Rebuilding a fried fan motor

The fan motor on [Pete's] oscillating tower fan conked out on him. It’s a shame to throw away the whole thing, but it’s near impossible to source parts for a small appliance like this one. So he set out to rebuilt the motor and get the thing working like new.

The motor in question is of the brushless AC variety. [Pete's] gut told him that the failure was due to bad lubrication of the bearings at the factory. It stopped working because the commutator could no longer rotate freely. A check of the continuity of each of the coils led him to this thermal fuse. When the motor seized the AC current built up a lot of heat. This fuse is made to burn out before a fire can start but now it needs to be replaced. With a new one in place he reassembled the motor, making sure to pack the bearings with some quality lubricant. Now he’s once again ready for a long hot summer.

The Engineer Guy explains how MEMS accelerometer chips work

There’s a good chance that you use a MEMS accelerometer every single day. It’s the small chip that let your smart phone automatically adjust its screen orientation. They’re great chips, and since they’re mass-produced you can add them to your projects for a song (if you can abide the tiny packaging). But we have no idea of how they are made and only a inkling of how they work. [Bill Hammack] has filled that knowledge gap with this explanation of how MEMS accelerometers are made and how they function.

Our base knowledge comes from the acronym: Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems. There’s something in the chip that moves (so much for solid state electronics; and it makes us wonder if these wear out). [Bill] includes a diagram in his video after the break which shows the silicon-based system that moves as it is affected by gravity. This changes the capacitive properties of the structure, which can be measured and reported to a microcontroller for further use. The structure is built using an intricate etching process which we never want to try out at home.

Looking for a project in which to use one of these devices? We’ve always been fond of this POV device.

[Read more...]

Viper flight simulator (a la Battlestar Galactica) finished

Here’s a story about some guys who set out to build a flight simulator for the Viper from Battlestar Galactica. The goal is to bring a grand project to the Maker Faire. This is a recurring challenge for the group, which has participated over the last several years. But this year they decided to go big and mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign to help with the cost.

The best place to get the build details is their progress updates page. Each week the cadre of teenagers tried to post some info about their progress, and we’ve got a big grin on our faces after reading through them. The simulator aims to provide you with as much of a space flight experience possible given the restraints which gravity imposes. The cockpit can roll and pitch a full 360 degrees in each direction. Of course safety is a concern and they were careful with their frame design and pilot restraint system. But so much more goes into this than just the physical build. There’s sound, lighting, and the virtual simulator, all of which have been complete at an impressive quality level. There’s a ton of video posted and we’ve embedded one short clip after the break showing off the cockpit’s dashboard.

[Read more...]

Gyroscopically stabilized car/motorcycle thing

So yeah, this thing exists. Well, at least some pretty interesting looking prototypes of it do. It’s the C-1 from Lit Motors (anyone else think that’s a reference which belongs in /r/trees?). The idea here is that the small form-factor of a motorcycle is very efficient and easily maneuverable. But the cage protecting the passenger from harm, and the canopy keeping the elements out give it some of the desirable traits of a car.

Design aside, check out the video after the break. The prototype uses two horizontally positioned gyroscopes placed beneath the passenger seat, just in front of the rear wheel. The builders take it out on a hockey rink and give it a few kicks and slide a few tires into it. Sure, it reacts to the impact but it doesn’t fall over.

Want to see some fast-motion welding of the C-1? Right now there’s a one-minute clip up on the company’s main page.

[Read more...]

The most portable GameCube ever

Here’s the smallest GameCube we’ve seen, straight from the fruitful workbench of [lyberty5] over on the ModRetro forums. Even though we’ve seen disc-less GameCubes before, [lyberty5] puts this project together so well it wouldn’t look out-of-place in the Nintendo product lineup.

Unlike most of the other portable GameCubes we’ve seen, [lyberty5]‘s build doesn’t have a disk drive. The games are loaded off an SD card with the help of a Wiikey Fusion, a small FPGA’d device that replaces the CD drive in GameCubes and Wiis with an SD card.

The enclosure was constructed out of vacuum formed plastic with the always popular ‘dremeling and bondoing a controller for proper button placement’ method. Inside the enclosure is the hacked up GameCube, a 3.5 inch screen capable of displaying NTSC video at 640×480 resolution and enough battery power to get two or three hours of playtime from a single charge.

After the break you can check out [lyberty5] fast-paced demo video that really sets the bar for portablized console presentation.

[Read more...]

Update: using your forearms as a UI

This image should look familiar to regular readers. It’s a concept that [Chris Harrison] has been working on for a while, and this hardware upgrade uses equipment which which we’re all familiar.

The newest rendition, which is named the Omnitouch, uses a shoulder-mounted system for both input and output. The functionality is the same as his Skinput project, but the goal is achieved in a different way. That used an arm cuff to electrically sense when and where you were touching your arm or hand. This uses a depth camera to do the sensing. In both cases, a pico projector provides the interactive feedback.

There’s a couple of really neat things about this upgrade. First, it has a pretty accurate multitouch capability. Second, it allows more surfaces to be used than just your arm. In fact, it can track moving surfaces and adjust accordingly. This is shown in the clip after the break when a printed document is edited in real time. Pretty neat stuff!

[Read more...]

Automatic capacitor charger lets you have fun with sparks

[GranTotem] is delighted by the sparks put out when a capacitor is rapidly discharged. But he’s not impressed at the relatively slow process of connecting them to a power supply for a recharge. So he built this auto-charging station for his capacitors that provides a shockingly good time almost continuously. Check out the video to see what we mean.

We always like to see the guts of the project, and that’s why we chose this image for the feature. But when everything is properly seated in the project box [GranTotem] has managed to achieve a really clean look. There are two barrel jack connectors on the end, one for 16V and the other for 20V inputs. The lid of the enclosure hosts an on/off switch, adjustment knob, and two banana connector terminals. Once switched on, a relay connects and disconnects the capacitor from the power supply at regular intervals which are adjusted by the knob. Just connect a couple of probes to those banana terminals and let the sparks reign down.

[Read more...]

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