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Video VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video) 47

You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)

Video CES 2014: 3-D Scanners are a Logical Next Step After 3-D Printers 87

A number of companies are either selling or preparing to sell 3-D scanners. Aside from fun (but interesting) uses, like duplicating chess pieces or possibly reproducing a miniature of Rodin's famous sculpture, Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone, Matterform anticipates archeologists reproducing artifacts so that students can study them without handling the precious originals. This video is an interview with Matterform co-founder Drew Cox, who was exhibiting Matterform's scanner at CES 2014. MakerBot is also selling a scanner, as are a growing number of others. In fact, even though Matterform talks about being a low-cost (pre-order price $579) scanner for home use, as opposed to a commercial one that costs thousands. There are also several interesting hand-held scanners out there. Sense sells theirs for $399. Structure has one for $349 that's essentially a peripheral for an iPad. And this is just a random selection from a brief Google search. Use "3-D Scanner" as your search term and you'll find multiple Google pages full of 3-D scanners and information about them -- including software being developed at ETH zurich that turns your smartphone into a 3-D scanner.

Video CES: Automatic Plant Monitoring Through Your Computer or iPhone (Video) Screenshot-sm 44

Timothy Lord starts this video with these words: "Sensors are a big deal at CES this year. They are small devices that track everything from the location of your pets to how many steps you have taken today." And so he chatted with Phillip Bolliger, founder of Swiss company Koubachi AG, which makes Wi-Fi sensors that help you give your plants the right amount of water and light and to keep them at the right temperature. As of this writing, the prices on their online store are in Euros, not dollars, but the sensors are now available through Amazon with U.S. pricing. Koubachi also has a free app for your iOS device, and a Facebook app for your computer or Android device, that will help you give your plants the right amount of fertilizer and other love even if you don't buy a Koubachi sensor.

The Awesome Button 80

An anonymous reader writes "An awesome hardware hack which demonstrates how easily USB-based human interface devices (eg, Keyboards and Mice) can be created using the Arduino software environment." A very nice little project based on the Teensy USB Development Board. Reminds me of the breadboard electronics projects my Dad used to work on with me many years ago. "Great fun for young and old," you might say.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling