Vectrex controller with LED lights!

I have updated my controller design to include an LED light on the joystick. It turned out kind of great! Check it out.

IMG_0579

Read more about my vectrex controller here.

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Kitchen upgrades, made in the USA!

So over the years I have acquired a number of frustrating low quality kitchen tools. I love to cook and work in my kitchen so I decided it was time to upgrade my tools. Unfortunately it was a little harder then I thought to work out the “best” ones, nothing at local big box stores was any good. After a bunch of research, here are some that I bought, and really really like. I wanted to share them so you don’t have to spend days researching such things. They are also all made right here in the USA, which is even better. Another bonus, they are all not even that much money, way cheaper in cost then the low quality ones made in China at box stores.

I have included links to Amazon, but most of these are available in MANY other stores. Check your local restaurant supply store, it is always a great place to look for good affordable cooking gear and ask questions.

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Vectrex Controllers!

After recently discovering my new (1982) favorite gaming system, the vector display based Vectrex, I found myself wanting a second controller for the system. With many originals warn out and fetching up to $100 or more, I decided to make my own fully compatible with the original.

A finished controller in orange plastic.

A finished controller in orange plastic.

Finished controller with a sticker overlay. It fits!

Finished controller with a sticker overlay. It fits!

For 1982 the Vectrex was fairly advanced. It’s controller had 4 decent sized buttons, and an ANALOG joystick. Most other home systems in that era had 2 buttons and a simple 4 way D pad. Granted many games did not take advantage of the analog stick and simply treated it as a digital “up, down right left” joystick. Some did though, Hyperdrive for example, so I waned to support them. I also wanted to have buttons that were the same size, and as good as or better then the originals.
So I needed:
-Analog stick
-Upgraded buttons
-EXACT same layout so I could use aftermarket overlays
-Exact shape, so it could still mount on a Vectrex.

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Formlabs Form2 SLA printer acquired for IUSB

In our efforts to make 3D printing available to faculty, staff and students at IUSB we pre-ordered a SLA printer. Stereolithography printers offer MUCH higher resolution then a FDM(spools of plastic filament types like makerbots and seemecnc). They use UV lasers to draw layer at a time in UV sensitive resin, so they can have very fine details.

Oh so pretty!

Oh so pretty!

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Importance of a Layer cooling fan for your 3-D printer

Some PLA and ABS plastics I have used are VERY sensitive to needing a layer cooling fan. Many 3-D printers do not have them, but they can be added fairly easily, and will improve your prints in most cases even if you don’t NEED it.

Most recently we purchased some lubricated PLA from Filament Express that required it. We liked the color and smoothness of the prints but it needed  a layer cooler. Our SeeMeCNC printer at work came with a layer cooling fan, but my Makerbot did not. I added one and it improved all my prints. This filament needed more then just my basic layer cooler, I had to add a much beefier fan AND a 120mm PC case fan to get good prints with it though. So if you are getting print quality issues, shrinking layers,  messy upper ones, or poor bridging, look at improving your active cooling.

Left: Layer cooler added to Makerbot replicator  Right: None added to Makerbot.

Left: Layer cooler/active cooler fan added to Makerbot replicator
Right:Before fan added to Makerbot.

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Deco Time expansion port thoughts

As with many projects, my simple stepper timer, Deco Time, has some serious feature creep. The latest feature I decided to add is an expansion port. Originally I just planed on adding two screws on the back that attached to an GPIO pin and ground so I could trigger other events when the alarm went off. As I progressed I started to think of other things I could add, for example a thermometer, a second display, more buttons, or lights. So I thought it would be nice to have a 5v power connection. Now I am up to 3 screws, so I think, why not add one more, and it can include 2 GPIO pins allowing me to make it an I2C connection.  Easy enough and useful, but how to make the connection? Screws were not ideal with the limited space and power now involved so I decided I would just add some header pins. I decided to swap them, having the pins on the wire lead that would plug in so it would be less likely to short out. I would need to key it so it would not get plugged in wrong which is not a huge deal but it just did not seem elegant enough. So I stated to look around what other instruments, or I2C ports used…

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mmmmm Donuts….

donutSize

donuts

More donut love!

Happy donut day!

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mBox a gaming/living room/steambox PC for the living room or wherever!

So we (Moray Labs) have been working on a computer design for a while now, and I wanted to share a bit about it along with the CAD files and more.

mBox: the wooden prototype!

mBox: the wooden prototype!

CAD Rendering

mBox: CAD Rendering

First off some background. We have wanted to make an affordable/portable computer for a long time. We tried a number of small cases small motherboards and efficient processors over the years and never really have been happy. Continue reading

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6 Months with my Pebble smart watch and I still like it better then the Apple watch

With the launch of the Apple watch just a few days ago, I wanted to make a post about my beloved Pebble. I have an original Red Pebble not the steel one, and it has become my daily watch. I have always been a watch lover, never without, but I had not liked any of the smart watches yet. I defiantly did not like their prices, WAY to high for me. Although I did get my Pebble as a birthday gift, I know it was less then $100. I do like the Apple watch, but it is way to much money, and the things I really care about my Pebble smokes it at. The Pebble gets 7 days of battery life, it is water proof (full, not just resistant), and it’s easy to develop for. Now I was/am excited about the Apple Watch I admit that, but for 3x the cost, and to not beat the Pebble at the basics I am sticking with the Pebble. I AM really wanting to get the new Pebble color, but thats another post.

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NextEngine 3-D scanner!

We just got a very cool NextEngine 3-d scanner at work. Now we can scan something, then print it! It uses lasers and cameras to do a full life like scan. It has .1 mm resolution, so it should be able to make some really good models.  See our temp set up below.

IMG_0716

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Building a SeeMeCNC 3-d printer at IUSB 

Gary and I spent some free time at work over the last few weeks building a 3D printer for IUSB. It is a delta style printer, that is made right here in Goshen, Indiana.  We got the Rostock MAX v2 kit from SeeMeCNC. It was suppose to take about 20 hours to go through the 200 page assembly manual, but its hard to tell how long it took as we could not work constantly on it. If I was doing another, I am sure it would take half the time we spent though, as we took it slow. Oh and another GREAT thing about this printer, it is opensource! The printer has a HUGE build area(11″ around 14″ tall), and after some tweaking we got it to build very fast. Oh and it is a blast to watch a delta bot in action!

The finished printer! Notice the IU logo we printed on it.

The finished printer! Notice the IU logo we printed on it.

 

Check out some of the build steps below!  Continue reading

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It’s Alive! Makerbot replicator repaired!

A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to get a broken Makerbot replicator for a good price (Thanks Sean!!!). It is an original R1, first generation, you know the wood one, that was still open-source. The board had blown out due to a static discharge. Replacement mightyboards from MBI are insanely expensive, so I had two options. I could retrofit everything to be compatible with other RAMPS systems, or I could buy a mightyboard knock off on ebay. I had planed on going the RAMPS way, but due to the bed, heater, and LEDs all being 24v, and the fact it used thermocouples vs thermal resisters, I decided it would be more work to replace it all. It may have been wrong.

It's ALIVE! First print! I had to adjust the belt, as you can see it slipped. The second print worked great!

It’s ALIVE! First print! I had to adjust the belt, as you can see it slipped. The second print worked great!

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