Converting An Inkjet Printer To Print PCBs

Proof that no piece of technology is ever truly outdated, maker Ryan Pourcillie has converted an Epson C86 inkjet printer to print PCBs onto copper clad boards positioned on a modified metal print tray. Armed with a Dremel, and making many clever modifications to the printer chassis, his printer has been converted to print using a special ink that resists etching chemistry, all the while fooling the sensor into believe it is printing on paper! After several printing tests, and failures, Ryan achieved success and can now print an even-coated PCB without worrying about doing a thermal transfer of the etch mask.

Now instead of throwing out his antiquated printer, Ryan has entered his mod in the Project Remake Contest, which asks makers to submit functional or simple beautiful projects built from would-be landfill fodder. Ryan is now entered to possibly win one of five MakerBot Replicators and has a shot at an all-expenses paid trip to World Maker Faire in NYC this September! Submit your project to Project Remake today for your own chance to win these prizes!

Top view of the print head cleaner, before cleaning

The modified print bed

A successfully etched printed PCB

See Ryan’s entire project instructions here.

Maker Faire Bay Area: CamDAX Interview

CamDAX Tesla Coil

The countdown to our 7th annual Maker Faire Bay Area marches on, and we are less than a month away from the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth! Taking place on May 19 and 20 at the San Mateo Fairground, this year’s Faire is guaranteed to be a whirlwind of inspiration. One of the fine young makers who will be showing projects at the Faire is 16-year-old Cameron Mira (CamDAX), maker, artist, club organizer. We chatted with Cameron about the projects he’s bringing to the Faire and how he developed his maker chops.

1. Tell us about the audio-modulated full-bridge Tesla coil you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
When I was around five, during lightning storms, me and my mom would sit in the kitchen and watch the lightning strikes in the distance — it was really neat. Where I lived at the time was very flat so you could see it easily. A few years ago I saw ArcAttack at Maker Faire and it showed me how much I really like lightning. This last year I built a spark gap Tesla coil, and I’ve been experimenting almost twice a week with [the effects on] different things. First I tried the usual stuff: fluorescent lights, wood, or a screwdriver. Then I tried more elaborate things like Hershey’s Kisses, scanner laser tubes, wire sculptures, and then fused glass pieces.

When the Young Makers program came around, I joined and decided to make an audio-modulated full-bridge solid state Tesla coil. We haven’t finished it yet, but we plan on having it done in time for Maker Faire. It’s going to have a cool light-up control panel with an RGB LCD screen, a big red button, metal pushbuttons with LED rings, and some other light-up components. The buttons have to light up so you can see them in the dark. We hope to play songs no one else has tried, like the Quantum Leap theme song, Scooby Doo theme song, and maybe a Beatles song. Our demonstrations will include music playing through the coil and lightning sculptures made out of metal and glass.

2. The Tesla coil is your main project. What other projects will you be bringing?
I will also have my Super Nintenduino, which is a red LED matrix video game system powered by an Arduino. I have a few mechanical Lego sculptures, a 4-cylinder engine, an inaccurate Lego clock, a circuit-bent toy piano, Fredric the LED Candle Light Synth, and some Rock Band drums I hacked into a MIDI drum set using the Arduino Drum Kit Kit. I’ll have some of BATEC‘s projects, and my DAX X, a custom-built computer running Mac OS X 10.6.8. I will also bring my R/C Barbie Jeep (Power Wheels) that I have installed a stereo system in. Yes, I like to defy society and ride around in a Barbie Jeep playing “Barbie Girl.” There is nothing wrong with a regular guy being in touch with his feminine side!

3. You’ve attended Maker Faire in the past. What was your experience like and why did you decided to participate as a maker this year?
My experiences at previous Maker Faires have been very inspiring. The things that I remember the most are the 3D printers, Tesla coils, musical devices, EL wire, pedal-powered cars, and lasers. I decided to participate this year because I like to share my work with people and inspire people. I want people to know me, to recognize me for my creativity, and know I’m not like a zombie person. A zombie person is someone who goes about their life going to school or work then coming home and just watching TV or playing video games and not making a difference. Makers make a difference.

CamDAX Model Railroad

4. You have such a wide range of interests, from electronics to music, photography, and painting. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things?
I have a wide range of interests because I like to be a Renaissance man like Leonardo da Vinci. I come from a family of makers and artists, and I got started making at a young age. It’s a funny story: when I was two, I knew where the one Torx screwdriver was that worked to take apart my tractor toy. My mom found my tractor all taken apart in a million pieces one day and thought my dad did it. She got the Torx screwdriver out and put it back together, while I watched. She went back to what she was doing, and found the toy taken apart again! My mom called my dad to tell him I took the toy apart, and he said he didn’t take apart my toy in the first place!

