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Retrotechtacular: An Oceanographic Data Station Buoy For The 1960s

ศุกร์, 09/29/2017 - 00:01

When we watch a TV weather report such as the ones that plaster our screens during hurricane season, it is easy to forget the scale of the achievement they represent in terms of data collection and interpretation. Huge amounts of data from a diverse array of sources feed weather models running on some of our most powerful computers, and though they don’t always forecast with complete accuracy we have become used to their getting it right often enough to be trustworthy.

It is also easy to forget that such advanced technology and the vast array of data behind it are relatively recent developments. In the middle of the twentieth century the bulk of meteorological data came from hand-recorded human observations, and meteorologists were dispatched to far-flung corners of the globe to record them. There were still significant areas of meteorological science that were closed books, and through the 1957 International Geophysical Year there was a concerted worldwide effort to close that gap.

We take for granted that many environmental readings are now taken automatically, and indeed most of us could produce an automated suite of meteorological instruments relatively easily using a microcontroller and a few sensors. In the International Geophysical Year era though this technology was still very much in its infancy, and the film below the break details the development through the early 1960s of one of the first automated remote ocean sensor buoys.

Perhaps our last sentence conjures up a vision of something small enough to hold, from all those National Geographic images of intrepid oilskin-clad scientists launching them from the decks of research vessels. But the technology of the early 1960s required something a little more substantial, so the buoy in question is a (using the units of the day) 100 ton circular platform more in the scale of a medium-sized boat. Above deck it was dominated by an HF (shortwave) discone antenna and its atmospheric instrument package. Below deck (aside from its electronic payload) it had a propane-powered internal combustion engine and generator to periodically charge its batteries. In use it would be anchored to the sea floor, and it was designed to operate even in the roughest of maritime conditions.

The film introduces the project, then looks at the design of a hull suitable for the extreme conditions like a hurricane. We see the first prototype being installed off the Florida coast in late 1964, and follow its progress through Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The mobile monitoring station in a converted passenger bus is shown in the heart of the foul weather, receiving constant telemetry from the buoy through 40 foot waves and 110 mph gusts of wind.

We are then shown the 1967 second prototype intended to be moored in the Pacific, this time equipped with a computerised data logging system. A DEC PDP-8 receives the data mounted in the bus, and are told that this buoy can store 24 hours at a stretch for transmission in one go. Top marks to the film production team for use of the word “data” in the plural.

Finally we’re told how a future network of the buoys for presumably the late 1960s and early 1970s could be served by a chain of receiving stations for near-complete coverage of the major oceans. At the height of the Cold War this aspect of the project would have been extremely important, as up-to-the-minute meteorological readings would have had considerable military value.

The film makes an engaging look at a technology few of us will ever come directly into contact with but the benefits of which we will all feel every time we see a TV weather forecast.

Thanks [KB1LQC] for the tip.

Filed under: Retrotechtacular

Classic British Phone Gets a Google Makeover

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 22:30

It may seem like an odd concept to younger readers, but there was once a time when people rented their phones rather than buying them outright. Accordingly, these phones were built like tanks, and seeing one of these sturdy classics of midcentury modern design can be a trip down memory lane for some of us. So retrofitting a retro phone with a Raspberry Pi and Google’s AIY seems like a natural project to tackle for nostalgia’s sake.

The phone that [Alasdair Allan] decided to hack was the iconic British desk telephone, the GPO-746, or at least a modern interpretation of the default rental phone from the late 60s through the 70s. But the phone’s looks were more important than its guts, which were stripped away to make room for the Raspberry Pi and Google AIY hat. [Alasdair] originally thought he’d interface the Pi to the rotary dial through DIOs, until he discovered the odd optical interface of the dialer — a mask rotates over a ring of photoresistors, one for each digit, exposing only one to light from an LED illuminated by a microswitch on the finger stop. The digital interface brings up the Google voice assistant, along with some realistic retro phone line sounds. It’s a work in progress, but you can see where [Alasdair] is in the video below.

If stuffing a Google Pi into a retro appliance sounds familiar, it might be this vintage intercom rebuild you have in mind, which [Alasdair] cites as inspiration for his build.

Filed under: phone hacks, Raspberry Pi

There Is No Parity: Chien-Shiung Wu

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 21:01

Hold out your hands in front of you, palms forward. They look quite similar, but I’m sure you’re all too aware that they’re actually mirror images of each other. Your hands are chiral objects, which means they’re asymmetric but not superimposable. This property is quite interesting when studying the physical properties of matter. A chiral molecule can have completely different properties from its mirrored counterpart. In physics, producing the mirror image of something is known as parity. And in 1927, a hypothetical law known as the conservation of parity was formulated. It stated that no matter the experiment or physical interaction between objects – parity must be conserved. In other words, the results of an experiment would remain the same if you tired it again with the experiment arranged in its mirror image. There can be no distinction between left/right or clockwise/counter-clockwise in terms of any physical interaction.

Dr. Wu working with a particle accelerator via Biography.

The nuclear physicist, Chien-Shiung Wu, who would eventually prove that quantum mechanics discriminates between left- and right-handedness, was a woman, and the two men who worked out the theory behind the “Wu Experiment” received a Nobel prize for their joint work. If we think it’s strange that quantum mechanics works differently for mirror-image particles, how strange is it that a physicist wouldn’t get recognized just because of (her) gender? We’re mostly here to talk about the physics, but we’ll get back to Chien-Shiung Wu soon.

The End of Parity

Conservation of parity was the product of a physicist by the name of Eugene P. Wigner, and it would play an important role in the growing maturity of quantum mechanics. It was common knowledge that macro-world objects like planets and baseballs followed Wigner’s conservation of parity. To suggest that this law extended into the quantum world was intuitive, but not more than intuition. And at that time, it was already well known that quantum objects did not play by the same rules as classical objects. Would quantum mechanics be so strange as to care about handedness?

By the time the 1950’s rolled around, physicists were smashing subatomic particles into one another in high speed particle accelerators and analyzing the resulting explosion of new, sometimes previously undiscovered particles. One of these previously undiscovered particles was quite puzzling – the K meson. It appeared that there were two different versions – one would decay into 2 pi mesons and the other would decay into 3 pi mesons. Pi mesons are also called pions. All other properties of the K meson were identical, suggesting there was only one type.

Setting up the Cobalt-60 parity test via NIST.

After doing the math, it was determined that the pions in the two and three particle systems must have opposite parity. And according to Wigner’s conservation of parity, there therefor must be two types of K mesons – one that produced two pions and one that produced three pions. Conservation of parity would not allow both systems to come from a single particle.

