Automated Beer brewing

[Randyrob] is pretty serious about their beer. So serious, that he wanted to build a fully automated system for brewing. Dubbed the Halfluck Automated Brewing System, or HABS, it is actually his first micro controller project. You can follow along on the arduino forums to get a little more information, including the source code if you should want to build one of your own. There are a few videos on his youtube channel, but unfortunately, we didn’t notice any full tours of the entire thing.

Like some others we’ve seen, this one only handles the brewing aspect, not the fermenting stages. It would be interesting to see a system that handled it all. You could fairly easily get the machine to siphon it into a keg for final carbonation too.

2 horse power 3 wheeled beast

This beast above is the result of what is probably the coolest class project ever.  The instructors[Michael Ham] and [Kenny Ham] gave their students a pile of junk and said “build something”. The goal was a “vehicle that could recharge itself”. In the pile were motorcycle tires, an old classroom seat, the front suspension from a VW bug, some old power drills, a solar panel, and a battery, amongst other bits and pieces.  What you see above was the result.  While it may not win any drag races any time soon, it was a fantastic class project that had the students thinking their way around many problems.

The videos on the project page show that this thing isn’t quite as sluggish as we would have expected for its size.

[via Make]

How to properly fly with electronics

Some electronics professionals have to fly relatively frequently. One such person, [Steve Hoefer] shares with us how to properly fly with your exposed wires and bits without getting nabbed by the TSA for suspicion of being a terrorist. The article is fairly in depth with tips on how to handle most situations including being pulled aside and put in a tiny room for questioning. Most of it boils down to the fact that you can’t expect the TSA agents to be experts in everything. They see stuff that is slightly out of the norm, they have to follow up. We’re not talking about pat-downs and body scanners here, we’re talking about circuit boards, duct tape, and battery packs.

One story [Steve] shares is especially humorous. He noted that the servos had been disconnected from one of his robots. He wonders, why disconnect them? If they were suspected of being an explosive, they shouldn’t have messed with them. If they weren’t… why did they un-plug them?

You’re invited to sift through 100 Terabytes of data for NASA

Most people we know had at least one phase where they dreamt of working for NASA. That dream may have faded for many of us, but it could suddenly be a real possibility again with a tournament NASA is holding. The goal is to sift through all of the data that they have collected; roughly 100 terabytes of pictures, telemetry data, top secret pictures of martian yeti, and models. All of this information was gathered over different missions, on different instruments, in different formats. It is a mess. Take this data and make it easily accessible to both scientists, and non-scientists. They want their information to be useful and compelling to the world.

The grand prize for your fantastic final result is $10,000 and the title of “Space Coder of the Galaxy 2012″.  I know I’d settle for a week at space camp.

Note: I just noticed the following bit:

And one talented high school winner will receive a special VIP invitation from NASA

I’m not sure if that means this is for high schoolers only, but I’m pretty sure it means a lot of them won’t identify with that space camp link above.

Lego Mindstorms used to automate tedious laboratory tasks


Modern society owes so much to medical research, though what happens behind the scenes in a laboratory is usually far less than glamorous. A group of scientists at the University of Cambridge are working to develop synthetic bone tissue, but the process to create the samples used in the study is incredibly tedious.

To make the bones, a substructure must be dipped in a mixture of calcium and protein, rinsed, then dipped in a mixture of phosphate and protein…hundreds and hundreds of times. Equipment that can automate the process is available but very cost prohibitive, so the scientists did what they do best and built a set of robots to do the work for them.

Their new bone manufacturing setup was constructed using Lego Mindstorm kits, which were a perfect solution to their problem in several ways. The kits are relatively cheap, easy to construct, easy to program, and able to perform the same function precisely for days on end.

Now instead of burning time manually creating synthetic bone samples, the group can focus on the more important facets of their research.

Continue reading to see a video presented at the 2012 Google Science Fair, showing how everything came together for the crew at Cambridge.

[via Make]

[Read more...]

A 3D Pantograph


It seems that there is no end to ingenious woodworking tools, such as this 3-D Router Pantograph from []. The pantograph, a design using linkages to trace and scale drawings, may have been invented in the 1600s, but if we were honest, most of us haven’t heard of this device. This particular pantograph is able to trace letters or other stencils in three dimensions by pivoting about an additional axis.

If you’re wondering where to get these stencils, they’ve got you covered with an online stencil generation tool. However, if you want to make even more detailed stencils, we might recommend using a free drafting tool such as Draftsight (here’s a review), or Sketchup.

[Woodgears] gives a good explanation of how it’s made in the video after the break. You can also buy plans for it if you want templates to use to cut everything. [Read more...]