Second grade science project: a steam engine

2nd-grade-steam-engine

If you’re looking for a way to let the kids get hand-ons with science this is a perfect example of how to do it. [Erich] wanted to help out with his 7-year-old’s science project. They decided to build a working model of a steam engine but couldn’t find online instructions appropriate for the age group. So the two of them not only pulled off the build, but then they wrote a guide for others to follow. The thing about it is, you really have to understand a concept to teach it to someone else. So we think the write-up is equally important to having actually done the experiment.

Steam can scald you if you’re not careful. But you don’t really need steam to explore the concepts of a steam engine. The main reason to use steam is that it’s a fairly rudimentary way to build pressure which can be converted to motion. For this demonstration the blue balloon provides that pressure. It’s feeding a reservoir that connects to the valve built out of straws. A plastic piston inside pushes against the crank shaft, spinning the cardboard wheel on the left. When the piston travels past the valve opening it releases the air pressure until the machine makes a revolution and is in place for the next push. This is well demonstrated in the clip after the break.

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CuteUino: Only use the parts of the Arduino that you need for each project

CuteUino

[Fran's] been working on her own version of the Arduino. She calls it CuteUino for obvious reasons. The size of the thing is pretty remarkable, fitting within the outline of an SD card. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get the power that you’re used to with the device. She’s broken it up into several modules so you can choose only the components that you need for the project.

The main board is shown on the right, both top and bottom. It sports the ATmega328p (it’s hard to believe we could make out the label on the chip package in the clip after the break) in a TQFP-32 package soldered to the underside of what she calls the Brain Module. You can also see the extra long pins which stick through from the female pin headers mounted on the top side of the board. Inside of these pin headers you’ll find the clock crystal, status LEDs, and a capacitor. The other module is an FTDI board used to connect the AVR chip to a USB port.

You’ll definitely want to check out her prototyping post for this project. She uses a very interesting technique of combining two single-sided boards to make a 3-layer PCB. The side that was not copper clad is fitted with copper foil by hand to act as a ground plane for the vias. Neat!

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Bullet time with a single GoPro

Earlier this week I saw a video that was showing how some guys made some really cool bullet time effects with 15 tiny rugged awesome cameras called “GoPros”(that wasn’t a paid endorsement, they’re awesome).  For those unfamiliar, the bullet time effect gained popularity from the first matrix movie. The footage slowed down to slow motion while [Neo] dodged some bullets, but the camera was still able to move around. To do this, they built a massive circular rig and mounted tons of cameras all around. Using these multiple angles, they were able to stitch together the scene in slow motion and “move” the camera.

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Retrotechtacular: flying foot-soldiers are coming for you (sixty years ago)

Hiller_VZ-1_Pawnee_(2)

Pictured above is a remarkable piece of experimental technology from the 1950’s that never ended up going anywhere. The Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee is a single-rider vehicle that was supposed to provide a tactical advantage to US forces. The Office of Naval research spent a couple of years developing the aircraft, wich uses two rotors mounted inside the base of the platform. They spin opposite each other — which removes the need for a tail rotor like you’d find on a helicopter –to lift the platform a short distance off the ground. Although six of them were made only two survive. But the good news is you can go and see them at museums on the East or West coast of the US.

Now that the serious business is behind us, let’s talk about the video clip after the break. The narrative style is a gem of the newsreel era. We can’t tell what is going on with the accent, but we’re totally convinced that at least one general meeting per year at your local hackerspace should require all presenters to use their best impression of this talented gentleman’s voice.

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Bakery automation mixes single cookies

bakery_automation

[Ben Krasnow's] latest project is a delicious one. In the image above he’s showing off the beginnings of his cookie dispenser. No, it’s not another take on a way to eat Oreo cookies. It actually comes much earlier in the production chain. His device is akin to a 3D printer for baked goods in that it will be able to automatically combine raw ingredients to form production runs as small as a single serving of cookie dough.

When we first heard about it we wondered why you would want to bake just one cookie? But of course that’s not the purpose at all. The machine will allow you to bake a full sheet of cookies, but provides the option of making each one of them with a different recipe. As with all baking, combining ingredients in the proper proportions is paramount. In the post linked at the top he’s working on a butter dispenser. But in an earlier post he hacked an electronic scale to help weigh other ingredients. You can watch both video clips after the break.

Imaging a dozen cookies with slightly different amounts of flour in them. A few test sheets and he should be able to dial in the very best recipes.

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Putting the brains of a reverse geocache on the outside

ioio

A reverse geocache – a box that only opens in a specific geographical area – is a perennial favorite here at Hackaday. We see a ton of different implementations, but most of the time, the builds are reasonably similar. Of course dedicating a GPS receiver solely to a reverse geocache isn’t an inexpensive prospect, so [Eric] came up with a better solution. He’s using a smart phone as the brains of his geocache, allowing him to keep the GPS and display outside the locked box.

The build began by finding an old box and modifying it so it can be locked with a servo. The only other bits of electronics inside the box are an IOIO board, a battery pack, and an I2C EEPROM for storing a few settings. On the phone side of things, [Eric] wrote an Android app to serve as both the programming interface, UI, and GPS hardware for his reverse geocache. It’s exactly like all the other reverse geocaches we’ve seen, only this time the controls are wireless.

[Eric] put up a video demoing his reverse geocache. You can check that out after the break.

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Hackaday Links: March 20th, 2013

Giant fresnel lens is dangerous fun

giant-fresnel-lens-is-dangerous-fun

Here’s an interesting, and rather dangerous, use for those old big screen TVs that are frequently listed for FREE on Craigslist. With the lens from the old TV built into an adjustable wooden frame, [Grant] was able to melt a stack of pennies, instantly burn wood, melt spots in concrete, and serve his family a cooked egg… Cool.

Projection mapping app helps create hologram like performance stage

projection-mapping-app-creates-live-desktop-stage

[Aimino] used an iPad, a mobile projector, and a mosquito screen to create a trippy hologram like stage. It might not seem like much at first, but it’s actually a pretty interesting effect. Watching the video makes me wonder what other applications this could have in the near future.

The world’s strongest magnet

worlds-strongest-magnet

At a cost of over $14 million dollars and weighing in at 35 tons, the 45 Tesla Hybrid is the strongest DC magnet on Earth. It’s powerful enough that the film crew couldn’t even safely get in to take footage of it.  Over half of their camera tapes were wiped clean just while being in the same facility that houses it!

Virtual Body chair uses 4 of our 5 senses

virtual-body-chair

Created in the hopes of providing a VR experience for seniors with mobility problems who can no longer travel the world, Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Ikei Laboratory presents the ‘Virtual Body’ exhibition. Included are a 3D monitor, a pair of headphones, a fan to create breezes and spread scents, a chair that moves and vibrates, and moving foot pedals.

Iron Man laser gauntlet pops balloons with ease

functional-iron-man-laser-gauntlet

If you’re an Iron Man fan with disposable income, you might want to check out this functional full metal laser gauntlet. Built from scratch using no blueprints or guides, [AnselmoFanZero] sells them for around $3K USD.