But what if Wigner’s parity theory were wrong? The K mesons were produced during weak force interactions when protons were smashed into heavier nuclei. In 1956, physicists T.D Lee and C.N. Yang suggested that weak force interactions might not follow the conservation of parity, and that there was indeed a single K meson. That the two systems of pions were the result of a single K meson that had a definable parity, and that parity was not conserved in this particular case. Consider if the K meson had a spin, and that a clockwise spin produced the 2 pion system and a counterclockwise spin produced the 3 pion system. This would be an example of a violation of the conversation of parity. A violation that physicist were suggesting was occurring with the K meson.

An experiment was derived to put parity to the ultimate test.


As you can imagine, these kinds of experiments are a bit complicated. And it’s my mission to break complicated things down to the point that your everyday curious hacker can understand. The goal is to prove that Wigner’s conservation of parity did not hold water with weak force interactions. To do this, we’re going to need three things:

  1. Something that emits beta radiation (beta decay is caused by the weak force).
  2. Something that has two known physical states.
  3. A way to measure the radiation in each of the states.
Cobalt-60 parity test apparatus via NIST.

Conservation of parity would insist that the measured radiation be the same in either state. Because if parity is to be conserved, it should not be possible to get a different experimental outcome between different states, like spin for instance. This can be done by taking Colbalt-60, which is naturally radioactive and cooling it to a smidgen above absolute zero. Cooling it to this temperature takes away most molecular motion, and allows the atoms to arrange themselves in a crystal structure while in the presence of a very strong magnetic field. The magnet field also polarizes the Colbalt-60 nuclei, which means they spin in the same direction parallel to the magnetic field.

Now all we have to do is:

  1. Measure the beta radiation intensity.
  2. Reverse the magnetic field direction.
  3. Measure the beta radiation intensity.
  4. Compare the results.

By reversing the magnetic field, we cause the cobalt-60 nuclei to reverse polarization. Conservation of parity says there should be no measurable difference between the two physical states. And I’m sure you can guess by now what they found – the measured beta radiation intensity was greater in one direction. This was the nail in the coffin for Wigner’s parity theory. It allowed physicists to reexamine results of previous experiments involving weak force interactions and helped advance quantum theory and eventuality lead to the Standard Model of particles we have today.

Chien-Shiung Wu

As we mentioned above, Lee and Young received the Nobel Prize for the Wu experiment. Wu, unfortunately, didn’t. Wu was one of a handful of female physicists during that time whose name and research are not as well known as they should be. Gender-based injustice was widespread during her time, but she would receive worldwide recognition for her contributions to nuclear physics from the 70’s onward.

Indeed, she was awarded the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978, partly to make amends for the Nobel slight, but also for her further work in experimental nuclear physics. Wu also worked on the Manhattan Project, held a prestigious chair at Columbia University, and was responsible for important experimental results in exploring the weak nuclear force and the first experimental confirmation of quantum photon entanglement.

Chien-Shiung Wu died in 1997 at 84. Let’s close with a fitting quote from Dr. Wu during an address at an MIT symposium in 1964:

“I wonder whether the tiny atoms and nuclei, or the mathematical symbols, or the DNA molecules have any preference for either masculine or feminine treatment.”

Filed under: Featured, History, Original Art

Mini Drill Made From a Motor

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 18:00

We love this hacked-together mini drill by [BuenaTec] that uses a DC7.2V 10K-RPM motor with a 1/8” Dremel chuck added on. Power is supplied by a USB-A cable with the data wires cut off, with a switch controlling the voltage and a rectifier diode protecting the USB port or battery pack from back voltage from the motor.

The drill isn’t very powerful, only able to bore holes in PCBs, plastic, and similar soft materials. However, you could see how just a couple more components could make it even more robust — maybe a speed controller and voltage booster? Even so, we appreciate this bare-bones, ultra-low budget approach — only the barest essentials are included, with the components held together with hot glue and solder. Also, no one is allowed to complain about their soldering iron after viewing this video.

For more projects involving motors, read up on this brushless motor made from 3D-printed parts and this guide to hand-winding quadcopter motors.


Filed under: hardware

Laser-Cut Modular Toolbox

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 15:00

[ystoelen] created this modular wooden toolbox out of laser-cut 5mm plywood secured with leather hinges bolted into place. The leather strips secure the various tool boards with grommets connecting to plastic plugs. The toolboards use cross-shaped holes with laser-cut plugs and strips of elastic securing the tools, allowing each board to be uniquely configured depending on what tool is being stored there. There is a larger, “main” board, onto which smaller boards can be placed depending on what tools you’ll need.

While this is a clever approach to tool transport, we have some concerns about this project. Usually the problem with a box full of tools is that you’ve overloaded it and can’t readily lift it up. Often this involves a steel toolbox that won’t break, no matter what happens. But a plywood construct isn’t nearly that strong, and if overloaded or dropped it’s gonna take some damage.

For more toolbox inspirations, read our posts on a machine shop in a toolbox as well as this Transformers-themed portable workbench.


Filed under: tool hacks

Lock In Amplifiers

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 12:00

If you have about an hour to kill, you might want to check out [Shahriar’s] video about the Stanford Research SR530 lock in amplifier (see below). If you know what a lock in amplifier is, it is still a pretty interesting video and if you don’t know, then it really is a must see.

Most of the time, you think of an amplifier as just a circuit that makes a small signal bigger in some way — that is, increase the voltage or increase the current. But there are whole classes of amplifiers designed to reject noise and the lock in amplifier is one of them. [Shahriar’s] video discusses the math theory behind the amplifier, shows the guts, and demonstrates a few experiments (including measuring the speed of sound), as well.

The math behind the amplifier is mostly trig, although there is a little calculus involved. The idea is to mix a reference frequency together with the signal of interest. This will result in the sum and difference of the two signals. Integrating the signals will — over time — zero out.

That may not be intuitive, but consider this: thanks to Fourier analysis, we know that any signal can be decomposed into a bunch of sine waves. Since a sine wave has equal positive and negative excursions, the area under it is zero if you integrate over an entire period. If your calculus is rusty, integration is more or less adding up infinitely thin slices of the curve which gives the area under the curve. Since the sine wave has equal positive and negative areas, the area underneath is zero.

An amplifier that zeros out the input isn’t very useful. However, there is a catch. If the reference signal and the input signal are out of phase but equal in frequency, then the difference term will be a constant that doesn’t vary with time. When you integrate the entire signal, that constant will stick out like a sore thumb.

