YouTube has announced that it will drop support for select devices from 2012 and earlier. That means the official YouTube apps will no longer work if you’ve got some older mobile devices, set-top-boxes, or smart TVs. So what devices are affected? Apple TV 2nd-gen or earlier won’t be supported anymore. Google TV version 2 or […]
At the end of World War II, the United States engaged in Operation Paperclip to round up German V-2 rockets and their engineers. The destination for these rockets? White Sands Proving Grounds in the New Mexico desert, where they would be launched 100 miles above the Earth for the purpose of high altitude research.
This 1947 War Department Film Bulletin takes a look inside the activities at White Sands. Here, V-2 rockets are assembled from 98% German-made parts constructed before V-E day. The hull of each rocket is lined with glass wool insulation by men without masks. The alcohol and liquid oxygen tanks are connected together, and skins are fitted around them to keep fuel from leaking out. Once the hull is in place around the fuel tanks, the ends are packed with more glass wool. Now the rocket is ready for its propulsion unit.
In the course of operation, alcohol and liquid oxygen are pumped through a series of eighteen jets to the combustion chamber. The centrifugal fuel pump is powered by steam, which is generated separately by the reaction between hydrogen peroxide and sodium permanganate.
A series of antennas are affixed to the rocket’s fins. Instead of explosives, the warhead is packed with instruments to report on high altitude conditions. Prior to launch, the rocket’s tare weight is roughly five tons. It will be filled with nine tons of fuel once it is erected and unclamped.
At the launch site, a gantry crane is used to add the alcohol, the liquid oxygen, and the steam turbine fuels after the controls are wired up. The launch crew assembles in a blockhouse with a 27-foot-thick roof of reinforced concrete and runs through the protocol. Once the rocket has returned to Earth, they track down the pieces using radar, scouting planes, and jeeps to recover the instruments.
Thanks for the tip, [Thomas].
Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.
Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Retrotechtacular
Winter is now gone and it’s time to put away that snowblower. Well, it seems that [SWNH] either didn’t hear the news or thought not using his snowblower for most of the year was a waste of a great resource. No, he’s not using it to blow dirt around, he converted it into a Power Wagon.
A Power Wagon is just what it sounds like, a wagon that is motorized and it is used for moving stuff around your yard. [SWNH] started by disassembling the 2 stages of the snowblower. They came off as a unit with only 6 bolts. Next up, the wagon bed was made, starting with an angle iron frame with a plywood bottom and sides. Two large casters with rubber wheels supports the front of the wagon.
Using the power wagon is easy, fill up the bin and use the snowblower controls to drive the cargo around. [SWNH] says that it steers like a shopping cart. And since the wagon bed is bolt-on, it can be removed and the blower assembly re-installed next winter to take care of that pesky snow.
Filed under: home hacks
[Transistor-Man] and the gang finally got around to documenting their experience at the Detroit Makerfaire 2014 and the Powerwheels racing series. They weren’t planning on entering, but in a last-minute decision they decided to see if they could whip up an entry just over one week before the competition! They did — and it’s awesome. They call it the Chibi-Atomic-Jeep.
As the competition name implies, they had to base the vehicle off of a Powerwheels frame. Bunch of steel tubing, some TIG welding and a nice paint job, and they had the base frame of their vehicle. At the heart of it? An alternator from a van — surprisingly powerful and easy to control. They used cheap 8″ wheels from Harbor Freight Tools — they worked great, just didn’t last very long… By the time the races were over, they went through NINE of these tires. Good thing they’re cheap!
The most impressive part of the build is the gears. They made them using a water-jet cutter at the local hobby shop and a Bridgeport mill with an indexing head — not an easy task to complete!
All in all they spent just over a week and a half building the contraption, and spent just shy of $500 on it (as per competition rules). And it did pretty good too. Check it out!
Filed under: transportation hacks
A link to this video demonstrating PCB cross-talk ended up in my mailbox the other day as I tend to stay on the mailing lists of the some of the high end CAD companies. There are some really interesting and powerful “mega-tools” that do things like plot noise density for decoupling analysis and extremely high speed timing analysis, though the costs of these tools are commensurate with their capabilities. This one is part of the Mentor Graphics PCB Simulation software.
The tool shown does the math needed to predict the induced voltage noise (cross-talk) generated by the proximity of noise sources to the noise susceptible elements, and the tool does so interactively. This is remarkable… in the past we would calculate some examples of trace width, spacing, and the type of signals involved, and then generate some rules of thumb that we tried to apply during the layout process. It was an educated guess that was sometimes not as close as we would have liked.Virtual Scope Showing Predicted Cross-talk
The cool part of this software is the interactive nature. One can learn the effects of placement on cross-talk in real time, which helps build an intuitive understanding.
I will add the standard disclaimer that a tool is exactly that, a tool, and it only represents an approximation of real life at best. It’s tempting to design to the tool itself, and many engineers have learned the limitation of a tool the hard way. Instead think of the tool as another opinion, or as mentioned, a learning aid to gather an intuitive feel for the effects of placement on circuit performance.
Filed under: tool hacks
Driving a brushless DC (gimbal) motor can be a pain in the transistors. [Ignas] has written up a nice article not only explaining how to do just this with an Arduino, but also explaining a little bit on how the process works. He uses a L6234 Three Phase Motor Driver, but points out that there are other ways to interface the BLDC motor with the Arduino.
A warning is warranted – this is not for the faint of heart. You can easily destroy your microcontroller if you’re not careful. [Ignas] added several current limiting resistors and capacitors as advised in the application note (PDF warning) to keep things safe.
Everything worked well at high speeds, but for slower speeds the motor was choppy. [Ingus] solved this riddle by changing over to a sine wave to drive the motor. Instead of making the Arduino calculate the wave, he used a look up table.
Be sure to check out his blog for full source and schematics. There is also a video demonstrating just how slow he can make the motor move below.
Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Want the source code for Google’s Android operating system? Just head on over to the Android Open Source Project. Want to run free and open source apps on your Android device? It can be a bit tough to find them in the Google Play Store. That’s where F-Droid comes in. It’s an app store for […]
Samsung introduced a new line of Android tablets with 4:3 displays in Europe in March. Now the Samsung Galaxy Tab A lineup is headed to the United States. An 8 inch model will be available May 1st for $230, while 9.7 inch models will start at $300. For the most part the tablets have pretty basic […]
The Vintage Computer Festival last weekend featured racks and racks of old minicomputers, enough terminals for an entire lab, and enough ancient storage devices to save a YouTube video. These storage devices – hard disks, tape readers, and 8″ disk drives – were only connected to vintage hardware, with one exception: a DEC RL02 drive connected to a modern laptop via USB.
The DEC RL02 drive is the closest you’re going to get to a modern mechanical hard drive with these old machines. It’s a huge rack unit with removable platters that can hold 10 Megabytes of storage. [Chris] found one of these old drives and because he wanted to get into FPGA development, decided to create a USB adapter for this huge, old drive.
The hardware isn’t too terribly complex, with a microcontroller and an FPGA that exposes the contents of the drive over USB mass storage. For anyone trying to bootstrap a PDP-11 or -8 system, [Chris] could download disk images from the Internet, write them to the disk, and load up the contents of the drive from the minicomputer. Now, he’s using it with SimH to have a physical drive for an emulated system, but the controller really doesn’t care about what format the disk pack is in. If [Chris] formatted a disk pack with a FAT file system, he would have the world’s largest and heaviest USB thumb drive in the world.
