Locktoberfest

Great day at Tailem Bend yesterday. Sponsored car got the first set of light strips partially installed a few hours before.

We weren’t able to power two modules from the parkers existing wiring and ran out of time to install another power feed. Possibly due to the draw from the high power front LED headlights, plus our 2*15W modules on what is originally only a 40W circuit.

Regardless we were all extremely proud and happy to see Mike D out in his element and getting better every run with his new track build.

Automotive Product Preview

Due to involvement in motor sport and an enjoyment for modifying anything and everything. Mech Labs has been developing a smart module for ease of installing addressable RGB LED strips in automotive light systems.

The module was originally designed as a modern driving light strip controller for daytime driving lights with animated indicator function. As the preliminary design moved to the detailed design it was apparent that additional inputs could be included for similar manufacturing cost. This resulted in the design pictured bellow. The pictured design will allow up to four automotive signals from powered wires of park lights, indicators, brake lights or reverse lights. By taping into these wires, the modules data output to an addressable LED strip will be able to switch to the inputs function when the vehicles light is on. The module will be universal to most vehicles as either a front or rear RGB LED strip controller. Alternatively a custom program may be loaded to trigger any LED strip animation you can think of from each of the inputs. You could set up a separate switch to toggle functions or tap into an existing function of the vehicle as a trigger.

The design is in its second stage of prototyping and the 100 x 50 x 22 mm device will soon be featured on M D Fabrication’s latest track car and Mech Labs E46.

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Purposely Printed

Although PLA 3D filament printing is ideally utilised for prototypes and conceptual modelling, we have managed to produce parts with end use in mind.

For example, a smaller project to center wheel spacers on a BMW. The wheel locator has a small fillet radius where it meets the hub face of the rotor, requiring the printed part to match inner diameter of the spacer, thickness of the spacer, putter diameter of the wheel locator and the fillet radius. The print quality allowed an excellent tolerance fit.

Another prototype print that is going straight to end user are these hop up barrel ends for the emerging gel blaster skirmish competitive events being held around SA. The prints feature aerodynamic design and a flexible tongue that adds backspin (Magnus effect) on water gel projectiles to increase accuracy over distance.

Third Dimension

Last week we used spare robot parts to fix a robot printer to print robot figurines for robot loving kids.

The printer is owned by a local university and previously used for our engineers, final year honours project. The 3D bio printer extruded four mediums of bio material in controllable ratios to prove concept that cancer can be printed with carboxylation techniques. The printer was combined with a custom made four channel syringe pump (also designed by our engineer) capable of 2.75 nano liter resolution and an international engineers nano scale mixing chamber. After successfully printing gradiants of a cold liquid, warm solid, bio gel example, the project was seperated and pump sent interstate to another university to research food printing. The printer was left in its bio printer configuration and has required some hardware and programming fixes to get operational.

MechLabs still has some more configuration to perfect the printers output, but it will be in use to prototype some new designs.

Experimenting

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Over the last few weeks we have been experimenting with more hardware to give our customers more options. For example, inbuilt power switch for very low profile, tiny user input buttons and positioning components to maximise surface area. One of our favourite behind the scenes developments has been the investment in new tech allowing us to program and re program micro controllers without the requirement of ugly programming headers on our prototype boards.

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Ready to manufacture

The first production ready business cards have been manufactured, programmed and tested. Lets be honest, we’ve been playing with them all day.

The four games installed on this device:

Catch –┬áThe aim of the game is to press the corresponding button when its light is on. The light travels around continuously and you can “catch” it at any spot. Every time you catch it, it gets slightly faster.

CopyThis – How good is your memory… Starting with one light and progressing up to a pattern of forty. The card plays the pattern for you and you must repeat it, if you repeat it correctly, the pattern gets longer.

Sequence – Concentrate, it only repeats once. Recognise the sequence and repeat it. Easy when there are only two lights in the sequence, but it gets harder when the sequence gets longer.

Twitchy – This game is simple and fun. When an LED illuminates you have a small amount of time to press the corresponding button. Each correct entry makes the amount of time smaller meaning you have to use super fast reflexes to score high in this one.

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