Need a G-code Viewer? Check out this Open Source CAM Simulator

CAMotics.org

gCode Viewer: Camotics

A gCode viewer is essential when doing anything with a CNC. Knowing where the tools is going to run can mean the different between a failed cut and a broken bit. Or let’s say you’re trying to debug some gCode scripting, no need to wait an hour to find out you messed something up. That’s where a GCode Viewer can help.

There are several on-line options that let you upload files and see them in a 3D view. However, if your CNC is setup like mine, there isn’t a good internet connection available. Camotics, formerly the unfortunately named OpenSCAM, is a cross-platform open source gCode viewer / simulator.

Most recently I used it to debug some gCode that pcb2gcode generated from a Kicad board I am working on.

Check out more about Camotics on their site: http://camotics.org

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Build a proper R-2R DAC

Hackaday: Logic Noise
05-NOV-2015

r-2r matrix illustration

Creating real analog outputs from a digital pin is possible when you use an R-2R DAC. What is a DAC? The letters stand for Digital to Analog Converter. This simple DAC is built using resistor. The principle works on voltage dividers. By enabling different combinations of resistors, it is possible to get various voltage levels.

Obviously, such a simple design will have some trade-offs.

The resolution depends on how many resistor steps you include. That is why discrete R-2R networks built on a breadboard have a staggered look. You could add more levels to smooth it out, or there are other options.

This R-2R Logic Noise Post talks about how they work in detail and even includes a section on filtering the output to be less “stepped.”

Learn the basics of Acrylic

Make Magazine

Acrylic difference between cast and extruded One of the most popular materials to use with a laser cutter is acrylic. Head over to buy some acrylic from Inventables and you’ll see options for “extruded” or “cast” types. Not sure what that means?

This Make Skill Builder on Acrylic gives the basics on the material. You’ll understand the differences between the two: especially important if you plan to mill or laser cut it. Additionally, there are tips for bending, shaping, and gluing acrylic.

Check out the Acrylic Cheat Sheet on Make.

Learn the difference between laser types

Makezine.com
22-OCT-2015
inside a laser diode

via Make:

One of the most versatile tools in a shop or makerspace is a laser cutter. The recently funded Glowforge makes having one in your garage a possibility.

With so much exciting around laser cutters, you might be wonder what is a laser anyway? There are two primary laser types: Gas and Diode.  Jordan Bunker goes into detail in the Make: Skill Builder article, about the difference.

The pictures and diagrams alone are worth the look. The diagram on how a laser diode emits light is one of my favorites. (Actually, I think it is a good general purpose “led/diode diagram.”

Check out “Learn the Difference: Gas and Diode Lasers,” via Make.

Print your own Graph Paper

incompetech.com

diy graph paper generator

Ever need graph paper for a project, but can’t wait for Amazon Prime? No problem, this free online tool lets you generate graph paper on the fly. Multiple types of graph lines are available and each are fully configurable. Once done, you get a clean PDF of graph paper to print.

Here’s a short run-down of the graph paper types available:

  • Squares
  • Triangle and Hexagons
  • Circular and Polar (Think Smith Chart)
  • Asymmetric
  • Note Taking

Check out the free graph paper generator at incompetech.com.

Huge archive from Project Apollo now on Flickr

Flickr
October 2015

Years of hard work, curation, and archiving have brought the Project Apollo Photo Archive to a Flickr album. Kipp Teague writes,

“This new Flickr gallery would have not been possible without the support of Mike [Gentry], Steve [Garber], and Eric [Jones], and many others.”

In this note, he corrects a misconception that this archive itself was an NASA undertaking. While the photos come from NASA, the archive is an independent effort.

There is also a Project Apollo Archive Facebook page, in addition to the photos on Flickr.

Elegant and cheap storage solutions for your shop

Make:
05-OCT-2015
lattice as shop storage

Picture via makezine.com

The article caught my eye because I’m about to make a move, and I’ll be setting up my shop soon. Seeing these clever alternate uses is already giving me some ideas.

The perfect shop doesn’t need expensive storage options. While there are stores dedicated to containers, they to tend to run on the expensive side. A workshop, may not need the most expensive storage gear. Especially if it gets as dusty as mine! This Make article offers 5 Simple Shop Storage Solutions.

Another resource for shop hardware is Episode #92 of The Engineering Commons podcast, “Garage Gear.”

How Arduino digitalWrite Works – and why AVR is Faster

Crash Bang Prototypes
01-OCT-2015

Arduino digitalWrite speedPreviously I looked at the speed difference between digitalWrite and direct port manipulation. It was a chance to check out a Saleae Logic Analyzer. Andrew at !Crash-Bang Prototyping took the analysis a step further. He broke down what is going on inside of digitalWrite().

This study is useful. When you’re ready to move beyond the Arduino IDE or the core functions, you can decide if you need your own version of digitalWrite().

Check out !Crash-Bang Prototyping’s “How Arduino digitalWrite Works – and why AVR is Faster“.

EngineerDog explains why stressed plastic turns white

engineerdog.com

 

Polymer Crazing via engineerdog.com

Polymer Crazing via engineerdog.com

Ever notice when you over-stress plastic, the stress points tend to turn white? The color or type of plastic doesn’t seem to matter, does it? So what is going on? This awesome post from EngineerDog explains why stressed plastic turns white.

If you’re starting to work with ABS on your 3d printer, it will help to understand what is happening to the polymer chains. It’s a process called crazing.

One good reason to learn about crazing is there is a way to fix it. So check out EngineerDogs’ explanation for more.

Corner Case: 90-deg turns for WS2812

josh.com
NeoCorner from josh.com

NeoCorner from josh.com

If you’re working with the WS2812B and need to turn corners, you’ll want to check out this NeoPixel Corner adapter PCB from josh.com. It’s a pretty simple board. I came across it as a solution for an upcoming lighting project.

In josh’s example, he used a CNC to mill the PCBs. If you’re using one-sided FR4, that might work well. You’ll want to double-check thicknesses if you want to use OSHPark or similar.

You can check out the full write-up here or the NeoPixel Corner Board project GitHub.

On a related link, this document explains differences between WS2812 and WS2812B.