Filed under: classic hacks, cons, FPGA
The ZTE Spro 2 is a portable projector that also happens to be a WiFi hotspot… or vice versa. You can also use it as a portable power bank to recharge your smartphone battery on the go. ZTE introduced the Spro 2 in January and it goes on sale this week. Starting April 24th, AT&T […]
ZTE Spro 2 projector & hotspot hits AT&T April 24th is a post from: Liliputing
When we get together we like to build stuff, and that’s what has been motivating us as we work toward Hackaday Prize Worldwide: Pasadena. This two-day event held May 9th and 10th in the Los Angeles area is not to be missed. We are presenting a workshop, speakers, hacking, and socializing. Drop what you’re doing and get a ticket for the low-low price of being an awesome person.
On Saturday the ninth, Hackaday opens our doors for the workshop: “Zero to Product”. [Matt Berggren] leads the workshop. He is well known for running the Hardware Developer’s Didactic Galactic up in San Francisco (a meetup that we love to attend). [Matt] comes from a hardware design background and has done it all. He’s been involved in building schematic and PCB tools, been run through the startup gauntlet, and has a ton of hardware experience including everything from FPGA layout to getting that product out the door.
The workshop covers the things you need to consider when producing production-quality, professional-level circuit boards. Don’t be afraid of this, the discussion is approachable for the newcomer as well as the experienced hacker. Of course a PCB does not a product make so the conversation will also move through component selection, enclosures, best practices, and much more.You Can’t Miss these Talks
[Elecia] is an embedded systems expert and a Hackaday Prize judge in both 2014 and 2015. Elecia will be demonstrating a gadget designed to familiarize engineers with the capabilities of inertial various sensors like accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers.[Samy Kamkar]
[Samy] is a privacy and security researcher, has had a number of projects featured on Hackaday. The most notable in our minds is the wireless keyboard sniffer he built into a cellphone charger. He’ll be discussing that build as well as some other projects like his drone army.We do have a few other speakers and lighting talks lined up but we don’t want to announce until we have final confirmation from those presenters. Please check on the event page for updates. Show Off Your Hacks and Build More On-Site
The robot build at Hackady’s 10th Anniversary last October
We have the space, we have the people, add some food and beverage and now you’re talking. On Saturday evening we’ll warp up the talks and workshops, throw on some tunes, and pull out the projects we’ve been working in our spare time.
This casual hang-out is a great time to find answers and advice for that one problem that’s been tripping you up. We’ll make sure there’s something to fill your belly and keep you happy while you think about what you want to hack on the following day.
Sunday is Open Hack Day. Want to work on the concepts you picked up from Saturday’s workshop? Great, we can help with that! We’ll also have hardware development boards on-hand from our Hackaday Prize Sponsors, other random hackable stuff, and of course you may bring your own equipment and get down to business. Anything is fair game but we’re especially excited to see what people are building as their 2015 Hackaday Prize entries!
In case you missed the ticket link, please RSVP now. We’ll see you in May!The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:
Filed under: cons, Featured, The Hackaday Prize
The Amazon Fire HD 7 is already a pretty affordable tablet with a normal price of $139 and up. But today only Amazon is selling its latest 7 inch tablet for $79 and up. Want something with a higher-resolution display and a more powerful processor? Radio Shack is offering the Kindle Fire HDX for $105, which is […]
Google is rolling out an update to its Android Wear platform that brings new features to existing (and upcoming) smartwatches. One of the biggest changes is support for WiFi, allowing you do more with your watch even when your smartphone’s not around. The update also adds support for always-on apps, allowing apps to stay visible […]
Dual-boot tablets that can run Windows and Android software seem to be all the rage in China these days. But the Chuwi Vi10 manages to stand out from an increasingly crowded field thanks to a few special features, including two full-sized USB ports, a detachable keyboard dock, and a 10.6 inch display. The tablet should […]
Chuwi Vi10 is a 10.6 inch Windows/Android dual-OS tablet is a post from: Liliputing
I was invited to tour the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems campus in Los Angeles this spring and it was fantastic! The Northrop Grumman lists themselves as “a leading global security company” but the project that stole my heart is their work on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for NASA. On the one hand, I don’t see how it could possibly be pulled off as the telescope seems to cram every hard engineering challenge you can think of into one project. On the other hand, Northrop (plus NASA and all of their subcontractors) has been doing tough stuff for a very long time.How Do You Tour Northrop Grumman?
