Reminder: SpaceX launch tomorrow. Watch it live!

There isn’t a hacker out there that isn’t interested at least a little bit in the prospect of building a mission specific rocket to explode someone off the face of the planet… without killing them. We got a tiny taste of what is coming when they let us watch their engine test a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, May 19th, they are going to broadcast a launch live! You can watch it on their site beginning at 1:15 AM pacific. For some additional insight, you can also read the tweets of [Elon Musk], the founder of spaceX during the event.

Take a few minutes and enjoy the video below that discusses the program and some of the engineering obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

[via BoingBoing]

[Read more...]

Conductive ink circuit experiments

This glowing LED is proof that the experiments [Nvermeer] is doing with conductive ink are working. We’re filing this one as a chemistry hack because  you need to hit the lab ahead of time in order to get the conductivity necessary for success. He reports that this technique uses a copper powder suspended in an epoxy intended for spray painting. Before mixing the two he etched the powder in ammonium persulfate, then washed it in deionized water which made it a much better conductor.

We gather that the ink was applied with the brush seen in the photo. But since this uses that spray paint friendly solution to host the copper powder we wonder about stenciling with something like masking tape in order to spray the circuit paths onto the substrate.

There’s not too much info up yet, but [Nvermeer] does link to one of our other favorite conductive ink projects.

Scavenging from consumer electronics to make a flame-powered phone charger

[Gigafide] just finished building this flame-powered phone charger. The concept is not new. He grabbed a Peltier cooler and used the temperature differential between a flame and a heat sink to produce electricity used by the charger. If you search around here enough you’ll find plenty of candle-powered devices, and a few hacks that use a Peltier device in a bit more interesting way. But we really like his high-production value video, straightforward explanation of the concepts, and ability to source the components in consumer devices. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed by his video found after the break.

The Peltier device comes out of a USB drink chiller. It is supported by a metal stand made from electrical box covers and threaded rod. Underneath he’s using a gel fuel can used by the food industry, and above he’s got  CPU heat sink and fan. This setup puts out around 1.5V but he’ll need a boost converter to charge a phone with that. A single AA battery charger meant to power your phone in a pinch is perfect for this application.

[Read more...]

Adding kilometers to a radio meant only for meters

The NRF 24L01+ radio transceiver can be found in a lot of wireless project builds. But it’s only meant to work at a range of a few meters. [Achu Wilson] found that he could greatly extend the range by as much as 2 kilometers. All he needed to do was build this high-gain antenna.

He already had an idea of what he wanted to use the RF link for, so a directional antenna is no a problem. He chose a biquad setup with a back reflector, then used NEC2 to model the design and tweak it for the best performance possible. It only took him about two hours to complete the build, and manages a 10 dB gain. Not bad for some wire and a scrap of sheet meta.

This is the same transceiver chip used in the SNES wireless mod. If only we had a really powerful set of binoculars we could play the extremely long-distance game of Mario Kart we’ve always dreamed about.

Printing circuitry on a RepRap

Over on the RepRap blog, [Rhys] has been experimenting with molten metal to build circuits with the RepRap.

Last June, [Rhys] found a neat alloy made of Tin, Bismuth, and a little bit of Indium that melts at around 130° C, and has just the right properties to be extruded with a standard RepRap setup. The results were encouraging, but the molten metal quickly dissolved the brass and aluminum nozzles [Rhys] was pushing liquid metal through.

The solution to this problem was solved by anodizing the heck out of a RepRap nozzle to make a hard, protective oxide layer. Already [Rhys] has logged hundreds of hours squirting molten metal out of his RepRap with no signs of any damage to the nozzle.

Since [Rhys] figured out how to print in metal, he whipped up an extremely minimal Sanguino board. You can see this RepRapped PCB running a LED blink program after the break. Now to work on the RepRap pick and place…

[Read more...]

Teaching BeagleBone to play with LIDD displays

[Chris] hasn’t managed to get his hands on a Raspberry Pi yet, so he ordered a BeagleBone and got down to business. He was surprised to find that there isn’t much info out there about using LIDD type displays with the hardware. This protocol is used in many of the 320×240 smart LCD modules on the market, so he hammered out his own drivers and is sharing the details.

The system is designed to run a Linux kernel and [Chris] has chosen to go with Angstrom. His journey started by working out how to compile and patch the kernel himself. From there it was just a matter of getting the pin mapping right, and compiling a driver (it sounds way too simple when put like that).

Apparently he’s pretty close to getting the X desktop environment up and running. No idea what he plans for the hardware, but we’re all for people sharing their work to make it easier for others. Thanks!

How to build a competitive battle robot

Ever wonder what’s under the hood with a competitive battle robot like this one? It’s usually a big secret as teams don’t care to give their competition any help. But [AlexHrn] decided not only to give us a peek, but also shows us his step-by-step build process for Phoenix, the 30 pound flipping battle robot.

[Alex] has already seen quite a bit of success with a different robot, but he couldn’t quite beat another competitor whose bot included a flipping arm which threw its competition across the ring. So [Alex] decided to join in on the technique with this build. The arm itself uses air pressure to exert a large force very quickly. Inside, a paintball gun tank powers the pneumatic ram. It looks like this tank is charged up before the competition and only gets about 12 shots before it’s depleted. You can see the power in the quick clip after the break.

For locomotion the unit uses a couple of cordless drill motors. These have a fairly high RPM and work well when powered by batteries.

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,755 other followers