Tag Archives: steampunk

Maker creates an impressive Steampunk-inspired 3D printer

This 3D printer would surely make K. W. Jeter proud. 

First coined by author K. W. Jeter, steampunk is best defined as a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy literature that commonly features some aspect of steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Over the years, there has undoubtedly been a rise in the theme’s popularity, as seen across Maker Faires and in a number of slick DIY projects like this wristwatch. And, while we’ve seen countless devices arise, one space that seemed to go untouched was 3D printing. That was until now.


That’s because John Davis recently devised a steampunk-inspired iteration of the Printrbot GO, which essentially consists of the printer housed inside of an antique wooden suitcase from the 1920s. Aside from the inclusion of an LCD display, it’s safe to say that it looks a machine straight out of the “Wild, Wild West.” Job well done!

The unit itself is equipped with antique bronze extruder gear, a set of spur wheels, a Frankenstein-style knife switch, and a pair of leather straps, among a number of other features to round out its aesthetics.


“Since before I even owned the GO, I had a vision in my mind about turning it into a steampunk steamer trunk kinda thing, and critical to that vision were suitcase belts,” the Maker writes. “I can’t imagine a single feature (well, in addition to darkly stained wood) that says ‘olde timey’ like leather belts up the sides of a piece of a luggage, so I knew I needed to get something like that working for me at some point.”

Beyond that, Davis located some old-school weather dials that once measured temperature, humidity and barometric pressure and repurposed them to monitor the 3D printer’s performance. These were placed on the other side of the suitcase, away from an LCD that he modded the gadget with. The Maker also decided to enhance his contraption’s display, swapping out its original bluish screen for one that was amber-colored to provide that full Steampunk visual effect.


And, of course, the alternative world-esque device is driven by a Printrboard electronic set (AT90USB1286) and powered by an X-Box 360 PSU. Impressively, Davis was even able to add a Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint to allow for wireless control and remote monitoring of his prints (by webcam) via his smartphone. The Pi was mounted inside the front right hand panel, which enabled him to attach the camera onto the side of the gantry.

Those looking for the perfect Maker Faire accessory can head over to Davis’ exhaustive project page here, which breaks down the build step by step.

This is what happens when geocaching goes steampunk

Instead of investing in an ordinary GPS module, one Maker put his own punky twist on geocaching.

After reading about geocaching, Folkert van Heusden decided that it was a hobby worth exploring. However, the Maker didn’t want to invest in one of those run-of-the-mill, walk around GPS modules. Instead, he wanted to create his own steampunk-inspired unit.


To bring this idea to life, van Heusden rounded up an inexpensive GPS module, a 6600mAh LiPo battery and an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), along with pair of analog meters on eBay to serve as distance and directional indicators. The meter on the left shows the angle to the destination, while the other reveals the proximity. An embedded beeper emits a sound that increases in frequency the closer one gets to the geocache.

Beyond that, van Heusden employed a couple switches for turning the beeper and power on/off and two quad seven segment displays for the interface, which he used to select and check both the longitude and latitude coordinates, as well as set a new target.


All of the electronics are housed inside an antique wooden box, and are situated on a laser-cut wooden panel to give it that authentic steampunk look and feel.

Want one of your own? Check out the project and its necessary code here.

HMC Boudicca is a 20-inch-tall, 3D-printed walking mechanized tank

Codename Colossus is a fully 3D-printed, electronic and mechanical toy that is made to order.

As recent months have demonstrated, 3D printing is slowly but surely making its way towards the toy industry. Joining the likes of others including Mattel and Disney, Machination Studio has unveiled a 20-inch-tall, electronic mobile tank boasting a retro-futristic military theme.


The HMC Boudicca is comprised of over 400 3D-printed parts, along with movable legs, guns and cannons enabled by Arduino-controlled servos, LEDs and motors. Meanwhile, the device itself is powered by 7.4V LiPo rechargeable batteries, or six 7.2V AAs with a recommended minimum of 2800mAh.

The brainchild of toymaker Michael Sng, the walking tank is only the first in his ambitious Codename Colossus project — “a made-to-order, kinetic toy line set in Europe in an alternate history during The Great War.”


Although the project’s website doesn’t provide too many details around the fictional backdrop, it certainly resembles that of other steampunk novels where giant iron mechas battle it out.