This opportunity fell in my lap since [Tony Long] is a Hackaday reader and an engineer at Northrop. He’s the founder of their FabLab (which I’ll talk about a bit later) and was so bold as to send an email asking if one of the crew would like to stop by. Yes Please!
I was already headed out to the Supplyframe offices (Hackaday’s parent company) in Pasadena. [Tony] offered to pick me up at LAX and away we went to Redondo Beach, California for an afternoon adventure.James Webb Space Telescope: Everything Hard About Engineering
I had heard of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) but had never looked closely at the particulars of the project. Above you can see a scale model which Northrop built. I didn’t actually see this on my tour. It travels to different places, taking two semi trucks, with a dozen people spending four days to set it up each time. And that’s a not-real, relegated to the surface of the planet, item. What is it going to take to put the real one into space?
It’s not just going into space. It’s going to the second Lagrangian point. This is past the moon, about 1.5 million kilometers from the earth. If this thing breaks we can’t go out there and fix it. There’s a lot of pressure for success.
The main problem facing this satellite is heat. It will use a mirror array to harvest infrared radiation from very distant astronomical bodies. For this to happen it needs to have a very good optical array to gather infrared light and focus it on a collector, and it must be isolated from the heat of the sun, earth, and moon.
There is an array of 18 hexagonal mirrors which reflect the infrared onto a collecting mirror and in turn to the sensors. These mirrors are not made by Northrop, but they did have a prototype on display and it was incredible! Each mirror is made by Ball Aerospace out of beryllium. The concave surface is coated in gold for reflectivity and an actuator mounted on the back of each mirror can flex the surface to adjust the concavity and thereby the focal length. This is in addition to the ability to adjust the roll and pitch of each segment.
In the Northrop high bay they were working on the mounting system for these mirrors. It showed much more progress than the two images seen above. This is the central mount structure for the optics. The width of this structure is dictated by the size of the rocket which will launch it into space. When I saw it, folding wings had been added to either side of this main structure to host a dual-row of mirrors which are folded back into the telescopes during its storage position. The black material itself is a composite manufactured by Northrop. The cross-section they showed as an example was not much thicker than your fingernail but obviously quite rigid in the cast pipe shape.
You can see an animation of the unfolding process which was playing in the high-bay viewing room during the tour. Note the five-layer heat shield that needs to automatically unfold without snagging. This reminds me of [Ed van Cise’s] recollection of solar panel unfolding issues on the ISS. It’s a tough problem and it looks like much time has been spend making sure this design learns from past issues. That animation doesn’t show too many details about the mirror mechanics. I found video demonstrating how the mechanical part of the mirrors work to be quite interesting.
Learning more about what goes into the James Webb Space Telescope project is worth a lot of your time. I’m not joking about this including everything hard about engineering. The challenges involved in meeting the specification of this telescope are jaw-dropping and I’m certain the people working on the project across many different companies will make this happen.Hackerspace Driving Corporate Culture
It was nice that [Tony] and his colleague [Adam] came right out and told me they reached out to Hackaday because they want to get the message out that Northrop is rejuvenating their corporate culture. They’re in the process of hiring thousands of engineers and part of this process is making the job fit with the lifestyle that these engineers want.
One big move in this direction is the formation of their FabLab. [Tony] is an engineer but 50% of his workload is tending to the FabLab. This is basically a hackerspace open to any of the roughly 20k employees at this particular location. Northrop fabricates amazing things, and when equipment is no longer used, the FabLab gets dibs on it. Imagine the possibilities!
Part of this initiative is to get more engineers learning about the fabrication process. [Tony] used the example of researching by fabricating a simple proof-of-concept in the FabLab. This is an avenue to that buzzword: fail-fast. Before getting your department on board with what might be a costly and time-consuming project you can test out some of the parts which are a little hazy in your mind.