That’s the basic idea. If you want more details, the video does a nice job of explaining it as well as showing it in practice.

If you notice in the SR530’s block diagram, there are many PLLs, a topic we’ve covered before. You might wonder why you can’t just filter the frequency of interest. In theory, you could. But as [Shahriar] explains, to get the same performance out of a filter would require an impractically narrow filter.

Filed under: how-to

An Arduino Weather Station With An E-Ink Display

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 09:00

For our Northern Hemisphere readers the chill winds of winter are fast approaching, so it seems appropriate to feature a weather station project. Enjoy your summer, Southern readers!

[Fandonov] has created a weather station project with an Arduino Uno at its heart and a Waveshare e-ink display as its face to the world, and as its write-up (PDF) describes, it provides an insight into both some of the quirks of these displays, and into weather forecasting algorithms.

The hardware follows a straightforward formula, aside from Arduino and display it boasts an Adafruit sensor board and a hardware clock. Software-wise though there are some tricks to give the display a scalable font that other tinkerers might find useful, drawing characters as a matrix of filled circle primitives.

The write-up gives an introduction to forecasting based only on local readings rather than on the huge volumes of data over a wide area used by professional meteorologists. In play here is the Zambretti algorithm, which takes the readings and information about whether they are rising or falling, and returns a forecast from a look-up table.

As we’ll all be aware, even professional weather forecasting is fraught with inaccuracies, but this is nonetheless an interesting project that is very much worth a second look. Meanwhile we’ve covered huge numbers of weather stations in the past, a couple of interesting ones are this one using a classic TI99/4A home computer, and more relevant here, this one using an e-paper badge.

Thanks [Phil] for the tip!

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

A Robot That Can Still Keep Its Balance After A Night In The Pub

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 06:00

One of the star attractions at the recent bring-a-hack prior to our London unconference was [Dan]’s two-wheeled self-balancing robot. As the assorted masses of the Hackaday readership consumed much fine ale and oohed and ahhed over each others work, there it stood on a pub table, defying all attempts to topple it.

In a way a successful self-balancer can look surprisingly unexciting because it achieves the seemingly unimpressive task of just standing there and not doing much except trundling about, but to take such a superficial view belies the significant feat of engineering that gives the self-balancer its party trick. And it’s no mean achievement to create one from fairly basic hardware, so how has he done it?

The 3D-printed frame holds a pair of stepper motors to do the hard work, while a piece of stripboard acts as carrier for boards containing the MPU6050 accelerometer and DRV8825 stepper motor drivers. Meanwhile the brains of the whole show started as an Espruino Pico but has since been moved to an ESP32.

There is a linked GitHub repository with all the code, and if our description of seeing it in a London pub isn’t good enough for you then you can see it in action in the video below.

If you fancy a go at making your own self-balancer, you might also want to take a look at this simple design. And if you were at the London Unconference and prepared a talk, don’t be shy — write it up on Hackaday.io and add it to this list!

Filed under: robots hacks

Hackaday Prize Entry: TooWheels, The Open Source Wheelchair

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 03:00

The Assistive Technology challenge of the Hackaday Prize received a large number of projects addressing many socially relevant problems. Mobility and transportation needs are a big challenge for those with limb disabilities. Not every country has proper, state-subsidised health care systems, and for many people in third world countries, devices such as wheel chairs are just not affordable. [Alessio Fabrizio] and his team developed TooWheels — an Open Source DIY wheelchair which can be customized and built using low-cost, local materials around the world and is one of the winners of the Assistive Technologies challenge round.

Originally conceived as a sport wheelchair, it has now evolved to answer different needs, due to feedback from the users and the community involved in the project. [Alessio] designed the project to be built from materials and resources easily available to any DIY maker at today’s Fab Labs and Makerspaces. The team have provided a detailed BOM to help procure all the required materials, instruction manual and drawings for assembly, and all the CAD files with customization instructions. Already, teams in Ecuador, India and Italy have replicated and built their own version of the TooWheel wheelchair. This confirms that the project is well documented and allows anyone around the world to download the plans and follow instructions to build their own wheelchair.

The wheelchair is built from CNC cut plywood sheets, aluminum pipes and bicycle parts and wheels. This makes it substantially cheaper compared to commercial wheelchairs, making it especially relevant for people in third world areas or where health care is not subsidised. The ease of customization allows fabrication of different wheelchair designs for sports, off-road or city use. The team is looking to bring this low-cost design to people around the world and are keen to collaborate with teams around the world to make it happen.

The HackadayPrize2017 is Sponsored by:
Filed under: The Hackaday Prize

Have Some Candy While I Steal Your Cycles

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 02:29

Distributed computing is an excellent idea. We have a huge network of computers, many of them always on, why not take advantage of that when the user isn’t? The application that probably comes to mind is Folding@home, which lets you donate your unused computer time to help crunch the numbers for disease research. Everyone wins!

But what if your CPU cycles are being used for profit without your knowledge? Over the weekend this turned out to be the case with Showtime on-demand sites which mined Monero coins while the users was pacified by video playback. The video is a sweet treat while the cost of your electric bill is nudged up ever so slightly.

It’s an interesting hack as even if the user notices the CPU maxing out they’ll likely dismiss it as the horsepower necessary to decode the HD video stream. In this case, both Showtime and the web analytics company whose Javascript contained the mining software denied responsibility. But earlier this month Pirate Bay was found to be voluntarily testing out in-browser mining as a way to make up for dwindling ad revenue.

This is a clever tactic, but comes perilously close to being malicious when done without the user’s permission or knowledge. We wonder if those ubiquitous warnings about cookie usage will at times include notifications about currency mining on the side? Have you seen or tried out any of this Javascript mining? Let us know in the comments below.

Filed under: internet hacks, news

Friday Hack Chat: All About LED Design

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 01:00

There are three great enabling technologies of the last twenty years. The first is lithium batteries that hold a lot of juice. Quadcopters wouldn’t exist without them, and the Tesla Model S wouldn’t either. The second is crazy powerful brushless motors. Here, again, quads wouldn’t exist without them, but we’re also getting smaller, torquier, and more powerful motion platforms.

The third great enabling technology in recent memory is LEDs. Remember when the PlayStation 2 came out, and everyone was amazed by the blue LED? That blue LED won a Nobel Prize. Now, we have LED light bulbs, LEDs in any color of the rainbow, powerful UV LEDs, and bazillion candela flashlights. LEDs are awesome.

