Articles by christopherreilly

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We’ve got proof of the first trans-continental DIYLILCNC build, from Charles Haupt in South Africa.  The DIYLILCNC forum has a great account of the issues Charles faced in building his copy of the DIYLILCNC.  Despite having trouble sourcing some of the hardware, it looks like he did a great job on the  build. There’s even a hinged enclosure with windows to cut down on noise & dust. Way to go Charles!

 

 

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

 

 

 

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

 

 

 

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

Charles Haupt's DIYLILCNC build in South Africa

 

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Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly will be in attendance at the 2010 Open Hardware Summit at New York’s Hall of Science.  Taylor will participate in a panel discussion titled PRODUCTIZING: Scaling/ Manufacturing/ Moving beyond DIY. This promises to be an amazing day of talks, with participants from Make, NASA, Wired, Creative Commons and more.

Tickets include breakfast, lunch and cocktail hour at the end of the day. Along with your ticket price, you will also receive a one-day pass to Maker Faire New York! Special thanks to Maker Faire for partnering with the Open Hardware Summit.

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We use a special version of the Linux open-source operating system called Enhanced Machine Controller to control our DIYLILCNC.  The EMC team recently released an updated version of their Linux distribution.  To celebrate, I’ve written this how-to explaining how easy it is to set up a cheap Linux PC for controlling CNC devices like the DIYLILCNC.

One aspect of CNC control that is sometimes a challenge is the need for a parallel port (also known as DB-25 or COM port); many newer machines do not come with on-board parallel ports. Luckily, Newegg carries some great cheap barebones computer systems with on-board parallel ports.  Here’s the hardware that I spec’ed for this project:

Since I don’t believe in wasting money on an optical drive, we’ll just install the operating system via USB.  Don’t worry, it’s easy!  You’ll need a 1 gigabyte (or more) USB flash drive as well as a Windows or Linux machine to set up the installer.

Ready? Here we go…

Part 1: Set up a USB Flash Drive as a Linux Boot Disc

 

 

Step 1: Download EMC

Step 1: Download EMC/Linux 10.04 Live CD ISO from linuxcnc.org.

 

Download the newest version (10.04 at the time this was written) of EMC from http://linuxcnc.org. You can use an older version if you want, but you’ll need to go through extra steps that aren’t covered here.

 

 

Step 2: Download UNetbootin

Step 2: Download UNetbootin

 

Download UNetbootin, a program that lets you set up a USB flash drive as a Linux boot disc.

 

 

Step 3: Find the Drive Letter of Your USB Flash Drive

Step 3: Find the Drive Letter of Your USB Flash Drive

 

Plug in your USB drive and find the letter identifier, usually listed under My Computer in Windows. In the example, it’s J:.

 

 

Step 4: Run UNetbootin.

Step 4: Run UNetbootin.

 

In UNetbootin, select the EMC ISO as the Diskimage, and select your USB Drive letter. Hit OK, and UNetbootin will process for a while. When you are prompted to restart, exit the program and eject your USB drive.

Part 2: Build Your Computer

When you’re working with any kind of electronics, you want to take care to avoid static discharge which could fry various important components. If you do a lot of computer building/breakdowns, you may want to invest in an antistatic wrist strap.  At the very least, try to touch something that’s grounded before handling unshielded components.

 

 

Step 5: Gather Your Parts (RAM, Hard Drive, Barebones Case & Motherboard)

Step 5: Gather Your Parts (RAM, Hard Drive, Barebones Case & Motherboard)

 

 

 

Step 6: Remove the Side Panel by Loosening the Screw on the Back.

Step 6: Remove the Side Panel by Loosening the Screw on the Back.

 

 

 

Step 7: Remove the Front Panel by Unhooking the Plastic Tabs on Top.

Step 7: Remove the Front Panel by Unhooking the Plastic Tabs on Top.

 

 

 

Step 8: Remove Both Screws on the Front Panel

Step 8: Remove Both Screws on the Front Panel

 

 

 

Step 9: Lift the Interior Panel Back and Up.

Step 9: Lift the Interior Panel Back and Up.

 

 

 

Step 10: Now You're Ready to Put the Parts in!

