[Project] 3D Print a Mini Steering Wheel for Your Xbox One or PS4 Controller
By Tyler Koslow
Want to make your video gaming experience even more realistic? New York-based designer Brent Scott has created a 3D printable mini steering wheel that you can mount onto your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller.
As the video game graphics slowly become on par with our own reality, they create an immersive experience that is being enjoyed by people both young and old. However, as realistic as your favorite racing title may be, it’s hard to feel like you’re actually behind the wheel when all you’re doing is tilting your sticks and mashing some buttons.
No need to start a console war either… The designer has released a model for both Xbox and PS4 controllers. It’s useful, relatively easy to print, and all you need aside from your 3D printer is a bearing and some glue! So, if you’re planning on doing some gaming this weekend, why not add a 3D printed steering wheel to your controller.
Let’s take a closer look at this project.
3D Printed Mini Steering Wheel: What You Need & How to Build it
Ready to start racing? Here’s what you need to build your own steering wheel.
The STL files for both the Xbox One and PS4 controllers are freely available via Thingiverse. There are multiple parts that make up this steering wheel contraption, so feel free to get creative and mix different filament colors. Aside from your 3D printer, all you need to put this project into overdrive is a bearing from an old fidget spinner or skateboard, along with some superglue.
Once you have the parts printed and your bearing ready, it’s time to move into the assembly process. Taking the 3D printed parts, snap the rack into the pivot, moving it back and forth until the ridges of the print are smoothed out.
Next, mount the bearing onto the frame by gluing the top and bottom edge of the bearing. Make sure that the glue is fully dried before snapping it onto the controller, as the glue can leave some residue on the controller. After snapping the 3D printed rack onto the frame, mount the entire wheel onto the controller.
Slide the pivot down onto the controller’s stick until the ball joint is in the center and the bottom edge of the pivot is parallel with the rack. Finally, center the wheel on the rack and press it into the bearing.
Now you’re finally ready to get behind the wheel and start racing.
Lego House: Right Next to Denmark’s Legoland, But Way Cooler
By Jenny List
If there is one thing that most Hackaday readers will know about Denmark, it is that it’s the home of the Lego brick. The toy first appeared at the end of the 1940s from the factory of Ole Kirk Christiansen‘s Lego company in Billund, central Denmark, and has remained inseparable from both the town and the country ever since.
When spending a week in Denmark for the BornHack hacker camp it made absolute sense to take a day out to drive up to Billund and visit the famous Legoland theme park. All those childhood dreams of seeing the fabled attraction would be satisfied, making the visit a day to remember.
The Danes at Bornhack however had other ideas. By all means go to Legoland they said, but also take in Lego House. As a Brit I’d never heard of it, so was quickly educated. It seems that while Legoland is a kid’s theme park, Lego House is a far more Lego-brick-focused experience, and in the view of the Danish hackers, much better.
In The Company Town, You’re Sitting On The Mother Lode
Billund is a small town surrounded by farmland, that would probably have remained a sleepy backwater were it not the Lego company town. The visitor attractions are dwarfed by the extent of the Lego factories and warehouses, and it boasts the country’s second largest international airport also owned by the company.
You are in no doubt as to Lego’s influence on the place as you drive in, the city limits are marked by car-sized Lego bricks at the side of the road. Lego House is right in the centre of town, a modernist structure designed to resemble a huge pile of Lego bricks. From across the square you can’t miss seeing more of those monster bricks. (I looked close — turns out they’re fibreglass, and I unaccountably want to own one.)
Once inside, the central atrium is dominated by a life-size tree over several stories, made of course from Lego. The furniture and fittings are all beautifully designed but retain a Lego theme, and you are never far from Lego bricks with most seating having a bin full of them for you to idly play with. This is the temple of the brick in every sense, and it is clear that a huge quantity of thought has gone into its creation. It is no budget visitor attraction but the premium statement of thanks by a multinational company to the fans of its product, and as a visitor you are welcome to immerse yourself in it rather than be a spectator.
The Brick Has A Fascinating History
The museum in the basement takes the visitor through the formation and early years of the Lego business from its origins in a family carpenter’s shop through its diversification into wooden toys and then its embrace of plastic moulding. First though, you walk above a series of worn-out Lego brick moulds unearthed from the foundations of a Lego factory, fascinatingly we learn that the company used to bury moulds in this way to avoid their falling into the hands of competitors. It’s interesting to see the moulds up-close, and there’s something slightly eerie about the exhibit.