For this week’s Hack Chat, we’re going to be talking all about LEDs. Everything from strips to rings, discrete to waterproof, COBs, weird colors, and everything in between. If you’re looking to replace your workshop lighting with LEDs, this is the Hack Chat for you. If you’ve ever wondered about the quality of LEDs, and the price-performance ratio, this is for you. This is all about blinky bling.

Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat will be [Metalnat], founder of the Burbank MakerSpace, a recent resident of the Supplyframe DesignLab where he designed a VR controller, and worked on Crane, a flapping automaton that glided over the playa at this year’s Burning Man. During this Hack Chat, we’ll be talking about LEDs, including installation methods, types of LEDs, suppliers, and LED manufacturing methods.

This is a Hack Chat, so we’re taking questions from the audience. Here’s a spreadsheet we’ll be using to guide the discussion.

Here’s How To Take Part:

Our Hack Chats are live community events on the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This Hack Chat will be going down noon, Pacific time on Friday, September 29th. Sidereal and solar getting you down? Wondering when noon is this month? Not a problem: here’s a handy countdown timer!

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io.

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Filed under: Hackaday Columns

BeamCNC: Computer-Controlled Construction System Mill

พฤ, 09/28/2017 - 00:01

Need to make something quick and dirty out of wooden beams, and want to use elements you know will work together? BeamCNC is a mobile assembly of stepper-controlled rollers and a router that sucks a 2×2 through it and drills the holes in pre-programmed intervals. Currently being developed as part of an Indiegogo campaign currently in preview, its creator [Vladislav Lunachev] has declared it open source hardware. It’s essentially a CNC mill that makes Grid Beam, a classic DIY building set that resembles Meccano, Erector, and other classic sets, only made full-scale for larger projects. While BeamCNC is not affiliated with Grid Beam, it takes the same general idea and automates it.

Grid Beam Tricycle build with the Grid Beam system
photo by Nikolay Georgiev CC-BY 2.0

We’re not all carpenters, but most of us can make a shoddy go of it — if we have access to tools and have been trained in on them. Even that is a stretch, and extending that to making actual furniture that you could use is even more of a stretch.

Enter Grid Beam. Developed by Ken Isaac in the ’40s, the idea is to use a fairly commonplace wooden stock — the classic 2×2 beam — as an elementary but robust building-set component: an Erector set for shelves, desks, and chairs. The basic design begins with the 2x2s, which in the arcane logic of the lumberyard, have a quarter-inch cut off of each side, making the actual dimensions 1.5″ x 1.5″. Not coincidentally the holes are spaced 1.5″ apart as well, and in the classic design you drill the holes along the entire length, with an intersecting set of holes drilled in perpendicularly. Quarter-inch socket-head bolts are a typical method for securing the beams.

The official Grid Beam site sells the classic wooden beams, made out of recycled Douglas fir. They also feature steel and aluminum beams in a variety of widths, as well as entire kits featuring an assortment of beams and quarter-inch hardware to connect it all together.

Grid Beam has been in the news a bit recently. They brought a bunch of beams to Maker Faire and got a nice writeup by CNet, and recently appeared in a video interview.

Just Mill It

At first blush it’s easy to equate BeamCNC with an overpriced carpenter’s jig. The usual way to drill an even row of holes is with a jig consisting of a dowel offset by an inch-and-a-half. You put the dowel in the hole you just drilled, ensuring the holes remain consistent. It costs about 5 cents to make and is totally foolproof and reasonably quick — once the drill press is set up and the jig built, you could tear through an 8-foot beam in what, a minute?

By contrast, BeamCNC costs $300 without the router, and the question is begged as to how it could bring enough value to justify the price. How many linear feet do you need to drill to pay off the machine?

To appreciate the true value of the machine you have to abandon the mindset that you’re making classic wooden Grid Beam. To begin with, it’s a CNC mill controlled by G-code, so you can drill the holes in any pattern and size you want. It works with aluminum as well as wood, and I’d bet you a round tube would work just as well as a square one, or a length of channel. You can adjust its size to accommodate materials from 20mm to 50mm, or about 0.75″ to 2″. Those of you gnashing at Grid Beam’s Imperial measurements could design your own Metric standard.

The Holes We Deserve, and Only the Holes We Need Right Now

The hacker’s take on this tool points to permanent builds where you only drill the holes you need. This becomes robotic measuring and drilling based on the design files you feed it. Maybe you’d need a groove only milled partway through the material. It’s a machine tool so once you have the G-code set up, all you have to do is shove the material into the machine and it rolls it through on its own. When not drilling every hole along the board, I could see you being able to rip through quite a few boards in a short amount of time.

This isn’t such a far-off idea. [Vlad] is talking about a web resource of G-code design tools, allowing users to create and share designs online. If done right it sounds like a neat rapid prototyping trick. What do you think? Does BeamCNC offer intriguing possibilities or is it just another gadget that will end up on a shelf? Leave your thoughts in comments.

Filed under: cnc hacks, Hackaday Columns

Trike with Water-Rocket Engine

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 23:00

Many of us made soda bottle rockets for science class. Some of us didn’t have that opportunity, and made them in the backyard because that’s what cool kids do. Water rockets work on the premise that if water is evacuated from one side of a container, the container will accelerate away from the evacuation point. Usually, this takes the form of a 2-liter bottle, a tire pump and some cardboard fins. [François Gissy] modified the design but not the principle for his water trike which reached 261 kph or 162mph.

Parts for the trike won’t be found in the average kitchen but many of them could be found in a motorcycle shop, except for the carbon fiber wrapped water tank. There wasn’t a throttle on this rocket, the clutch lever was modified to simply open the valve and let the rider hold on until the water ran out. The front brake seemed to be intact, thank goodness.

Powering vehicles in unconventional ways is always a treat to watch and [François Gissy]’s camera-studded trike is no exception. If you like your water rockets pointed skyward, check out this launch pad for STEM students and their water rockets. Of course, [Colin Furze] gets a shout-out for his jet-powered go-kart.

Thank you, [Itay], for the tip.

Filed under: transportation hacks

All the Speakers Plus We’re Heating It Up a Day Early

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 22:01

Things are getting real now. Check the list below for the last round of confirmed speakers to the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. This brings our slate of speakers to 32, but we’re not done yet.

Hackaday is adding an extra day to the Superconference by starting the festivities on Friday. Again this year we have an excellent custom hardware badge in development. It’s hard to pull yourself away during the Supercon for badge hacking so this year you can check in on Friday and let the hacking begin. Since you’ll be in town early, we’re also throwing a party at Supplyframe office (minutes walk from the main venue) for all Supercon speakers and attendees.