Another time, when I was six, I was playing with a little toy phone and I got some AV cables. I somehow stripped them and plugged them into a VCR. I shoved the two leads into the toy phone where a watch battery was, and the musical phone went off.

I got to where I am now in making because me and my mom decided to start a model railroad. I did all the electrical work and my mom did most of the scenery. One day I was going to Barnes and Noble to look at a Model Railroader magazine. I liked to gaze at the other hobby magazines like Maximum PC. My eyes got stuck on this one very colorful magazine, MAKE; it had all kinds of DIY projects and made it seem like even I could do them. There was an article on the very first Maker Faire. One year, a friend of mine invited me to go to Maker Faire with him, so I went, and that was like a slingshot for my brain. I bought a few things at the Maker Shed and put them together. Later on I got more stuff off the internet from places I had just found. I had been hosting my own website at the time so I made a device that beeped and blinked whenever someone visited my website. My website wasn’t known at the time, so it only went off when I went to my site. But I kept going to Maker Faire, getting stuff from Maker Shed, and making things for school projects. Eventually I got enough knowledge to know what I would need to make anything I want.

CamDAX Anime Drawing

5. Who/what are your inspirations? Heros?
There have been many people who have inspired me. To name a few, Leonardo da Vinci, ArcAttack, Steve Ward, Nikola Tesla, Collin Cunningham, Pixar, George Rhoads, and Bre Pettis. Most of my project inspirations come from looking online at parts or someone else’s thing, or just looking at stuff and thinking what would make this cooler! My main inspiration for art comes from Pixar movies; watching Pixar movies is our family’s favorite thing to do together.

6. You founded the Bay Area Teen Electro Club (BATEC). How did that come about and what types of projects do club members work on?
I had been making for a while all by myself and I got bored of making stuff by myself. I decided to get some friends together and teach them my skills. We put together kits from places like Maker Shed and Adafruit. We also make things following a how-to tutorials from places like Instructables. Sometimes we just take old electronics apart and try to make something new out of them.

7. Your Kickstarter project just got successfully funded. Congrats! Was this your first experience with crowd funding? How was it?
It was great. The only hard part is getting the word out to the right people. Most of our backers were friends or family, but there were a few people we didn’t know. I think I’m going to use Kickstarter more often for project funding, because right now money has been the only thing holding me back.

8. You’re currently 16 years old, correct? What is your dream job at this point?
You might think I would go for a job in computer programming or electronics, but actually I would like to work as an artist. I know I would get bored as an electronics engineer, and not do my personal projects anymore because basically, why would I do my work at home? One thing that never bores me is art. I would like to work for Pixar someday working on stuff like concept art.

9. What advice would you give to other young makers out there just getting started with hands-on projects?
My advice would be get some MAKE magazine issues! Also look at the DIY how-to sites, YouTube, blogs, and at personal websites all over the internet. These tend to be my main sources of inspiration. You just gotta dive into making. If you make a mistake, what did you learn?

10. If you could use your skills as a maker to create one great invention or solve one big problem, what would that be?
I would create a device that would make the world peaceful.

Awesome Cameron! We’re looking forward to checking out your builds at the Faire.

For folks who want to come join us, all the information you need, including how to buy early bird discount tickets, is on the Maker Faire Bay Area site. See you there!

Phone Booth becomes a Photo Booth

A project by Chris Bell, Liangjie Xia, and Mike Kelberman called Rotobooth is a hacked rotary phone that takes your picture as you’re calling your own cell phone, then sends a link of the photos to you by SMS.

The rotary phone was hacked using Arduino, the photos were collected on a Flickr page, and finally the SMS notification is sent using Twilio. The exterior design is clean (dig the orange phone!) and recently took 3rd place at Twilio’s Photohack Day 2.

[via Twilio]


What a Real Spaceship Cockpit Looks Like

Sweet find by our own Rachel Hobson over on National Geographic:  A zoomable high-resolution panorama of Discovery’s flight deck, by photographer Jon Brack.  I swear I’ve found at least one stripped screw head. [Thanks, Rachel!]

