Open Source 3D printer kits - 1194 Euros

Curious about 3D printing? You can build your own printer from a kit!


  • An extremely large build volume, 21x21x22 cm (L/W/H), while having a very desktop friendly footprint of only 35x35 cm.
  • The fastest controlled horizontal acceleration in the market, allows for extremely fast printing.
  • Connect the machine to your computer's USB port, Drivers for Windows, Mac and Linux are available.
  • Capable of printing with biodegradable PLA plastics and ABS. This allows for extremely affordable printing (plastics offeredhere). Feel free to use other materials!
  • Theoretical resolution: 0.0125 mm for the X and Y axis, the Z-axis is even more accurate!
  • A user-friendly, low-maintenance material feed mechanism (geared). Allows for mid-build material refills and color changes during prints.
  • The machine is very light-weight and robust, you can take it on a trip, without fear of it breaking. We use only square nuts for T-slots and offer a very high quality barch wood.
  • Designed for quick assembly and easy maintenance.
  • Holds a reel of plastic for hassle free 3D printing.
  • Integrated electronics, no need to wire many boards together, everything is plugged into just once PCB.
  • The electronics provide the option to add a 5th stepper motor for later upgrades
  • Powered by free (libre) software. Based on Open Source Hardware (CAD files are published at first shipping date!)
  • Free software upgrades will be provided and hardware upgrades can be downloaded and printed.
  • Optional LCD interface + keypad support (Not included, available soon)

Check it out here.

Posted on Monday, July 25, 2011 at 02:10PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Solar-powered 3D printer: Powerful concept, astonishing demonstration

Posted on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 09:55PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

New Zealand jetpack

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 12:26AM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Monocular glasses-free 3D on iPad/iPhone

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 05:31AM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Finally: Jell-O cube motion captured at high speed, played back at gorgeous low speed

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 03:45PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Flexible Displays--finally here?

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 05:21PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

iPad killer? Nice try, Motorola, but no


Does the redundancy of your gadgets ever bother you?

You have a phone. A laptop. A desktop PC. A GPS thing. A TV. Maybe a tablet. Each contains the same stuff: a screen, a processor chip and some memory. You’re buying the same components over and over again — in duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate — just so each device can perform identical functions in different situations.

Well, that does bother Motorola. For several years now, it’s been hammering away at a central idea: since the modern app phone is essentially a computer, why can’t it become a brain that you slip into different docks? That was the idea behind the Bedside Dock (phone becomes touch-screen alarm clock) and the GPS Dock (attaches to your windshield) for certain Motorola phones.

Now comes Motorola’s most compelling, ambitious and exciting idea of all: a phone that can become the brain for a full-blown laptop.

The Motorola Atrix 4G ($200 with a two-year AT&T contract) is a beautiful, loaded, screamingly fast Android phone. The companion laptop — sleek, light, superthin, black aluminum — has no processor, memory or storage of its own. Instead, you insert the phone into a slot behind the screen hinge. The phone becomes the laptop’s brains.

That’s a powerful idea. It means, first of all, that you don’t have to sync anything. Everything lives on the phone; the laptop is simply a more convenient viewer.

It also means that when you’re sitting on a plane or at your desk, you can work with a trackpad, full screen and traditional keyboard.

And it means that your laptop is always online, thanks to the phone’s Internet connection.

Finally, it means that you have to reverse your usual thinking about battery life. The laptop is basically a giant battery. With the phone inserted, you can happily work away for eight or 10 hours on a single charge. In fact, the laptop actually charges the phone while you work. Yes, that’s correct: you’ll get off the plane with a more fully charged phone than when you got on.

Both the phone and the laptop are gorgeous. The phone has the usual Android goodies, like front and back cameras and hi-def video recording, and it uses Motorola’s MotoBlur software, which can unify the address books and messages from your various online accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and e-mail).

But to make it powerful enough to drive a laptop, Motorola had to give it far more oomph than a typical phone. It has a dual-core processor, which, in English, means “faster than any phone you’ve ever used.” We are talking slick, responsive, satisfying.

The phone also has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the top back of the phone. That is, you can unlock and turn on the phone with a single finger. It’s better in theory than in execution, alas: it often takes several finger-swipes before the phone recognizes you. (You can also set up a regular typed-in password, or none.)