But we’re still not done. 32 talks, an epic hardware badge, and an extra day of festivities, what else could there be you ask? Two things: workshops and the Hackaday Prize party. Supercon will play host to eight hardware workshops this year. We’ll announce workshop presenters and topics next week but I can tell you they’re superb this year!

Superconference Talks

We present the full slate of 32 talks at the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. Below you will find presenters, their bios and talk title. There is also more information on each talk topic available.

  • Syd Mead // Keynote: The Future is Now

    Syd Mead is an American “visual futurist”, industrial designer and a neo-futuristic concept artist. You know his work well if you’ve even loosely followed Sci-Fi movies over the past several decades like Blade RunnerAlienTronElysium, and many more. Syd’s work is especially interesting to us because it is future technology that actually gets build in the sets and practical effects that went into each and every film.

  • Scotty Allen // How I Built My Own iPhone and Other Adventures in the Cell Phone Repair Markets of Shenzhen

    Scotty Allen is a nomadic hacker, engineer, entrepreneur, adventurer, and storyteller, who orbits around San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. He makes videos at the intersection of adventure, travel, and technology for his popular YouTube channel Strange Parts. In a previous life, he was a full stack software engineer at companies such as Google, Ooyala, and Shopkick.

  • AND!XOR // Applied Engineering for More Than Just Fun and Bling

    The AND!XOR crew has made a name for themselves over the last several years by producing unofficial hardware badges that are beyond compare. The team are experts at hardware design and manufacture, puzzle design and implementation, and building a community (some would say mythos) around the #badgelife culture.

  • Danielle Applestone // How to Beckon a Robotic Workforce

    Danielle Applestone is CEO of Bantam Tools (formerly known as Other Machine Co.), a Berkeley-based, manufacturer of desktop CNC milling machines. Danielle’s team took technology developed for DARPA and launched that company, which was then acquired by former MakerBot CEO and co-founder, Bre Pettis. Danielle has a B.S. in chemical engineering from MIT and a PhD in materials science and engineering from the UT Austin. She is a member of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows. Her talk of Founding a Hardware Startup was a hit at the 2015 Supercon and this year she discussing making it easier for non-technical people to learn how to design, build, and run robots, without formal education.

  • Kipp Bradford // Devices For Controlling Climates

    Kipp Bradford is a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab. His work focuses on reinventing how we heat and cool things. He also researches innovation, manufacturing, and programming languages. His background spans biomechanical and electrical engineering, design, entrepreneurship, and HVAC+R. He is a founder of start-ups in the fields of HVAC+R, transportation, consumer products, and medical devices, and holds numerous patents for his inventions.

  • Sprite_TM // Small Fruit: Miniturizing the MacPlus

    Sprite_TM, aka Jeroen Domburg, has always been interested in anything that goes on in the place where hardware meets software. He is an incredibly skilled hardware hacker, able to reverse engineer circuits and code quickly and despite almost any level of obfuscation. He shares this incredible work on his well-known website: spritesmods.com.

  • Erika Earl // Manufacturing Hacks: Mistakes Will Move You Forward

    Erika is a self-taught Audio Engineer with a decade of experience in designing, servicing, and maintaining audio electronics for professional recording studios. Her career highlights include Director of Hardware Engineering at Slate Digital, Head of Technology / Sr. Technical Engineer at LA’s legendary The Village Recording Studios, a position on The Advisory Council for the Producers & Engineering Wing of The Recording Academy, and a volunteer Hardware Engineer for the Mind Makers Project.

  • Bradley Gawthrop // Wiring Boot Camp

    Bradley Gawthrop is a general purpose electronics geek and tinker who spent the last decade designing, building and installing electric pipe organs, and the control systems which make them work. He eventually came to his senses. Benefit from his ten years of experience wiring large and elaborate installations by learning the tools, materials, and skills you need to do cables right (even for prototypes!).

  • Christal Gordon // Sensor Fusion

    Dr. Christal Gordon is an engineer and educator. She received a dual Electrical and Computer Engineering B.S. from Polytechnic University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (minor in Neuroscience) from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her specialties include designing, prototyping, and programming. She has designed bio-inspired and bio-interfacing systems, high-speed electronics, and models of complex systems.

  • Cory Grosser // Innovation Aesthetics: Understanding the Power of Emotional Design

    Cory Grosser is an American product designer, interior architect and educator. In 2002 he founded his studio in Los Angeles. Since then, he has gone on to become one of America’s top independent designers. His career balances design work for high end European design brands, strategic consulting for large corporations and teaching the next generation as an Associate Professor at Art Center College of Design. Cory holds an Architecture degree from SUNY Buffalo and a degree in Design from Art Center.

  • Mike Harrison // Flying Liquid Crystal Displays

    Also known as mikeselectricstuff, Mike Harrison is best known for epic tear downs of insane equipment on YouTube. His day job is designing custom electronics for art and architectural installations. This work is often under time constraints impossible for mere mortals and calls for solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. His talk will dive into one such example from his recent adventures. Mike stunned the audience at the Hackaday | Belgrade conference with his Eidophor live projection technology which has been all but lost to history.

  • Samy Kamkar // Creating Vehicle Reconnaissance & Attack Tools

    Samy Kamkar is a security researcher, best known for creating The MySpace Worm, one of the fastest spreading viruses of all time. He (attempts to) illustrate terrifying vulnerabilities with playfulness, and his exploits have been branded “Controversial” and “Horrific” by The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. His open source software, hardware and research highlights the insecurities and privacy implications of everyday technologies.

  • Joe Kim // The Balance of Art and Technology

    Joe Kim is currently the art director at Hackaday.com and has been a working illustrator for the past 12 years. He was born in South Korea and moved to the United States when he was two where he was given stacks of white paper and pencils to reinterpret everything around him. He received his BFA from Art Center College of Design and CSULB. He currently draws, paints, and lives in Los Angeles.

  • Ara Kourchians & Steve Collins // Extraterrestrial Autonomous Landing Systems

    Ara Kourchians is a Robotics Engineer at JPL with an extensive background in high altitude ballooning, DeLorean time machines, self-balancing robots, omnidirectional drive systems, flight controllers, UAV’s, and Mars watches. Steve Collins is an Attitude Control Engineer at JPL who drives spacecraft around the solar system and last year shared some of what can go wrong. The two will cover what goes into building smart and robust landing systems capable of localizing and avoiding hazards including various lander technologies, specifically JPL’s COBALT project and the many adventures of field-testing with VTOL rockets.

