November 15, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Car Lock Pinball [Maker Update #60]

This week on Maker Update, a Pi-powered Airplay boombox, the Hackaday Grand Prize winner, pinball with car parts, drying filament, and exploded diagrams. This week’s Cool Tool is a LewanSoul Servo Tester.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Photo and project by the Ruiz Bros.

Boomy Pi Airplay Boombox by Ruiz Brothers


Photo and project by Alex Williams.

Open Source Underwater Glider Wins 2017 Hackaday Grand Prize

Top Projects in 2017 Hackaday Prize

More Projects

Photo and project by Chris Mitchell.

DIY Pinball by Chris Mitchell

Car door actuators on Amazon

Cool Tools Minute

Digital Servo Tester Controller with Voltage Display

3D Printed Animatronic Puppet by JON-A-TRON


Photo and guide by Paige Russell.

Storing Filament by Paige Russell

Why Moisture Wrecks Filament by MatterHackers

Image by Jon-A-Tron.

Easy Exploded 3D Drawings by JON-A-TRON

Diagram by Dean Miller.

Native MP3 decoding on Arduino by Dean Miller

Photo by Lost Art Press.

Workbench Saddlebag

Maker Faires

Bengaluru India
Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
Rochester, New York USA
Poughkeepsie, New York USA
Kiel Germany

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This week on Maker Update, a Pi-powered Airplay boombox, the Hackaday Grand Prize winner, pinball with car parts, servos without the hassle, drying filament, and exploded diagrams.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell and welcome to another Maker Update. Thanks for giving me some of your time this week. I’ve got a nice, full show for you, so let’s get into it starting with the project of the week.

The Ruiz brothers have another brilliant and beautiful project. This one is an Airplay-compatible boombox that uses a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W board, a stereo amplifier board, and a rechargeable battery.

As you’d expect, Noe and Pedro made this stunningly designed 3D printed enclosure that fits everything just right, includes holes for mounting the hardware, and has access ports for the Pi. The files for this print are all downloadable.

A clear acrylic window is part of the design, allowing you to peek into the boombox guts. If you want the etched design on here, you’d either have to laser cut or mill it, or freehand something with a rotary tool.

Overall a cool, fun, affordable project, and the Airplay streaming capability using the free Shairport Sync audio software is a nice hook.

It’s time for some news. This weekend, the grand prize winner of the Hackaday prize was announced at the 2017 Superconference in Pasadena. The $50,000 grand prize went to Alex Williams for his design of this fully Open Source underwater glider.

What’s so great about this design is that its low-energy gliding capability allows it to run for weeks at a time under its own power. You can learn more about this build and the other top contenders for the grand prize by following the link in the description.

I have another project to share with you. This one speaks to my love of pinball. On Hackaday, Chris Mitchell shares how he created this small blank pinball playfield from wood scraps, cardboard, 3D printed flippers, two arcade buttons, and two 12v car door lock actuators.

He’s actually building a larger ¾ scale pinball machine, but he’s using this as a small test bed for his designs. On Thingiverse, he has other designs for spring-loaded drop targets and light-up magnetic playfield inserts.

The whole project reminds me of the Pinbox 3000 cardboard pinball kits I’ve built before. It’s low tech and you can have a lot of fun with it. What I love about this one though is the use of these car lock actuators to drive the flippers. The movement is like a solenoid, but it’s actually a geared motor doing the work — so they’re lighter and cheaper than solenoids.

Out of curiosity I went and bought 4 of them for $14 and I’ll let you know how they work out.

It’s time for another Cool Tools review! This time we’re taking a look at this Servo Tester Control board. I picked this up for $10 on Amazon, and if you want the same one, using the link in the description helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Servos are one of the coolest weapons in the maker arsenal. Unlike a simple motor, which spins either forward or backward, a servo provides, gradual, precise movement left or right. They’re the steering mechanism in any remote controlled car you’ve ever played with.

But to make a servo work, you have to send it more than just power — you have to send it a control signal too. Otherwise, it won’t move at all.

Now there are relatively easy ways to control servos with an Arduino board or a Raspberry Pi, but you’ll have to do some programming, it’s not cheap, and you’ll need to breadboard some components. It’s kind of a hassle.

As an alternative, you can get a small, cheap, servo tester like this. You can get them smaller and cheaper, but this $10 one from LewannSoul has some nice extras.

On the left side you plug in power, anything between 4-8v. The voltage gets displayed here on the little readout. The terminal block takes any kind of bare wire from a power supply. The other socket here can connect to the 3-prong balance cable of common 7.4v RC LiPo batteries.

Next to the terminal block you have two sets of servo connections. With these you can hook up either one or two servos and control them simultaneously. On the right side you have this nice knob that gives you a full range of control on the servos. Below that is a toggle button that returns the servos to its center position.

I learned about servo control boards from Jonathan Odom’s project on making this animatronic 3D printed robot puppet. He used five of them to manually animate his puppet. And for what it’s worth LewannSoul has another board that lets you connect and control up to 6 servos, but I haven’t tried it yet.

More than anything, I just love how this cheap board gives you a quick way to play around with servos. Last weekend I used cardboard and some magazine cutouts to quickly mock up a silly design after dinner that would probably have taken me an hour to put together with an Arduino.

So that’s what’s cool about servo tester boards. I encourage you to grab one and a servo and just screw around. They’re a great way to quickly add movement and interaction to any project. You can pick one up using the link in the description. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at

I have some more tips to share. Over on Instructables Paige Russell has a guide on keeping moisture out of your 3D printer filament. She has advice on how to store it, and how to recover filament that’s absorbed moisture. She also points to an article by MatterHackers on why moisture screws with filament.

Also on Instructables, Jonathan Odom has an awesome guide on how to make exploded diagrams from 3D models. He walks through the process in Fusion 360. I love Jon’s work and how he uses 3d models and diagrams. If you want a way to learn this technique without getting lost in the weeds of Fusion 360 — this is what you want.

On Adafruit, Dean Miller has a guide on how to natively play MP3 files on an Arduino. You’ll need an Arduino board with a relatively fast, modern processor, like a Teensy 3.6, and you’ll need a micro SD breakout board to load up music, but it’s a nice, relatively affordable alternative to using a dedicated SoundFX board or music shield.

Finally, through the Adafruit blog I found this post from Lost Art Press on attaching a tool pouch or saddlebag to your workbench for quick access to frequently used tools. I have a toolbelt that’s sorta like this that I never use, so I might give this a shot.

Maker Faires! There are a few this weekend including Bengaluru India; Santo Domingo Dominican Republic; Rochester, New York; Poughkeepsie, New York; and Kiel Germany. If one of those are near you, you should go check it out.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, give me a thumbs up, leave me a comment, join the email list to get these links delivered every week, and get yourself a servo tester and play with some servos. Alright? Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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