Want a machine of your own? You’ll have to be willing to shell out at least $5,000, with each piece having a 2% markup from the previously sold price to help maintain the value of the pieces and cover the cost of inflation.

Maker creates a steampunk name badge for the wearable computing era

A badge even H. G. Wells and Jules Verne would want to wear. 

With Maker Faire season upon us, we’re bound to see a ‘faire’ share of steampunk projects over the next couple of months — from hat-mounted clocks to wooden 3D printers to slick wristwatches. Given all of the buzz around wearable computing as of late, Maker Rob Reilly decided to do something a little different by creating a pseudo-Victorian name badge.


“I chose a name badge because I attend and speak at quite a few tech conferences and events. Breaking the conversational ice with 8,000 strangers can be a bit daunting. A one-off ‘badge’ might grab people’s curiosity and show off some practical wearable computing vibes at the same time. Also, almost everybody likes steampunk,” Reilly writes.

As fate would have it, the Maker received a 1.8-inch color LCD screen for Christmas, capable of displaying bitmaps at a resolution of 160 x 128 pixels and being easily programmed using a Linux notebook through the Arduino IDE. Driven by an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) soldered to an LCD breakout board, the badge itself features a digital temperature sensor, a battery pack, an integrated micro-SD card, and a handmade brass frame to hold it all together. The Pro Mini and display board are both suspended within the badge’s frame, while some 22-gauge copper wire from a CAT 5 cable is tasked with connecting the more discrete components, like the temperature sensor and resistors.


“The programmable/microcontroller approach lends itself to exploring ‘networked’ wearable computing in upcoming version 2.0 and beyond versions,” the Maker says.

In terms of programming, Reilly notes that it was relatively straightforward through some good ol’ Arduino code. Beyond that, he used examples from the Adafruit_GFX and Adafruit_ST7735 libraries, then added lines that cycled through a couple of bitmaps, such as a “Dr Torq” image and a text readout of the ambient temperature.

As impressive as version 1.0 may be, the Maker already has some ideas for future iterations. A few notable improvements to beef up its steampunk aesthetics and hackability include swapping out its AAA batteries, replacing fake with real leather, and using 10-pin female headers on the MCU side to connect the 10-pin male headers on the LCD breakout board. Reilly is also looking to migrate from the Pro Mini to an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4), which would enable him to wirelssly connect the badge with his smartphone.


Want to make one of your own? Head over to the project’s page here.

A Steampunk hat-mounted clock with multiple time zones and GPS

Part hat, part clock, a whole lot of awesome.

Not only did Maker “gifsh” want an attention-grabbing hat for last year’s Burning Man, he wanted something that would prove to be useful while in the desert. He also wanted a clock, but not just any clock. A clock that would be able to change time zones based on manual switches and physical location. Oh, and he wanted it all mounted inside the hat.


Rising to the challenge, the Maker devised a slick Steampunk-inspired top hat/clock hybrid. Like with most other timepieces, a pair of hands were positioned in the front of the hat, both of which were connected to a concentric shaft at the back. Meanwhile, micro RC servos were used to drive the hands. Mounted inside the hat was an Atmel based Arduino tasked with controlling the clock, a GPS shield to determine location, an RTC to maintain accurate time, and a 9V battery.

Attached to the side of the hat was a control panel, which he made from etched brass, that contained the project’s on/off switch, as well as a rotary switch for selecting a specific time zone and activating its GPS.


“Libraries exist for pretty much any microcontroller that let you control RC servos. You tell them what angle to go to, and they go to that angle. Simple! For use in controlling a clock hand. though, there’s a problem. Standard RC servos only have a 180 degree range, sometimes a bit less. That’s no good for a clock hand that has to rotate at least 360 degrees,” gfish explains.

This led the Maker to use gears, which meant that the drive system would be a bit too large to fit inside the hat. Instead, it would have to be mounted on the back side, with the clock hands controlled via coaxial drive shafts that passed through the center. Though a bit on the clunkier side, the gears complemented the overall Steampunk design — and with a purpose may we add!


“It works well for wearing at cons, and it’s a good conversation starter. Most people are surprised that it’s a real clock at all, much less that I can change the timezone, much less that it has a GPS mode!”

Looking for a fashionable yet functional hat for this year’s Burning Man or any of the Maker Faires for that matter? Head over to the project’s Instructables page here.

megaAVR powers this Steampunk VFD wristwatch

Maker John De Cristofaro recently devised a Steampunk-inspired wristwatch powered by an ATMega88 microcontroller (MCU).


