3D Printed Wind Turbine Uses Bamboo

Using wood and aluminum for wind turbines is one thing, but how about 3D printing the blades and using bamboo to hold them together?

[Jeff Heidbrier] of Hero Electronics decided to try something new. He designed his own wind turbine to use cheap and readily available bamboo, with 3D printed parts. It’s a vertical axis wind turbine, unlike the typical wind mills you see generating power. The blades were printed on a Thing-O-Matic (nice to see they still exist in the wild!), and the turbine blades are about a foot long.

To make sure everything was level, he used a laser level to ensure his bearing system worked well. All in all, it looks pretty sturdy, but who knows how it will hold up to mother nature. Unfortunately there’s no clip of it actually being used outside, but I guess that just means we’ll have to wait for part 2.

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Powerwheels Racing Series in Detroit

[Transistor-Man] and the gang finally got around to documenting their experience at the Detroit Makerfaire 2014 and the Powerwheels racing series. They weren’t planning on entering, but in a last-minute decision they decided to see if they could whip up an entry just over one week before the competition! They did — and it’s awesome. They call it the Chibi-Atomic-Jeep.

As the competition name implies, they had to base the vehicle off of a Powerwheels frame. Bunch of steel tubing, some TIG welding and a nice paint job, and they had the base frame of their vehicle. At the heart of it? An alternator from a van — surprisingly powerful and easy to control. They used cheap 8″ wheels from Harbor Freight Tools — they worked great, just didn’t last very long… By the time the races were over, they went through NINE of these tires. Good thing they’re cheap!

The most impressive part of the build is the gears. They made them using a water-jet cutter at the local hobby shop and a Bridgeport mill with an indexing head — not an easy task to complete!

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A Scary Powerful Jacob’s Ladder

What to do with an extremely high voltage transformer and power supply… what to do…  what to do… Short it out Jacob’s Ladder style of course! Fresh from [Gristronics], a team of hackers had the opportunity to play around with a 11,000V transformer… and some copper pipe.

It’s 2.5m tall (just over 8′) and produces an awe-inspiring electrical arc. The transformer takes in 240V and spits out 11,000V. To help stabilize it, they’re even using some microwave oven capacitors to act as a ballast. The transformer is affectionately named “Betsy”. They even have a giant contactor (think relay with steroids) to act as the main switch.

During the initial setup, they noticed it wasn’t working very well, so they setup a camera to record at 240fps to see what was going on — turns out the coils were shorting to each other. After fixing the insulation, they got it working consistently — and holy cow is that a big arc.

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Mini BB-8 Droid Made from a Sphero

Hot on the heels of discovery that the BB-8 Droid from the new Star Wars movie is real, [Christian Poulsen] has made the very own miniature version of it!

It’s a brilliantly simple hack actually. Remember the Sphero? It’s a remote controlled ball you can drive around with your phone — great fun, but surprisingly not many people have hacked it…

The ball has an internal structure that allows it to roll around with ease. Which also means it has a fixed up direction — at least inside of the ball. All [Christian] had to do was crack it open and throw a magnet on the top of the inner-assembly. He then machined the droid’s head out of foam with another magnet (or metal, we’re not too sure) and boom-bada-bing it stays in place as the ball rolls.

Stick around after the break to see some GIFs of it adorably rolling around — and into things.

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Bouncing A Ball With A Robot

A fan of kinetic projects, [Jimmy Demello] threw together a pretty cool robot that can bounce a ball back and forth between its hand(s).

Made from scraps around the house, it consists of some wood, a piece of a fishing pole, chop sticks, a single servo motor, and of course an Arduino Uno. His original plan was to make [Claude Shannon]’s juggling robot, but this is as far as he’s gotten — so far anyway.

It bounces a 2cm ball-bearing twice before catching it and passing it back again. He thinks it would be an awesome project to scale up and use basketballs, and we’d have to agree.

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What Is This? A Computer for Ants!?

How can we be expected to teach children use a computer if they can’t even see it? I don’t wanna hear your excuses! The computer has to be at least… three times bigger than this!

Developed by the University of Michigan, the Michigan Micro Mote (M3) is quite possibly the world’s tiniest computer. It’s about the size of a grain of rice.

The multi-layered PCB (shown after the break) features 7 layers of components, surrounded in epoxy for protection. Drawing only 2 nano Amps during standby, the computer can be powered by a 1 millimeter squared solar cell. It’s designed to be glued to a window for use. It’s capable of input data via sensors, the ability to process and store the data, and then output the data wirelessly. Its range is only 2 meters at the moment, but they hope to extend it to about 20 meters.

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Putting out Fires with a Dubstep Drop

Two engineering students from George Mason University have built a rather unorthodox fire extinguisher. It uses a subwoofer to send sound waves powerful enough to extinguish small fires.

Similar in concept to a giant smoke-ring canon, the device uses a subwoofer with a tube that has a smaller aperture opening at the end. When the bass drops (literally), this causes an intense wave of sound (well, air), to be expelled from the device. And as you can see in the video below, it’s quite effective at putting out small fires.

They use a small frequency generator and amplifier to power the system, and throughout extensive testing found 30-60Hz to work best. It’s not actually one big blast of air, but a pressure wave that goes back and forth — agitating the air, and separating it from the fire. There is a catch though.

One of the problems with sound waves is that they do not cool the fuel,” Isman said. “So even if you get the fire out, it will rekindle if you don’t either take away the fuel or cool it.

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