Papercraft strandbeest is a great rainy day project

papercraft_strandbeest

Here in the Midwest it sometimes seems like Spring will never, well…spring. We get that “April showers bring May flowers”, but nearly all of the last month has been cold and rainy around these parts. While things are improving, we think it’s always good practice to have a few fun projects at the ready, just in case your plans with the kids get rained out.

We think that Hackaday reader [Dombeef’s] papercraft strandbeest is a perfect idea for a rainy afternoon. The supply list is pretty short, requiring little more than some scissors, pliers, paperclips, and glue in addition to the thick paper that makes up the body of the strandbeest. The paper is cut into pieces according to the PDF template he includes in his Instructable, secured to one another via small pieces of paperclip.

Once the legs are all constructed, a main axis is built from one of the remaining paperclips, and everything is joined together under the main portion of the strandbeest’s body.

As you can see in the video, the legs work quite well, though the strandbeest can probably benefit from a hand crank in the short term. [Dombeef] plans on adding a small motor to his creation, which should get the strandbeest moving about quite rapidly once completed.

If you are looking for more fun projects to do with the kids, look no further than this papercraft gyroscope or these squishy circuits.

[Read more...]

Racing wheel guided R/C car with video feed

rc_car

Instructables user [Kaeru no Ojisan] enjoys constructing R/C kit cars and wanted to build one that could be driven using a PC racing wheel he had on hand. Not satisfied with simply guiding it with the racing wheel, he added a web cam to the car so that he can monitor its location from the comfort of his desk chair.

The car is loaded down with all sorts of electronics to get the job done, requiring four separate battery packs to keep them online. An Arduino controls the motor and the steering servos, receiving its commands wirelessly via a Bluetooth add-on. The camera connects to a USB to Ethernet converter, which enables the car’s video feed to be transmitted via the onboard wireless router.

The racing wheel interface seems to work just fine, though we don’t doubt that the whole setup can be easily simplified, reducing both weight and battery count. While [Kaeru no Ojisan] says that the car is in its concept stages and there are a few bugs to work out, we think it’s a good start.

Stick around to see a quick video of the car in testing.

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Diagnosing diseases like MacGyver

pancratitis_test

If you ever watched MacGyver as a kid, you know that given any number of random objects, he could craft the exact tool he would need to get out of a sticky situation. If he ever made his way into the medical research field, you could be sure that this test for Acute Pancreatitis would be among his list of accomplishments.

Designed by University of Texas grad student [Brian Zaccheo], the Acute Pancreatitis test seen in the image above looks as unassuming as it is effective. Crafted out of little more than foil, jello, and milk, the test takes under an hour to diagnose patients while costing less than a dollar.

The test works by checking the patient’s blood for trypsin, an enzyme present in high concentrations if they are suffering from pancreatitis. Once a few drops of the patient’s blood is placed on the gelatin layer of the test, it is left to sit for a bit, after which sodium hydroxide is added. If elevated trypsin levels are present, it will have eaten through the gelatin and milk protein, creating a pathway for the sodium hydroxide to reach the foil layer. If the foil is dissolved within an hour, a circuit is formed and a small LED lights up, indicating that the patient has acute pancreatitis.

The test really is ingenious when you think about it, and will be a huge help to doctors practicing in developing countries, under less than ideal working conditions.

[via PopSci via Gizmodo]

LM386 Altoids tin amp

altoids_amp

Hacker [Dino Segovis] is back again with the fifth installment in his “Hack a Week” series. This time around he has put together a 1/2 watt audio amplifier that would make for a great weekend project. He’s a big fan of the LM386 amplifier chip because it does so much in such a small package. Since it is so versatile, he used it as the centerpiece of his Altoids tin amplifier.

Now an audio amp inside an Altoids tin isn’t exactly a new concept, but [Dino] takes the time to discuss the circuit in detail, which is great for any beginners out there who are looking for a fun and relatively easy project. After a high-speed video of the assembly process he walks us through the completed amp, then treats us to a couple of short demos.

One thing that makes his amp different than others we have seen in the past is the addition of a 1/4” guitar jack, which allows him to use his amplifier as a combo amp/distortion effect box.

It’s another job well done, so be sure to keep reading if you’d like to watch the latest Hack a Week episode in its entirety.

[Read more...]

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