We see the succession of the company’s wooden toys from the 1930s through to the ’50s, which incidentally provide a snapshot of the toy fashions of the day. There was a yo-yo craze in the 1930s, for instance, and later a craze for fake motorcycle engines to attach to bicycles. To eyes that associate the name with plastic bricks it’s very odd indeed to see the word “Lego” on a wooden truck or train. These were high-quality toys, and dare I say it there were a few I’d definitely snap up were I lucky enough to encounter one in a second-hand store.
The company diversified into plastic mouldings in the late 1940s, and there follows a series of exhibitions charting the decline of the wooden toy business and the rise of the plastic. It began with Lego bricks, evolving into the innumerable shapes we know today. The quantity of design work that went into ensuring that the bricks grip each other enough for the models to not fall apart, while remaining easy to dismantle is a fascinating story.
This is the point at which you’ll see the sets you had as a child, for example for me it was the blue railway tracks and large gear sets of the early 1970s that triggered the most nostalgia. It’s notable that the sets from that era were much more “Here are a load of parts, go and build anything you want” rather than “Here is a set to make this spaceship, go and build that”, and I at least am left with the feeling that our kids have lost some creative opportunity along the way.
Plenty Of Lego Activities For All Ages
The museum alone would make for a worthy destination, but this building offers so much more. Upstairs there are a series of zones, from an art gallery of pieces done in the medium of Lego bricks through interactive Lego challenges and games involving making real items in Lego and mating them to virtual worlds, to more traditional Lego activities. If you wish to build a Lego house and have it in a virtual cityscape you can do it here.
You can also see your Lego fish swimming in a virtual sea. My effort was a shark.
A Rare Chance To See The Bricks Being Made
Emerging from the riot of coloured plastic bricks back into the atrium, there is a final treat. The Danish mathematician Søren Eilers and a team computed the maximum number of combinations in which six eight-stud Lego bricks could be combined as 915,103,765, and the Lego company are setting out to have every one of them built. You can scan your RFID pass and receive your personalised combination, but the special treat is that on your way out you receive a pack of six red Lego bricks made by a working Lego production line there in front of you. We’re told it’s the same as the plant used in the Lego factories, but hugely slowed down to the rate at which visitors pass through the attraction.
There is a machine processing raw plastic pellets, feeding the hydraulic injection moulding machine that makes the bricks, and then a series of sorting machinery that extract six bricks and then a packager that bags them up in the exclusive Lego House packaging, before being weighed and dispensed. It’s interesting to note that the weighing process rejects a few bags of bricks, there must be quite a fine tolerance on a finished brick. It’s a rare opportunity to see close-up an industrial production line, and that it’s creating the iconic Lego bricks is a bonus.
There’s Another Attraction In Billund, Too
With bricks in hand, we left Lego House past the Lego shop in which almost anything Lego could be found. A festival of Lego bricks, but of course it’s not the only game in Billund. The Legoland theme park is on the outskirts of town, so on a second day we made the trip there. It’s not worthy of a Hackaday write-up as much as Lego House because we are not a theme park review site, but it’s worth a quick mention as there are a few points of technical interest there.
Most of the rides are Lego-themed versions of traditional park fare, but it’s worth taking the time to try the Ice Pilot ride in which you sit on the end of an industrial robot following a path you can program yourself. Then there are the extensive Lego model cities, which have plenty of automation to marvel at. Otherwise have the usual fun with monorails and trains and water rides, but don’t expect much accessible tech. And a word to the wise: by all means try the Lego brick fries in the burger joint, but order a portion between more than one person. Danes must have HUGE appetites.
So then, Lego House and Legoland. Both as Danish as a smørrebrød, and definitely something you should put on your itineraries should you find yourself in the country. How about making time for BornHack next year so you can follow in our footsteps?
How’s That 2.5D Printer Working For You?
By Al Williams
We’ve noticed a trend lately that advanced 3D printing people are calling their normal print setup as 2.5D, not 3D. The idea is that while the machine has 3 axes, the actual geometry generation is typically only in the X and Y axis. The Z axis simply lifts up to the next layer unless you are working in vase mode. [Teaching Tech] wanted to experiment with real 3D printing where the Z axis actually helps build the shape of the printed object, not just advancing with each step.
As it turns out his first investigation linked back to one of our early posts on the topic. There’s been more recent work though, and he found that too. It took a little surgery to get more Z clearance, but nothing too serious — just a movement of a fan.