Dubbed the ChronodeVFD, the wearable device is built around a IVL2-7/5 VFD display tube. “I originally purchased a few of these tubes to build a standard desk clock, but after playing around with them, I realized I could probably build a wristwatch too,” the Maker writes.

De Cristofaro notes some of the features which made the tube well-suited for this purpose, including its size (only 1.25″ x 2.25″), its flatness making for a sleeker watch design, its low-grid voltage (12-13V), as well as its nominal 60mA filament current at 2.4V.


“One other feature that I like about this device is that unlike nearly every other VFD tube, the IVL2-7/5 has no opaque or diffuse backing behind the digits. It’s completely transparent front to back, which means that if you put it on top of a circuit board, you can (with a bit of backlighting) see the PCB below.”

Since the device was merely a costume piece, the Maker elected to find use a battery that lasted between 6-10 hours. However, despite its novelty, he wanted to ensure that it would be comfortable enough to wear and not too bulky.

“Coin cells were out because the internal resistance was too high to meet the current requirements, so I was left with AA and AAA single cells. I decided to go with alkaline cells, since the lower nominal voltage of NiMH re-chargables would mean an even lower efficiency for the boost converters, and less current for the filament. The finished project can be used with either 1xAA or 1xAAA alkalines (with the appropriate clips), however AAAs only last about 2 hours, so I’m sticking with AAs for now,” De Cristofaro explains.


At the core of the wearable device lies an ATMega88 microcontroller, while the real-time clock is a Maxim DS3231. The VFD display is driven by a Maxim MAX6920 — a 12-bit shift register with high-voltage (up to 76V) outputs. In addition, the circuit itself is powered from three voltage rails, and there a few onboard sensors — one analog and two digital.

There are also a number of mechanical innovations featured in this build, most notably the brass tubing that frames the display.


Interested in reading more about this slick Steampunk build? Hurry on over to the ChronodeVFD’s official project page here.

A steamed(punk) cup o’ joe with Arduino

A Korean design team named Vidastech has recently prototyped a duo spectacular of steampunk-themed espresso machines powered by the Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560).


Billed as the “first Korean flagship espresso machine,” it would be hard to argue with that statement after looking at the craftsmanship that has gone into these designs.


The Arduino Mega 2560-powered units can control every aspect of an espresso brew, from flow levels to liquid temperature. Vidastech takes pride in constructing espresso machines that “are supported by high-tech hardware and high-quality customer service.”


If you’re interested in learning more about Vidastech, you can head to their site to see a full gallery of their Makeriffic designs.

Video: Arduino drives this Steampunk “steam” gauge

A Maker by the name of “Murphy’s_Lawyer” has created a retro steam gauge driven by an Atmel-based Arduino board.

According to the HackADay crew, the build kicked off with an old 10″ Ashcroft pressure gauge obtained from eBay. After dissecting the gauge, Murphy’s_Lawyer began constructing a method of generating motion without the need for actual steam.

The solution? Mounting a continuous rotation servo between the Bourdon tube and the case. However, the servo lacked the strength to flex the tube on its own – so a simple brass lever was ultimately designed to assist.

“The electronics consist of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and an accompanying homemade PCB. The code for the Uno generates random motion for twirling the servo, [while] three LEDs built into the face reflect values generated for speed, pause and run time,” explained HackADay’s John Marsh.

“The final upgrade came in the form of a new dial face, which provides some updated text as well as a cutout square that lets you see the previously obscured gears in action.”

Interested in learning more about the Arduino-driven Steampunk “steam” gauge? You can check out the project’s official Instructables page here.

Going Steampunk with Atmel and Adafruit

Recently, the Adafruit crew designed a pair of goggles for cyberpunks, steampunks and yes, Daft Punks. Officially dubbed “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” key components for the headware include NeoPixel rings, an Atmel-powered (ATtiny85) Trinket (or Atmel-powered Gemma) and a battery (lithium-polymer or 3x AA battery case).

Now the Adafruit crew is back with another slick goggle design. While “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” targeted a slew of fashion genres, the latest pair of goggles are clearly more Steampunk (from a fashion perspective) than either Cyber or Daft.

“Everyone loves funky goggles and the Adafruit Neopixel rings are perfect for building a flashy pair. To kick it up a notch, we STEAMed up these goggles with some high tech sensors and a bit of applied math and physics,” explained Adafruit’s Bill Earl.

“The goggles are controlled by a Flora microcontroller [powered by Atmel’s Atmega32u4 MCU] with a LSM303 accelerometer/magnetometer to track the motion of the wearer’s head. A simple physics engine implements virtual pendulum display on the LED rings that swings in response to the motion of the wearer. The effect is much like a pair of hyperactive electronic googly eyes.”

In addition to the Atmel-powered Flora MCU, key project components include:

  • One pair of Goggles – Any pair of goggles with 50mm lenses will be a perfect fit for the neopixel rings. The prototype for this particular project was built with these German-made safety goggles – using the optional tinted lenses.
  • Two Adafruit Neopixel Rings.
  • One Adafruit Flora LSM303 Magnetometer/Accelerometer.
  • One 3xAAA battery pack.
  • Scrap of leather or upholstery vinyl for mounting electronics to the temple.
  • One 53mm Watchmaker’s Case to house the Flora & Sensor.

It should probably be noted that the goggles are more for show than anything else (Halloween, COSPLAY), as they aren’t suitable for general use as eyewear and certainly not safe to use as protective lenses.

“The flashing lights are very visible inside the goggles. They will impair your vision and may cause dizziness headaches or even nausea with prolonged use,” Earl cautioned in a detailed tutorial. “The LED rings themselves will severely limit your peripheral vision, making it dangerous to walk-about, much less drive a car, juggle chainsaws or pilot a starship.”

That being said, these awesome STEAM-Punk Goggle Operating System recognizes several “gesture” commands for changing operating modes. To be sure, all it takes is a nod of the head to engage the anti-gravity circuits.

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered STEAM-Punk Goggles? You can check out Adafruit’s STEAM-Punk Goggle tutorial here.

A NeoGeo watch for cyberpunks and steampunks

Earlier this month, the AdaFruit crew designed a pair of Atmel-powered goggles dubbed “Kaleidoscope Eyes” and a chic Flora GPS Jacket for cyberpunks, steampunks and yes, even Daft Punks.  Today we’re going to be taking a closer look at an Atmel-powered NeoGeo watch that can be tastefully paired with Adafruit’s futuristic goggles and Flora GPS Jacket for a full cyberpunk/steampunk fashion ensemble.

Designed by Adafruit’s Becky Stern and Tyler Cooper, the NeoGeo watch is based on the wearable Flora platform (ATmega32u4 MCU) and an accompanying GPS module.

“[You can] make your own LED timepiece [that] tells time with a ring of pixels. A leather cuff holds the circuit and hides the battery. [Yes], the watch is chunky, but still looks and feels great on tiny wrists,” Stern wrote in a detailed Adafruit tutorial.

“The circuit sandwich becomes the face of the watch, and you’ll use a tactile switch to make a mode selector. The watch has timekeeping (one LED for hours and one for minutes), GPS navigation (customize your waypoint in the provided Arduino sketch) and compass modes.”

According to Stern, the NeoGeo watch is an intermediate-level project requiring soldering and precision crafting. Key components and equipment include:

  • FLORA main board
  • NeoPixel ring
  • FLORA Wearable Ultimate GPS Module
  • FLORA Accelerometer/Compass Sensor – LSM303
  • Tactile switch
  • Tiny lipoly battery with charger
  • Leather watch cuff (Adafruit’s is from Labyrinth Leather)
  • Small scrap of fabric
  • E6000 craft adhesive
  • Binder clips
  • Thin-gauge stranded wire
  • Double-stick foam tape
  • Black gaffer tape
  • Multimeter
  • Soldering iron (Rosin Core solder), scissors, wire strippers, pliers, tweezers and flush snips

In terms of assembling the circuit, Makers are instructed to kick off the project by soldering small stranded wires to their electronics components, about two inches long each.

“Strip the wire ends, twirl the stranded core to make it more easily pass through the circuit boards’ holes, and solder to the NeoPixel ring’s IN, Vcc, and Gnd pads,” Stern explained.

“It’s best to solder on the back side of this particular board, since the pads are quite close to the leads of the NeoPixels on the front of the board, where a large dab of solder could bridge the two.”

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out Becky Stern’s detailed NeoPixel tutorial posted on Adafruit here.