This phone doesn’t do much to address America’s cellphone obesity epidemic; you could probably fit an iPhone inside its body cavity and still have room for a pencil. On the other hand, the screen is gigantic — 960 x 540 pixels — which is great when you’re viewing GPS maps, documents and photos.

The laptop looks and feels like a black MacBook Air: 2.4 pounds, all cool brushed aluminum. The flat-topped keys poke up through the aluminum — again, very MacBook Airish. They’re slightly smaller than standard size, but still fine for rapid touch-typing.

The best thing about the whole phone-laptop concept is that you don’t have to think. You can pop the phone into the laptop, or yank it out, without shutting it down or entering any kind of special mode.

After about 10 seconds, whatever was on the phone’s screen appears on the laptop’s screen. It’s wild: you actually see your phone in a window. All of the buttons and icons are clickable with the trackpad clicker. You can even make phone calls in this setup — the laptop becomes a speakerphone. It’s a crazy, mind-blowing experience.

You can even run all your Android apps on the laptop’s 11.6-inch screen. Sadly, the apps don’t actually exploit the much larger laptop screen real estate. If you click the Full Screen button on the phone window, the software magnifies beautifully; if you’re over 40, you’ll have no problem reading “small” type, which is now bumper-sticker size. But you’re not seeing any additional area — only an enlarged version of what was on the phone screen. Good thing the phone’s screen has such high resolution to begin with.

The laptop also lets you open a second window, containing the Firefox Web browser at full size. That’s handy for doing e-mail, checking online calendars and, of course, surfing the Web.

All of this is so thoughtfully executed, so beautifully designed, that recommending it might seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s ultimately a some-brainer, because there are a few flies in the Atrix ointment.

First, scrolling is a serious problem. On the phone, you scroll things with a quick swipe of your finger on the touch screen: your e-mail Inbox, your Twitter feed, your Applications list and so on. But when the phone’s in the laptop, swiping is far more difficult. While pressing down the recalcitrant clicker button, you drag one finger on the trackpad. It’s spectacularly awkward, especially because the phone frequently misinterprets the initial click as an “I want to open this app” gesture. There are Page Up/Page Down keystrokes, but they don’t function in phone apps — only in Firefox.

Second, remember that this is an Android laptop, not a Mac or Windows laptop. You can edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files very comfortably, using the built-in Quickoffice software. But you won’t be running the kinds of programs you could run on a real laptop — games, Photoshop, whatever.

Because the phone runs Flash video, you ought to be able to enjoy TV shows at But maybe because it’s phone Flash, it’s so jerky that it’s unwatchable, even on a fast Wi-Fi connection.

Third, the Internet speed isn’t what it should be. If you’re in one of the cities where AT&T has finished upgrading its network to 4G (fourth-generation equipment), you’re supposed to get superfast Internet service. In practice, though, the 4G adds nothing. Even when you test it in a 4G town like New York (as Engadget did) or Boston (as I did), the Atrix has an even slower Internet connection than a non-4G phone. (AT&T’s explanation: the 4G indicator may appear on the phone even when the area’s 4G network upgrade isn’t yet complete.)

Fourth, the phone and the laptop together cost $500 (after $100 rebate). Now, for that money, you could get a nice phone and a full-blown Windows netbook that runs faster and does it all. Of course, you lose most of the perks — a single storage gadget, eternal battery life and so on. And the netbook you buy won’t be anywhere near as beautiful as the Atrix laptop.

But it’s not just the price of the hardware. To use the browser on the laptop, you’re required to pay AT&T an additional $20 a month — a “tethering plan.”

You can also buy a TV dock for the Atrix, with remote control, so that you can view your photos, videos and other stuff on the big screen. There’s also a beautiful wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse; together with the TV dock, you can turn any TV into a full-blown Android PC.

The Atrix, then, is three things. It’s an extremely fast, powerful, superbly designed phone. It’s a gorgeous, lightweight, long-lasting laptop that’s tragically clumsy to use.

Above all, it’s a really, really brilliant idea. Here’s hoping that Motorola sticks with its team of fresh-thinking engineers long enough to produce an Atrix II.