The problem is, of course, if you start having the head moving up and down, it needs to have a very low profile so you aren’t bumping into things. This is usually not as big a problem with conventional printing because the head is always a little bit over the printed object.
A special slicer computes the way to move the head around in all three directions. The only thing we’d worry about is that most printers don’t expect much movement in the Z axis. For example, many printers use belts on the X and Y axis but use leadscrews for Z. You might have issues with backlash being worse, for example, or need to lubricate the Z axis more than usual.
One nice thing about not using layers is that layer lines do not appear in the same way they do with conventional printing. You can really see the differences in some of the example prints in the video. It may be that one day having a 3D print sliced into layers will be as quaint as putting data on a floppy diskette seems today. There’s a long way to go, but there’s a lot of work to push in that direction.
We’ve gotten to the point where a $35 Raspberry Pi can be a reasonable alternative to a traditional desktop or laptop, and microcontrollers in the Arduino ecosystem are getting powerful enough to handle some remarkably demanding computational jobs. But there’s still one area where microcontrollers seem to be lagging a bit: machine learning. Sure, there are purpose-built edge-computing SBCs, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to run AI models on versatile and ubiquitous MCUs that you can pick up for a couple of bucks?
We’re moving in that direction, and our friends at Adafruit Industries want to stop by the Hack Chat and tell us all about what they’re working on. In addition to Ladyada and PT, we’ll be joined by Meghna Natraj, Daniel Situnayake, and Pete Warden, all from the Google TensorFlow team. If you’ve got any interest in edge computing on small form-factor computers, you won’t want to miss this chat. Join us, ask your questions about TensorFlow Lite and TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers, and see what’s possible in machine learning way out on the edge.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
Cheese Grater Now Grates Cheese
By Bryan Cockfield
If you’ve been using Apple products since before they were cool, you might remember the Power Mac G5. This was a time before Apple was using Intel processors, so compatibility issues were high and Apple’s number of users was pretty low. They were still popular in some areas but didn’t have the wide appeal they have now. The high quality of the drilled aluminum design lived on into the Intel era and gained more popularity, but the case was still colloquially known as the “Cheese Grater”. Despite not originally being able to grate cheese though, this Power Mac actually does grate cheese.
Ungrated cheese is placed in the CD drive slot where it passes through a series of 3D printed gears which grate the cheese into small chunks. The cheese grating drive is automatically started when it detects cheese via a Raspberry Pi. The Pi 4 also functions as a working desktop computer within the old G5 case, complete with custom-built I/O ports for HDMI that integrate with the case to make it look like original hardware.
Funnily enough, the Pi 4 has more computing power and memory than Apple’s flagship Mac at the time, and consumes about 100 times less power. It’s a functional build that elaborates on an in-joke in the hardware community, which we can all appreciate. Perhaps the next build should be something that uses the blue smoke for a productive purpose. Meanwhile, regular readers will remember that this isn’t the first Apple related cheese grating episode we’ve shown you.
Can You Really Use the Raspberry Pi 4 as a Desktop Machine?
By Jonathan Bennett
When the Raspberry Pi 4 was released, many looked at the dual micro HDMI ports with disdain. Why would an SBC like the Raspberry Pi need two HDMI ports? The answer was that the Pi 4 is finally fast enough to work as a desktop replacement, and the killer feature (for many of us) for a desktop is multiple monitors.
Now I know what many of you are thinking. There’s no way a $35, or even $55, credit-card-sized computer can replace a $1000+ desktop machine, right? Right? Of course not, but at the same time, yes, yes it can. So I tried to use the Pi as a desktop replacement for a week, and it worked. In fact, this article has been written almost entirely on the Pi 4 with 4 GB of memory, as well as a couple of my recent security columns. I could definitely continue working with the Pi as my daily driver for that purpose.
There are a few points of order to cover first. Initial reviews were based on the June 20th release of Raspbian, which in turn was based on the pre-release Debian Buster. Since then, Buster has released. Fixes that were queued up have landed now that the release freeze has ended. A new Raspbian image was released on July 10, and many of the initial release issues have been fixed.
Running a desktop from an SD card doesn’t seem like a great idea, so I’ve opted to use a SATA hybrid hard drive and take advantage of the new USB3 ports. The Pi 4 doesn’t yet support booting from USB, though along with PXE boot, it is planned for a future update. Since we have control over the kernel boot parameters, it’s trivial to boot the kernel from the SD card and the root filesystem on the hard drive. I expected this to significantly improve performance, but surprisingly the system was unusable for seconds at a time. Looking at the kernel logs and comparing with the experience of others, it becomes quickly apparent that some kernels have problems with USB Attached SCSI (UAS) when talking to some USB3 devices. The giveaway was the USB device resets in the message log. A kernel boot option to disable UAS for the offending device was all that was needed to eliminate the resets and performance issues.