Step 10: Now You're Ready to Put the Parts in!

 

 

 

Step 11: Insert the RAM.

Step 11: Insert the RAM.

 

 

 

Step 12: Insert the Hard Drive.

Step 12: Insert the Hard Drive.

 

The hard drive sits in the front of the case, and attaches with a screw. It’s actually easier to insert & screw in first, then attach cables, despite what the picture shows.

 

 

Step 13: Attach the Power and SATA Cables to the Hard Drive

Step 13: Attach the Power and SATA Cables to the Hard Drive

 

Thats it! Close the case back up and start plugging in the power, monitor, keyboard & mouse.

Part 3: Installing Linux from a USB Flash Drive

Once your case is reassembled, plug in your monitor, keyboard, mouse and power.  Also plug in the flash drive you set up with UNetbooting in Part 1.

Now turn it on!

 

 

Step 14: At the Boot Screen, Hit 'Esc'.

Step 14: At the Boot Screen, Hit 'Esc'.

 

 

 

Step 15: Select USB as the Boot Device

Step 15: Select USB as the Boot Device

 

 

 

Step 16: Use the Default Options in the UNetbootin Menu

Step 16: Use the Default Options in the UNetbootin Menu

 

 

 

Step 17: Ubuntu Installer Boots from the USB Drive

Step 17: Ubuntu Installer Boots from the USB Drive

 

 

 

Step 18: Click the Install Icon on the Desktop

Step 18: Click the Install Icon on the Desktop

 

 

 

Step 19: Follow the Prompts, and Ubuntu will Install

Step 19: Follow the Prompts, and Ubuntu will Install

 

After installing, you’ll need to remove the thumb drive and reboot.

Part 4: Configuring Enhanced Machine Controller for CNC Control

Restart you Linux box, and you’ll be ready to setup configurations for a CNC device. In this example, we’ll plug in settings for the DIYLILCNC.

 

 

Step 20: Run a Latency Test

Step 20: Run a Latency Test

 

While you run the latency test, you should do things that tax the computer, for example typing ‘glxgears’ in the Terminal. Let the test run for a few minutes.

 

 

Step 21: The Lower Middle Number is What you Want.

Step 21: The Lower Middle Number is What you Want.

 

 

 

Step 22: Run Stepconf Wizard

Step 22: Run Stepconf Wizard & Create a New Configuration.

 

 

 

Step 23: Basic Machine Info

Step 23: Basic Machine Info

 

 

 

Step 24: Parallel Port Setup

Step 24: Parallel Port Setup

 

 

 

Step 25: X Axis Configuration.

Step 25: X Axis Configuration.

 

 

 

Step 26: Y Axis Configuration.

Step 26: Y Axis Configuration.

 

 

 

Step 27: Z Axis Configuration.

Step 27: Z Axis Configuration.

 

 

 

Step 28: Advanced Configuration Options. Leave these blank!

Step 28: Advanced Configuration Options. Leave these blank!

 

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The Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library is a site housing a free repository of amazing, mechanical 3D models just waiting to be printed. Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering holds the Reuleaux Collection of Mechanisms and Machines, an important collection of 19th-century machine elements; many of these examples have been recreated as 3D models which can be reproduced on 3D printers like the AOC‘s Dimension SST 1200.

This site is an amazing example of what the future of design and production may hold: the ability to simply download the description of an object or device, and produce it on-site using your own 3D printer.

Below is an example of one of the dozens of models available at KMDDL:

 

The original Endless Screw model from the Reuleaux collection.

The original Endless Screw model from the Reuleaux collection.

 

Pappus of Alexandria (3rd century AD) a Greek mathematician, is credited for an early version of the endless screw. In this model, the rotation of the horizontal screw turns a gear about an axis perpendicular to the screw axis. This mechanism was also used by Leonardo da Vinci as a component in many of his designs for machines.

 

Endless Screw CAD modeled in Pro/Engineer by Jimmy Hai.

Endless Screw CAD modeled in Pro/Engineer by Jimmy Hai.

 

 

3D Print of Endless Screw CAD Model

3D Print of Endless Screw CAD Model.

