Friend of Maniacal Labs, Josh, is a huge Ghostbusters fan. How much, you ask? This much:

Ecto Mini

Why yes, that is a Mini Cooper Ecto-1.

A couple weeks ago, Josh emailed me asking if it was possible to get en Epoch Clock Kit with blue LEDs. Obviously, I was intrigued and asked him why. To which his answer was this video:

Yup, that’s a Proton Pack, the only problem with it being that it didn’t belong to Josh. He has one, but without the awesome, pulsing LED bar. His initial thought was that he could just install the blue LEDs in the clock in place of the red ones (while also changing out the 330 ohm resistors for 150 ohm). Unfortunately, after some measuring we realized that the 6.5″ long clock was a bit too long for the slot in his Proton Pack. But after a little brainstorming, we realized that if we reconfigured the LEDs to two columns of 32 an spaced them slightly farther apart it should fit perfectly. The original idea was to wire it all up on some perf-board but then he wouldn’t be able to get the desired spacing and, well, it would be somewhat of a pain to build. So I decided to see what I could come up with in terms of a custom printed board and this was the result:

ecto adapter front

So, now the plan was simply to solder female headers to the clock board, solder some more to the above adapter board, onto which all the LEDs go, connect the two with some ribbon cable, and reprogram the firmware a little to get the desired animation. The adapter was pretty cheap for three copies from the wonderful OSH Park so Josh ordered some and I got a kit to him with some blue LEDs that I picked up in a recent Mouser order. Then, today, Josh sent me this:

Wow I’d say that’s pretty spot on for the animation shown in the first video! Now I want a Proton Pack just so I have something to put one of these in!

Here’s some more close up pictures of the final build:

Once this goes in the actual pack, I’m sure it’s going to look awesome and will really add to the authenticity.

Want to make your own? As is our way, all the source code and board designs are completely open source and can be downloaded from the GitHub Repository. Just grab a kit from us, send off the adapter to OSH Park and load up the custom firmware!

It’s projects like this what really make us here at Maniacal Labs love what we do. When we designed the Epoch Clock we had a few ideas for alternate uses but it’s the projects that we didn’t think of that really astound us. We wouldn’t even be here without such a great community.

I just have one question for you! LAAAASERS?!?!

If you have cats, like I do, lasers are probably on their brain most of the time. My cat, Skeletor, has a severe addiction to lasers and is demanding of them every day. Recently, when my wife and I were going to be on vacation for a week, she joked that she wished there was something that would automatically move a laser pointer around a room and automatically turn on every few hours.

The first part was easy and I quickly found the FroliCat BOLT. But the second part was a bit harder; everything I could find turned off automatically but not on. Challenge Accepted!

Read on for instructions on how to hack a FroliCat BOLT to automatically turn itself on.

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Quick Tip: Is your MakerBot (Replicator 2 in our case) starting to make stringy prints, missing parts of layers, or failing to extrude all together? It could be a lot of things, but it might be that the extruder nozzle is clogged. There are a lot of varying suggestions on how to get it unclogged ranging from easy to scary but almost always you need to at least get something into the nozzle to push out the block. Problem is that it’s 0.4mm and I had a crazy time finding something small enough to fit in there to clear it out. So I broke out my trusty digital calipers and started measuring wire, pins, and whatever else I could find around the shop. Everything¬†was too big until I grabbed a 1/4W resistor… 0.35mm! Sure, not everyone with a MakerBot is an electronics geek as well but I bet a lot are. So next time you need to clean out the extruder, just find the nearest resistor.