for autonomous UAVs, and that's far from all he has to say about making Linux-controlled drones. However, for some reason Timothy and Clay didn't talk about using drones for target practice. Perhaps they can discuss that another time.

NOTE: We urge you to read the transcript of this interview even if you prefer watching videos; it contains material we left out of the video due to sound problems.
Open Source

The Makerspace Is the Next Open Source Frontier 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the pull-requests-to-clean-up-corner-cases dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Jono Bacon explains that in the same way open source spawned millions of careers and thousands of companies, the same openness has massive potential when applied to products. It could potentially jumpstart a revolution in how we conceptualize, build, and share things and how we experiment and innovate to push the boundaries of science and technology. He outlines some steps for adapting open source principles to physical creations: "...we will need to create a premise of a blueprint bundle. In much the same way I can download a branch from Git or a tarball with some code, complete with build system, we will want to be able to download a single branch or tarball with the full software, hardware designs, and more for how to create an open product. ... we will need to figure out how we collaborate and improve different pieces of these projects. For example, if someone refines a 3D printed piece of a drone, how do they fork the blueprints, submit their changes, have them reviewed, and get them merged into the project? Another question could relate to automated testing: when building physical products we can't always afford to build and test new physical hardware for it to then crash and burn, so how can we have unit tests for hardware or test in a virtual setting?"

1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-work dept.
szczys writes Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container? We covered what the personal computer revolution was like in Eastern Bloc countries back in December.
Hardware Hacking

Another 'Draw Your Own Circuits' System at SXSW (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-an-easy-way-to-connect-the-'rear'-speakers-in-your-home-theater-system? dept.
While Timothy Lord was at SXSW, he chatted with Yuki Nishida of AgIC and learned about the company's conductive ink products. But AgIC wasn't the only company at SXSW showing off conductive ink. You could also meet the Electroninks people and see their Circuit Scribe product, which had a Kickstarter campaign a while back that raised $574,425.

This kind of product seems to be attractive to the kind of people who fund Kickstarter projects, and this bunch seems to have good resumes and some interesting, well thought-out products. There is apparently room in the 'draw circuits and learn electrical basics' market for both AgIC and Electroninks -- and probably for another dozen competitors, too.

3D Printed Guns Might Lead To Law Changes In Australia 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-shoot dept.
angry tapir writes An inquiry by an Australian Senate committee has recommended the introduction of uniform laws across jurisdictions in the country "regulating the manufacture of 3D printed firearms and firearm parts." Although current laws are in general believed to cover 3D printed guns, there are concerns there may be inconsistencies across different Australian jurisdictions. Although there aren't any high-profile cases of 3D printed weapons being used in crimes in the country, earlier this year a raid in Queensland recovered 3D printed firearm parts.
Hardware Hacking

eBay Sales Patterns Show That the Maker Movement is Still Growing (Video) 24

Posted by Roblimo
from the homemade-always-tastes-better dept.
Meet Aron Hsiao. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction.

Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.

Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-are-excited-about-replicating-hard-plastic dept.
merbs writes: In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so. They've developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results (PDF) in the journal Optics. Hajimiri claims the imager may soon allow consumers to snap a photo of just about anything, and then, with a good enough 3D printer, use it to create a real-life replica "accurate to within microns of the original object."
Hardware Hacking

Armstrap Claims to Make ARM Prototyping Easier (Video) 41

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-just-easy-but-fun-too dept.
It almost seems too perfect that the originator of the Armstrap 'community of engineers and makers' is named Charles Armstrap. He just introduces himself as 'Charles' on the website. Names aside, is 100% open source, including circuit board designs. This is not a 'draw your own circuit boards' bunch, although you certainly could if you wanted to badly enough since they provide schematics and even full CAD drawings of what they make. The reason they do this is laid out on their Core Values page. The boards Armstrap sells are not expensive, but if you are going to be truly open source, you need to supply the means to duplicate and modify or extend your work, as is totally permitted under the MIT License they use.
Hardware Hacking

Radar That Sees Through Walls Built In Garage 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the real-life-wall-hacks dept.
szczys writes: Building radar in his garage is nothing new to Greg Charvat. He has a PhD in this stuff and has literally written the book (and a University course) on building your own radar system. This time around it's Phased-Array Radar. This is more than just judging the speed of a baseball or Ferrari. This rig can actually see through walls. Greg uses the example of a soda can to illustrate the quality and resolution possible from this type of system.
Hardware Hacking

Turning the Arduino Uno Into an Apple ][ 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-new-is-old dept.
An anonymous reader writes: To demonstrate how powerful modern computers are compared to their forebears, engineer Damian Peckett decided to approximate an Apple ][ with an Arduino Uno. In this post, he explains how he did it, from emulating the 6502 processor to reinventing how characters were displayed on the screen. "The Apple II used a novel approach for video generation, at the time most microcomputers used an interlaced frame buffer where adjacent rows were not stored sequentially in memory. This made it easier to generate interlaced video. The Apple II took this approach one step further, using an 8:1 interlacing scheme. This had the first line followed by the ninth line. This approach allowed Steve Wozniak to avoid read/write collisions with the video memory without additional circuitry. A very smart hack!" Peckett includes code implementations and circuit diagrams.

Tiny LIDAR Chip Could Add Cheap 3D Sensing to Cellphones and Tablets 62

Posted by timothy
from the dig-your-shape-baby dept.
There are expensive dedicated devices that do 3D scanning (like the high-end tablet in Google's Project Tango), and versatile but bulky add-ons, like the Sense from 3D Systems, but it's not a capability built into the typical cellphone or tablet. That could change, thanks to a microsensor being prototyped now (at low resolution) at CalTech. From The Verge's coverage: The tiny chip, called a nanophotonic coherent imager, uses a form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to capture height, width, and depth information from each pixel. LIDAR, which shines a laser on the target and then analyzes the light waves that are reflected back to the sensor, are best known for their use in precision-guided missile systems and self-driving cars.

While LIDAR itself isn't new, [project lead Ali] Hajimiri explains that "by having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager." Each "pixel" on the new sensor can individually analyze the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected waves, producing a single piece of 3D data. The data from all of the pixels combined can produce a full 3D scan. In addition, the researchers' implementation allows for an incredibly tiny and low-cost scanner, all while maintaining accuracy. According to the researchers, the chip can produce scans that are within microns of the original.