 

via the Dimension 3D Printing site:

Visitors to Cornell University’s online digital library and museum of kinematic mechanisms are beginning to discover its exhibits of more than 300 historical models of 19th-century machines. Cornell University’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering owns the largest set of Franz Reueaux’s kinematic mechanisms in the world. The school acquired these cast iron and brass models in 1862 and has them on display throughout the department.

In a collaborative effort and supported by funds from the National Science Foundation as a National Science Digital Library collection and also funds from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, Cornell University faculty and librarians developed The Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library (K-MODDL), which is an open access, multimedia resource for learning and teaching about kinematics — the geometry of pure motion — and the history and theory of machines. The K-MODDL team is using a Dimension 3D Printer to reproduce physical models from digital files. STL files for several models are available for download at the K-MODDL web site, allowing users with access to a 3D Printer to download, print, and interact with their own fully functional physical replicas.

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Taylor Hokanson and I had a blast demonstrating the DIYLILCNC at Detroit’s Maker Faire 2010. SAIC student Stephen Gulau was gracious enough to lend us his build. We met lots of CNC enthusiasts and converted a some new ones. Here are a few photos!

 

Stephen Gulau's Build at Maker Faire Detroit 2010

Stephen Gulau's DIYLILCNC Build at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

 

 

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage.

 

 

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage.

 

 

A Demo of Rough and Finish Passes Milled on the DIYLILCNC.

A Demo of Rough and Finish Passes Milled on the DIYLILCNC.

 

 

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage

Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly Discuss the DIYLILCNC on the Make Magazine Demo Stage.

 

 

DIYLILCNC Mills a Wind Turbine Blade.

DIYLILCNC Mills a Wind Turbine Blade.

 

 

Bizarre Bikes Bountiful at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

Bizarre Bikes Bountiful at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

 

 

Bizarre Bikes Bountiful at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

Bizarre Bikes Bountiful at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

 

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Some examples of [amazingly] high-detail 3D prints produced on Envisintec’s Perfactory 3D printers.  The resolution on these prints is amazing: 25 microns in the Z axis; that means that each layer of material is just a little over 0.0009″ thick!  The fine print detail makes this printer ideal for jewelery,  medical, dental, and other casting applications.  Materials include wax, plastic, and a range of high-temperature polymers.

 

Perfactory 3D print. (Image via the Shapeways blog)

Perfactory 3D print. (Image via the Shapeways blog)

 

 

 

Perfactory 3D print. (Image via the Shapeways blog)

Perfactory 3D print. (Image via the Shapeways blog)

 

The Perfactory is a Digital Light Projection (DLP) printer.  The 3D print material starts out as a liquid; when the liquid is exposed to the printer’s light it hardens. DLP printers form parts by building up and curing very thin layers of polymer, eventually taking the shape of the digital source file.  When printing is finished, the uncured liquid polymer is drained away, leaving the hardened part.  See this link for an example of the printing process.

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DIYLILCNC Demo & Lecture @ Dorkbot Chicago

DIYLILCNC Demo & Lecture @ Dorkbot Chicago

 

Join Chris Reilly and Taylor Hokanson for a demo and short lecture on the DIYLILCNC project at Dorkbot Chicago. We’ll be covering the history and evolution of the DIYLILCNC project, some general background of CNC technology, some of the shortcomings of the present state of CNC and how those are addressed by open-source hardware projects like the DIYLILCNC. We’ll also go over the specs of the DIYLILCNC, giving details about how it is built and its functions.

Dorkbot Chicago @ Enemy Sound
1550 N. Milwaukee Ave,
Chicago, IL, 60622
August 26, 2010 7-8:00 pm
FREE

Dorkbot: People doing strange things with electricity. The main goals of Dorkbot are: to create an informal, friendly environment in which people can talk about the work they’re doing and to foster discussion about that work; to help bring together people from different backgrounds who are interested in similar things; to give us all an opportunity to see the strange things our neighbors are doing with electricity. Dorkbot isn’t really a forum for formal artist talks or lectures, but rather a chance for diverse people to have friendly conversations about interesting ideas.

