Hand crafting a tuba

Brass, beaten and molded can be a thing of beauty. Watch as this craftsman puts together a very nice looking tuba. The tools of the trade in this case are somewhat automated, with that mechanical hammer, but it looks like much of this is still done by hand.

Nikkor optical glass

Glass work is always a feast for the eyes, especially when it is hot glass. Watch as a Nikkor lens is made from beginning to end. It is wonderful to see the care taken to search by eye for defects, refraction issues, clarity etc. It may just be for the video, but it seems that the workers truly do take pride in their product.

What I found somewhat surprising was the amount of work that went into refining the glass BEFORE it was even put into a lens mold. I would have assumed that much of the work would have come after.

Announcing LIFE.hackaday

life-logoOver the years we’ve had a tons of tips sent in that were more along the lines of “lifehacks”. Simple little tips to make life better. While we would occasionally squeeze them into hackaday, many got left behind. Now we’ve created an entire site called LIFE.hackaday that we’re filling with all these great ideas. Finally, a place for all those docks people send us!

Occasionally, there might be something that we feel works for the “classic” hackaday and “LIFE.”, in which case, we may just mention it here. We hope that by creating another site, we can give people the “lifehacks” they want while keeping hackaday focused on hardware hacking.

We have some other tricks up our sleeve, but they aren’t quite ready to be revealed yet.

Book Review: The Good Life Lab

the-good-life-lab

Stop whatever you’re doing and get this book. I’ve just finished reading it and I have to say that [Wendy] and [Mikey] could easily be the poster children for modern day hacking, and this book could be the manual for a life built on hacking.

When I visited [Wendy] and [Mikey] last year I was blown away.  Their little homestead was a veritable smorgasbord of hacks. Everywhere I looked, things were cobbled together, modified, repaired, and improved. There wasn’t a single piece of their lives that wasn’t somehow improved by their efforts to play an active role in their own living.

That sounds a bit cheesy I know. We all play an active role in our lives right? Sure. But what they have done is created a hacker’s homestead. My projects tend to live on my workbench, occasionally poking into my daily life, but they went were there was virtually nothing and hacked together everything they found they needed.  Their life is their workbench.

[Read more...]

Laptop vs Thermite: Slow motion destruction

thermitethumb

Years ago we covered using thermite to destroy a hard drive. The idea is that if you melt through the platters, the data is completely unrecoverable.  There are tons of videos of people doing this, but they all have a similar format. There’s a hard drive, with a flower pot or soda can sitting on top full of thermite. They then light this with a strip of magnesium and a torch.

I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to implement thermite as a self destruct mechanism inside the device. To do this, I had to come up with a way to ignite the thermite. This stuff is very difficult to light. You have to get it really really hot. The easiest way is to use magnesium, which itself isn’t the easiest thing to light.

What I finally landed on was an ignition system that uses model rocket igniters, gun powder, and magnesium to light the thermite.  The model rocket igniter can be set off from the 12v line inside your computer. However, it isn’t hot enough to light magnesium shavings, much less thermite. To get it to work, I needed to add some gunpowder. A small amount of gun powder would get hot enough to light the magnesium shavings, which in turn were hot enough to light the thermite. I had to be careful though, because too much gunpowder would cause a rapid expansion, blowing the thermite everywhere instead of lighting it. You can actually see some red thermite being blown out of the external hard drive and the laptop as the gunpowder ignites.

Effectiveness of external hard drive self destruction:

I wasn’t sure about this one. There isn’t a whole lot of space for thermite and the ignition system inside the box. On top of that, the only space was at the side of the hard drive, where the walls are the thickest. I had no idea if the small amount of thermite I used would penetrate the drive. It did, just barely as you can see in these pictures. It looks as if it pooled in the screw holes  and made it inside. The platters are damaged.

Effectiveness of laptop destruction:

I decided to completely replace the cd rom with thermite. This gave me a ton of space to put things. I was pretty positive this would work. The hard drive is in the center of this laptop, which meant I had to place it on its side for this to be effective. You can see the thermite work its way down toward the drive in the video. As you can see in the pictures below, the drive cover is completely gone and the platters are destroyed. Success!

Since this system can be powered by batteries or the internal power of your computer, it can be put inside a working device only to be used when needed. Obviously it is a ridiculous fire hazard that no one should bother with. It was a fun experiment though and I really feel like it is something that would fit in well in the world of [James Bond]

Hackaday Newsletter: Now including “This day in Hackaday History”

timehax

A while back we toyed with the idea of doing a look back on hackaday history. We weren’t sure how often to publish it, or what exactly to publish. Now, we’ve decided that this will be the main part of the Hackaday news letter. You can sign up here if you haven’t already, but hurry I’m sending out today’s newsletter in a couple hours!

Each email (1-2 a week) will have that day’s history going all the way back to roughly the beginning. It will also have a quick blurb about what video I’m working on or any other little hackaday news bits.

Timelapse of the 3d printed gun being printed.

Once the DoD requested the 3d printed gun files be removed from the internet, a couple things happened.

  1.   The Streisand Effect went into full force. The file was shared all over and can still be found easily.
  2.   I suddenly realized that I was going to be printing a 3d printed gun and doing another article on it even though I had just written an opinion piece about how I don’t care.

I’m not above admitting that it is childish of me. I was told I couldn’t have this thing and suddenly I knew I had to make it. I see it with my kids all the time. Toys can sit in a corner collecting dust for ages, but the second it is in threat of being removed, they have renewed interest, at least for a few minutes.

I figured, if I’m going to be childish about it and print a gun that a) won’t work because I don’t have the right printer, and b) I won’t use anyway because I don’t generally play with guns, I might as well make a fun timelapse video of the more recognizable parts being made.

It initially seemed like it was going to be quick and easy. However, I quickly found that just printing this thing was going to be a time consuming and frustrating task.

1. the scale on the individual files was way off. 

I suspect this has something to do with the printer it was designed for. It seemed very close to being 1 inch = 1 mm. Not a completely uncommon problem. Manually resizing got some files to look right, but I found many simply wouldn’t resize.

2. Almost every single item had errors.

If you’ve done 3d printing, you’ve found that a model can have all kinds of issues that will stop it from printing correctly. I found every single item for the gun had errors. I actually learned a lot about how to repair non-manifold items from this exercise, so it was good in the end.

Some items, like the hammer and the hammer springs simply would not print. I ran them through systems to repair them and fix errors. It would say that everything was fixed, but when I tried to “slice” them for printing, the software would crash.  This means that my gun is incomplete. It has no hammer. Not really that big of a deal to me.

photo(53)

the whole gun

photo(52)

Note that it is missing the hammer mechanism. More on that later.

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disassembled

Do I care now?

Nope. I climbed to the top of the fridge and got my cookies. I’m a happy child. The reality is that a zip gun is still cheaper, easier, safer, and more reliable.  Here’s an example.