Space Shuttle in Extreme Detail

Tomorrow: Saturday, April 21: Young Makers/Open MAKE at the Exploratorium

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21 from 10am-2pm, we will enjoy the final Open MAKE at the Exploratorium before Maker Faire. In fact, it’ll be our last Open MAKE at the original site of the Exploratorium before the museum moves to the piers. (Sniff!) So you have many reasons to “dump” everything else you are doing and put yourself at our “disposal” for a day that would make even Oscar the Grouch smile.

That’s right, this fourth of four “T” themed Open MAKEs will be on the tremendous topic of TRASH. It’ll be a Saturday full of activities in which you can Re-mix/Re-assemble/Re-create/Re-MAKE. The Tinkering Studio has put together another inspiring collection of makers.

Headlining the event is  viral video star Caine Monroy, creator of Caine’s Arcade, and filmmaker Nirvan. Caine will display his cardboard arcade in the Tinkering Studio and you can meet him! He and Nirvan will also be there for the film screening of Caine’s Arcade at 3pm.

Here are a few glimpses at what else is in store:

You can read more about who is coming here

How could you “refuse” such a day? Any other activity would “pail” in comparison.

Using the MakerShield – Servo Control

If you’ve ever wondered how to use the potentiometer on the MakerShield (available in the Maker Shed) to control a servo with an Arduino, wonder no more. Now there is a simple tutorial to show you how on Make: Projects!

Servos are very useful things; they provide precise movement in 180 degrees of motion. This guide will show you how to hook a servo up to your Arduino and use the potentiometer on the MakerShield to control it.

All the parts you need are available in the Ultimate Microcontroller Pack. There’s just something fascinating about seeing a servo rotate to a position dictated by your fingertips!

Sweet CNC Build

The Beatty family is building a lovely enclosure that will hold the computer and motor control boards for a CNC, using acrylic and MicroRAX t-slot beams.

After trying a few different approaches, we decided to build the box from scratch out of 1/8″ acrylic sheet and Microrax, with are tiny, 10mm 80/20 aluminum beams. The enclosure is about 22″ long, 12″ wide, and 8″ deep. The beauty of Microrax is that we could easily cut the beams to the size we wanted and then use small machine screws and brackets to bolt them together. This allowed us to not only construct the overall enclosure, but to bracket the four cooling fans into place, frame the I/O ports, and add an acrylic lid with hinges. MicroRax is very flexible and cool stuff that I look forward to using for future projects, not only for enclosures, but robots as well.

New and Awesome on Make: Projects

Make: Projects is ready and waiting for your tutorial, with open arms. Give it a try!

DIY Lanyard for USB Flash Drives

Everyone has multitudes of USB flash drives these days, but their compact size lends them perfectly to getting dropped, misplaced, flushed, damaged, or otherwise lost.

Very few USB drives come packaged with their own lanyards to help prevent such disasters, so why not make one with a few simple items?

Author: Marc Barbani

Harvesting Chemicals from a Battery

Zinc! Manganese dioxide! Inanimate carbon rods!
This tutorial shows how to take apart a spent zinc-carbon dry cell of the common household type. Besides making for an interesting object lesson in electrochemistry, taking apart a spent D-cell, for instance, allows you to salvage many materials which can be of use to amateur chemists–materials which would otherwise probably end up in a landfill. Separated from their reactive components, the leftover parts of the battery can be safely added to most municipal recycling streams.

Author: Sean Ragan

Making a Nut Tree For Your Stuffed Squirrel

My son has a series of books that feature a frightened squirrel as the main character. Yesterday, when we were wondering what to do with our afternoon, we decided to build an appropriately sized nut tree for his plush squirrel puppet toy.

This guide will demonstrate how to build a fake tree for a child’s room. Our tree was made to house a certain frightened squirrel featured in a popular book series, but this build could be adapted for any number of tree-bound lovies.

Author: Jeff

Upgraded Indestructable LED Lanterns

This guide shows how to build a rechargable LED lantern that is virtually indestructable, charges wirelessly, and is very cheap.

The original LED lantern were featured in MAKE: Magazine, issue 30. When I first saw the article, I thought that they could only be used once, as they would have to be glued shut. When I read it, I realized that they were sealed with tape, and could therefore be opened, but not before I came up with a new idea.

Author: jduffy105

Underwater Photogrammetry Experiments with 123D Catch

Last week, MAKE ran a post on creating 3D models of buildings using an UAV. I wondered if the same thing could be done using an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle). So I ran some experiments using our OpenROV! We took a waterproof digital camera to the touch pool at the aquarium in SF and shot a few videos of a starfish. We extracted some stills and used 123D Catch to generate the model seen here.

A longer explanation of the process can be found on the OpenROV blog.

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