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Mcor Matrix 300 (via Fabbaloo)

Mcor Matrix 300 (via Fabbaloo)

 

The Mcor Matrix is a desktop 3D printer that uses standard letter-size office paper to print 3D objects from digital CAD files. The Matrix uses a technique called laminated object modeling, reproducing 3D objects by layering thin sheet material, similar to a topographical map. A file sent to the printer is divided up into horizontal cr0ss-sections; a blade or other cutting device (many other LOM printers use lasers) cuts each profile into a sheet of material, which is then laid down on a work bed. Subsequent layers are glued to previous sheets, eventually forming the whole model. Waste paper is left in place, acting as a support material for undercuts in the object. After printing, waste paper is removed (presumably by hand) for recycling. The print resolution is about 0.003″ using standard 20lb. bond paper; thicker paper can be used for a coarser resolution (0.007″) and increased printing speed. Wired has a great pdf outlining the Matrix’s printing process.

 

 

Mcor Matrix Paper 3D Printed Object (via RapidToday)

Mcor Matrix Paper 3D Printed Object (via RapidToday)

 

The Matrix retails for about $30,000, comparable to many other 3D printers. Where it shines in terms of cost is it’s material; paper, of course, is relatively cheap, especially in comparison to other plastic or resin-based materials used in other printers. You can even use printed-on photocopy paper. Other consumables are a PVA-based adhesive used to glue the layers together; currently Mcor has no specific pricing information available for the adhesive, but generally PVA-based glues are cheap on the order of Elmer’s glue or wood glue. Replaceable tungsten-carbide blades are used to cut profiles out of each layer; currently Mcor has no specific pricing information available for the blades.

Paper as a prototyping material has the advantage of being highly recyclable/reusable, giving the Matrix a leg up on 3D print users who make sustainability a priority. Parts durability is obviously fairly low, making the Matrix more suited to visualizing 3D designs as opposed to making more durable/usable parts. I haven’t handled an Matrix print personally, but my guess is the durability  would be a bit more than that of a Zcorp print.

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Emotiv’s EPOC Neuroheadset looks like it could be the keyboard & mouse of the future. The wireless headset uses a gyroscope and electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to map electrical activity in the brain to on-screen computer interactions.  EEG electrodes take measurements near the scalp, making the headset totally non-invasive.  Software comes along with the headset that can be used to convert an individual’s signal activity to “any combination of keystrokes”.  With a price tag of $300, the EPOC is available in a “limited edition,” along with an App Store available to early adopters. Currently the EPOC is Windows-only, though purportedly Mac and Linux versions are in the works. There’s also a developer’s SDK available for $500.

As devices like this become more prevalent, it will be very interesting to see the direction that human-computer interaction takes.  On one hand, the keyboard and mouse model is very successful because it’s more or less ubiquitous — you don’t have to re-learn it each time you sit down at a computer.  On the other hand, heavy computer users, gamers, artists and the like will be quick to point out the shortcomings of traditional computer interfaces.  As computers diverge further from the desktop model (laptops, netbooks, smartphones, iPads, etc.) the ubiquitous interfaces will probably disappear, or at least change considerably, simply by virtue of the computer changing shape.

Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of evidence showing the device doing much more than simple facial recognition, and moving or rotating 3D objects.  The company’s press video is from 2008, which is also strange–seems like there could be quite a few interesting updates in the past two years.  At any rate, I’d love to have one of these things to play with, and at only $300, maybe this’ll be my early Christmas present.

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DIYLILCNC @ Maker Faire Detroit 2010

DIYLILCNC @ Maker Faire Detroit 2010

 

Get up close and personal with a DIYLILCNC in action!  Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly will be running demos, answering questions, and having fun at Maker Faire Detroit 2010.

Saturday, July 31st 9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 1st 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Organized by the staff of Make magazine, makezine.com and craftzine.com, Maker Faire is a newfangled fair that brings together science, art, craft and engineering plus music in a fun, energized, and exciting public forum.

The aim is to inspire people of all ages to roll up their sleeves and become makers. This family-friendly event showcases the amazing work of all kinds of makers – anyone who is embracing the DIY spirit and wants to share their accomplishments with an appreciative audience.

The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI, 48124
(800) 835-5237

Cost: $25 – $50

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