Note: partway through writing this article, the hard drive died, so I’m back at the conventional desktop again. I still ended up using the Pi for just over a week. The Pi wasn’t the reason that I quit, though.
For a power supply, I opted to use the Canakit Pi 4 supply, because it was in stock on Amazon. The USB C problems don’t effect this configuration, and so far the power supply hasn’t been a problem. Overheating, on the other hand, has been a problem. To its credit, the Pi’s processor does throttle down when it exceeds 80 °C, and is stable even under load. The fact that a processor with this much performance doesn’t immediately cook itself when used without even a heatsink is remarkable.
Using two monitors does add to the heating, as well as watching a video that uses hardware decoding. My Pi is propped on the top of my desk, not using a case. The official case doesn’t have any airflow to speak of — the heating issue would be much worse. If I continue using the Pi 4, I’ll probably invest in an aluminum armor case. These all-aluminum cases double as heatsinks, and look sharp, too.
You may notice that we’re beyond just $55 for our desktop setup. I estimate around $150 for a reasonable desktop replacement build. That includes the 4 GB Pi 4, the power supply, heatsink, an SD card, the USB3 to SATA adapter, a cheap SSD drive, and a pair of Micro-HDMI cables. In fairness, most other SBCs need a similar list of accessories, and the price could be lower if the SSD weren’t included — or higher if a mouse and keyboard were included.
Aside from the hard drive crash, the Raspberry Pi was a perfectly serviceable desktop for web browsing, writing articles, and even some light image editing. Make no mistake, you wouldn’t enjoy using Blender on the Pi, but then again, that’s true of budget desktops and laptops, too. 4 GB of ram is just enough for a desktop. My 13 Chromium tabs, including a Youtube video, are using just over half of the 4 GB of available memory. It seems it would be possible to get by with 2 GB, but just barely. Browsers are memory hogs.
There were still a few quirks I never worked out. KDE wouldn’t render correctly on the Pi, for one. The 3D acceleration I experienced seemed slower than expected. Openarena, for example, was a slideshow when running at full screen at 1920×1080 resolution. WiFi was flaky early in the experiment, but getting the hard drive problems sorted out seemed to help there as well.
Editing documents, doing research, and listening to music were all a breeze for the Pi. Netflix wouldn’t work — I suspect that was a DRM issue, as I was using Chromium, which lacks any Widevine support. Perhaps the highest praise that I can give is that using a Pi 4 as a daily driver desktop is that it was unremarkable. Not the fastest computer, but a serviceable desktop for many uses.
So you need a desktop, should you just use a Raspberry Pi? If you have one already, sure, give it a try; it might surprise you. If you only have a few dollars to spend, or need a bunch of machines, using Pis might be a great fit. Editing video, 3D modeling, compiling large projects, or some other processor- or video-card-intensive workload? The Pi probably isn’t the right choice.
For a $55 piece of hardware, it’s impressive. Can it replace your desktop? Yes, yes it can. Should it? Probably not.
Plasma-Powered Thrusters For Your Homebrew Satellite Needs
By Dan Maloney
It seems as though every week we see something that clearly shows we’re living in the future. The components we routinely incorporate into our projects would have seemed like science fiction only a few short years ago, but now we buy them online and have them shipped to us for pennies. And what can say we’ve arrived in the future more than off-the-shelf plasma thrusters for the DIY microsatellite market?
Although [Michael Bretti] does tell us that he plans to sell these thrusters eventually, they’re not quite ready for the market yet. The AIS-gPPT3-1C series that’s currently under testing is designed for the micro-est of satellites, the PocketQube, a format with a unit size only 5 cm on a side – an eighth the size of a 1U CubeSat. The thrusters are solid-fueled, with blocks of Teflon, PEEK, or Ultem that are ablated by a stream of plasma. The gaseous exhaust is accelerated and shaped by a magnetic nozzle that’s integrated right into the thruster. The thruster is mounted directly to a PCB containing the high-voltage supplies and control electronics to interface with the PocketQube’s systems. The 34-gram thrusters have enough fuel for perhaps 500 firings, although that and the specifics of performance are yet to be tested.