Tag Archives: Thingiverse

Maker builds a $20 mouth-operated mouse

This DIY mouthpiece allows those with disabilities to easily surf the web. 

Out of more than 170 submissions, Maker Tobias Wirtl’s Mouth Operated Mouse has been named the winning entry in Thingiverse’s Assistive Technology Challenge.


After reading about difficulties those with disabilities face in accessing new technologies, Wirtl wanted to create an affordable and easily accessible device that could enable more people without the use of their arms and hands to navigate the Internet. Even better, the mouth-operated piece can be built for $20 using a 3D-printed case and off-the-shelf components — a mere fraction of the cost of commercial solutions on the market today.

“There are many new technologies that people with disabilities can’t access and in my opinion everyone should be able to benefit from today’s media, especially the Internet,” Wirtl explains.


The mouth-operated mouse moves the cursor by using a mouthpiece, which works like a joystick. Pushing the mouthpiece towards the case operates the right mouse button, while the left button is emulated by a $5 e-cigarette sensor that recognizes when the user sucks air through it. The system is all controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4) and can be connected to virtually any PC via USB.

This winning design follows in the footsteps of several other Maker projects, including Hackaday Prize champion Eyedrivomatic, that could ultimately change the lives of others.

Creating a 3D-printed, Arduino-powered rubber band sentry gun

Thanks to this Maker’s project, you’ll never have to fling rubber bands with your fingers again.

If you’ve ever flung a rubber band into your sibling’s back or launched one across a classroom, then you’re sure to love this 3D-printed project from Kevin Thomas. Up until now, there’s only a been a handful of ways to fire one: the index finger, the thumb, the combination of the two, and then of course, the tip of a pencil. That may all change thanks to what the 20-year-old Maker calls the Rubber Band Sentry Gun


Traditionally speaking, a sentry gun is a firearm that automatically aims and shoots at targets that it detects via sensors. In this case, Thomas used this model as the foundation for a fully-functional rubber band version. After stumbling upon a design on Thingiverse for an Automatic Rubber Band Blaster, the Maker was inspired to devise a mechanism that would be entirely automated.

In order to accomplish this, he employed an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) as the brains of the gadget along with a pair of servo motors, a micro servo 180° for its tilt, another normally sized one for the pan, and a 360° servo motor to actually fire the band. The project, which took about three days to complete, is capable of shooting 24 rubber bands in succession, though he tells 3DPrint.com that it can easily be adapted with a larger barrel to fire up to 30.


Thomas used a software package created by Project Sentry Gun in order to control his device, enabling it to find and shoot any moving target. Meaning, no more having to prep your fingers, locate your sibling or friend, and then hope to launch it further enough to hit them! As for the 3D printing portion of the project, the Maker designed the unit with Cubify Invent and printed it with his AVR powered bq Witbox.

Okay, now you have to see this thing in action! Want to make one yourself? Head over to its Thingiverse page to get started.

Young Maker creates a portable, 3D-printed game console

One 14-year-old Maker has built a portable, multi-purpose gaming console based on Raspberry Pi.

Evident by the recent success of Arduboy, not to mention a number of other projects, do-it-yourself gaming has surely risen in popularity over the years. Take for instance, 14-year-old Maker Rasmus Hauschild, who has developed a portable, multi-purpose Raspberry Pi console.


The Maker created a vast majority of the homebrew system’s components, along with its four action buttons, in Autodesk 123D Design, and then 3D printed them out on an Ultimaker 2. In total, the print job required just shy of 210 hours and called for roughly 1,000 feet of filament.

The console itself is comprised of a 3.5” TFT screen with a resolution of 480 x 320, a 6000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, two MP3 speakers taken out of a broken Nintendo DS Lite, an analog volume slider from a pair of old headphones, as well as a built-in controller with tactile switches and an analog thumb stick.


Users can expect anywhere from four to five hours of play time on a single charge, which is plenty for even the longest of car rides. When depleted, an Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C juices the battery up in about five to six hours. Additionally, since he used a cheap composite backup camera screen, the Maker does note that the console calls for 12V to operate out of the box, or can be configured to work with 5V.

In terms of hardware, the system is based on a Raspberry Pi running Retropie OS. This allows it to emulate games dating back to 1977 through 2003. It has both Raspbian and Kodi installed, too.


For Rasmus, the controller proved to be the most challenging part of the project, namely the thumb stick. This led him to use a Teensy 2.0 (ATmega32U4) to convert the controls from the gamepad into digital format since the Raspberry Pi seemed to have a difficult time understanding analog right away.

“If I had been a master programmer I could probably have gotten away with buying an ADC (analog to digital converter) and then writing a driver for it myself. But that did not work for me. So I did some research on the Internet, and found that the Arduino could convert analog signals to digital, but since the Arduino was way too big to ever fit in my design I decided to go with an Arduino ‘clone’ called the Teensy, because of the much smaller footprint,” Rasmus writes.


Aside from serving as a Game Boy alternative, the console can also be used as a media device, since Kodi and Raspbian are already loaded. Admittedly, Rasmus says that the screen is a bit too small for browsing the web, but when it comes to watching movies, it works just fine. Alternatively, it can be connected to a TV via HDMI.

