DIY CD Autoloader

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From the German Hackerspace Ffm comes this extremely robust DIY disc autoloader (translated)! We hope your German isn’t too rusty…

[David] was tired of copying his CD collection by hand, so he set out to make an open source DIY disc autoloader. His first prototype was this one, which we have to admit gets style points (it made use of a gaming PC tower as the enclosure).

One of his goals for the project was simplicity, and with that in mind he created a driverless solution, using mechanical actuators to do everything — all you have to do is plug in your computer to the drive. It makes use of a gripper taken from a notebook optical drive and a series of counterweights to pick up and deposit the disks. The frame is made of aluminum extrusion and the major functional brackets are all 3D printed.

To see it in action, stick around after the break. We personally like the use of the counterweight pulley in the back!

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A laminar flow nozzle

A few years ago Hackaday featured a laminar project which recently inspired [Kurt] to create his own. His goal is to create a computer controlled night time light show synchronized with music.

The laminar nozzle shown in the picture above is built with 800 drinking straws all placed in parallel inside a 4″ PVC pipe. The water input is a 3/4″ garden hose adapter, perpendicular to the flow of the output nozzle. The built therefore consists of cleaning sponges placed near the water inlet, followed by the straws and an inch gap to the exit nozzle. To get a nice flow, the edge of the exit nozzle must be as sharp as possible. [Kurt] purchased a brass pipe end cap, drilled a hole in it and sanded it to create a sharp inner edge. For the lights, he used 2 high power LEDs mounted with 3mm fiber optic cables, driven at around 5 Watts.

The link to the article that inspired Kurt can be found here.

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Self-stabilizing Spoon for People with Parkinson’s

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Here’s a really cool story we just picked up — a gyroscopic steady-spoon, designed for people with Parkinson’s disease or other tremor inducing ailments.

The creator [Anupam Pathak] is close to people who suffer from tremors, and seeing the problem up close and personal, he set out to create a solution. He started the company called Liftware, and has so far released the Lift spoon. It features an embedded microchip, sensors and a few small motors. It’s capable of stabilizing tremors of up to 2 inches, which in several medical studies resulted in approximately a 70% tremor cancellation rate!

If you haven’t seen the effects of Parkinson’s on anyone, watch the video after the break. You’ll have your heart strings pulled a bit seeing how difficult eating can be, but then amazed at the ingenuity and effectiveness of the Lift Spoon. We can only imagine the paradigm shift this will be for people suffering from tremors.

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JJ Dasher: The Tinkerer (Documentary)

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This isn’t our usual faire, it’s a really cool documentary on a hacker. [JJ Dasher] is a tinkerer from Taylorsville, Utah — and this is his story.

Like many mechanical hackers, he got his start taking apart engines with his dad who owned a motorcycle repair shop at the time. The cover photo above is of his micro-bike project, which can get him going quite fast! He’s also built quite a few tesla coils, and loves picking up things from thrift stores to hack. He’s got a kid now which takes up a lot of his time, but he jokes that his son is just his next big project waiting to be finished.

We’ve actually featured [JJ's] projects quite a few times before. He brought us the Doombox (handheld Doom-only computer), the awesome brute force GPS PIN cracker, and in the spirit of halloween one of our favorites: a tesla coil that delivers shocking candy!

Stick around after the break to watch the well-filmed documentary — don’t worry, it’s only 8 minutes long!

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Boston Dynamics Takes WildCat Outside

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[Boston Dynamics] has released a video of their latest robot, which means it’s time to go hide in bed before this thing comes to get us. The new video features WildCat, which is apparently the evolution of the Cheetah robot we saw last year. Cheetah was an indoor cat, tethered by power, data, and hydraulic lines while running on a treadmill. WildCat has been released to terrorize people explore the great outdoors

Reminiscent of the early videos of BigDog, WildCat is currently powered by an internal combustion engine. The engine drives a hydraulic system, which then actuates the robot’s legs and front/rear pods. The beauty of a system like this is that switching to an electric motor is simple – just replace the IC engine. While we’re sure this would make a much more stealthy cat, weight and run time could be issues. Moving the power system onboard has also slowed down WildCat a bit. Cheetah was able to reach 28 MPH while WildCat can only muster 16 MPH.

WildCat is part of DARPA’s maximum mobility and manipulation program. The research appears to be focused on improving the gaits the robot uses to move at various speeds. The video highlights both bounding and galloping.  Slo-mo sections show all four of WildCat’s legs leaving the ground, which is the suspension phase of a classic gallop gait. Control isn’t perfect yet, as WildCat tumbles at one point in the video.  It gets right back up though – ready for more.

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(Please Don’t) Build a Jet Engine from a Toilet Paper Holder

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Turbo charger Jet Engines have long been considered one of the holy grails of backyard engineering. This is with good reason – they’re hard to build, and even harder to run. Many a turbo has met an untimely end from a hot start or oil starvation. [Colin Furze] however, makes it look easy. [Colin] is a proponent of crazy hacks – we’ve featured him before for his land speed record holding baby carriage, and his pulse jet powered tea kettle.

In his latest video set, [Colin] takes a toilet brush holder, a toilet paper roll holder, a few plumbing fittings, and of course a small turbocharger from the scrap yard. Somehow he converts all of this into a working jet engine. The notable thing here is that there is no welding. Some of the joints are held together with nothing more than duct tape.

Calling this a working jet engine is not really an overstatement. As every backyard jet jockey knows, the first goal of DIY jets (aside from not hurting yourself) is self-sustaining. Turbines are spun up with air hoses, vacuums, or leaf blowers. The trick is to turn the fuel on, remove the air source, and have the turbine continue spinning under its own power. Once this happens, your engine is performing the same “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” combustion process an F-18 or a 747 uses.

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Homebuilt Ultra Wideband Impulse Radar

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[Dr. Gregory Charvat] tipped us off to a video demonstration of his ultra-wideband impulse radar he built using some of his existing radar gear and a few bits purchased off eBay. The homebuilt radar system worked well in his backyard but not much is covered about the build. [Greg] is promising a new book on practical approaches to developing and using small radar devices titled “Small and Short Range Radar Systems“. He told us that the draft is finished and covers radar systems like doppler, linear FM, synthetic aperture, phase array and also UWB impulse radar. It sounds like an interesting book, which can be pre-ordered on Amazon, and will include schematics and bill of materials so you too could build a UWB impulse radar or other small radar systems. Some of the advantages of a UWB impulse radar system are that it produces sub-nanosecond pulses good for tracking moving objects as well as imaging stationery objects. Such radar technology can even image buried objects like metallic and nonmetallic landmines.

Join us after the break for a little background on [Dr. Gregory Charvat] and to watch his demonstration video.

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