February 16, 2011

Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 09:01AM by Registered CommenterJoel | Comments1 Comment

Electronic hummingbird spy

Via Stuart Silverstone:

Backed by the Pentagon's research arm, Monrovia firm AeroVironment has developed the Nano Hummingbird, an experimental miniature drone that could one day do reconnaissance by landing on a window ledge.
By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

A pocket-size drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird for the way it flaps its tiny robotic wings has been developed for the Pentagon by a Monrovia company as a mini-spy plane capable of maneuvering on the battlefield and in urban areas.

The battery-powered drone was built by AeroVironment Inc. for the Pentagon's research arm as part of a series of experiments in nanotechnology. The little flying machine is built to look like a bird for potential use in spy missions.

The results of a five-year effort to develop the drone are being announced Thursday by the company and the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Equipped with a camera, the drone can fly at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour, AeroVironment said. It can hover and fly sideways, backward and forward, as well as go clockwise and counterclockwise, by remote control for about eight minutes.

The quick flight meets the goals set forth by the government to build a flying "hummingbird-like" aircraft. It also demonstrates the promise of fielding mini-spy planes. Industry insiders see the technology eventually being capable of flying through open windows or sitting on power lines, capturing audio and video while enemies would be none the wiser.

The Hummingbird would be a major departure from existing drones that closely resemble traditional aircraft. The next step is likely to be further refinement of the technology, officials said, before decisions are made about whether the drones would be mass-produced and deployed.

"The miniaturization of drones is where it really gets interesting," said defense expert Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare. "You can use these things anywhere, put them anyplace, and the target will never even know they're being watched."

With a wingspan of 6.5 inches, the mini-drone weighs 19 grams, or less than a AA battery. The Hummingbird's guts are made up of motors, communications systems and a video camera. It is slightly larger than the average hummingbird.

The success of the program "paves the way for a new generation of aircraft with the agility and appearance of small birds," Todd Hylton, Hummingbird program manager for the Pentagon's research arm, said in a statement.

In all, the Pentagon has awarded about $4 million to AeroVironment since 2006 to develop the technology and the drone itself.

Matt Keennon, the company's manager on the project, said it was a technical challenge to create the mini-machine from scratch because it pushes the limitations of aerodynamics.

Less than two years ago, an earlier version of the drone could fly for 20 seconds. Keennon said the current eight minutes of flight are likely to be extended as experiments continue.

"This is a new form of man-made flight," Keennon said. It is about "biomimicry," or building a machine that is inspired by nature, he said.

The Pentagon issued seven specific milestones for the Hummingbird, including the ability to hover in a 5-mph wind gust and the ability to fly from outdoors to indoors and back outdoors through a normal-size doorway.

Critics have noted that privacy issues may emerge depending on how the drones are used.

For now, the Hummingbird is just a prototype, Keennon said. But 10 years from now, he sees the technology carrying out detailed reconnaissance missions.

But it's not likely to be a "hummingbird," considering that that's a rare bird in, say, New York City.

"I'm not a bird expert, but a sparrow seems to be better," Keennon said.
February 17, 2011
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times,0,2685906.story

Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 08:52AM by Registered CommenterJoel | Comments1 Comment | References2 References

Reverse signals in neurons found

From Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence News

Northwestern University scientists have discovered that axons can operate in reverse: they can also send signals to the neuron cell body, too. Previously, it was thought that axons only carry signals away from neurons (output).

It also turns out axons can talk to each other. Before sending signals in reverse, axons can perform their own neural computations without any involvement from the cell body or dendrites. This is contrary to typical neuronal communication where an axon of one neuron is in contact with another neuron’s dendrite or cell body, not its axon. And, unlike the computations performed in dendrites, the computations occurring in axons are thousands of times slower, potentially creating a means for neurons to compute fast things in dendrites and slow things in axons.

A deeper understanding of how a normal neuron works is critical to scientists who study neurological diseases, such as epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

The findings are published in the February issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“We have discovered a number of things fundamental to how neurons work that are contrary to the information you find in neuroscience textbooks,” said Nelson Spruston, senior author of the paper and professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “Signals can travel from the end of the axon toward the cell body, when it typically is the other way around. We were amazed to see this.”