Want to make one of your own? Check out his project on Thingiverse here.

Keep the mosquitoes away with this ultrasonic water lily

This 3D-printed, ATmega328 powered floating lily pad repels insects from your pool.

If those Citronella torches and repellant sprays can’t keep the mosquitoes away from you during a nighttime swim, perhaps this 3D-printed ultrasonic floating water lily will do the trick. Devised by Maker Jake Reeves, the project uses ultrasound in the 38-40kHz frequency range to repel pesky insects from your pool at dark. This, of course, not only deters them from joining you as you take a few laps, but will reduce how much you have to skim in the morning, and even better, prevents any future breeding.


The simple object consists of two parts, a top and bottom, both of which were printed using a MakerBot Replicator. Upon being created, Reeves sprayed each of the components with a clear sealant to keep water from seeping through to its embedded electronics, which consists of an ICStation Nano 3.0 board (ATmega328), a 40kHz ultrasonic microphone and a rechargeable 9V battery.


As you would imagine, the unit is designed in such a way that the lily pad sits just below the pool’s surface, with the flower pedals emerging from the water as the system emits a 38kHz frequency.

“I chose part of that spectrum to try and repel the unwanted insects from pools and standing water. Mosquitoes in particular dislike the 38kHz frequency as males emit that frequency, so during breeding the males avoid each other and when the females are preparing to give birth, they avoid the males to reduce competition over food.”


With summer in full swing, are you tired of skimming countless mosquitoes from your pool? If so, check out the project’s Thingiverse page here.

Photon Printer is a $20 micro laser engraver

The Photon Printer is a 3D-printable laser engraver made from recycled DVD drives.

It seems like nowadays Makers can transform any form of electronic waste into a fully-functional device. Case in point: this pocket laser engraver comprised of recycled DVD drives.


In a project he calls the Photon Printer, Maker Stephen Brockett has successfully developed a micro laser engraver made from a pair of spare DVD burners, some stepper drivers and an Arduino, of course. Inspired by a previous Instructables project he happened to stumble upon, the idea was originally meant to be a simple weekend activity, but didn’t take long to evolve into a much more elaborate endeavor.

Brockett points out that the laser diode needs to be from a DVD drive capable of writing to discs, because the laser from a read-only drive isn’t powerful enough to engrave. In his case, the Maker used a set of LightScribe drives from an old HP GSA-H60L that he had lying around, and the Photon Printer’s X and Y mounts have been designed to fit these drives.

“The newer the drive, the more powerful the diode will be. After about 2009, they changed the diode package making it harder to use, so aim for something before that,” he advises.


Powered by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), the engraver features laser housing with a glass lens and a pair of EasyDrivers that rely upon the regulation of a 5V USB supply. Aside from that, Brockett decided to 3D print a few of his parts including the enclosure with built-in roller door access, as it enabled him to customize the housing to best suit the oddly-shaped DVD components. Since the parts had one large flat surface, 3D printing was super easy.

To modify the DVD axes, Brockett suggests unscrewing the hub ends to expose the circuit board, and then from there, soldering wires to the two terminals on the far right, as they connect to the end stop micro switch. Afterward, reassemble and then solder four wires to the stepper motor.


In terms of software, the Maker employed GRBL — an open source, high-performance CNC milling controller written in optimized C that will run on an Arduino — and generated a Gcode for the engraver. As a whole, the Photon Printer itself works quite well, especially given the minimal parts and cost associated with the project. What’s more, the device boasts various adjustment options and a spring-ensioned Z axis to reduce vibration.

Intrigued? You can head over to Brockett’s Thingiverse page here, or watch it in action below.

Tell time with this 3D-printed binary watch

Maker creates his very own 3D-printed, ATtiny85 powered binary watch.

What can we say? Makers just love finding new ways to tell time. Testament to that, Tim Keeley recently took it upon himself to devise a slick, 3D-printed binary watch. The wearable reveals the hour and minutes by flashing two LEDs in sequence to represent two 4-bit binary numbers — the left LED represents the 0s, while the right denotes the 1s. The first set of flashes indicates the hour, the second set of flashes is the minute.


“It has three pieces that pressure fit together very nicely. The body and the face pieces have an oval so that you can align the parts up evenly when the two pieces are together. The face piece has two tabs to help hold the circuit board in place. It also has pin holes to add your own strap,” the Maker explains.

Powered by an ATtiny85, the circuitry is comprised of two resistors, two LEDs, a momentary pushbutton and a CR2032 battery holder. Meanwhile, the sketch flashed onto the MCU was derived from fellow Maker Sam DeRose’s Nerd Watch with only a few minor changes.


“The circuit board should be about a 37mm diameter circle and the components should be positioned in a window 28.5mm wide by 22.5mm high in the middle of the board. I put all the components on the top with only the batter holder on the bottom. This is a little tricky but can be done,” Keeley notes.

Time to make one of your own? Head over to his project page on Thingiverse, as well as check it out in action below.

Creating an Arduino-based, 3D-printed robot

Maker designs a DIY four-wheel robot for less than $50.