The device seen here is the product of a challenge that one of the groups participated in last year. They had about six months to develop a robot which can clear unexploded armaments. It was hanging out in one part of the hackerspace and is a great build. You can just make out a blue sphere hiding in the underbody. That’s a huge jamming gripper powered by the black and yellow shop-vac perched atop the chassis. The robot is remote controlled, with wireless GoPro cameras mounted all around and underneath. Of course the thing wouldn’t be complete without a giant silver air-horn. Safety first!
It will be interesting to see if the FabLab can build the kind of grass-roots community often associated with standalone hackerspaces. You can get a glimpse at the grand opening of the space in this video. We don’t quite remember seeing a hackerspace marketed in this manner. But if that’s what it takes to get the company on board it’s well worth it. A huge space, amazing tools, and no monthly membership fee make for a sweet deal. Oh, and the name FabLab apparently came from their mascot, the Fabulous Labrador, who can be seen in the clip wearing a string of pearls.F/18 Assembly Plant
We wrapped up the day by touring the F/A 18 E/F Super Hornet assembly line. This is a huge plant. I don’t know how to better describe the sheer size of the assembly line than saying it took no less than twenty minutes to walk back to the parking lot at the end of this tour.
Northrop Grumman serves as the principal subcontractor for Boeing on this project, so the end of the line isn’t quite a fully assembled airplane. But the fuselage — less cockpit, nose, wings, and engines — is still a formidable sight. I’ve never been this close to a fighter jet before and the size is impressive. Equally impressive is the building housing the line, which was build in 1942 and is still wood-framed to this day. They have huge engineered columns which have since been reinforced with steel. But that fact makes it no-less impressive.
The top concern during assembly is FOD, or Foreign Object Detection. These vehicles are exposed to huge forces and vibrations that will shake anything that’s not supposed to be there loose, and that can mean horrible damage to an expensive machine or much worse. Some of the things I found really interesting were the systems in place to make sure no part goes missing. All components come in cases that have an individual cutout area for each. Tools are scanned to each employee, if broken or worn out there are vending machines throughout the plant keeping track of them through a computerized system.
As part of the tour we walked through the composites plant next door. There are massive autoclaves for curing the resins. These are like a pipe sitting on its side with hemispherical doors on each end. I’m a poor judge of time and distance but I’d estimate these to be 18 feet in diameter and at least 35 feet long. Traditional composite fabrication — a worker laying down sheets of carbon-fiber on a mold — were under way. But the room next door housed a robot that looked like it was born in The Matrix. The spider-like head works next to a turning mandrel fitted with the form of the piece being fabricated. It lays out about seven strands of carbon fiber, building up a part that has no seams whatsoever. After curing the resin the mold is removed manually, piece by piece, from the inside of the part. To me the parts being built looked like air intake channels approximately 15 feet long and maybe 5 feet in diameter, although they were winding and not exactly cylindrical in shape. I wasn’t able to get very many details about them, but I was told these parts are for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is another subcontract Northrop Grumman has for Lockheed Martin.Conclusion
Thank you to [Tony Long] and [Adam Gross] for spending to give Hackaday this tour. I had the impression that I was living an episode of one of my favorite programs How It’s Made, and that was awesome! Northrop Grumman has an educational outreach program so if you’re associated with a school in the area set up a tour of the JWST!
[Tony] ducked out with me for dinner; some excellent tacos — a quest I’ve been on during each visit to LA. He joined me afterward on a trip to Null Space Labs for their open night. They had moved since the last time I was there and if you’re in town you should check it out.Attributes:
One thing I should mention is that I was not able to take any photographs on the premises. My story above is original but all the photos are stock or provided by Northrop at my request.
Main Post Image via JWST Flickr
Front Mirror via YouTube thumb.
Extended Reflection Mirror via YouTube video.
Filed under: Featured, Hackerspaces, slider
Sony’s latest flagship smartphone looks a lot like last year’s model. The Sony Xperia Z4 is another phone with a 5.2 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, a waterproof design, and a 20.7MP rear camera. But there are some changes in this year’s model: it has a more powerful processor and a few design tweaks. […]
The OnePlus One smartphone is now available for anyone to purchase at any time. You don’t need an invitation and you don’t need to buy the phone on a Tuesday. While the OnePlus One launched nearly a year ago, the phone still offers a pretty decent value: for $299 and up you can get a […]
Last Friday the Vintage Computer Festival was filled up with more than a dozen talks, too many for any one person to attend. We did, however, check out [Bil Herd]’s talk on system architecture, or as he likes to call it, the art and science of performance through balance. That’s an hour and fifteen minute talk there; coffee and popcorn protocols apply.
The main focus of this talk is how to design a system from the ground up, without any assumed hardware, or any specific peripherals. It all starts out with a CPU, some memory (it doesn’t matter which type), and some I/O. That’s all you need, whether you’re designing a microwave oven or a supercomputer.
The CPU for a system can be anything from a 6502 for something simple, a vector processor for doing loads of math, or have a RISC, streaming, pipelined, SIMD architecture. This choice will influence the decision of what kind of memory to use, whether it’s static or dynamic, and whether it’s big or little endian. Yes, even [Bil] is still trying to wrap his head around endianness.
MMUs, I/O chips, teletypes, character displays like the 6845, and the ANTIC, VIC, and GTIA make the cut before [Bil] mentions putting the entire system together. It’s not just a matter of connecting address and data pins and seeing the entire system run. There’s interrupts, RTCs, bus arbitration, DTACK, RAS, and CAS to take care of that. That will take several more talks to cover, but you can see the one last Friday below.
Filed under: classic hacks, cons
Raspberry Pi is a powerful but small Linux based computer board that gained its popularity in the hobby world. It has everything you need to build a computer except display. Since there are no DSI based display modules available, people try to solve this problem in several ways. They use HDMI based displays, composite video, serial monitors. Probably most of small projects rely on GPIO where they plug in their custom boards with various types of LCDs. This seems to be OK, but running such displays usually require additional driver/software to run and it occupies I/O pins, that can be used for other purposes. While we are waiting for official Raspberry Pi DSI display we have to deal with those workarounds.
The choice is really big. You can find may types and sizes of displays driven through GPIO. Percheron Electronics Ltd are running kickstarter campaign where they offer to give a shot with their offered e-ink display solution. It comes on a module board that plugs in to Pi’s GPIO. Display resolution is 264×176. The main advantage of using such display that it practically requires no power supply when displaying statical information. It only draws a bit when changing its contents. Display module comes with RTC clock built in which can be used by Raspberry Pi to track time precisely or work as a clock for display itself. E-INK display is great choice if you plan on building battery powered project where you need to represent information as text or graph. They are not meant for high FPS, but for text information like clock, weather, social feeds or basic B/W graphics it is great.
What to do with an extremely high voltage transformer and power supply… what to do… what to do… Short it out Jacob’s Ladder style of course! Fresh from [Gristronics], a team of hackers had the opportunity to play around with a 11,000V transformer… and some copper pipe.
It’s 2.5m tall (just over 8′) and produces an awe-inspiring electrical arc. The transformer takes in 240V and spits out 11,000V. To help stabilize it, they’re even using some microwave oven capacitors to act as a ballast. The transformer is affectionately named “Betsy”. They even have a giant contactor (think relay with steroids) to act as the main switch.
During the initial setup, they noticed it wasn’t working very well, so they setup a camera to record at 240fps to see what was going on — turns out the coils were shorting to each other. After fixing the insulation, they got it working consistently — and holy cow is that a big arc.
If you watch to the end, they even show off some close up images of the copper pipe — pretty cool to see the damage caused by the electricity in a close-up.
[Thanks for the tip Patrick!]
Filed under: misc hacks