  • Andy E. Lin // Understanding Disability within the Context of Engineering: A View from the Frontline

    Andy E. Lin is the director of the Emerging Tech Lab at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, one of the top facilities in the world for those with spinal cord and other traumatic injuries. He has over 20+ years of intimate experience in crafting and customizing solutions for people with disabilities. Andy also serves as a visiting instructor at the California Institute of Technology, mentoring students in assistive tech design projects in a course he has co-taught the past 3 years.

  • Salvador Mendoza // A Cross-Platform Magstripe Payment Method: BlueSpoof

    Salvador Mendoza is a security researcher focusing in tokenization processes, magnetic stripe information and embedded prototypes. He has presented on tokenization flaws and digital payment methods at Black Hat USA, DEF CON, DerbyCon, Ekoparty, BugCON, and Troopers. Salvador designed different tools to pentest magstripe info and tokenization processes. In his designed toolset includes MagSpoofPI, JamSpay, TokenGet and lately SamyKam.

  • Rose Meyers // Internet of Robots

    Rose is a robotics enthusiast and software engineer who would love to have as many robots on the web as there are webpages. She finds the easiest path to this goal is to combine the use of ubiquitous tools: Raspberry Pi, Johny-five, socket.io, Node, Javascript, and HTML.

  • Natalia Mykhaylova // Hacking Your Home Air

    Natalia Mykhaylova has a background in arts, engineering, chemistry and design with PhD work that involved the development of novel devices and adaptable wireless networks for air pollution monitoring. Her research work has been recognized by UofT Magazine, Phys.org, UofT News, Metro News, CTV News. She enjoys coming up with elegant solutions to big problems, transforming current systems and our future in the process.

  • Ariane Nazemi // CTRL+HACK+DELETE: Designing and Building a Custom Mechanical Keyboard

    Ariane Nazemi is an electrical engineering student located in San Diego and the founder of Atom Computer. He loves designing and building electronics, and has created several products at Atom including an RGB LED programmable bow tie that was designed to help new electrical engineers, makers, and programmers get familiar with through-hole and SMD soldering and programming in a fun setting. Ariane has been an avid enthusiast of electronics and robotics from a young age.

  • Michael Ossmann and Dominic Spill // Aye, ARRR! pIRates!

    Michael Ossmann is a wireless security researcher who makes hardware
    for hackers. Best known for the open source HackRF, Ubertooth, and
    GreatFET projects, he founded Great Scott Gadgets in an effort to put
    exciting, new tools into the hands of innovative people.

    Dominic Spill is a senior security researcher at Great Scott Gadgets
    where he writes software and firmware for open source hardware. His
    primary focus is sniffing and modifying communication protocols.

  • Kristin Paget // IoT Security: A Study of Failure.

    Kristin’s job title has been “Hacker Princess” for her last 4 jobs, which should tell you most of what you need to know. She likes to live at the intersection of the things you don’t know you need and the things you didn’t think were possible, with particular specialties in building fake cell towers 1000x cheaper than the NSA and cloning almost every RFID tag she encounters. She loves to teach so feel free to ask away; her favourite language is C and she’s a sucker for anything pink :)

  • Nadya Peek // Can the Laplace Transform Help with my Music Video?

    Nadya works in the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, a group at the intersection of the physical and the digital, and just finished teaching the MIT class MAS.865.

  • Sarah Petkus // The Imperfect Probe: Personally Expressive Machines and Why Nonsense Matters

    A kinetic artist, roboticist, writer, and illustrator from Las Vegas, Sarah Petkus produces mechanical sculptures that execute nonsensical functions inspired by human qualities. She also illustrates a web comic about a post-human world, in which the machines and technology humans have created are left speculating about what “art” was. Sarah was an artist in residence at European Space Agency’s technical facility this summer where she produced appendages which are caricatures of the scientific instruments used in space exploration.

  • Natalya Staritskaya // Applying Acceptance Tests to Hardware

    Natalya Staritskaya is a Product Manager with five years of experience specializing in the intersection of hardware and software. In the software realm acceptance tests are well established, but not to the same extent when it comes to hardware. Learning how to design to the test in hardware, and how to create better partnerships between hardware and software teams is a clear path to a more reliable development method.

  • Shah Selbe // Wild Hardware: Adventures with Ecological IoT and National Geographic

    Shah Selbe is an engineer and conservation technologist who works to identify and deploy technologies that can help with our greatest conservation challenges. His projects have integrated crowdsourcing, smartphone apps, drones, satellite data, and sensors to address conservation issues, including illegal poaching and the monitoring of protected areas. He founded the first solely conservation technology makerspace and prototyping lab called Conservify in Los Angeles.

  • Mathieu Stephan // The Making of a Secure Open Source Hardware Password Keeper

    Mathieu Stephan is an electronics engineer who’s actively involved in the open source movement. He specializes in designing products from scratch and alternate between full-time positions and contracting jobs in very different sectors – from quantum physics to formula E cars. He’s been a writer for Hackaday, has a personal blog full of projects and a small shop on Tindie.

  • Christine Sunu // Biomimicry and the Machine: Using Psych and Bio to Bring Robots to Life

    Christine Sunu is a tech mercenary who left medicine to work at the intersection of life and machine. She builds rapid prototypes, aligns tech strategies, and creates trending content for companies. She has a partial medical degree, a writing degree, a GE fellowship, and a lot of experience building evocative, effective interfaces. Christine lives in a castle in Los Angeles, where she works on internet connected things, odd storytelling interfaces, and biomimicry by machine.

  • Mike Szczys // State of the Hackaday

    Mike Szczys is Editor in Chief of Hackaday. As an Orchestra Musician by night and a writer by day, his entrance into electronics started with BEAM robot builds but quickly moved into the realm of embedded systems. He spends his waking hours chasing down new tricks performed through clever application of existing hardware. This has suited him well since joining Hackaday in 2009. He has an unquenchable thirst for seeing future technology become reality before his eyes — a drive perfectly suited for the hardware hacking universe.

  • Ashwin K Whitchurch // Are We Ready for Open Source Healthcare and Medical Devices?

    Ashwin K Whitchurch is a hacker at heart. Since the beginning of his research in college, Ashwin realized how medical devices can benefit from open source and has continued that passion ever since. He holds an M.Sc. in Software Engineering from Bharathiar University, India and an M.S. in Microelectronic-Photonics from University of Arkansas. His research while at Penn State and Arkansas included nanotech, biotech and medical devices. Ashwin is currently involved with building open source medical devices at ProtoCentral, a small company based in India.

  • Elliot Williams // Nexus Technologies, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love WiFi

    Elliot Williams is Managing Editor of Hackaday. He’s the kind of guy who uses a 1990’s 5″ hard drive platter as a scroll wheel. The kind of guy whose oscilloscope cost just a tiny bit less than his last two cars combined. He’s the kind of guy who stays up late debugging home-brew PCBs or figuring out why that interrupt routine isn’t firing. He takes immense pleasure is minimalist hacks or complete overkill. In short, he loves Hackaday because he lives Hackaday, and that’s why he’s here.

  • Anouk Wipprecht // Robotic Dresses and Intuitive Interfaces

    Anouk Wipprecht is a Dutch Tech-Minded Fashion Designer combining the latest in science and technology to make Fashion an experience. With garments that augment everyday interactions, using sensors, machine learning, and robotics her designs move, breath, and react to the environment around them.

  • Alan Yates // Getting Started with Vacuum Technology

    Alan Yates’ day job is making VR tracking systems, but he tries to put aside a bit of time on the weekends for other geeky projects. At the 2016 Hackaday Superconference he wowed the audience with the complexity of both the problems and solutions used by Valve’s Lighthouse tracking technology. This year he returns to discuss the lesson he learned while teaching himself some basic glass blowing and experimenting with vacuum electrical devices. Gas discharge tubes, incandescent light bulbs, vacuum diodes and triodes are all accessible to the maker with only some basic equipment.

Get your ticket now!

Filed under: cons, Hackaday Columns

The Engineering That Survives Hurricanes

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 21:00

Florida is a great place to live, especially around January when it’s sunny and 24 degrees outside (76F) while all of your friends from back home are dealing with scraping ice off of their windshields every morning. In the late summer, though, this pleasant tropical paradise can sometimes take a turn for the worse, because Florida is one of the handful of places that frequently see some of the worst storms on the planet: hurricanes. As a Floridian myself, perhaps I can shed some light on some of the ways that the various local governments and their residents have taken to mitigate the destruction that usually accompanies these intense tropical storms when it seems that, to outsiders, it might be considered unwise to live in such a place.

The Storms Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017) came very close but the centers of the storms were far enough away to limit damage in my area.

Before getting into Florida’s extremely robust building codes and unique building materials and styles, lets take a look at a hurricane itself. A hurricane is categorized on the Saffir-Simpson scale based on its maximum wind speed, which is a loose correlation to how much damage the hurricane will cause if it makes landfall. For tropical storms one can expect to lose a few palm fronds and dead branches from trees, but a category 5 storm can level entire communities.

While more intense storms can be incredibly dangerous, its important to realize that the strongest winds surround the eye at the center, and the wind speed falls off exponentially as the distance from the eye is increased. This means that a grazing blow by a hurricane will not see anywhere near the destruction that will be caused around the eye’s path. Further, the northeast corner of the eye wall tends to be the most devastating part of the storm, which is what saved Florida (and myself in particular) last year when Hurricane Matthew grazed the east coast of the state, keeping the more powerful part of the hurricane largely offshore.

Hurricane Andrew (left), a Category 5 storm which in 1992 was the costliest hurricane to make landfall until Katrina in 2005. Hurricane Floyd (right) made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 despite its much greater size, although at this point it was Category 4. Photo courtesy of http://geoalliance.asu.edu.

It’s also important to note that the force that the wind imparts on any object goes up with the square of the wind speed, which means that the difference between a category 1 hurricane and a category 3 hurricane can be striking, even though the wind speed only increases by 16 mph. (This is the same effect by which drag on vehicles increases exponentially with increased speed.)

Engineering Our Way Out of It

One of the more obvious solutions to living in a place like this is to simply use more robust materials when building homes and other infrastructure, and indeed that is the case for some modern homes. A common construction method, although slightly more expensive, is to build homes out of concrete block and then to fill the voids in the block with poured concrete. From there the roof can be made of concrete in some situations or can be made of heavy wood with reinforcing metal braces. Using metal as a roof surface material, rather than shingles, also helps improve the home’s tolerance to wind. Additionally, bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure are built more robustly as well to withstand the high winds of a hurricane. The skyscrapers in Miami, for example, are built to withstand wind speeds of 140 mph to 180 mph (depending on when they were built), which is certainly a higher design consideration than the skyscrapers of any other city like Phoenix or Detroit, for example.

A concrete roof is lowered onto a hurricane-resistance concrete house. Photo via B&A Architecture.

For homes that are made out of wood, however, special attention is made to how the roof is attached to the walls, and how the walls are attached to the foundation. One quirk of how high winds affect homes is that they tend to lift the roof upwards and off of the structure. To prevent this uplift, metal hurricane straps are nailed to all of the roof rafters and the roof is nailed with more hurricane straps to the wall. The wall is, in turn, bolted to the concrete foundation with special concrete anchors. These straps and anchors allow wind loads to be evenly distributed to the ground, and for the roof to resist any upward force.

Minimum wind speed (mph) design criteria for buildings and structures in Florida.

It might seem counter intuitive that the hurricane would lift the roof upwards, but as a result of the wind’s flow over a structure uplift is generated in much the same way as an airplane wing. This is why, in addition to making sure the structure itself is as sturdy as possible, the weak points of the structure must be reinforced as well. Often with hurricanes the damage isn’t so much from the wind, but from what the wind blows. And, if a 150 mph wind picks up a 2×4 or tree branch or fence post and launches it into a normal window, that opening will allow wind to enter the home and generate even more uplift to rip the roof off of the structure.

An opening of 1% of the size of the windward side of a building is enough to remove a roof. For that reason, specialized hurricane shutters are fitted to windows and doors or the windows themselves are built out of special impact-resistant glass that will shatter but remain intact, thus helping to protect the rest of the structure. Additionally, no modern building code in Florida allows for homes to have doors that open inward so that the entire jamb can take the brunt of the wind, and not just the latching mechanisms.

There is one other impact that hurricanes can have on the areas they reach, and that is torrential rain and flooding. While there’s no feasible way to build a flood-proof building, a choice of building site based on flood plain maps that the federal government maintains is often prudent. Also, living on barrier islands that are prone to storm surge is not advised either although building on stilts can help lessen the damage from a surge. On the other hand, some storms like Hurricane Harvey are so unprecedented that there is often nothing that could have been done that would have improved the situation at all.

Even with the improved building codes in Florida, no amount of concrete or hurricane straps would have prevented all of the damage that Hurricane Andrew caused, and no amount of drainage systems would have prevented all of the damage that Hurricane Harvey caused. Certainly there are risks to living in a place like Florida, but there are some pretty big rewards as well. While the winters are more tolerable than most of the rest of the United States, the surf can be pretty gnarly, and until I can afford a home in California or Hawaii this will have to do.

Filed under: Featured, Interest, Original Art, slider

Monstrous USB Power Bank

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 18:00

At some point, cleaning out the spare parts bin — or cabinet, or garage — becomes a necessity. This is dangerous because it can induce many more project ideas and completely negate the original purpose. [Chaotic Mind], considering the pile of  batteries he’s collected over the past decade, decided that instead of throwing them out, he would recycle them into a grotesque USB power bank.

Inside the bulk of this power bank are an eye-popping 64 18650 Lithium Ion cells, mostly collected from laptop batteries, and wired in a parallel 8×8 pattern with an estimated capacity of over 100,000mAh(!!).  The gatekeeper to all this stored energy is a two-USB power bank charger board from Tindie.

Ah — but how to package all this power? The handy man’s secret weapon: duct-tape!

This brick of batteries is probably unwieldy for most daily use purposes, but we can see it having a place on an extended camping trip or the like. It is still a huge potential danger as there isn’t any charge balancing integrated into the bank, and the potential for catastrophic failure of any of the smaller or older cells is immense considering the amount of time it takes for this monster to charge — it took two hours to charge from 90% to 91% at 1.2A.

At least [Chaotic Mind] has his fire extinguisher handy!

We’ve previously featured a guide on how to hack together your own power bank if you need one, or feel like taking the concept to the limit.

Filed under: hardware

PID Controlled Charcoal BBQ – Put an Arduino on it!

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 15:00

At Maker Faire Milwaukee this past weekend, [basement tech]  was showing off his latest build, a PID controlled charcoal grill. While it hasn’t QUITE been tested yet with real food, it does work in theory.

PID (a feedback loop with some fancy math used to adjust the input to get a consistent output) controlled cooking is commonly used for sous vide, where one heats up a water bath to a controlled temperature to cook food in plastic bags. Maintaining water temperature is fairly easy. Controlling a charcoal barbecue is much more difficult. [basement tech] accomplishes this with controlled venting and fans. With the charcoal hot and the lid on, there are two ways to control temperature; venting to let hot air out, and blowing air on the coals to make them hotter. A thermocouple sensor stuck through the grill gives the reading of the air inside, and an Arduino nearby reads that and adjusts the vents and fans accordingly.

The video goes into extensive detail on the project, and describes some of the challenges he had along the way, such as preventing the electronics and servos from melting.

There’s not a lot of time left in the grilling season, so we hope [basement tech] gets an opportunity to enjoy the meats of his labor. Maybe he can trade food with [Jason] and his PID controlled meat smoker.

Filed under: cooking hacks

Smooth and Steady Cuts with an Improvised Power Feeder

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 12:00

Some woodworking operations require stock to be fed at a smooth, steady rate, for which purpose a power feeder is usually employed. They’re expensive bits of gear, though, and their cost can usually be borne only by high-output production shops. But when you need one, you need one, and hacking a power feeder from a drill and a skate wheel is a viable option.

It should come as no surprise that this woodshop hack comes to us from [Matthias Wandel], who never seems to let a woodworking challenge pass him by. His first two versions of expedient power feeders were tasked with making a lot of baseboard moldings in his new house. Version three, presented in the video below, allows him to feed stock diagonally across his table saw, resulting in custom cove moldings. The completed power feeder may look simple — it’s just a brushless drill in a wooden jig driving a skate wheel — but the iterative design process [Matthias] walks us through is pretty fascinating. We also appreciate the hacks within hacks that always find their way into his videos. No lathe? No problem! Improvise with a drill and a bandsaw.

Surprised that [Matthias] didn’t use some of his famous wooden gears in this build? We’re not. A brushless motor is perfect for this application, with constant torque at low speeds. Want to learn more about BLDC motors? Get the basics with a giant demo brushless motor.

Filed under: tool hacks

The Linux FPGA

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 09:00

It was never unusual to have a CPU and an FPGA together. After all, each has different strengths and weaknesses. However, newer devices like the Xilinx Zynq have both a CPU and an FPGA in the same package. That means your design has to span hardware, FPGA configurations, and software. [Mitchell Orsucci] was using a Zynq device on a ArtyZ7-20 board and decided he wanted to use Linux to operate the ARM processor and provide user-space tools to interface with the FPGA and reconfigure it dynamically.

This sounds like a big project and it certainly isn’t trivial by any means. However, the Xilinx tools do a lot of the heavy lifting, including setting up the Linux kernel and a suitable root file system. The bulk of [Mitchell’s] work was in developing user space tools for Linux programs to interact with the FPGA hardware. You can see a short video demo below.

The design exposes an I2C interface, an SPI interface, a PWM controller, and 10 digital I/O pins to the Linux side. Both the schematics and the source code are on GitHub.

We’ve seen the Zynq do everything from synthesizing music to power astrophotography cameras. While it is a lot of work to build software and hardware together, the results are worth it and the tools will help.

Filed under: ARM, FPGA, linux hacks

Where Can You Fly? Worldwide Drone Laws Mapped

พุธ, 09/27/2017 - 06:00

If you are a flier of a multirotor, or drone, you should be painfully aware of the regulations surrounding them wherever you live, as well as the misinformation and sometime bizarre levels of hysteria from uninformed people over their use.

Should you travel with your drone, you will also probably be resigned to being interrogated by airport staff high on The War On Terror security theatre, and you’ll probably not find it surprising that they have little idea of the laws and regulations over which they have pulled you aside. It’s a confusing situation, and it’s one that [Anil Polat] has addressed by collating information about drone laws worldwide, and presenting his results on a Google map.

To do this must have been a huge undertaking, particularly since he got in touch with the appropriate authorities to access the information from the horse’s mouth. Looking at the map, we can almost view the green, yellow, and red pins showing different levels of restriction on flight as a fascinating indication of differing levels of security paranoia worldwide. If your territory has an orange or red pin, our commiseration.

This is a useful resource for anyone with an interest in multirotor flying, and he has also made it available as an app. However, it is always safest to check with the authorities concerned before flying in another territory, in case any laws have changed.

Here at Hackaday we’ve held an interest in the interface between multirotor fliers, governments, and the general public for a while now. In 2015 we took a look at FAA regulations for example, and last year we examined the inaccuracies in British air incident reports.

Via Adafruit.

Filed under: drone hacks