Build your own water rocket launcher

We feel like the days when you want to play in the water are far behind us. But if you can still find a warm afternoon here or there this water rocket launcher build is a fun undertaking. We figure most of the time spent on the project will be in shopping for the parts. They’re all quite common, and once you have them on hand it can be assembled in under an hour.

The concept is simple, but that doesn’t stop people from building rather complicated water rocket rigs. This one which [Lou] devised is rather simple but it does offer connections to a hose and air compressor (the alternative being to fill the bottle with water ahead of time and use a bike pump for air pressure). PVC is used to connect the two inputs to the bottle via a pair of valves. The bottle is held in place while water and air are applied. The launch happens when a pull on that rope  releases the bottle.

Check out the build process and bottle launch after the break. We think that rocket needs a few fins.

Continue reading “Build your own water rocket launcher”

Turning a plush Dalek into a WiFi enabled robot

You can now “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!” with one finger since this plush Dalek from Doctor Who has been turned into a wireless robot. The build started out with the toy whose only trick was to spout quotes from the popular science fiction television series. [Madox] took it apart to see how it worked, then added some of his own goodies to make it better.

We just looked in on a project from this guy on Tuesday. It was a light painting wand that used the TP-Link TL-WR703N wireless router. This uses the same tiny hardware as the controller. Since it’s a WiFi router it’s quite simple to serve up a control interface on any browser. To make it all work [Madox] designed and printed a new base plate. This provides brackets on which the two servo motors can  be mounted. It also gives him a place to anchor the driver board and the router itself. The original voice hardware is still there, driven by a connection to the router hardware. See the final product in the clip after the jump.

Continue reading “Turning a plush Dalek into a WiFi enabled robot”

Edge-lit musical birthday card

[Monirul Pathan] decided to make the card as unique as this gift when getting ready for a birthday. He designed and built his own musical card with LED edge-lit acrylic to display the message.

The electronic design seeks to keep things as flat as possible. The card-shaped acrylic panel has a void to fit the PCB exactly, and the components are relatively flat. One thing we found quite interesting is that the ATtiny85 which drives the device is surface mounted, but it is not a surface mount component. The layout includes though-hole pads, but instead of drilling holes [Monirul] clipped off the excess of the DIP legs and soldered the remainder directly to the copper. We suppose this isn’t going to get a lot of use so it just needs to hold together for one day.

As you can see in the video after the break, the speaker plays ‘Happy Birthday’ followed by ‘Under the Sea’. At the same time, four blue LEDs pulse to the music, lighting up the words that are engraved in the plastic.

Continue reading “Edge-lit musical birthday card”

Raspberry Pi foundation looks at counterfeit Apple power supplies

The Raspberry Pi foundation is in a somewhat unique position. They always test the units that get returned to them in hopes that they can improve the design. They often request that the power supply also be sent back with the RPi unit, as we know the board will not work well if the PSU can’t source enough current. And so they’ve been able to get a look at several counterfeit iPhone chargers. This is not one of the recommended ways to power the RPi, but their ability to collect failed hardware means that they have identified three different fakes on the market.

Seen here is a genuine Apple product on the left. The others are fake, with the easiest way of spotting them being the shiny chrome plug connectors. The genuine part has a matte finish on the connectors. There is also a difference in the chamfering, and even a variation on the orientation of the USB port on some of them. Unfortunately we don’t get a look inside, which is what we really wanted. But you can see in the video after the break that weighing the adapter will also give it away as a fake, showing that the components within probably vary quite a bit. This reminds us of some other fake PSUs that have been exposed.

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi foundation looks at counterfeit Apple power supplies”

Giving the Rigol DS1052E ‘scope a spectrum analyzer

Like a lot of hardware tinkerers, [dexter2048] has a Rigol DS1052E oscilloscope sitting on his bench. One day when trying to coax some information out of the FFT setting, [dexter] threw his hands up in frustration and decided to write a file viewer with FFT spectrum analysis. The resulting viewer gives this very capable and inexpensive oscilloscope a spectrum analyzer.

[dexter2048]’s app is able to capture signals from 0 Hz to 500 MHz and demonstrated this fact by sticking a piece of wire into one of the Rigol’s inputs. The resulting waveform is then sent to a computer where [dexter] got a nice picture of the radio spectrum between 82MHz and 114MHz. In his graph, you can clearly see the FM radio stations that can be picked up in [dexter]’s lab.

This small modification to the Rigol DS1052E oscilloscope it the latest in a long line of hacks that give this wonderful, inexpensive scope double the bandwidth, data collection via Python, and even a homebrew version of Pong. Anything that provides new functionality for old gear is great news to us, and we look forward to many, many more 1052E hacks in the future.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Murlidhar] for sending this in.

Papercraft flash reflector

We never use the flash on our point-and-shoot. It has a way of washing out every image we take. But [Joey] has a different solution to the problem. He shows us how to make a papercraft flash reflector that will still light up your subject without washing out everything in the foreground.

[Joey] is perfectly aware that at first glance it would seem you need to have a reflective forehead for this to work. But the reflector is actually set up to aim the flash toward the ceiling. Since most ceilings are white this will reflect the light back into the room, dispersing it at the same time. His write-up includes a link to a PDF of the pattern. After cutting it out, one side is coated in black electrical tape, the other is left white to reflect the light. The design includes a tab that slides into the hot shoe of his Nikon DSLR to position it in front of the pop-up flash.

Putting guitar pedals in a web page

Only half of playing guitar – according to a few musician friends of mine – is moving your fingers up and down a fretboard and banging out some chords. The other half is the artistry of mastering your tone, usually through amp settings and stomp boxes.

Effects pedals – little boxes of electronics that go between the guitar and amp – are able to amplify and distort a guitar’s output, add reverb and delay, and even filter the tone via a wha or envelope pedal. These pedals can be simulated in software, but we can’t believe that they can now be emulated completely in JavaScript.

Pedalboard.js is a project put together by [dashersw], and aims to put a slew of pedals ‘in the cloud’ and turn editing and effects board as easy as building a web page.

The project is built around Webkit’s W3C audio API, allowing this virtual pedal board to work in Chrome, Safari, and other Webkit-enabled browsers. Pedals are programmed as nodes, each configurable to have and input, output, or analyzer that is able to modify the gain, wave shape, or filter of anything received by the line in on your computer.

Thee is a small demo of Pedalboard.js available here with a pre-recorded guitar track feeding into a few stomp boxes. It’s a pretty cool idea if you’d like to play around with a few guitar effect, but we can’t wait to see this bit of JavaScript implemented by effects pedal manufacturers allowing us to try before we buy.