He and his colleagues first discovered individual nerve cells can fire off signals even in the absence of electrical stimulations in the cell body or dendrites. It’s not always stimulus in, immediate action potential out. (Action potentials are the fundamental electrical signaling elements used by neurons; they are very brief changes in the membrane voltage of the neuron.)

Similar to our working memory, when we memorize a telephone number for later use, the nerve cell can store and integrate stimuli over a long period of time, from tens of seconds to minutes. (That’s a very long time for neurons.) Then, when the neuron reaches a threshold, it fires off a long series of signals, or action potentials, even in the absence of stimuli. The researchers call this persistent firing, and it all seems to be happening in the axon.

Spruston and his team stimulated a neuron for one to two minutes, providing a stimulus every 10 seconds. The neuron fired during this time but, when the stimulation was stopped, the neuron continued to fire for a minute.

“It’s very unusual to think that a neuron could fire continually without stimuli,” Spruston said. “This is something new — that a neuron can integrate information over a long time period, longer than the typical operational speed of neurons, which is milliseconds to a second.”

This unique neuronal function might be relevant to a normal process, such as memory, but it also could be relevant to disease. The persistent firing of these inhibitory neurons might counteract hyperactive states in the brain, such as preventing the runaway excitation that happens during epileptic seizures.

Spruston credits the discovery of the persistent firing in normal individual neurons to the astute observation of Mark Sheffield, a graduate student in his lab. Sheffield is first author of the paper.

The researchers think that others have seen this persistent firing behavior in neurons but dismissed it as something wrong with the signal recording. When Sheffield saw the firing in the neurons he was studying, he waited until it stopped. Then he stimulated the neuron over a period of time, stopped the stimulation and then watched as the neuron fired later.

“This cellular memory is a novelty,” Spruston said. “The neuron is responding to the history of what happened to it in the minute or so before.”

Spruston and Sheffield found that the cellular memory is stored in the axon and the action potential is generated farther down the axon than they would have expected. Instead of being near the cell body it occurs toward the end of the axon.

Their studies of individual neurons (from the hippocampus and neocortex of mice) led to experiments with multiple neurons, which resulted in perhaps the biggest surprise of all. The researchers found that one axon can talk to another. They stimulated one neuron, and detected the persistent firing in the other unstimulated neuron. No dendrites or cell bodies were involved in this communication.

“The axons are talking to each other, but it’s a complete mystery as to how it works,” Spruston said. “The next big question is: how widespread is this behavior? Is this an oddity or does in happen in lots of neurons? We don’t think it’s rare, so it’s important for us to understand under what conditions it occurs and how this happens.”

Adapted from materials provided by Northwestern University

Posted on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 03:01PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

DNA railroad--for real!

This is flabbergasting to me! From the BAFuture Yahoo Group:


DNA engine observed in real-time traveling along base-pair track

February 6, 2011

In a complex feat of nanoengineering, a team of scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Oxford have succeeded in creating a programable molecular transport system, the workings of which can be observed in real time. The results, appearing in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology, open the door to the development of advanced drug delivery methods and molecular manufacturing systems.

Resembling a monorail train, the system relies on the self-assembly properties of DNA origami and consists of a 100 nm track together with a motor and fuel. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), the research team was able to observe in real time as this motor traveled the full length of the track at a constant average speed of around 0.1 nm/s.

"The track and motor interact to generate forward motion in the motor," explained Dr. Masayuki Endo of Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS). "By varying the distance between the rail 'ties,' for example, we can adjust the speed of this motion."

The research team, including lead author Dr. Shelley Wickham at Oxford, anticipates that these results will have broad implications for future development of programable molecular assembly lines leading to the creation of synthetic ribosomes.

"DNA origami techniques allow us to build nano- and meso-sized structures with great precision," elaborated iCeMS Prof. Hiroshi Sugiyama. "We already envision more complex track geometries of greater length and even including junctions. Autonomous, molecular manufacturing robots are a possible outcome."

More information: The article, "Direct observation of stepwise movement of a synthetic molecular transporter" by Shelley F. J. Wickham, Masayuki Endo, Yousuke Katsuda, Kumi Hidaka, Jonathan Bath, Hiroshi Sugiyama, and Andrew J. Turberfield, was published online in the February 6, 2011 issue of Nature Nanotechnology


Posted on Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 09:56PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment