makerbot as microscope: what we learned

Joel Belouet has been working on an art piece involving microorganisms and needed a support structure for his microscope camera. It turns out the MakerBot sitting on our table was the solution.

At first Joel attached the camera to the z axis and the slide rested on the build platform, but it soon became clear that it would be much better to have the sample remain still and the camera move instead. Inverting the positions meant attaching the slide to the bottom of the z axis platform in order to prevent the camera lens from bumping against it. This setup also allowed him to use the z crank as a focus mechanism. (more…)

Thom Yorke 3D Print by Tiago Serra

During our recent 3D Printing Workshop, Tiago Serra from xDA used altlab’s MakerBot to print a model of Thom York’s head :)

Original point cloud data from Aaron Koblin’s House of Cards (GeoVideo’s 3D scanning system)

Meshed with Point Cloud Skinner script for Blender

Cleanup in MeshLab

Made during the Makerbot workshop with Zach Hoeken at Lisbon Tech University

Download the file at Thingiverse

Awesome CreativeCommons post :

Makerbot Industries

Drum Pads



Four drum pads ready to go.

All made of old material found in the Alt/Lab installations, and a very special big thankxxx for Mónica who brought the casings (we are going back to that in a moment) for the drum pads.

So the idea was to make drum pads that we could hook up to a sound card(or whatever) and them make sweet music, this is a very nice combination between piezoelectric components and a few layers of some absorbent sound  material like rubber or cork foil (that’s what we use because there was nothing more) and a piece of aluminum foil for a greater drum area .

We use an old can (20l) of paint, four piezoelectric found in electronic junk like old modems and old telephones, wire for connecting the piezos, cork foil for insulation the drum pad area and Mónica supply the casings (square rubber cd´s stands), and glue for putting everything nice and tight .

First we cut a piece of the can (circular about 10cm radius)and we glued the piezo into it, then we drilled one hole into the rubber casing for the wires to came out, them we cut two square cork foil parts (the first in the bottom of the casing and the other for the top) a bit of glue and that’s it drum pads ready to rock.

Now we got some audio coming out of the pads but thats just boring because its always the same and we want to go further like transforming audio into midi messages, and we found the right tool for it, its called  “KTDrumTrigger” and he transforms the audio signal into midi notes, we can use this midi notes inside a sequencer program to control any kind of instrument (either VSTI or some other stuff), in our case we use the drum pads to control “Battery” and thats it instant fun.

There are some other links and some other ideas for drum pads. This “one“uses ardunio as a source for the imput signal.


Project Helicam

Helicam Sketches

Helicam is an AltLab project that emerged from the wish to capture images from the sky with a WiFi enabled camera so that one can see what’s being shot from a different perspective and in real-time. This approach may lead to new paradigms in visual perspectives by enabling shooting from air views at a considerably low cost and also so close that cannot be easily done from a helicopter.

As a real example, one of the projects to accomplish with Helicam is for testing for local forests surveillance and use in related research projects, as with forest fire prevention for sustainability. Other possible operation fields can be architecture, building surveillance or even artistic performance environments where multimedia has a strong presence.

The main idea is to build an inexpensive and flexible platform using – as a starting point – specifications made available by several open source projects available online (like Mikrokopter or UAVP-NG). After doing some initial research and costs evaluation we realized that we cannot make this prototype with the resources currently available within the group members or AltLab and therefore we started to seek for some kind of sponsorship. I have to say that we were lucky since with only two contacts made, we were able to fundraise money in order to build a flying prototype according to our initial costs predictions. Thank you Mobbit for accepting our proposal!!

If you wanna join us in this project stop by AltLab in one of our regular Tuesday night meetings.

Make your own game-pad!

…Don’t let others tell you how many buttons you can press at once, these are times of freedom :)

This is a homemade game-pad with just one accelerometer (a breakout board from Sparkfun) and one push-button.

custom game-pad with accelerometer and push-button connected to arduino

Using a simple, custom protocol and a C# listener we could play Acceleroids, an Asteroids lost sibling on Steroids, which uses the accelerometer to control the ship and the button to shoot.

next steps will be to turn this into a generic game-pad by simulating keyboard key presses for any sensor you throw at the Arduino, allowing you to create truly funky pads to control your favourite game. Stay tuned! ;)

Edit: We were alerted by friendly comments that this project resembles another project/tutorial that can be found here:,902.0.html

PAPERduino’s design

This is a fully functional version of the Arduino. We eliminated the PCB and use paper and cardboard as support and the result is.. the PAPERduino :D

This is the the first version of the layout design, next we will try more designs, and other materials. You just need to print the top and the bottom layouts, and glue them to any kind of support you want. We hope that you start making your own boards. If you do, please share your photos with us, we would love to see them ;)

There is no USB direct connection, so to program the paperduino you will need some kind of FTDI cable or adapter. One of this products will be fine:
FTDI cable from Adafruit Industries
FTDI adapter from Sparkfun

Download PDF

Components list:
1 x 7805 Voltage regulator
2 x LEDs (different colors)
2 x 560 Ohm resistors (between 220oHm and 1K)
1 x 10k Ohm resistor
2 x 100 uF capacitors
1x 16 MHz clock crystal
2 x 22 pF capacitors
1 x 0.01 uF capacitor
1 x button
1 x Atmel ATMega168
1 x socket 28 pin
Female and Male headers

Use a needle to puncture the holes for your components.

Don’t rush, place one component after another and do all the solder work carefully.

Follow the connection lines.

And this should be the final look of your paperduino connections.

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