mr beam open source laser cutter

Mr Beam is a great entry level free (as in freedom) and open source laser cutter. At the heart of Mr Beam is a 1000mW laser (basic model comes with 200mW, but I would highly recommend you pay the extra $50 for the upgrade), that will cut a wide variety of thin and light materials.  The 1000mW laser will also engrave materials such as wood, leather, acrylic, even meat & chocolate 🙂

The brains of Mr Beam laser cutter is the combination of a Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno and a custom Mr beam Arduino shield. The Raspberry Pi runs the web server software and interfaces with the Arduino & shield that drives the stepper motors. All this is controlled via a web browser interface, making it completely cross platform compatible and very easy to use. Since launching the kickstarter campaign, the Mr Beam team have responded to the requests of the open source community and developed a free and open source picture image processing script.

As of writing this post they have reached all but one of their stretch goals, which is only a few pledges away. Maybe your Mr Beam pledge could be the one that hits their final goal! With all the stretch goals met, when pledging for a Mr Beam Laser cutter, you will now also get, a choice of colour, a test pack of suitable materials, wifi dongle and an anti-reflection coated glass lens increasing the efficiency and therefore output power of the laser by 10%.

All the of the hardware & software developed by the Mr Beam team will be released under free and open source licences. A big thanks to Mr Beam for developing a great free and open source tool and also the maker and hacker community before backing it… 🙂  I look forward to seeing the community grow and see how this project develops.

Printoo paper thin flexible arduino compatible modules

The Arduino community just continues to grow and grow, with Printoo being the latest compatible platform.  The Arduino hardware and software is truly free as in freedom and allows commercial use of its circuit designs and associated software.  As a result, great complementary developments such as the Printoo are free to explore variations of the Arduino platform where may have not been feasible being proprietary.

Creating and developing your own electronics project is challenging enough, but then trying to fit in a suitable enclosure can be even more challenging.  The Printoo modules are super low profile, allowing you to keep the project closer to the size you want.  With it being flexible too, you can squeeze into spaces that you couldn’t with a standard Arduino board, also with the advantage of bending the electronics with the contours of your design.

When I first saw Printoo on Kickstarter it wasn’t clear whether the circuit designs would be released under a free and open source licence, so I took it upon myself to engage Printoo in conversation and ask. They kindly and promtly responded to confirm they will be realising all their designs under Open Source Hardware compatible licence.  They have since added a FAQ at the bottom for all to see.  I would recommend all you free culture advocates out there to ask project makers to not only be free and open source, but also to display it clearly, loudly & proudly.

There are already 17 different components (as below) to make your project do what you want. This is clearly just the start and lots more modules will be developed, by both Printoo and the open hardware community 🙂

  • Core Module with ATmega328 Microcontroller
  • 8 Segment Display Driver
  • Battery Connector with Switch
  • Coin Battery Holder
  • Light, Temp & 3-axis sensor
  • DC Motor Driver
  • Solar Cell Connector
  • Capacitive Sensing Keys
  • 8 x 8 Red LED Matrix
  • Conductive Ink Adapter
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Module
  • Electrochromomic Display
  • Enfucell Soft Battery
  • ISORG Slider with 6 Organic Photodetectors
  • 60mW Solar Cell
  • Flexible LED Strip

Watch the below video and support this open source project… 🙂

prototypo open source font editor
Finding free (as in freedom) fonts that give the look and feel you want can be challenging, but not quite as challenging as designing your own. Until now! Prototypo is a free and open source font editor that lets you easily modify a wide rage of font design characteristics, via a real time browser based GUI.

The original alpha version of the Prototypo was developed by Yannick Mathey for his final year project back in 2009. More recently Yannick has teamed up with Louis-Rémi Babé to recreate a web based version. They have been working on this project since last October (2013) full time and unpaid. They recognise that they need to both work a further 5 months developing polished features, ready for a beta release.

By reaching out to their supporters and the crowd funding scene, they have been able to financially support themselves for the remaining 5 months. As of writing this post, they have raise 150% of their kickstarter goal, with 23 Days to go. This is yet another great example of how if you have a great project, you can make an honest living, without compromising on your free culture ethics.  I have high hopes that this software will lead to a greater range of free fonts.

The long term business model of Prototypo is hosting a cloud based version, similar to the WordPress model. The software will be released under an APGL license.  Go support this great free and open source software project, with perhaps one of their cat themed t-shirts and a subscription to their cloud based service…


Having an original Gameboy as child, I know gameplay is what makes a game, not super-duper HD 3D graphics. This new 100% hackable Arduino based handheld console, is the perfect device for any gamer who is interested in getting into programming.  If you think my modifying the game you can increase the game play, well just do it. Maybe you should get more points if you do this, or this character should move faster, etc…

Got a friend? Then buy the multiplayer pack, as these can be connected to each other and players can compete directly.

With free and open culture at the core, a community will certainly grow and games will be hacked, created and shared. Gamebuino is just the being, so support this project on Indiegogo.