Rocket propellant manufactured from old newspaper

It turns out that old newsprint can be a bit explosive; at least when it’s combined with the proper ingredients. [Markus Bindhammer] worked out a way to make solid rocket propellant from newspaper. Judging from the test footage after the break the home made engines work great!

There isn’t a long list of ingredients. In addition to newspaper you’ll need some potassium chlorate (KClO3) which serves as an oxidizer, white wood glue, and PVC pipe. The KClO3 is ground with a mortar and pestle, then run through a sieve before being combined with the wood glue. This combination is painted on the newspaper which is then rolled up with a glass rod at the center. This is allowed to harden before going into the PVC. The excess is trimmed and the whole thing is baked in a convection oven at 105 C for two hours.

If this process doesn’t suit you maybe cooking up a batch of sugar-based propellant is worth a try?

[Read more...]

Teensy board used as an AM radio transmitter

[Angus McInnes] has been working on AM radio transmission techniques. He tried out a method of using a VGA port for the task but found the vertical blanking was audible. His latest experiments use a Teensy microcontroller board as an AM transmitter.

This is not a standalone solution, but rather a hardware extension for his laptop. This is because the microprocessor doesn’t have enough cycles to do much more than read bytes over USB and push their bits out one of the I/O pins.

To get a steady stream of data he’s using isochronous mode to push a steady data stream via the USB connection. Bulk transfer is another option but [Angus] found that it caused some jitter in the audio. Each byte is fed to the AVR SPI hardware once every eight clock cycles. His transmission can be picked up from across the room, but that’s the limit since the AVR doesn’t put out that strong of a signal. But it should be a rather trivial exercise to build a simple amplifier.

Movie night at the lake cabin

[Andrew's] family has a rustic lake cabin. There is a lot to do during the day, but since there’s no electricity your options are limited when the sun goes down. Sure there’s the traditional campfire, but lately they’ve been spicing things up with an outdoor movie viewing.

To get this up and running they needed to build a projection screen. He’s going for a 2.35:1 aspect ration, but the technique will work for any aspect if you do your own math. They had a couple of extruded aluminum channels from an old chalk board which work perfectly as the top and bottom rails of the frame. With the width set at fourteen feet he just needed to mount the cross pieces on uprights at 5.95 feet apart. This provides a 183″ viewing surface.

White bed sheets serve as the screen material. After it’s stretched into place they line the rails with binder clips to hold it in place. The projector is powered from two 12V batteries via an 800W inverter. During the day the batteries get topped off by a solar panel system.

Homebrew 68k extravaganza

Introduced in 1979, the Motorola 68000 CPU was first used in very expensive and very high-end workstations from the likes of Sun and SGI. As the processor matured it became well-known for its use in the original Macintosh, early Amigas, and even the TI-89 graphing calculator and a few video game consoles such as the Sega Genesis and Atari Jaguar.

A few days ago when I posted a homebrew computer build based on the 65816 CPU, I lamented the lack of builds using the venerable Motorola 68k. Hackaday readers were quick to point out the many homebrew computers making use of this classic CPU, and I’m glad to post them here.

First up is an amazing 68008 build featuring an IDE disk interface, a floppy disk interface, 10base-T Ethernet connectivity, a real-time clock, and two SID synthesizer chips. As far as features go, this build takes the cake. Pity I can’t find a writeup.

Here’s a 68000-based computer built around the S-100 bus. Like the first computer to use the S-100 bus, the Altair 8800, this computer is plugged into a backplane that breaks out the data, address, and interrupt lines to every device on the bus.

Of course, no mention of backplane computers would be complete without a Eurocard version. [N8VEM] built a 68000 computer able to be plugged in to a backplane along with an IDE controller card and a display controller.

Finally, in true ‘giant mess of wires’ spirit, [Dajgoro] sent in his 68k single board computer featuring 512 kB of RAM and a 16k ROM. [Dajgoro] also took the time to wire in a PIC microcontroller, allowing him to expand his computer far beyond what vintage components would allow.

The 68k was – and still is – a very powerful CPU that far surpasses the capabilities of the 6502 and Z80 homebrew computers we see from time to time. Short of building a 486 or Pentium-based computer from scratch, building a 68k machine is one of the crowning achievements of hardware hackery, and something we hope to see more of in the future.

Problems powering Raspberry Pi from GPIO header

[Zaion] grabbed an ATX power supply to source the 5V the Raspberry Pi needs to run. The common problem when it comes to RPi supplies is a shortfall in how much current a USB wall adapter can source. The ATX shouldn’t have this problem, but none-the-less he found that the USB ports were only reading about 5V. Strange. He grabbed the soldering iron and fixed the issue with a piece of jumper wire (English translation found in the second half of his post).

The problem was discovered when trying to get a WiFi dongle to work on one of the RPi’s USB ports. It simply wouldn’t show up, and after going down the blind alley of assuming it was a driver problem he started to investigate the hardware. After discovering the below-nominal voltage [Zaion] measured the resistance between the 5V pin on the GPIO header and the one on the USB port. It reads 3-4 Ohms and he concluded that the trace is too thin. We took a quick look at the schematic for the board and see no reason for the voltage drop. His jumper wire fixed the issue but it leaves us wondering, is this an isolated case, or a design flaw? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Open source brushless motor controller

It’s been a long time coming, but efforts to create Open Source brushless motor controller are finally paying off.

The Open-BLDC project aims to create an open source motor controller for the brushless motors usually found in remote control airplanes, helicopters, and quadcopters. Normally, these motor controllers – usually called electronic speed controllers – can’t supply more than a few dozen amps, and are usually only controllable via a servo signal.

The Open-BLDC goes far beyond the capabilities of off-the-shelf ESCs with up to 200 amps of output, TTL level serial input, and the ability to use regenerative breaking.

While the Open-BLDC project is far from complete, the team working on the hardware hopes to add I2C, CAN, and PPM interfaces, along with speed and torque control.

There is no word on when, or even if, the Open-BLDC will ever be available for sale, but with the features it has it would be welcomed by just about any builder constructing a gigantic RC vehicle.

Zeppelin on the Fisher Price record player now thanks to a 3D printer

[Fred Murphy] went ahead and revised his method of making custom records for a Fisher Price toy record player. He’s now able to 3D print the discs. The toy works much like a music box, with a comb in the “cartridge” of the record player and notches in the record that pluck the fingers of the comb as it turns. He had previously developed a subtractive method that let him mill records out of a solid piece of plastic. But this additive method means less waste.

The music creation portion of the project is the same as the previous version. That’s because it’s pretty hard to outdo the C# software he wrote which serves as a composition studio. The difficulty comes in getting a clean print for the disk. The ridges on the discs are 0.7mm so you’re going to need a well-aligned printer with fine resolution. [Fred] printed in both ABS and what he calls “Vero clear” plastic. The former works but he got better results with the latter.