Maker Miguel Angel Lopez had been on the lookout for a mini, inexpensive robotic vehicle that he could tinker with; unfortunately, his searches came up short. So in true DIY fashion, he decided to build his own with the help of 3D printing and Arduino.


Dubbed WatsonBot, the four-wheeler is comprised of several 3D-printed components including its undercarriage, front and rear bumpers, and central pillars between the wheels on each side. In order to power up his design, the Maker added an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an Arduino Motor Drive Shield and a recycled RC car battery — all of which he had lying around his home.

Beyond that, Lopez obtained an infrared sensor proximity that enables Watson to “see” in front of him. For the next version, the Maker notes that at least two more sensors will be implemented to let the bot know what’s going on along its sides as well.


With a couple of nuts and screws, and finally a little programming of the Arduino, WatsonBot was good to go. Those wishing to create a DIY robot of their own can head over to his Thingiverse page here.

Video: 3D print a fully-rotating four-cyclinder engine model

Maker builds a moving four-cylinder engine with a RepRap 3D printer.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen the emergence of 3D-printed vehicles. Most recently, Local Motors demonstrated the future of car manufacturing by printing the main structure of an entire car right on the floor of the 2015 North American International Auto Show. The company extrudes just about everything that it can, both exterior and interior, before plugging in the wiring, suspension and engine. However, that begs the question, how close are we to the day of a 3D-printed motor?


Well, engineer and auto enthusiast Eric Harrell decided to design and replicate a Toyota 22RE four-cylinder engine using a RepRap Prusa 3D printer. In total, the entire build consisted of 80 separate parts and required just about three days to finish. While it may be a bit longer than your typical DIY project, keep in mind that the end result is a fully rotating engine with a working crank, pistons, and valve train — with valves that open and close. Other than some bearings and fasteners, Harrell notes that all the components were 3D-printed.


“It may not be the most exciting engine, but its the only one I had in my garage. Great if you want to learn about engines and how the moving parts in them work. All parts are printed except for a few bearings and fasteners,” Harrell explains.

Intrigued? You can learn all about the project on its Thingiverse page here, and watch the Maker elaborate upon his build below.

Puppy given the ability to walk thanks to 3D printing

3D printing lets another two-legged dog run around with his four-legged friends.

A 3D-printed wheelchair has enabled a dachshund puppy, born without front limbs, to walk again. This heartwarming story is just the latest example of how the additive process is helping our friends from the animal kingdom get a second lease on life. Last year, we saw an adorable Chihuahua nicknamed TurboRoo roll around in his 3D-printed cart, while fellow canine Derby was given modified front legs that let the husky run for the first time.


In this case, the six-month-old dog’s owners Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak decided to build their beloved pup a wheelchair in an effort to help Bubbles get around in a much easier manner. To do so, the couple used a “combination of carbon fiber, model airplane, and 3D printed parts with the hope that others would be able to utilize the same design for their own dogs in need of a wheelchair,” 3ders.org writes.

Byers uploaded the life-changing design to MakerBot’s Thingiverse for other pet owners in a similar situation seeking assistance. “Bubbles is the reason I bought my printer in the first place and she loves the freedom it has given her,” the Maker explains.

The design features a torso support combined with an axle and two wheels. Once again, the prosthetic creation proved to not only be a more affordable option, but is more accessible than existing wheelchairs on the market today. Additionally, a pet owner can customize the size and weight of the contraption depending on the dog’s needs.

So, whether it’s a seven-year-old boyStumpy the turtle, or Quack Quack the duck, 3D printing has the potential to change the lives of humans and animals alike. The latest string of projects merely scratch the surface of the technology’s wide-range of uses, and more impressively, how localized manufacturing will only require one person to create a model and for the entire world to benefit.

3D printing a T-Rex skeleton

Did you know that fewer than 60 actual specimens of the once mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex have ever been unearthed? Fortunately for scientists and students, 3D printing technology can now be used to faithfully reproduce the bipedal carnivore’s skeleton.

Indeed, MakerBot’s recently unveiled T-Rex Skeleton is a meticulously crafted piece of 3D art comprising 70 distinct pieces.

“Dinosaur and collectible lovers will both covet this magnificent print, but we’re just as excited to see how the T-Rex Skeleton will be used in the classroom. Having a 3D printed T-Rex Skeleton for students to play with is a great way to get them excited about paleontology,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explained in a recent blog post.

“From tail to teeth, this model was created in the exact image of the original lizard king. No details were spared, from its intimidating skull and delicate rib cage to its laughably small arms. 20 times smaller than the average T. rex specimen (approximately 40 feet in length), the 3D model is anatomically accurate down to the last vertebrae.”

In addition to introducing the T-Rex Skeleton, MakerBot has launched a contest challenging 3D aficionados to remake the intricately-detailed T-Rex Skull from MakerBot Academy.

The winners (three) will receive spools of MakerBot PLA Filament, have their design printed and displayed at the MakerBot Retail Stores, as well as on Thingiverse. They’ll also be entitled to a free download of the 79-piece T-Rex Skeleton model from the MakerBot Digital Store.

Interested in learning more about the contest? You can check out a detailed run-down of the official rules here.