Saturday, May 29, 2010

3D Printers for the Masses

Fab@Home aims to change the way we live by allowing anyone to produce custom 3D objects with a 3D printer developed at Cornell University.  Shown below is Model 2 being developed in the Cornell Computational Synthesis Lab.

You can build your own personal fabricator by following the instructions on the Fab@Home wiki or buy one at the NextFab Store.  The video below shows one in action creating a gear.
Here's another video showing how it can mill foam and wood.

Update: MakerBot is another 3D printer that you can make yourself for less than $1000 (Update: latest model fully assembled is almost $2000).  It creates ABS plastic models using a heated extrusion process.  You can buy a kit and spools of various colors of plastic material to create with at the MakerBot Store.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

USB Implementers Forum Closes Public Forum

I have been working on a lot of USB firmware lately and found the best forum for this was at the USB Implementers Forum website. I found a lot of useful information and some great help from the community. Up to now, the USB-IF forum message board was accessible with a free registration. Unexpectedly, the forum is now closed to the public, my recent registration denied by the site. Yesterday, I noticed all links to the forum removed from the main site and all posts older than a few weeks deleted. I posted a message asking about the forum status but now, unless there is some mistake, I won't be able to see the response and assume it's members only.

I am seeing a lot more interest in USB for embedded systems designs, including USB devices, embedded hosts, and USB 3.0.  Most developer don't need their own vendor ID, many semiconductor vendors will let you use one for free if you use their chips.  For small companies or individual developers, the $4000 cost to become a member is very prohibitive.

UPDATE: A few links to public USB forums:
Jan Axelson's USB Forum
Microchip USB Forum
SparkFun PIC USB Development Forum