Tag Archives: Atmel-powered

Hands on search with the Atmel-powered MakerBot

Imagine a future where visually impaired individuals can learn about the world via touch – using a plethora of 3D objects printed right inside their classrooms. Well, the future is here now because MakerBot has teamed up with Yahoo Japan for a Hands On Search Pilot program.

Indeed, the two companies recently helped facilitate the creation a custom device built around an Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer for a classroom of visually impaired students at the University of Tsukuba.

“Students used the device’s voice recognition software to search for objects, and the device’s built-in MakerBot Replicator 2 enabled them to print objects right away,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explained in a recent blog post. “Meanwhile, Yahoo Japan curated a special database filled with 3D-printable designs for the students, many of which were sourced from the MakerBot Thingiverse 3D Design Community.”

In an effort to encourage online collaboration, Yahoo Japan also posted a wish-list of items students hadn’t been able to find, including some tough ones like “Thunder” and “Tornado.” In addition, 3D modelers were encouraged to contribute their own designs to fulfill student requests.

“After a successful pilot at the University of Tsukuba, Hands On Search is expanding, with plans to bring devices to seven schools for the visually impaired across Japan,” Millstein added. “We can only imagine what it’s like for a visually impaired student to touch the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty and get an impression of its shape and appearance for the first time—thanks to 3D printing.”

Interacting with the Atmel-powered morphing table

Last week, Bits & Pieces reported that MIT researchers had created a morphing table with Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) under the hood. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the platform’s interactive features.

Dubbed inFORM: Dynamic Physical Affordances and Constraints through Shape and Object Actuation, the Atmel-powered table is equipped with a number of ATMega2560s, along with 900 individually actuated white polystyrene pins that make up the surface in an array of 30 x 30 pixels.

An overhead projector provides visual guidance of the system, with each pin capable of actuating 100mm and exerting a force of up to 1.08 Newtons each. Actuation is achieved via push-pull rods that are utilized to maximize the dense pin arrangement – making the display independent of the size of the actuators.

MIT’s latest configuration of the morphing table features two separate interfaces – adding a display so viewers can observe the individual who is manipulating the surface. As HackADay’s James Hobson notes, MIT’s advanced platform opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the tactile digital experience.

“The inFORM also has a projector shining on the surface, which allows the objects shown from the other side to be both visually and physically seen — they use an example of opening a book and displaying its pages on the surface,” he explained.

“To track the hand movements they use a plain old Microsoft Kinect, which works extremely well. They also show off the table as a standalone unit, an interactive table. Now all they need to do is make the pixels smaller.”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered morphing table? You can check out MIT’s official project page here.

Transform your world with MakerBot’s 3D Digitizer

MakerBot is currently accepting pre-orders for its new Digitizer 3D scanner, with shipping slated to kick off in October. The Digitizer is currently priced at $1,400, plus an optional $150 for MakerCare, a comprehensive service and support program.

Essentially, MakerBot’s Digitizer allows users to quickly “transform” (scan) objects and items into 3D models that can be easily modified, shared and printed on 3D printers like the company’s Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2.

“With just two clicks, the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner’s simple yet sophisticated software creates clean, watertight 3D models that are ready to 3D print,” the MakerBot crew explained on the company website.

“We’ve optimized the whole process to work seamlessly with MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers, but you get standard design files to use on the 3D printer of your choice. You don’t need any design or 3D modeling skills to get started, and it all happens in just minutes.”

Indeed, the MakerBot Digitizer outputs standard 3D file formats, so Makers can improve, shape, mold, twist, animate and transform objects in a third-party 3D modeling program. There is no patching, stitching, or repairing required, so Makers are able to skip straight to the creative process. Adding one 3D model to another is easy, like putting a hat on top of a gnome. Plus, Makers can either scan a second object, or search for it on Thingiverse.com, scaling down and multiplying targeted objects to create charms or game pieces.

Additional information about MakerBot’s 3D printer lineup and Digitizer is available here.

Atmel-powered Arduino drives this RC LEGO car

A maker by the name of Cyrus Tabrizi (aka Crtlego) has created a remote control car combining Lego bricks, an XBEE radio and Arduino-powered remote controls.

“The Lego part of the RC vehicle is a medium-sized chassis built around a Lego drivetrain with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering,” Tabrizi explained in a detailed post published on Instructables.

“The RC part is a set of four standard hobby servos powering the drivetrain; an Arduino Leonardo for controlling everything; and an XBEE radio, for communication with the remote control. There is also an onboard power supply.”

Meanwhile, the remote control is about the size of a Gameboy Advance. Boasting a 2.2” LCD color display, it is is built around an Arduino microcontroller and boasts a joystick, two potentiometers along with four buttons for input. It also features the same type of XBEE radio module the RC vehicle does.

“All of this is housed in a custom enclosure made entirely from laser-cut acrylic. The remote control supports USB cable operation via the serial port on the Arduino, but it can also be operated off a 9V battery which can be mounted onboard, allowing the entire remote to be operated, well, remotely,” Tabrizi added.

Additional information about Tabrizi’s Arduino-powered remote control car can be found here on Instructables.